When I arrived in Brighton in the early 90′s the place was pretty unrecognisable to how it is today. The seafront had the Zap and Fortune of War and little else, Churchill Square was a tumbleweed strewn concrete wasteland, Audio was the Escape Club and The Concorde 2 was The Concorde and situated by the aquarium; and there was Rounder Records.
It’s been announced today to much sadness that Rounder is due to close at the end of the month after 46 years. Back then I paid a weekly trip to Rounder to find out what had come out that week. Just staring at their window display told me a lot but then there was the getting in the almost constant queue for the turntable to have a listen before buying. My main musical focus in those days was The Zap on a Saturday night, house music and the odd indie-dance crossover. Being a constant late adopter as far as audio technology goes all the stuff I bought was on vinyl and I still have my Rounder purchased copies of the seminal Screamadelica and Foxbase Alpha.
Numerous dance music shops have come and gone over the years but Rounder has remained a constant and vital part of the Brighton scene. Norman Cook worked there, so did Damian Harris, who was the warm up DJ at the Coco Club on a Saturday at the Zap and went on to form Skint Records. I’ve been on ‘nodding’ terms with the Rounder boys for over 20 years now who I see at just about every decent gig in town and I feel very sad for them and wish them well.
I must admit that since my tastes have gone from dance to indie I have tended to increasingly buy my music from Resident and I hope and pray that they don’t suffer the same fate. It does appear that along with having to compete with illegal and legal downloading, Spotify and Amazon, the shop’s ‘bread and butter’ was always dance music vinyl. Customers with a pile of 12″s for which they would need 2 or 3 bags to carry out were a regular occurrence and I now regret my annoyance at seeing them at the turntable and realising I had no chance of getting on there in the near future. Those days are long gone.
As for me, well I’m going to continue to support Resident and buy my music from there along with gig tickets and I urge you all to do the same. For a town like Brighton, independent music shops are vital and need people’s support. A CD may be a quid cheaper on Amazon but keeping great shops alive is well worth a quid or two.