From Marty and Olivia at the In Deep Music Archive.
So after a three-month campaign, we managed to reach the goal for the In Deep Music Archive renovation here in Porto, covering a healthy half of what we paid out so far. So thank you because we couldn’t have done it without this contribution. It’s a fantastic start as we plan Phase 3, that is the actual moving of the collection from England. This is going to involve loading at least two trucks, making sure that the records are not transported when it is too hot and dealing with customs where we expect to get hit with a hefty VAT charge, even though the collection is in fact personal belongings. We will have to fly to England to oversee the loading, and we will also have to have a storage house here in Porto as a drop-off place because the street we are in is busy and too narrow for a large vehicle to access and also to be stationary. We will need people at each end to load and unload. We will then have to pay a storage fee here in Porto for a month as we slowly move everything from storage to the premises, leaving all the empty boxes and anything we don’t need or don’t fit in a reduced storage space. The road journey from Wells in Somerset to Porto is 1,209 miles (that’s nearly 2,000 kilometres according to Google Maps) and will take three days at least (with tolls). The trucks will be travelling from the west to the southeast of England to catch the ferry across the English Channel, and then across the length of France (with tolls), over the Pyrenees into Spain and then down into Portugal.
However complicated and expensive this all is, it is a dream come true (when I finally open my eyes). I’ve wanted to make this happen for many years but haven’t been able to find an appropriate location. When I left England in April 1980 and went to Australia at the age of 21, I took my record collection with me, and it’s just grown from there. In fact, it all really started in 1967 in the Cheshire hills between Marple Bridge and Glossop. An elder sibling had the Beatles covered but my first single was Alternate Title by The Monkees. I never considered why it was called that until I saw the American title on a Monkees album (Randy Scouse Git), I suppose it wasn’t really viable in England at the time (or even now). I bought See Emily Play by (The) Pink Floyd, I still have it. I also bought Hole In My Shoe by Traffic, Flowers In The Rain by The Move, Autumn Almanac by The Kinks and Itchycoo Park by Small Faces, to name but a few. My first full-priced album was Happy Together by The Turtles on White Whale Records, and around the same time, I had the budget label Marble Arch release of Donovan’s Universal Soldier. I didn’t know then what the record collection would become, but an obsession with music and eclectic tastes meant it reached the current size which is 60,000+ vinyl albums, 20,000+ CDs, 2,500 cassettes and 5,000+ singles. These numbers are all approximate, I tend to lose count. So here we are in 2023 in Porto with the space to handle these numbers. Penzance was too far away from the city and the premises were too small. Stockholm was too many years ago and although the collection had started to grow in my time there, it was nowhere near what it is now. Porto is the perfect place, as is the location. We are in the centre of the city at Rua de Coelho Neto 17. There’s a large passing populace here, and the city is full of tourists most of the year. It’s crazy in the summer, but the winter months also see visitors and even though it can be rainy, it’s not that cold.
We received a letter from the Porto mayor’s office, categorising what we are trying to do as of cultural importance. They haven’t offered any financial assistance, perhaps they will in the future if The Archive becomes a popular destination for music-lover tourists, but I must say that they have been most supportive of the concept. A place this size in the centre of the city isn’t cheap, and trying to generate income from a collection isn’t easy. Ongoing financial considerations beyond transport, storage and customs are maintaining the ability to purchase old rare classics much like a museum might buy a famous painting as well as contemporary releases as one might see in a contemporary art gallery. The problem is that records aren’t cheap if they are either rare or brand new and even a single album can cost up to €60 as a new release, Record Store Day limited editions are twice as expensive at least if you miss out on the day they come out and most records have a very limited vinyl run, even if they are by popular artists. I honestly gave up drinking, so I would have extra funds for more records.
I was recently at the Luna Fest in Coimbra, Portugal, and I was talking to Peter Perrett, the singer and songwriter from The Only Ones. I’ve always been a major fan and I may actually have everything they ever put out whether it be on 7-inch, 12-inch, CD or vinyl, although I have nothing by them on cassette (did they even get a release on cassette?). Anyway, I was talking to Peter about his records in my collection, and he made a very funny comment. He said, “I’d be flattered, but it seems like you have every record ever made”. Haha. I recently read that nearly 100,000 tracks are added to streaming services every day. Looking at those numbers, I suppose he should be flattered, haha.
Space has always been an issue for records, not just for the consumer but for the label. Warehouse space and living room space. I always thought that space should be for books and records, DVDs and VHS tapes. As soon as you run out of space, simply sell the furniture. I jest of course, but preserving music in its physical format seems historically important to me, even if in recent times, the need for physical copies has seemed redundant. 80% of sales are in the ether, and some companies aren’t very happy at the resurgence of vinyl because it’s just so awkward. Perhaps that’s why they are charging such exorbitant prices for some of their titles. It makes little sense that one company can sell an album for around €25 for a single album, whilst another needs €65 for pretty much the same outlay. If it’s a reissue, it’s even more outrageous because the record probably already paid for itself in 1978. It was worse at the beginning of the CD era – dodgy digital mastering and lazy artwork, sometimes with no information at all. Imagine the profits the labels must have been making in the early nineties on The Doors or The Jackson Five, The Beatles or Bob Dylan. I think there’s a tendency to treat the vinyl collector as a mad nerd with a large disposable income. Are they trying to price vinyl out of the market? Are some companies trying to wipe it out altogether for the convenience of streaming? Is this cynical or the marketing philosophy of a corporation where music is simply a commodity that exists only to make as much profit as possible?
Here in the wonderland of my Archive, my collection is a constant friend, a source of inspiration and emotion whether it be someone making a loud noise to get their point across or someone quietly sharing their feelings with anybody who would listen and not particularly care whether they listen or not – just doing it is the point. Whenever anyone comes into The Archive they are in awe of it and if you see it as pointless, I suppose you wouldn’t visit in the first place. I suppose you might think that all antiquities are pointless too, especially when there’s the 3D option on the computer. At Pet Sounds, the record store that I worked at in Stockholm, one of the staff members came up with a line inspired by Johnny Thunders, “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around An MP3”. The LP is tactile, even the cassette means something to touch. Remember taking your cassette out of the car stereo tangled, the disaster of your favourite record being chewed up, the tragedy, the emotion, the loss of something that meant so much. A scratch on a record on your favourite track, a jump, annoying inconveniences that you don’t have with streaming, but these potential disasters teach you to treat your records and tapes, your equipment, with respect. Who remembers cassette head cleaners? Who has one of those little brushes you were supposed to use on the needle and a record-cleaning brush? I have a record cleaning machine, one of the best things I ever got for the collection, time-consuming, noisy, but essential, especially if you spend as much time as I do searching out old records as well as new ones.
To sum up, this passion, this massive financial commitment, that could have seen me invest in property instead, has been a labour of love and so many people have supported the concept that I feel like it was absolutely the right thing to do. Not only have some people donated entire collections (Noel in England) or most recently great collections of music magazines, like NME, Melody Maker and Sounds, but also Bomp, Creem and Trouser Press (Luke in Dublin), but some have even written their collections into their wills (haha) as the perfect place for their loved collections to land as they go to the great record store in the sky. I thank everyone who has contributed to The Archive (too many to mention here) a thousand times over for all the support and wish for you all to come to visit us here in Porto when the dream is complete, or should I say the ongoing dream, there’s always another record, and there are records that are still to be made, records that will blow our minds.
Note that we will do another video run through The Archive when we start with Phase 3.
Marty & Olivia