The Prodigal Songs – Farewell to Birmingham’s Music and Video Exchange

Whilst I was away, I learnt of the news that the Birmingham branch of Music and Video Exchange had closed it’s doors. At some point it said that it would re-open in 2016, but the sign today on the steel shutters said otherwise.

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I missed out on the free vinyl and books fire-sale on August 21. A shop I always liked to pop into. Despite quite a fair bit of their stock being a bit steep for my pockets, there was always something to trigger the memories to be found in their cheap CDs section. Being the sort of person who still gets misty-eyed about CDs, my pockets would often come out stuffed with CDs from the late 90s that I had shunned ages ago, going into the ether of what is now known to me as The Prodigal Songs.

Music and Video Exchange was where my concept of The Prodigal Songs came to me. One day, around 2010-2013, I was looking in the shop’s window and saw a double vinyl issue of Radiohead’s OK Computer which I bought back on release in 1997. This lovely work suffered a selling, I believe, to the great Scorpion Records (RIP) in High Wycombe the following year, along with – I think – Bentley Rhythm Ace’s self-titled debut, Cornershop’s When I Was Born For The 7th Time and Primal Scream’s Vanishing Point. At a reduced price, for something as fruitless as cigarettes, beer or that ticked teenth I owed people for. That sound you here is me kicking myself under the table for my callow stupidity. Still. I’ll talk about the high times and tales of my  youth at a later date.

Idiot. Slow down.

There she was. In the shop window selling for £25. And I swore blind that indeed that was my copy, with a tiny rip at the backside of the album. I wanted to dash back to the cashpoint to liberate her, but funds wouldn’t have allowed. £25 on a record as well? A bit steep, I reasoned with myself. I let her go. The day after, she had gone. Somewhere, somebody had taken her and was now rightfully enjoying “Exit Music For a Film” at full blast. Gone, I hoped to a good home.

Whilst at Music and Video Exchange, I enjoyed a game of chance/roulette. Seeing something for the high price, and taking my chances on the prices dropping before a like-minded fan snapped it up. This was particularly good fun with their brilliant selection of DVDs – lovingly arranged into sections such as cult/arthouse, horror, anime/manga, TV and of course music- everything geeks like us wanted (the stench in the air when you entered Music and Video Exchange was a glorious thing to behold.) Sometimes the wait paid off, other times it didn’t – I watched DVD’s of Russ Meyer’s Faster Pussycat! Kill Kill! and Lars Von Trier’s The Idiots slip through my fingers in the space of afternoons. At the time of Music and Video Exchange closing, I had my eye on a copy of Ben Wheatley’s A Field in England which had started at £8 and gone down to £6. Weeks later, the doors were to close…

Maybe it was tight-fistedness like this that caused the shop to close. Who knows? Before settling down to write this today, I went into the loft and had a leaf through my surviving, battle-weary and depleted collection, in order to have a look at what I’d bought from there.

From the sublime – re-issues yes (Bitches Brew is on 1980s CBS red label, and Trout Mask Replica is on Reprise yellow) but both looking and sounding lovely.

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To the not-so sublime but cheap at the price and good to dig out now and again (complete with lovely M&VE stickers too!)

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And to the “WHA?! OK it’s not in mint condition (none of my records are) but £9 for that? Ker-ching!!”

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They were also dead good blokes in there two and always let me stick my posters up for gigs when I asked them to. A real shame it’s gone. I think that area of Smallbrook Queensway is an unpolished diamond, with Richer Sounds and Nostalgia and Comics, over the road more kebab shops then you can shake a stick of Khlav Kalash at, and then over the other side there’s Fair Deal Music, Superfi and the Sunflower Lounge. A big farewell to Music and Video Exchange.

All the best xx

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For more on The Prodigal Songs, George Michael and Music and Video Exchange, please go here.

For more on The Prodigal Songs, please go here (this will be merged with this blog soon)

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