Den Bosch Diary: Day Three

Third and final day of SDE in the Netherlands

Read these before you read the below: Day One • Day Two

Sunday 14th April – SDE was in the Netherlands for Record Planet’s 58th ‘Mega Record & CD Fair’ and sadly, Sunday is the last day. Here’s SDE Editor Paul Sinclair’s final diary entry…

Having spent seven hours at the event on Saturday, there is a slight feeling of exhaustion, even if you know that there’s still plenty to see, because you probably missed loads of great records and CDs at the various stands. You definitely can’t replicate the excitement of day one, but on the other hand there’s a slightly calmer vibe in the various halls on the Sunday. There’s a lot less people in attendance, because you have to be some kind of maniac to do consecutive days (guilty as charged). At 10.00 when I arrived the place seemed half empty, when made walking around very pleasant. There were a few stands with covers over them which meant the owners were starting late.

There was one disaster. As I was dumping my suitcase in the cloakroom (I was heading straight to the train station afterwards), I realised I couldn’t find my reading glasses! In panic mode, I was patting and checking pockets, but they were nowhere to be found. In my somewhat dishevelled and confused state, I may as well have held up a big sign that read: “I am an old person. I need help”. I had to go back to the cloakroom where I’d literally only just dumped my suitcase and rucksack and ask the young girl behind the counter to go get them again, so I could check. The look she gave me was the kind of sympathetic look you give old people that need help. Luckily, I actually had packed a busted spare pair in my suitcase, for this very eventuality. Not ideal because one of the ‘arms’ – or whatever the bits that go around your ear are called – was missing. They sort of stayed on my face, if I didn’t look down too much, which of course you need to do quite a lot of at a record fair! They also looked a bit skew-whiff, giving me an attractive ‘care in the community’ type vibe. Later, I emailed the hotel, thinking I probably left them at reception, while checking out. Apparently not.

The halls were noticeably less busy on day two (click to enlarge)

The plan was to head off around 13.30, so roughly half-a-day to get things done. There were more bargains to be had, simply because dealers wanted to get rid of stock. I came across a stand with 12-inch singles for €1 each and bought about 15 of them, including singles from the Bee Gees, Tina Turner, OMD, Robbie Nevil, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Robert Palmer.

I also came across a dealer that had a massive pile of sealed Björk ‘Innocence’ box sets. This was her 2008 single that was released in this slightly ludicrous box which included 2 x 12″ singles, a CD and a DVD with 11 versions of the video (directors of the various videos were winners in a competion). There’s already 14 mixes of ‘Innocence’ across the two vinyl records and the CD, but if that isn’t enough there’s seven more on the DVD and a 5.1 surround mix (by Paul ‘P Dub’ Walton). Phew! The sticker on the box says it’s a “very very limited” multi-format collection. Unfortunately, this is ‘limited’ according to the 2008 definition of the word, and discogs report that they made 10,000 of these bastards! No wonder there were piles of them knocking around in Den Bosch. I bought one, obviously. For €15 it seemed rude not to. A classic case of ‘things you never knew you needed’ (and probably don’t, to be fair).

“Things you never knew you needed”. Björk’s ‘Innocence’ box set (click to enlarge)

Sometimes you just get dealers that hit the sweet spot. Great prices; nice mix of new and old stock; interesting records; friendly. I came across one like that today and bought a USA first edition of Paul Simon’s Greatest Hits, Etc. Not a record I own. Vinyl was mint, cover more like ‘EX’, but it was only €15. The same place had a copy of The Beatles’ Love Songs collection. Coincidentally, like Paul Simon, this is a 1977 compilation. My dad used to own the cassette tape of this at the time and in the late ’70s it was played endlessly in the car when I was 8 or 9. I think it’s a wonderful compilation and I’ve never owned a copy (Apple really should reissue this). I had actually seen one on Saturday but it was quite expensive and had a very flashy gold foil blocking. This German Electrola pressing wasn’t quite as bling-y and while the gatefold sleeve was in optimistic ‘VG’ condition, the records were mint. I don’t mind a slightly battered sleeve, if I’m honest. Anyway, it was only €18, so thank you very much! The other thing I bought was a sealed 2LP orange vinyl 30th anniversary edition of Blur’s Modern Life Is Rubbish for €30.

The SDE-curated deluxe 2CD set of It’s Immaterial’s debut album (click to enlarge)

Some guy had a decent selection of SHM-CDs or SACDs but I either had them, or I wasn’t interested in the artists/albums, or they were too expensive. I was quite chuffed to spot as a ‘Collectors item’ the 2CD deluxe edition of It’s Immaterial’s Life’s Hard And Then You Die, that I curated back in 2016. I’m still very proud of that (we have loads of T-shirts left on the SDE shop!).

I kept looking for Tears For Fears’ Elemental album but it was hopeless. No luck. Tears For Fears don’t seem to be ‘big’ enough, in collecting terms, to have their own sections in most stands, so you have to look under ‘T’ or ’80s’. Even though Elemental is a 90s album, you just know that no one is going to file it alongside 90s music like Grunge or Britpop. I stopped wasting time and started asking directly about TFF. It was either a shake of the head or they’d pull a 12-inch of ‘Shout’ from nowhere, like a rabbit from a hat. Not quite what I’m looking for, I’d say.

The Beatles Love Songs acquired for €18 (click to enlarge)

I didn’t find any individual Ryko David Bowie titles, but I did come across the vinyl version of the Sound + Vision box set, which contains six gatefold, clear vinyl records. I picked it up and the back has the not uncommon ‘bubbling’ where the black wrap on the back of the box has just aged. Also, unless these are actually sealed, you’re never going to get the etched plastic lid without marks; they are scuff magnets. For that reason, I wasn’t too bothered about the marks on this one. There was a bit of wear on the cover of the first vinyl record, but other than that, it all looked okay. “Mint” the guy said, as I was looking at this box, which had a €120 price tag. I shook my head. He shrugged and offered it to me for €100. I thought about trying to knock him down a bit more, but I have been after this for ages and €100 is a decent price. Longtime SDE readers might recall that I passed on buying this very box for $80 in New York in 2016 (check out the NY diary). Less than two months later, David Bowie was dead. €100 is about US $106, so I can take a $26 worth of inflation in seven-and-a-half years. Done! Later on, I realised this was missing the card OBI-type thing that slides over the right-hand-side. Oh well…

As lunchtime approached my energy levels were low. I’d spent about €300 which didn’t seem too bad. Because of the time and investment getting here, there’s a devil on your shoulder trying to convince you that you need to spend more to make it “worth it”. But I was done. I was hungry too, but sadly no Bossche Bols today (!), so I went without, planning to pick up some late lunch when I got back to Amsterdam, where I would be getting a 18.45 train home to London. A good 20-minute+ walk later and I was hot, sweaty, and knackered but on the train.

SDE reader ‘mysterioustraveller’ told me something quite amusing, via the comments section of this website. He’d been in London at the end of last week and was actually travelling to Amsterdam on the same train as me on Friday morning! He’d been reading the diary and said he’d be in Amsterdam on Sunday afternoon and why don’t we meet in a record shop called Concerto? Let’s do it, I said.

Concerto record shop, in Amsterdam (click to enlarge)

So that’s what happened. I dumped my luggage again and headed off to Concerto, which was a slightly longer walk than anticipated. Concerto is a fairly big shop. I always like to support independent record shops when I’m visiting them and they had quite a good selection of surround sound discs. I ended up getting the DVD-A of Queen’s The Game, which was €50 and a slightly battered looking copy of the DVD-A of Neil Young’s Harvest, for €30. I was waiting for ‘mysterioustraveller’ to come up to me, but I thought he was probably in the vinyl section, which proved correct. It was lovely to meet an SDE reader in the flesh and we had a chat and I proffered my SDE enamel badge I was wearing as a token gift (think Blue Peter badge, except rarer!). We said our farewells because it was about 16.30 and I had a train to catch.

Back at Amsterdam Centraal, I was foolishly expecting a groovy Eurostar departure centre, with shops, restaurants and the like, but it’s just a room with a coffee machine. I’d arrived far too early to compound things. But we were on our way only a few minutes late of the 18.45 departure time.

I had a highly enjoyable weekend in the Netherlands, which is a beautiful country. I will definitely be back and want to thank you for joining me via this diary and perhaps on social media. I plan to do another trip in the next 12 months, most probably another European city, to check out record shops and maybe some more record fairs. Where next? I was thinking Hamburg but please give me your ideas….

Paul Sinclair

MONEY CAN’T BUY the ‘coveted’ SDE enamel badge!!

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