Action Time Vision – (The Archive Series) Unit Editions
Chosen by Mark Ross
Back when I was younger…
Any one who knows their lyrics will know that’s part of the opening line to Stiff Little Finger’s 7’’ single ‘At The Edge’ – the Belfast punk band formed in 1977. So, when I saw Unit Edition’s book archiving punk and post-punk 7’’ singles advertised, I got very excited and placed an advance order. Like Mr Bestley and Mr Brook I collected many singles from that era and those genres. However, for a young lad growing up in rural North Yorkshire it wasn’t easy getting one’s grubby little hands on a copy – often my mum used to have to order the single from a record shop in Ripon while she was there doing the weekly shop. The weight of disappointment if it hadn’t arrived when she returned the following Friday was crushing, such was the anticipation and desperation to own, and more importantly, play it (it was a similar experience waiting for the book to arrive!). Thankfully collecting singles got easier over time. When I started art school in Harrogate and discovered a specialist independent record shop. I spent hours sifting through the racks. And even easier still when I arrived in Scarborough, to start studying graphic design, and discovered Studio One, another independent record shop just by the train station. I was like a child in a sweet shop, often opting to spend some of my student grant on records rather than lunch as intended.
I’m acutely aware that lots of music fans my age ‘bang on’ about their love of vinyl and how different buying and listening to music was back then. But it’s true. I’m sure Bestley and Brooks would agree. To prove my point, the number of iPods belonging to young people I’ve browsed only to discover ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’ is the only Only Ones track they own – tragic given the number of great songs Peter Perrett penned – “but it’s the one from the ad” – please, spare me the explanation. I make that comment with the exception of Thom, my son, as I inculcated a love of vinyl in him from a very tender age and he has continued to embrace it with a passion.
I digress, this was intended to be a book review. I found it a very nostalgic experience leafing through the pages of Action Time Vision. ‘Got’, ‘not got’, ‘had but sold’, ‘swopped with a mate for…’ and so on. You get the picture. I considered it a shame that over a third of all covers selected were reproduced in black and white, given the book was intended as a celebration of visual archives and collections. A good number of the covers were far less impactful for being reproduced in single colour – maybe it was a budget thing, who knows? I think it’s important that such enthusiastic and passionate individuals preserve graphic design artefacts that have historic value and importance and I would recommend the book to anyone interested in either the musical genres, or equally, graphic design.
A huge positive for me was it inspired me to dust off my old 7’’ record boxes and play some of those singles, some of which I’d not heard for a long time. Some of which have been photographed and featured in this blog post. And finally, for anyone who thinks punk is dead and we need to shut up and move on, I strongly suggest you listen to ‘Human Performance’. An incredible album released this year by Brooklyn based punk band Parquet Courts, an album sure to grace most credible ‘Top Albums of 2016’ lists.
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