Leeds Fairs (plural)

As my Canadian friend Chris was staying over during September, a quick search for record fairs threw one up in Leeds on October 2. A further hunt revealed TWO fairs in the city on the same day, vinyl overkill! It’s been ages since I’ve been to a fair organised by VIP, so we started there at the Town Hall.
Now I know record fairs are not what they were, but VIP fairs I’ve been to in the past were generally fairly good and stocked with a variety of dealers. By contrast this was without doubt the most miserable record fair (sorry ‘music fair’, as they rebranded it) I think I’ve ever been to. Maybe a dozen stalls, of which one of the biggest was covered in blankets and a note to the effect that they’d gone to lunch already! Of the others that had vinyl, most seemed to be stuffed with bootlegs and modern pirate reproductions of various Kraut Rock rarities and the like – mostly not marked as such – or dodgy coloured vinyl ‘collectors editions’ which no matter what they claimed are not official in any way. It certainly wasn’t worth the hour’s drive and I’ll not be bothering to go again – indeed it makes me wonder what the other smaller VIP fairs are like these days. Perhaps the fact that the advertised £2 entry fee had been waived was some recognition of the lack-lustre event on the organisers part.
There were just four stalls with proper vinyl, and I managed to find some stuff to browse before I realised Chris was getting increasingly irritated at the pirate stuff and so decided to clear off to try and find the second fair before an international incident was provoked. I’d already given up at one stall as the non-stop inane chatter from the two underage stall holders about the merits of facebook and how much make-up girls should be allowed to wear was getting me down, so was also ready for the off.
The other fair turned out to be in the Queens Hotel next to the station, and was a real relief – more than twice as many dealers, much tidier, a bit of music playing for some atmos (though after an hour of non-stop Ramones we were beginning to wish for a change of listening!) and plenty of proper records to get stuck into. It’s a monthly do, so the stock probably wouldn’t pay going to every fair, but worth a trip every once in a while (www.leedsrecordfairs.co.uk). I found a couple of nice covers in the £2 boxes, plus a couple of records for upcoming research projects (I’m trying to get a gallery to host a sleeve exhibition next year) and Chris came away with a pile of Black & White Minstrel EPs which he was still shaking his head at in disbelief two days later (not being familiar with this rather seedy aspect of Brit TV history!).
If VIP are targeting Leeds to try and take business away from the other organisers then they should be ashamed. I’ll see if their upcoming Sheffield fair is any better. Anyhow, as I’ve not yet photographed my finds, here instead is a snap I spotted recently of a young lass puzzling which album to put on the hi-fi. Bare chipboard shelving, that takes me back…

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About simon robinson

Having worked as a designer mostly in the music industry, and mainly in the reissue sector, I now concentrate on the design and publication of books about popular culture - and even write some of them.
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