Nik Kershaw

Road to Nowhere?
The Death of Music Retailing.

7th March 1999

Trawling through the morning papers, I come upon the music reviews. As I grow older I find this section less and less relevent to my life - if I've heard of the bands I am rarely that impressed, if I haven't I seldom risk a purchase.

But today it was different - there was somebody I had heard of, somebody from the dark and distant past - Nik Kershaw. And what was more his was the "Daily Express Record of the Week"!

Suddenly my mind drifted back to the heady days of the mid-eighties (anyone worked out what "The Riddle" was about yet?) when Nik was "the big thing" and I was an impressionable teenager, clinging on every word. Having seen the majority of the people I work with wander off to see Boy George on his "Reunion tour" I thought Mr Kershaw's album was worth a go, so wandered down to my local record shop...

"15 minutes by Nik Kershaw, please"

Slightly surprised I decided there must be one of two explanations. Either the album wasn't actually out yet or I needed to go to a larger store! Having checked and dismissed the former, I decided to act on the latter. The "Virgin Megastore" - the name says it all, right?

"15 minutes by Nik Kershaw, please"
"I think you mean 'The best of Nik Kershaw', released 1997 - yes?"
"No! 15 minutes"
"Sorry Sir, never heard of it - I'll check on my computer to see when it's out"
"..don't bother!"

Is Mr Kershaw's excellent review in the February 27th issue of the "Daily Express" going to help if the CDs don't actually make it into the shops until July? I think not! Perhaps it's just a case of distribution problems (in which case the press should think about waiting until an album is actually widely available before reviewing it) or perhaps (am I just being cynical here?) the chains weren't given enough financial incentive to stock the CD - either way, it's not very impressive. If it ain't on the shelves you can't buy it... it you don't buy it it doesn't chart! Period!

In the seventies and early-eighties I used to frequent a wonderful record shop in Glastonbury. If he didn't have a record, he'd get it within a couple of days and you were always greeted with a smile. Unfortunately one of the large retail chains moved in across the road from him and embarked on a price war in which the independent couldn't compete - he closed within months. We are now getting complaints from these large stores that the Internet could put them out of business... we should avoid buying things over the 'web as it will "cost jobs" - a bit of "do as I say not as I do" methinks, but then again large corporations rarely put morality high on their list of priorities, unless it suits them to do so!

"Fifteen Minutes" is the name of Nik Kershaw's album, about the same time it took me to order the said recording from the WWW. My attempts to buy it in person were more of a "Road to Nowhere" - five days of wasted journeys and time and not one offer to order the album for me! A sign of the times?