In Review: Last Shop Standing on DVD

by Helen Cox on 01/04/2013

Honest Jons SignageWith the collapse of HMV 2012’s documentary Last Shop Standing is even more pertinent than it was 8 months ago on release. Based on the book of the same name by Graham Jones, one of the founders of Proper Music Distribution, this modest 50 minute film explores the rise, fall and potential rebirth of the independent record shop on the flailing British high street.

Director Pip Piper captures a range of desirable talking heads on camera, not just bemoaning the loss of many beloved independent shops (in the 80s there were more than 2200 UK independent record shops but by 2009 there were only 269 and more have since closed) but explaining the process, helping the audience to understand what happened to these businesses and it’s no surprise that it goes a lot deeper than downloads. The owners of independent record shops unwittingly became the stooges of larger record companies who, in true fat cat style, were too busy enjoying the successes of today to think about tomorrow.

Music fans will no doubt revel in seeing the likes of Paul Weller, Billy Bragg and Nerina Pallot explain why these shops are so important to society as a whole, but even those who have never had the pleasure of a proper record collection can’t fail to see the resonance of the shopkeeper testimonies. From Sheffield to Swansea, the viewer hears from owners all over the country who recount the highs and lows of selling LPs. Whilst some fear they will become nothing more than a museum there are also those who have adapted to the digital age and put a great deal of effort into preserving a sense of musical community in Britain. The result? These shops are still standing and are very positive about their future.

For what this film is, a documentary that got made thanks to funds from Indiegogo, the viewer could not ask for anything more. It is at times deeply moving and, contrary to what the title might suggests, leaves the audience on a heartening, uplifting note. One that inspires you to go back to your record collection, dust it off and start thinking about how you might arrange it in a display case. If you haven’t any vinyl, as records are now named, you will no doubt be Googling ‘local independent record shops’ by the time the closing credits roll. If so, and if you’ve seen High Fidelity, fear not: nobody in an actual real-life record shop is as judgmental as Jack Black’s Barry. They just love the music and want you to love it too.

Helen has awarded Last Shop Standing 5 Torches of Truth

5 torches rating

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