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Feelers On The Dealers

Holiday Music

Article from International Musician & Recording World, January 1985

Billy Punter enjoys a Holiday in Leytonstone

Holiday Music (Contact Details)

I've been working too hard lately. The long nights spent slaving over a steaming typewriter producing piles of steaming prose have definitely taken their toll. Everytime I hear the word "deadline" I start to shake — but worse than this is that when I hear the word "copy" I start to twitch, and worse still is that when I hear "shop review" I start to do a form of mutated twist called the 'strangled duck' which had great popularity in certain parts of Wisconsin during 1957.

Which I realise, is no excuse for my behaviour in that crowded lift, your honour, but...

Anyway, that's why when the Editor beamed at me benevolently and put his arm around my shoulders, I was overjoyed to hear him talk about holidays, rest, and taking a break.

In fact, the sentence went something like "go and do a review on Holiday Music, then finish the rest of your work and then you can have a break. For coffee. And then you can start that forty-three thousand word feature. And I'd like it lunchtime please."

So the thoughts of lazing on sun-kissed beaches with scantily clad nubiles evaporated. To be replaced by the thought of lazing in amp-filled showrooms with scruffily clad assistants. And the package flight to Lanzarote became a Tube ride to Leytonstone.

Which brings me — and indeed, the Central Line did — to Leytonstone station and then my own pretty, albeit short legs transported me past the slightly dubious emporia of Leytonstone High Road and into the waiting portals of Holiday Music.

Not before a quick hop into the other local musicmart, just a short step (a couple of hundred yards, to those with legs that don't stretch to three hundred yard steps) down the road — Freedmans.

Despite the organs and other pipe-and-slippers clobber littering the major, and larger, part of the shop, there is a fair-sized range of gear in there, and a well-equipped drum basement. But I'll get round to them soonish. Let it suffice for this issue that they're worth popping into while visiting my main target, Holiday.

The first thing you see while approaching the shop, to let you know what they're called, is a palm tree. Not the real thing, mind (not on the Plage De Leytonstone) but a rather cute billboard advertising the shop. Then as one hoves into sight of the shop window, the stock becomes visible — a fair section across the musical field, including guitars, effects, a synth or two, bits of home recording gear, and even the occasional percussion accessory.

And inside it's much the same story — a good wide selection, from guitars and basses through guitar synths (including an antique classic, the ill-fated but interesting ARP Avatar) to synths and keyboards from Yamaha pf electronic pianos right down to a Crumar thingy, with a side order of recording gear from TASCAM, Fostex and others, and a sprinkling of drums including a nice-looking handmade Eddie Ryan Rock kit, plenty of cymbals and a selection of the sort of bits nobody but Bob Henrit really understands, like double-splined grommet bushes with a 'T' clamp, an 'O' ring, and probably an 'L' plate as well, and there are positively plenty of amps and speakers in neat racks towards the front of the premises. (Well done — quite possibly the longest sentence ever — Ed).

The main bias of the shop, and probably their greatest strength, is second-hand gear. A nice change from the usual run of shops where the stock is all the stuff you've seen everywhere else and it's all so new you need an almanack, not an instruction booklet. I always find second-hand gear more interesting personally. Probably because I'm a little beaten up and well-gigged myself, I sympathise with other unfortunates whose purfling has been chipped. Also, I find the used market often turns up weird and wonderful rarities that might produce just that sound you've been hunting for and failing to get on your super-poly interfaceable Nadgimaru mark641. There's nowt like a Vox Continental organ, an old AC30, a Gretsch guitar, a Slingerland drum kit, or a Minimoog, no matter how limited and unreliable they might seem in comparison with today's micro-musical miracles.

But, dismounting in true John Wayne style from my high horse, I must continue to seek out and review new shops, new civilisations... which, funnily enough, was my impression of the service at Holiday; civilised. There was no queue of slobbering salesman leaping at your wallet every time you turned a corner, but when I wandered up to one of the assistants I got immediate attention and even an invitation to try anything that took my fancy. So I bumbled along the guitar rack, trying out an old Burns six-string with a wang bar like a bent table knife and a sound like an underwater motorbike; a nice old Fender Musicmaster, very Tom Verlaine; and an Epiphone semi-acoustic bass that gave off nothing but a vast boom like a cow in a train tunnel. Fascinating, if unusual.

And the same for some of the other stuff in the shop. A lovely old blond Fender Bassman combo was recently spotted there for a mere pittance, and if you want an old valve amp head for that classic Rack'n'Rawl sound you should have a browse around.

In general, then, a worthwhile place to pay a visit to, on a regular basis if possible because the stock changes quite rapidly and more gems are passing through the doors even as we speak.

I never thought I'd get enthusiastic about a Holiday in Leytonstone.

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That Was Then But This Is Now

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That Driving Beat

Publisher: International Musician & Recording World - Cover Publications Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.

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International Musician - Jan 1985



Feature by Billy Punter

Previous article in this issue:

> That Was Then But This Is No...

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> That Driving Beat

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