Who’d be a 90s (or 00s) idol?

Written by on January 27, 2021

Every decade brings its new favourite bands and albums. But they can get forgotten fast as taste moves on and new heroes appear. I love looking on the CD shelves of charity shops. You never know what you’re going to find. There was the Jazz collection in a shop in Bristol, the pile of great 70s rock albums I found in Surrey, but mostly it is the same albums from the last 20 years that crop up time and again.

If I was a faded pop star and I was browsing round my local PDSA shop, nothing would depress me more than seeing three copies of my best album sat on the shelf for 49p each. If I was Robbie Williams I might not mind so much, but then I sort of doubt he is a big visitor to Oxfam. If I was Blu Cantrell, whose ‘So Blu’ album seems to be on every CD rack in every charity shop in the world I might be a bit, well… blue.

You might be surprised to find how quickly big sellers fall out of favour, and just how far. Robbie Williams ‘Live at Knebworth’ for instance, any of Take That’s reunion albums, and U2. Yes U2, formerly biggest band in the world, are regulars in the charity racks. ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’, has in fact been left on the shelf in every charity shop from here to Glasgow. The sheer number of discs from the heyday of the CD in the 90s and 00s is amazing, and someone bought these, or got them for their Christmas. CD sales peaked in the UK in 1997. Of the top 3 selling albums of the nineties, ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’ By Oasis, Simply Red’s ‘Stars’ and the first Spice Girls album you can expect to see at least one in very charity shop, but far and away the top of the donated charts are; Madonna’s ‘Immaculate Collection’, Dido’s Life for Rent, and David Gray’s White Ladder, oh how the mighty are fallen.

And what about the long-lasting big names? Van Morrison seems to have taken up residence in charity shops and it’s not just his lacklustre recent output, you can find classics like ‘Astral Weeks’, and ‘Moondance’ regularly. Perhaps it’s time for Sir Ivan to follow Mr Dylan down the route of cashing in his rights and sitting back to enjoy some slightly miffed downtime. And you do have to wonder if the number of copies of ‘Songs from the West Coast’ on the charity shelves is what has prompted Elton John to talk retirement.

Browsing the charity shops can be a relaxing way to spend an hour, and you can get to know which the best ones are to look in locally, and no I’m not going to tell you, but as with DVDs and VHS the piles of unsaleable albums by Amy Studt and The Fray means some shops are now refusing to take the silver disc at all. Shame, oh well there’s always eBay.

Produced By Tim Martin

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