Saturday April 18 is Record Store Day an international day to celebrate and support the record shop.
It’s a coincidence that I was thinking I would do a blog about record stores as I walked past the DIY shop at Ladbroke Grove walking towards the LMM office. Until recently this was the site of the Dub Vendor reggae record shop.For 28 years the shop had been an iconic presence in Ladbroke Grove with its painted wall mural and the sweet reggae sounds drifting from the front door. Another record shop bites the dust.
Record Stores hold a special place in my affections. I have always been a massive fan of music and I have bought hundreds of vinyl records and CDs over the years. Although I listen to most of my music on an Ipod now I still like to look at the sleeve and read the CD booklets. Sorting through my huge vinyl collection last week I managed to throw away ten LPs from a collection of about five hundred (many of which I also own on CD and most of which are on my Ipod anyway.) I just couldn’t chuck them out. They held too many memories.
Those memories were brought into sharp focus by holding the 12 inch vinyl sleeves. Memories of parties and people, places and events and memories of the record shop they were bought from.
There was the first Clash album bought with pocket money from Bradley’s Records on Chapel Walk in Sheffield where I used to pester the staff for promo posters .There was Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces which I bought along with dozens of other records at the closing down sale of a record shop in Berkley Square off Ecclesall Road in Sheffield. I’d bunked off school for the day to queue for the opportunity to stock up on records. There was The Wild, The Innocent And The E Street Shuffle and Greetings From Astbury Park by Bruce Springsteen which I didn’t realise existed until twelve months after buying Darkness On The Edge Of Town and Born To Run I spotted them in the racks in Virgin Records at the bottom of the Moor. The Beach Boys, Otis Redding, XTC and Beatles records I bought second hand from Record Collector at Broomhill.
For a couple of years in the early 90s I worked in HMV on Pinstone Street alongside a great bunch of guys including the fantastic Sheffield artist Pete McKee (more about him later) and Richard Hawley who wrote about his experience in Uncut magazine and made it seem like a mixture of purgatory and the record store from Nick Hornsby’s High Fidelity.
In a sense it was.
Richard Hawley complained about being made to listen to the Now Xmas album from Oct to January and I still get cold sweats when I hear Shaken’ Stevens singing Merry Xmas Everyone. On the other hand Saturday mornings recovering from a hang over listening to Frank Sinatra Live At The Sands in the jazz and classical department were great times and the race to play The Smiths Shoplifters of the World Unite and take over every time a dodgy thief walked in the shop livened up the days. We got to play all the new singles when they came in and to borrow records which allowed me to discover Nick Drake and Love , Public Enemy and Miles Davis.
Record Stores were my art gallery’s and even now I can spend hours browsing the racks looking for CDs which I need to add to my collection but only a complete Luddite would deny that the internet and on line stores like Amazon are the future of record buying. I buy many more CDs online now than from a shop. They have everything from the most obscure soul compilation to the newest indie act. Maybe even these will disappear as the physical media disappear and MP3 downloads totally take over from CDs. It may be that we don’t even bother with downloads in the future. All music will exist in a storage cloud from which we can access every note ever recorded by subscription. Until then record stores we salute you.
The Best Ever Record Stores
Sam The Record man on Yonge Street in Toronto
With its double disc neon sign and huge store frontage this shop, which closed a couple of years ago, was a favourite every time I travel to Canada. The staff took my purchase of Elvis In Memphis and Mathew Sweets Girlfriend CD to recommend Uncle Tupelos Anodyne CD. This led to a fixation with Wilco and Son Volt, which continues to this day. We salute you!
Amoeba Records on Telegraph Avenue in Berkely,California
I once spent five hours wading through the racks in this shop and I travelled back from San Francisco to visit it again. They played the Wondermints and I picked up a copy of The Wondermints eponymous cd for one dollar along with a copy of the It Came From Memphis compilation and the Bigstar double CD comp. We salute you!
Fopp Records-Edinburgh and Sheffield
The original Fopp records concept had great deals on a brilliant selection of music. They played good sounds in store and had brilliant staff like Martin Gregory from HMV Pinstone Street who had knowledge about all genres of music and would suggest tunes you would like. We salute you!
The cradle of indie music. We salute you!