Long before iTunes, Amazon and Spotify, there were Record Shops. They were magical places with rows and rows of records (and CDs), waiting to be discovered. Then along came the supermarkets and the internet and everything changed, for some…
This weekend sees the annual UK Record Store Day. The event started in 2007 in America and is the day of the year that all independently owned record stores come together with artists to celebrate the art of music. There are special releases by artists from around the world and in-store performances along with meet & greets with artists, DJ’s, in-store quizzes and many other events.
Back in the eighties there were over 2,000 indie record shops in the UK. That number fell to under 300, but the great news is, it’s now on the increase. The number of stores selling music and video has more than doubled since 2009. And of course, sales of vinyl records are at their highest level since 1991, with 4.1 million vinyl albums sold in the UK in 2017 according to the BPI.
With that in mind, our Head of Music Nick Bewes takes a trip down memory to the record shops that helped grow his love of music.
“When I was a kid, my musical tastes were a little bit different to most of my school friends. They were into the likes of Madness, Duran Duran and Culture Club. Under the influence of my eldest brother, I was into Heavy Rock and the likes of Ozzy Osbourne and Twisted Sister. So many times, as a kid, I’d see a band on Top of the Pops on a Thursday night and I’d get on my bike either the next day or at the weekend and buy the record from Woolworths, yes from Woolies, but soon the big W was replaced by a new kid in town, Anagram Records.
This was my kind of record shop. Run by long haired guys in denim who knew their music, it was heaven, but sadly only for a short time. They moved out of town and then even that new shop closed. As the eighties turned into the nineties, I was at college in Leeds and spent many a lunchtime and indeed teatime, going through the latest releases in Jumbo Records and Crash Records. We’ve now reached 1990 and everything was about to change for me.
Down the road from where I worked, appeared a brand-new record shop called Mix Music. Far too much time and money was spent in the company of owner Mick and the rest who worked in the shop over the years. Mick, who remains a friend to this day, knew what I would like and what I wouldn’t. So much so, that when I walked into the shop, whatever was playing would disappear and some new American band would explode from the speakers. Pleasantries out of the way, he would be very disappointed if I hadn’t asked ‘what’s this?’ by the end of the first song! That is what record shops are all about, the knowledge of the staff to bring new music to your attention. The interaction, the banter, the music!
Around the mid-nineties, Mix had expanded to 4 stores, now sadly, like so many others, they have all gone. And that was the end of me having a regular record shop I’d spend loads of money in, but my love of discovering music continued and moved online with blogs, Twitter and the like. Without a doubt, all that time spent in record shops from a young age fed my obsession for music which I’ve been lucky enough to use for my job for the last 2 decades.
A couple of years ago, I visited the old Jumbo Records on Record Store Day. Well I did eventually, after spending over an hour in a queue which snaked its way from the shop, across the front, where bands were playing and then down the side of the restaurant next door and nearly down to the car park entrance. By the time I got into the shop, everything I had earmarked to buy had gone, but I eventually got a couple of things to remember the day by. Oh and I didn’t even own a turntable to listen to the records that I had bought! It didn’t really matter. It was more about the experience of being there, waiting to get into the shop, chatting with other music fans, and listening to the live bands. One of the things that struck me was how many teenagers were getting involved in it. Some had even come to Leeds to see what they could get after shopping in York early doors.
If you fancy visiting a record shop this weekend to try and bag some rare vinyl, here’s the list of releases…
My advice – get there early.”
Nick Bewes – Music Profiler
For expert music profiling from Nick Bewes and his team on your audio service, give KVH Studios a call on 0113 233 7800 today.