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The Life and Death of an Independent Record shop

Last Build Date: Wed, 07 Mar 2018 15:25:37 PST


Where has all the music gone ?

Thu, 03 Nov 2016 07:20:31 PDT

I visited a HMV the other day. It's the first time in a while so I was shocked to note that the place seemed to be selling less and less music.
You can't blame them I suppose but it seemed sad to see wall to wall DVDs. And small sections of vinyl and CDs
Oh how times have changed



Hi-Fi Sound Stereo Test Record

Fri, 02 Jan 2015 12:59:14 PST

Do you remember when people cared so much about the sound quality of their 'Hi-Fi' that they actually purchased albums to help set them up and test the quality ?.
There have been many of these albums over the years and this one was mine. Not that I had any idea what the hell I was doing with it. The sound quality of Showaddywaddy-Hey Rock & Roll didn't improve much once I'd fiddled with the bass, treble and speaker positions. But I thought I was doing something.
The type of person who usually bought these albums would have spent a lot of money on their system and when they purchsed an album in the shop they had to have a look at the vinyl first. Taking it out of the sleeve and holding it up to the light to make sure there were no blemishes. Then holding it on one finger to see if there was any sign of a warp. If they weren't happy they would reject it and we'd have to get another copy out for them to check. I once had a guy check and reject 10 copies of Dire Straits Brothers in Arms before he found one that was acceptable. Only to bring it back the next day because he could hear a slight 'click' during the intro. Amazingly he was also the same customer who refused to buy a CD player because the sound was too clean !.




EMI Record Tokens

Wed, 24 Dec 2014 16:53:21 PST

As it's coming up to Christmas I thought I'd remember the once popular EMI Record Token. Something your Grandma bought you for a Christmas present or perhaps a birthday. So you could use it to buy "one of those pop 45s from the hit parade". At one time universally accepted in most shops their boom sales period came at Christmas time.
Pick yourself a card from the gondolier, tell the assistant in the shop how much you want to spend and hey presto you've done your Christmas shopping for someone you couldn't be bothered to spend any more time on.
From my memory working in a record shop they were very popular. You ordered as many tokens as you wanted from EMI but had to be careful how you sold them. Because you were charged up to and including the first token that was redeemed or the last token you sold. So if you had a pack of 20 and you sold number 20 first, once that token was redeemed you were charged from 1 to 20.
They came in £1, £5 and £10 donations and you could then lick and stick as many on as you liked onto the card.
The problem was, a percentage of the sale went to EMI (obviously). And the beginning of the end came when major stores like Woolworths and WH Smiths stopped accepting them and doing their own. A sensible idea really when you think that someone could also buy the token from you and spend it somewhere else.
But I always thought that was the beauty of these things. A token you can give to someone and let them shop anywhere with . Not quite the same as an iTunes or Google Play token.

Music Master Catalogue

Wed, 24 Dec 2014 16:32:06 PST

Music Master 1990

Long before the Internet and Google search, if you wanted to look up information about a record/song/artist, you had to find out the old fashioned way by looking in a book.

Retail record stores across the country had to subscribe to a music catalogue that was so big it made the bible look like a pamphlet. Imagine a book that listed all formats, all track listings, all catalogue numbers, record labels & release dates for EVERY record that is currently available to buy.

That book was Music Master.

With monthly supplements to keep the information up to date and a full yearly reprint, thIs book was the music bible for the Retail music industry.

If anyone wanted to order a record this was the place to start. To order a title you needed three important pieces of information.

1. Is it still available?. 2. What label is it on? (Or more importantly who's distributing it?) 3. What's the catalogue number.

This book had it all. It cost an absolute fortune to buy and was a pain in the bum to flick through but I spent many happy hours looking though it trying to find classic stuff to purchase for myself never mind customers. You may have needed a magnifying glass to read the writing and the paper was so thin it could tear very easily, but it was an essential part of any proper record shop. I can find very little information on the net about when they started or stopped printing this book, how many editions there were or if anyone else remembers its existence. But, for me, it's a nice bit of nostalgia Just to see it again.



Oasis CD Singles Display

Wed, 08 Oct 2014 14:42:09 PDT

Found this the other day. Seems a shame not to hang it up again. A original piece of shop display material from the 1990s
Oasis CD Singles



Kate Bush Rubberband Girl

Mon, 06 Oct 2014 04:01:00 PDT

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The Cramps Human Fly in 3D

Fri, 03 Oct 2014 23:00:02 PDT

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Queen Album Flexi Disc for The Works

Wed, 24 Dec 2014 16:48:13 PST


Space - Magic Fly Or is it Daft Punk ?

Wed, 01 Oct 2014 23:00:00 PDT

Or is this Daft Punk 1970's style ?
You gotta admit there are similarities here. The Look, the sound...their French !
Pioneers of the short lived "Space Disco" music.
I bought the first two albums. Must get the other one out sometime.
Wonder if it's as good as i remember ? 

Reached No 2 in August 1977

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Kenny Everett Radio Show

Thu, 04 Dec 2014 05:01:31 PST

Even today there is not, and never has been, a DJ who comes anywhere close to the sound of Kenny Everett. He was the radio DJ equivalent of the Beatles. Groundbreaking, Weird and very funny.


A genius as far as i am concerned, so lets take a trip down memory lane to a time when DJs used to be able to do whole 3 hour shows on their own without a 'Posse' of people in the background to laugh at their jokes.

They even managed to read their own weather & traffic reports as well from what i remember. God knows how they managed it !.

But seriously, in Kenny's case, everything you hear is put together by him in a little room with tape, vinyl records and a microphone . No computers. No editing machines, Just him a pair of scissors and a reel to reel tape.

Brilliant stuff.

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Hank Mizell - Jungle Rock 1976

Tue, 30 Sep 2014 23:00:01 PDT

frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%">Nicknamed "Hank" after the country and western singer Hank Williams, Mizell was actually called William. He recorded this track in 1958. but sadly it did nothing, even after a re-issue one year later. In fact it disappeared without trace for another 18 years until the song came to the attention of Charly Records who in th early 70s were scoring hits with re-issued classics by the likes of the Shangri-las. There was a big 50s revival going on during the 70s that ran from the Fonz on TV, Grease at the Cinema and re-issued original classics. There were even current pop groups trying to emulate the sound of the 50s with the likes of  Showaddywaddy, The Rubettes and The Darts having major chart success. But this one off re-issue of the original gave Hank Mizell a No 3 hit in March 1976. And from what i remember from my old Mobile 
DJ days this record sat in the same part of the box as the Locomotion, Hi Ho Silver Lining and various other 'guaranteed to get the party going' records i can play, if nothing else seems to be working.
If it wasn't for You Tube i don't think i could honestly say i'd remember what he looked like. And i've never heard him sing it live, so this is a treat.

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By the way, If there is one thing I miss about the sad decline in vinyl sales. It's the look, feel, smell and sound of it. And if there is one type of music that highlights the fact that something is missing its this type of music.


Britt Ekland Do it to me

Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:55:48 PDT

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A nostalgic look back through the good, bad, weird and obscure in my record collection i thought when i started this blog.
This single could be categorised as any of those four descriptions.
Quite rare I'm told and i know of no-one else who has heard it. Do it to me (once more with feeling). What can she mean ?
Britt Ekland is a Swedish actress famed for her roles in the James Bond movie The man with the golden gun, Get Carter and (my personal favourite) The Wicker man.
But did you know she made a Disco Record in 1979?
Sounding a bit like Baccara (Yes sir, i can boogie) this sold about 4 copies in the UK and i have one of them on 12" of all things.
I have included the Gatefold inner picture for entertainment value only.


Tower Of Strength The Mission

Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:02:07 PDT

One of those forgotten classics that they don't play enough on the oldies stations.
Always loved it. Still do.
Made No 12 in Feb 1988 (over 26 years old! Gulp!)

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Book sales

Tue, 30 Sep 2014 05:23:46 PDT

No wonder book shops are going out of business with competition like this. I particularly like the John Grisham display.



Helen Terry Love lies lost

Mon, 29 Sep 2014 23:00:01 PDT

Famed for her connections with Culture Club. This track was co-written by Helen herself.
Made No 34 in May 1984
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Heaven 17 temptation

Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:40:15 PDT

Their biggest hit. No2 April 1983(image)
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Mari Wilson - (Beware) Boyfriend

Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:35:55 PDT

Sadly Mari Wilson only really had one big hit. The brilliant Just what I always wanted. She had at least half a dozen goes at the top 40 but apart from a cover version of the Julie London classic Cry me a river there was nothing else coming anywhere near the top 10. But I always thought there was more to her than hit singles and a bit of sixties nostalgia is always welcome.
(Beware) Boyfriend reached No 51 in November 1982
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Recommended reading

Wed, 24 Dec 2014 16:32:06 PST



Chart Machine

Wed, 24 Dec 2014 16:31:15 PST

The indie store i worked in was a Chart Return shop. This meant that we gave our sales data to whoever compiled the charts at the time. During my time it moved from The British Market Research Bureau, to Gallup to CIN to Millward Brown. Initially it was via Pen and paper, but then they introduced computers. Every record has a catalogue number and all you had to do was type this number into the machine and press enter. If you flick through your record collection you will notice that Catalogue numbers changed in the late 80s to accommodate this. There were less nonsensical numbers and letters like epc345278 and more short straight forward wordy ones like BONG3 or FIC 42. It made it easier for sales staff to remember and type them out. You will also notice that once these machines moved away from typed in data to barcode wands, the catalogue numbers on your records dropped letters all together and stuck to really long numbers instead. But God forbid anyone should forget to type a sale in back then. Anything to make sure you did, anything to make it easy. One miss type would be classed as a missed sale for a record company and every entry was important. Which made any shop contibuting to the top 40 of interest to a record company. Each night when you closed the shop you had to remember to turn the machine off. In retrospect i now know that by turning it off i was actually flicking it over to a fax like modem that would answer the phone and send the days data direct to Gallup. If you had forgotten to turn it off it couldn't communicate with their main computer and nothing was sent. Sometime during the night Gallup would call, collect the data and add it to that collected from all the other shops on the panel. The charts were actually compiled on a daily basis and they even released a mid week chart to the record companies so they could see how well (or bad) their singles and albums were doing so far that week. It cost money to rent these little computers and in the end you also had to pay to have your own data sent back to you in chart form. But it was worth every penny. The deals and free stock you received from record companies, just because you were on the chart return panel, far outweighed anything they charged. One rep once told me in the 80s that they could always tell who was on the chart panel without even going to the shop. All they had to do was ring them at night. If the machine answered the phone they knew they were worth a visit.  [...]

Recommended link

Sun, 28 Apr 2013 06:00:00 PDT

If you know a good related blog or site worth adding to my links list please let me know. Better still, if you have a blog yourself and want to swap links with me then get in contact
Here is one i've found recently. Worth a look.


Music Master Supplement January 1986

Sat, 27 Apr 2013 07:00:05 PDT



British Association of Record Dealers Membership Fee

Fri, 26 Apr 2013 09:00:08 PDT

From April 1993



WEA 1986 Dealer Price List

Thu, 25 Apr 2013 14:36:32 PDT

I've been looking through some old paperwork from my Record shop days. I still can't bring myself to throw most of it away. But i thought some of it would be interesting to post. So get ready for lots of Record Shop nostalgia that will be of no interest to Record collectors but might be worth a look for anyone who actually worked behind a counter during the 80s or 90s.

Ill try to do one a day for a couple of weeks. It might interest someone, you never know.

Starting with an old WEA Records catalogue, complete with Dealer price list and (in pencil) the price they were sold for.

For your information this catalogue lists some new release sheets at the back that include Prince- Parade, Hits 4, Anita Baker - Rapture and Simply Red - Picture Book (also available on Picture Disc).




Limited edition ?

Tue, 19 Mar 2013 12:26:51 PDT


Emerson Lake & Palmer

Thu, 16 Feb 2012 12:23:27 PST

Not everyone who works in a record shop should actually be there. 

Years ago i remember a young girl i worked with being 'let go' because she had absolutely no idea what she was doing and had no interest in music outside the top 5. 
She filed things in the wrong places and couldn't tell the difference between a LP and a 12" single. 

We realised that we had made the right decision when someone found the Emerson Lake and Palmer Album Brain Salad Surgery Bagged up and filed away under....... 

Artist - Brian Salad 
Title - Surgery.