Those were the days – independent record shops instead of just HMV or the local supermarket. Places where I spent many a happy hour browsing, meeting like-minded people and, naturally, listening, listening, listening. Of course, there are still some stalwarts stubbornly scattered around, but by and large the advent of the internet and downloading meant curtains for these havens of the High Street.
This book takes a look at the rise and fall of the humble record shop, all the way from the days of the wax cylinder, through to their heyday and subsequent decline, and then on to the eventual resurgence of vinyl. It covers market traders through to the major chains, touching on all points in between. The names alone evoke so many memories, the original Virgin shops, Rough Trade, Small Wonder, Good Vibrations, Beggars Banquet, even places like Andy’s Records get a look in. Fond memories and good times indeed. This very well researched book covers the length and breadth of the country, with many interviews with owners, musicians and of course the humble customer. It’s a strange combination of almost academic writing on this quite niche subject, melded with a very readable style, as the history of the record shop is placed against the backdrop of twentieth century history as a whole, encompassing all the drastic political, social and cultural changes that occurred in that turbulent period. However, it’s the stores themselves, and their own individual stories, that are always at the centre of attention. Some fascinating anecdotes, period ads and rare photos all bring the memories rushing back, as the megastores rise and fall, the independents appear from their ashes, and vinyl lives once again..
A really enjoyable read for those interested in the secret history of these venerable institutions.
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Crate diving, charity shops and car boots – oh, and the Vinyl Detective tales.
One thing you’ve learned
How fortunate I was to be around during the heyday of the record stores, when they could be found in every town and on every high street – I doubt those days will ever return.