In honour of Record Store Day tomorrow (April 16), we asked a handful of NME’s staff and freelancers for the best of their record shop stories
Hamish Macbain, Assistant Editor
“Mine is not pleasant or wistful, I’m afraid. I can’t remember the name of my local record shop in Matlock, Derbyshire as a teenager, but I do remember being incredibly intimidated going in there, and the dude behind the counter scoffing when I put a copy of The Cure‘s ‘Disintegration’ on the counter, as in “What, you’re only just buying this!?” I was 13! He would have a mate perched on the end of the counter, too, for backup sniggering. I swiftly transferred my buisness to the mail order department of Sister Ray, London, as listed in the back of NME every week, which I started reading at around that time.”
Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor
On reading that they were having a cassette sale in our local rag, I soon became a regular at Truro’s Solo Music from the age of about 13. Long before they eventually conceded and gave me a job, I’d go and stand behind the counter “helping”, for no money, just for fun. When I did start working there, I began to appreciate just how nuts some of our customers were. One old man came in and asked if we had anything by the Wurzels. We didn’t. He than started to laugh a toothless guffaw, panting, “Ha ha! Ha ha! Ha ha! I know you don’t got the Wurzels ‘cuz I got ’em, dun’ I?!”
“He then proceeded to extract a newspaper clipping of them from his inner coat pocket, which depicted them playing Tregony Town Fair. Total fruitloop. There was also the man who liked to bring in clippings of newspaper stories about dead babies, and the man who only bought singles with pictures of half-naked women on the front. We did, however, have lots of lovely, less mad customers too, and several of the other people that worked there remain some of my best friends, all of whom changed my music taste for the better, whether it was Liam introducing me to The Velvet Underground and Billy Childish, or Mark opening my eyes to The National and Bat For Lashes.”
Hazel Sheffield, writer
“I was just a wee nipper fresh from uni when I turned up on Rat Records‘ doorstep in 2008, and immediately fell in love with the dark, handsome Frenchie behind the desk, Philippe. Despite lurking in the dodgy part of Camberwell, their shop is constantly stocked with the freshest collection of vinyl and manager Tom Fisher is always fiddling around in old men’s record cabinets to find the best new (old) stuff. They display the cream of the crop in plastic sleeves, stickered to let customers know what they’d fetch on the net, but always with the best price instore.
“Before long I was offered a cuppa every time I passed by. I managed to get a mint gatefold copy of the Velvet Underground and Nico with Warhol’s Coca Cola bottle design for a tenner and was introduced to countless amazing sounds, like David Byrne and Brian Eno‘s ‘My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts’. And they even offer to clean your records on a posh bit of kit they’ve named ‘Professor Dawson’ at £2 a piece!”
Luke Lewis, NME.COM Editor
“I don’t expect anyone to give a toss about these boring memories, but here goes anyway… I worked in a record shop pretty much every weekend of my teenage life, starting with the Record House in Amersham – which is still going strong, though it’s changed its name and shifted round the corner for some reason – and then, later, at Virgin Megastore in Watford. The latter was pretty grim, but I’ve got fond memories of the former, mostly because it was where all the schoolkids came to buy CD singles at the height of Britpop. Plus it’s where I bought my first ever single – Manic Street Preachers’ ‘From Despair To Where’ in 1992.
“Standout memory? Probably opening box after box of Oasis’ ‘Be Here Now’ in 1997, the Monday before release, and everyone being excited because it was such an event (then we actually heard it and it was like: ‘Oh’). Plus I was lucky enough to get a copy of ‘OK Computer’ on the Saturday before it came out. In those days, pre-online leaks, hearing something two days ahead of release was about as exciting as it got. So, er, yeah. Support Record Store Day!”
Which is your favourite record shop? Where will you be queuing from the wee hours tomorrow morning? Have any record shops changed your life, or is all the Record Store Day furore sentimentalising the idea of High Fidelity-ish idealism a bit too much?