E-book Assessment of:
‘GOING FOR A SONG:
A CHRONICLE OF THE UK RECORD SHOP’
by GARTH CARTWRIGHT
(Flood Gallery Publishing, ISBN 978-1-91137-40-46
Softcover. 292 pages)
Born in Auckland, New Zealand, Garth Cartwright arrived within the UK in 1991 the place he’s been a DJ and music promoter, in addition to writing music journalism. His newest e-book ‘Going For A Song’, is the in-depth historical past of the rise, fall and rebirth of the UK’s unbiased report outlets,
as Andrew Darlington discovers…
All of us have our tales.
The report store was the product of a time and a know-how. There are tales of wax cylinders, nevertheless it actually started with the large previous shellac 78’s, however went into overdrive with the arrival of the minigroove 45rpm single, and the twelve-inch LP. By the mid-sixties the business was fine-tuned from urgent plant by way of a distribution community to excessive road outlets in each city, promoted by means of back-up infrastructures of juke-box, radio, TV and the music press, with gross sales compiled into Prime 40 charts producing fanatical followings. Some – like NEMS in Liverpool, have been merely a part of an ‘Are You Being Served’-style division retailer, with listening cubicles the place youngsters frolicked to pattern the newest sides, and packing a pledge to trace down any document on the punter’s behalf. Which despatched Brian Epstein scuttling out searching the Beat-group backing Tony Sheridan on these German data. From area of interest shops, specialists in Jazz, People, or Reggae, which turned the haunts of elitist cliques and subcultures, to Woolworths which had cheap-copy Embassy Data recorded by cover-acts, which at one time included Elvis Costello’s father.
All of us have our tales. I’ve mine. Rising up on the outer periphery of East Yorkshire, we hang-out ‘Sydney Scarborough’ beneath the Hull Metropolis Corridor, or Hammonds Report Division. Seeing the gatefold sleeve of ‘Elvis Is Back’ within the ‘Gough & Davy’ retailer window down Whitefriargate. Biking again to high school with information of the primary glimpse of ‘With The Beatles’ within the native store. Listening to the jingle-jangle play-in to “Mr Tambourine Man” hooded by the listening sales space. And the second-hand outlets dotted throughout the town from Spring Financial institution to ‘John Sheridans’ on Beverley Street, flipping via bins of trade-in albums or ex-jukebox singles searching that elusive title. Discovering the Warner Bros Grateful Lifeless “Born Cross-Eyed” single for simply 3s/6d. Bootlegs too. There’d been music-pirating because the Bebop days of Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker, however Dylan’s ‘Great White Wonder’ transfigured it right into a parallel tradition, enhanced by the engaging sniff of illegality. Manchester outlets have been busted. There have been prosecutions. However they thrived.
Till, with document gross sales peaking within the 1970s, there have been thriving new retailers, from Virgin megastores to Indie outlets for discerning uncommon groove tastemakers. This meticulously-researched guide is a labour of affection that sails on radio-songs, with archive photographs so tactile you possibly can odor them, mapping ‘a collective history, or historical memory’ of outlets that trafficked in pleasure. Then itemising cult outlets, with scorching tales and attractive anecdotes about One Cease, Andys, Rock On, Reckless Data, Dub Vendor, Daddy Kool, Tough Commerce… you realize the names. The 1976 Kursaal Flyers hit “Little Does She Know” opens ‘I was outside the One Stop’, instantly establishing its terrain. Whereas the Freshies declare “I’m In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Check-Out Desk”, censored to a ‘Certain Megastore’ to fulfill BBC radio-play strictures. All of us have our tales.
House taping by no means killed music, however mp3s got here shut. The vinyl revival, bartering bodily product on your cabinets, continues the Report Store expertise for millennials. Wakefield has ‘Wah Records’. Leeds has ‘Jumbo’. Nonetheless.
TALKING TO GARTH CARTWRIGHT
Andrew Darlington: Did you discover any Report Outlets in your journey to Skegness?
Garth Cartwright: Sure! The Tamla store – run by a Northern Soul DJ who imports giant quantities of previous US 45s, so I discovered some great things there. And, sure, hearth away, we will do the interview right here and now.
AD: That’s nice. I feel we share a ardour for data and document tradition, and also you’ve found a singular facet of that historical past which has not – to my information, been beforehand documented. ‘Going For A Song’ could be very clearly a labour of affection, was there a key incident that made you determine to put in writing the historical past of the document store?
GC: Thanks and proper it’s not been documented earlier than – which made the ebook a helluva lot of labor as I needed to dig out all the knowledge and tales seeing there have been no books or educational research or magazines to go to! Key incident? Noticing in 2009 how Soho and surrounding environs was altering from a report store Mecca to a report store graveyard. ‘Selectadisc’ and different outlets on Berwick Road all closed quickly, ‘Tower’ obtained out of their large Piccadilly Circus retailer and have been crashing within the US, ‘Virgin’ turned ‘Zavi’ and shortly shuttered all of the chain’s outlets, HMV have been in retreat… it struck me that the report store period was over and somebody ought to no less than doc the good outlets that have been game-changers in UK music historical past.
AD: So how lengthy did the challenge take, from beginning the analysis to completion of the manuscript?
GC: Years and years. I began the analysis in 2009 and even had an agent who provided a primary define of ebook round – I feel again then I used to be imagining extra of a coffee-table tome with pictures and a few textual content – however there have been no takers. Thus guide was sidelined, although I stored taking notes and desirous about it. In 2015 I used to be launched to Chris Marksberry, proprietor of Flood Gallery Press, and he requested if I had any ebook concepts. I advised him of this one and he ‘got it’ straightaway. Then I needed to begin the intense analysis and requesting interviews. This engaged me for the subsequent eighteen months, just about full time. Extra work was completed in 2017 as publication obtained delayed. It actually has been endless and very exhausting. As I say on the finish, if I knew what an enormous quantity of labor was concerned I by no means would have began out on ‘Going For A Song’!
AD: What an extended unusual journey it’s been! You have been born in Auckland, New Zealand, was the document store expertise there an identical adolescent ceremony of passage because it was right here?
GC: Positive. Not fairly as intense right here – we didn’t have specialist outlets solely promoting jazz or reggae or punk or classical. However we did have good report outlets with variety and useful individuals behind the counter who inspired my youthful quest for musical information. Again then, pre-internet, I don’t understand how I might have developed my curiosity in nation and zydeco and such with out their recommendation.
AD: Which was the primary report you truly purchased, and from which report store?
GC: I’ve a horrible feeling it may need been “The Night Chicago Died” by Paper Lace however I can’t recall the place I purchased it, and after enjoying it a dozen or so occasions shortly grew uninterested in it so give me a move on that one. My subsequent buy was a Monkees EP in a color image sleeve that featured “I’m A Believer” – an ideal pop music! The Monkees was being repeated on Kiwi TV and to this eight-year-old it was the perfect factor I’d ever seen! I begged my dad to get me a Monkees document so he took me to ‘Marbecks’, the oldest established report store in Auckland. That they had deep inventory, in order that they nonetheless had Monkees data from the sixties! I used to be enamoured and nonetheless am.
AD: Your earlier books embrace ‘Miles Davis: The Complete Illustrated History’. So which part of the document store would you take a look at first, the Jazz part?
GC: At present? I are likely to crate dig for 45s and 78s – I’m a fiend for previous jazz, blues, soul, Rock ‘n’ Roll, ska, reggae, pop, nation and so forth. If I’m in a brand new store then I’ll have a tendency to take a look at what jazz and soul they’ve first, sure. Until it’s a rock store then I take a look at the punk part!
AD: So when did you truly relocate to the UK, and start writing right here?
GC: 1991. I spent a yr within the US then got here right here as a backpacker and remained as such for the subsequent couple of years, working menial jobs to earn sufficient to do extra travelling. In 1994 I acquired again from India and determined I needed to get critical about journalism once more – I’d been a fulltime freelance author in NZ. It took me a few years to get a break however I’ve been dwelling off writing since late 1996 and writing for all of the broadsheets, numerous magazines and such.
AD: You’ve recognized what you name an ‘underground empire’ of report store tradition by way of interviews and anecdotes. It should have been a journey of exploration for you too. What have been the height moments of that journey?
GC: Sure the underground empire is a fantastic time period for the energies and creativity that exists in one of the best document outlets and I’m happy I received to recognise and rejoice it. And, sure, I learnt a lot through the years – I’d by no means given a lot thought to how strongly immigration performed a central position in creating UK document store tradition however this got here by way of the extra I learnt. You consider how migrants purchased restaurant tradition to the UK, properly additionally they purchased music tradition and it enriched us all. As for peaks – hmmm, too many, however attending to interview the likes of Geoff Travis, Martin Mills, Pete Stennett, all of whom put out data I beloved as a youth, was an honour. And assembly old fashioned Soho characters like Steve Bernstein and John Jack was a visit! I really like to listen to of a London that not exists and what Soho as soon as was like.
AD: You appear responsible the company rise of the Megastore for the demise of the indie report store, as a lot because the innovation of the web MP3?
GC: Sure the rise of ‘Our Price’ on each excessive road definitely worn out plenty of native report shops – the standard tactic of under-pricing by way of bulk shopping for. ‘Virgin’ was a radical chain throughout the 1970s however by the point I received right here it was very uninteresting and engaged in making an attempt to siphon off cash that might in any other case be spent in smaller outlets. Tower’s important store in Piccadilly Circus was distinctive in order that they get a cross.
AD: Do you have got a favorite Indie report store the place you’d hang around?
GC: Positive. In Peckham there’s ‘Lorenzo’s Report Shack’, in Camberwell ‘Rat Records’ and Brixton has ‘Super Tone Records’ – a reggae store that’s been in existence for thirty-five years!
AD: What’s the subsequent e-book venture for you?
GC: I’ve a number of on my thoughts, none particular (as I don’t have an agent to filter them!). I commonly return to the Balkans and want to write on these lands within the twenty-first-century and why they’re so lovely but horrible. I’d love to do one thing about London and its musical characters, a ebook that ranged throughout the centuries. Perhaps a biography of Willy DeVille and one on Rory Gallagher – unsung heroes I consider deserve higher respect. As you possibly can see, I’ve lots to hold on with.
AD: Sure, that sounds nice. Like I say, we clearly share a ardour. The most important reward for me from Music Journalism has all the time been the chance to satisfy and interview my heroes. I do very a lot take pleasure in your guide, and recognize your generosity in answering my tedious questions. Is there something we’ve not coated that you simply actually really feel must be talked about?
GC: Your questions are positive and I respect you studying the ebook and interested by it – typically you discover interviewers have solely learn the press launch or again of the guide… I assume the one query that most individuals ask which you didn’t is the ‘is there a future for record shops?’ If you need it answered I’ll. However I don’t thoughts if we depart this out.
AD: That’s a great one. There was a current vinyl revival. There’s a document store in Wakefield referred to as ‘Wah Records’ which is fantastic. I kind-of gave it six months… however hey, it’s nonetheless right here and prospering. So maybe there’s a viable market there? I’d wish to assume so. What’s your tackle it…?
GC: I wish to assume we’ve gone full circle of types and are in a state of affairs akin to what Doug Dobell discovered post-WW2. Again then ‘Smiths’ and ‘Menzies’ dominated the mainstream report commerce but by opening Dobell’s he operated a specialist store that thrived and attracted all types of music lovers. As we speak’s boutique outlets can supply an analogous service to Dobell’s – showcasing non-mainstream music you’ll be able to’t purchase in supermarkets or ‘HMV’, placing on occasions, celebrating each native and additional flung artists, encouraging clients to make use of the store as a gathering place to satisfy different like-minded individuals and share information. It’s a tall order however the most effective document outlets within the twenty-first-century thrive as a result of individuals who love data like to have someplace to hang around and meet others who share their enthusiasms. I want all of them properly!
BY ANDREW DARLINGTON
All photographs courtesy of
‘GOING FOR A SONG: A CHRONICLE OF THE UK RECORD SHOP’
by Garth Cartwright
(FLOOD GALLERY PUBLISHING) www.thefloodgallery.com
ISBN 978-1-91137-40-46 Softcover. 292 pages
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