The three record shops of my youth

There were three records shops of my youth, even though one of them was a department store and so could only be loosely classified as a record shop being as it was only one very small corner of the basement that sold records, but still, I’m counting Lewis’s as an influential record shop of my youth, for ’tis where I bought records.

So Lewis’s department store on the Headrow was one, its where we always got off the bus so it was the obvious first choice, Kennedy’s record shop at ‘ back ‘o market was another and the was writ about just here  some time ago to which a relative of the aforementioned Mr Kennedy replied, so that was nice.

And the third record shop was diagonally opposite Lewis’s department store – Barkers.

I never bought a record in Barkers record shop and so it would be quite reasonable for you to ask why its on my list of “record shops I frequented” and I’ll tell you – its because it was in Barkers that I bought the LP sleeves.

Empty LP sleeves.

No I’m not quite sure either, nor am I sure who it was at Barkers who first came up with the idea that if business was a bit slow in selling LP’s to customers then maybe they would just buy the sleeves without the records inside, its a bit like buying a box of cornflakes that someone has removed the cornflakes from, pointless really but no visit to town by me was ever complete without a visit to Barkers to have a browse through the rack of empty LP sleeves, often sold at bargain prices too.

And I bought them, empty LP sleeves and I pinned them on my bedroom wall to make my end of the bedroom look like some sort of cheap discotheque or perhaps a trendy coffee bar in the style of 1960s coffee bars, when drinking coffee was first a trendy thing to do, just coffee mind, not coffee with all sorts of shite added to it like I’ve seen in Starbucks et all, they think I’m some sort of freak when I walk in there and ask for a straight black coffee, nothing added, no syrup, no chocolate flake, and if I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked if I’d “like milk with that?” then I’d be, well, quite well off if not extremely wealthy, would I like milk with my black coffee, what sort of black coffee would that be then?

So I’d spend half an hour browsing the racks in Barkers for an empty LP sleeve, take it to the counter, pay for it, have it put in an LP bag and walk through town with my purchase as if I was cool and trendy having just purchased the Yes album “Tales from Topographic Oceans” when in fact I’d just bought the wrapper because it had Roger Dean artwork on it.

People would stop me in the bus station and admire my new purchase thinking all the time what a trendy young man I must be, “So you’re a Yes fan then ?” they’d ask and I’d just nod my head for if you don’t actually speak the affirmative word then technically you have not lied to the question for the truth is I thought Yes were shit, but the artwork on their album sleeves was incredible for a lad in his minor years.

And they’d take my album from its Barkers bag and admire the artwork, nodding their head in approval, “Ah yes” they’d say, “Roger Dean, incredible artwork, what is your favourite Yes track?” they’d ask and I’d just shrug my shoulders for as already indicated I thought Yes were shit and didn’t really know any of their music at all and while they were trying to digest this obvious lack of enjoining the conversation from me they’d look inside the album sleeve and just stare, did this young lad know that Barkers had just sold him a double album with no records inside it, should we tell him, how disappointed is he going to be when he gets home and finds that the cardboard sleeve won’t play any music on his record player, “Ermmmm….” they’d start and I’d snatch the album sleeve off them and dash for my bus, its so complicated explaining to strangers that you only collect the sleeves.






One thought on “The three record shops of my youth

  1. Thanks for reminding me about buying the empty sleeves – and making me think about 70’s record shops in Leeds rather than the rugby league.
    The memory that’s strongest for me is going down the bottom of the Headrow to browse second hand records during the electricity blackouts. The shop was, naturally enough for Leeds, open even though there was no power. Candles were set in saucers near the counter. The flames guttered every time you flicked a 45 forward to see if the next one was the one you were really after. Much more fun to be had before health and safety took over from adventures.
    There was also a stall I frequented up in the market bit of the Merrion Centre that was good for second hand records – called Gerol’s I think. Strange clientele but good bargains if you made sure they weren’t too scratched before you bought.
    I’ll shut up now before I go on too much about other favourite buying spots – Austick’s, Miles Antiquarian, and then the tailoring merchants and support traders down North Street.

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