Tuesday, 1 October 2013


Hello Brummies and other assorted Friends.

Let's get on with it.......   


I bought my first Long Playing Record (LP) from the Stratford Road, Sparkhill. Co-incidentally it was from Bev Bevan's Mum's shop and it was The Best of The Beach Boys Vol2.

The records were cheaper there than other shops I knew because they appeared to be 'seconds', that is, with some minor defect to the vinyl or cover.  I seem to remember that it played OK though, or perhaps not because I don't recall buying any other records from there?   I was prompted to buy this particular LP after playing in the support band spot for Tony Rivers and The Castaways, certainly the best harmony band in the UK at the time, at Hall Green Technical College. (Funnily enough Bev Bevan was at the same gig, in the audience I seem to remember?)  
I was simply knocked out by the strength and richness of their harmonies, I'd never experienced anything like that before and even now can remember most of their act.  

Hall Green, Technical College was a really good Brumbeat gig and I played there a few times as one of the support bands to the likes of The Zombies, and The Sorrows and various others whose names don't immediately spring to mind. I also went there to see Birmingham bands like The Hellions and The Yamps.

Anyway, back to the Vinyl.  The days of the record shops in the sixties was huge, unlike today, with the greatest of names and labels closing down and the recording business nose diving into the abyss of uncertainty.

On Bromsgrove Street, in the City Centre of Birmingham there was one shop that we all went to and that was The Diskery, opened by the legendary Morris Hunting in the fifties and it was from there that you could buy Jazz, R&B, Blues and Ska records that were unavailable anywhere else.
Amazingly, and luckily for us devotees of the black stuff, The Diskery has survived the rigours of time and is still in business.
I bought my first Blues LP from here.  It was Sonny Boy Williamson, 'Down and Out Blues' and I was well and truly hooked by the blues sound, as were many other Brummie groups, all inspired by this raw and earthy style of playing that contributed to so much to those fantastic and energetic 'group performance' days of Brumbeat and there were some fine bands about in the City whom I'm sure I've mentioned a hundred times.

For years, it's always been worth a look inside The Diskery to find the obscure from the international market, or those rare LP's that would be nice to have back in our collections.  I've bought some cracking LP's from there including, in 1971, the 'then' newly released, Brumbeat hero Steve Gibbons, 'Short Stories' LP which I still have. It has some personal memories for me too.  I really do encourage you to visit the Diskery and enjoy one of the best customer experiences around these days.  

Cassette tape recorders started becoming much more economically available, around the time I bought this particular LP, and the whole world began copying everything from radio shows or from each other rather than buying Vinyl.  Along with that, technology was marching on and miniaturisation loomed large on the horizon with cassettes replacing the space consuming Record collections.   Naturally with such cheap options, record shops began to suffer from declining sales.   Some LP's however were those that demanded owning, like "Dark Side of the Moon" for example or the whole of The Beatles catalogue but the final death knell for vinyl though, came in the form of CD's. The whole world seemed to start selling all their LP's at car boot sales or even worse, dumping them in skips!! 
(Cannon Street shop)

You couldn't buy vinyl in the big stores any longer so, conversely, it then became apparent that there was still a market, for the more discerning listeners, or for those wishing to re-visit their past, with shops specialising in old LP's beginning to surface.   The shop that every Brummie vinyl addict would flock to was Reddingtons Rare Records and we all went there looking for those treasured old LP's and singles.   At the same time, people began to realise that some of their vinyl was collectible and had the potential to be of value..... well some LP's are and a lot are not. However, if you think you have something worth 'a bob or two', always seek good advice if you want to sell your collection.  Both Reddingtons and The Diskery are the experts in this field or, of course, there is much information available on the internet.

Reddingtons was hugely popular and its premises grew and grew in size.  My favourite store was the one on Cannon Street that had once been Kay Westworths Music Shop, so it kind of formed some sort of continuity in my life and I could practically feel the ghosts of the people who had worked at that music shop and the musicians who I had met and played with in that small place. 

Reddingtons Rare Records last record store was at Digbeth, near the coach station which closed six or seven years ago, Dan Reddington is however, still trading on-line and has a massive stock of LP's.  So should you be looking for something special don't venture further afield than Brums own, you can contact Dan on his great website at http://www.reddingtonsrarerecords.co.uk/

I keep reading about Vinyl being on the come back, I think it's a faddish kind of style thing that appears with some kind of clockwork regularity. In truth however, it is THE best listening experience by far.  It's rich and warm recordings are a delight to hear particularly, in my case, for the music that was recorded during the fifties and sixties, on heavyweight vinyl if you're lucky enough.  I have some real treasures that came mainly from shops like these two legendary traders of music.  Long may they live and as long as they do, it is us punters who prosper spiritually.  So, many congratulations and many thanks for keeping 'at it' in the name of music.  Two greats of Birminghams Music history.

It appears that Oggies stint with recently formed Critical Mass went into
primary meltdown on the first night........."come on now Oggie" none of these moodies.   

Tara' for this month


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