A few weeks back, the 45-rpm team was reminiscing about the days when you set off in the morning with a wants list in your pocket, some cash, and a whole heap of excitement about buying some wax. Unfortunately, the retail landscape is now very different for specialist stores, which was mainly but not solely down to the introduction of digital formats. When we started this business, a physical store was discussed but it just wasn’t feasible with today’s shopping habits. So for the time being will we have to get our fix of dusty, noisy, bustling record stores from memories via people we respect. This series of interviews runs over several weeks, and to kick it off we have our very own Adam…
An Interview With 45-rpm’s Owner; Adam Roberts
What were your favourite record shops back in the day?
Having lived in different cities & been into different genres, there were quite a few. When I lived in Birmingham there was a store called Tempest (mainly a heavy rock store but it had a small dance department and those guys looked after me. I could go in with my wants list and they always had most of it.
When I moved to London, at first I was buying Techno and warp lps, so Fat Cat in Covent Garden and Sister Ray were my go to’s. Later I was more into house, and so stores like Tag, Catch A Groove, Zoom in Camden, Flying and the other usual US house stores became more of a focus. But if I had to choose just one store, then Record & Tape Exchange in Soho & Notting Hill would be it. The smell, and the moody staff were something to behold, but just the range of stuff they had in was unsurpassed. You could pick up new promo’s or find really old stuff in 50p bins, many hours were passed in that place.
Was there a record store that made you feel uncomfortable?
Black Market intimidated me every time I went in. Not the fault of the staff, who were actually all really nice guys; like Terry Bristol, Rap Saunders, Ben, Goldie. It was just how busy it was and the amount of moody young guys just hanging around. I never went in the basement, too scared.
Is there a particular memory of a mission trying to find a certain record?
During my Naked Music obsession, I spent all day trying to find a promo of Miguel Migs remixes of MJ Coles -Sincere even though I hadn’t even heard it. I was unsuccessful after 15 stores and 6 hours of walking through London. Only to be sent one in the post the following Tuesday… and to add insult to injury, it was average at best!
What was the best bargain find you remember?
Wood, Brass & Steel LP from Record & Tape Exchange for £1 circa 1999. I hammered that LP so much I needed the re-issue when it came out.
Is there a certain record that sticks in your head that someone in a record store recommended to you & you’ll be ever thankful for?
No, but my colleague at a distributor I worked for bought me a 2nd hand copy of Johnny Hammond- Gears. That LP changed my musical taste forever. I stopped buying house and started chin scratching!
Who was the best salesperson?
Jean Claude when he was upstairs at Release the Groove in Chinatown. He didn’t sell me anything personally, but I was just in awe of how he conducted that room with 10 bods at the counter. Playing records, recommending records, taking their money. He was like he had everyone under his spell. He had great taste to be fair I don’t think anyone came away with shit records. Such a gentleman as well.
Did you ever work in a record store or distributor, if so any fond or particular memory that sticks out?
I never worked in a traditional store although I sold US imports to the Soho stores for many years. These were the days when a store would take a box of 25 on your say so [before mp3’s]. Sometimes you would play something down the phone which sounded like some loose change being rattled in a baked bean can. We had many well known DJ’s/producers popping in every week and phoning up which was real buzz. Later I worked at Juno but that was just a big office and no one was allowed in.
What’s better, being sent a record for free, or going to search and buy a record?
To be honest, in the distribution days sometimes you wouldn’t even open the mailers for weeks as there were so many. I couldn’t get my feet under the desk sometimes, so definitely buying a record as i personally gave it more respect strangely. But nowadays I don’t get sent anything, so something for free would be nice…(take note)
What record are you currently waiting for in anticipation to come out, if any?
Muro Edits Of Blair – Nightlife on Japanese import 7”. That record has just such great memories for me so to have a different version is a bonus. (sorry sold out now)