How long have you been collecting?Pretty much as long as I can remember. Everybody collected records when I was a kid, but specifically Soul records, since I was about 14, around 1977 after some of my brothers older friends who’d been going regularly to Wigan brought a box of Northern 45’s around to our house and we were both instantly hooked.
In those days we shared our records, mainly buying pressings and the odd, more accessible original. Moving to Manchester for Uni in ‘81 changed everything. It was stumbling across Rod Shard and Dave Withers’ stall in the Arndale underground market when I came for my interview that made up my mind to come to the rainy city. I couldn’t have imagined then, the number and quality of records that I would get from those guys over the next nearly 20 years.
We were totally spoiled in those days, and as well as lists from dealers dropping through the letterbox every week, John Anderson opened Expansion records in Manchester in around ‘86 or ‘87 and that’s really when my collecting really took off. I’d just started work and had more money to spend and my tastes had changed to more Modern sounds and the style of 70’s that was to become termed crossover in the next couple of years. Records from these days still inform my taste and form the bedrock of my collection.
Do you remember your first buy?No, not really, because it was an evolution from generally buying chart records with Christmas and birthday record tokens, to buying Soul records exclusively. Those early Soul purchases would almost certainly have been Northern Soul Uk reissues or pressings. There are lots of memories associated with record buys, and for pretty much every record in my collection I can probably tell you when and where I bought it, and how much I paid for it – but couldn’t tell you the first that I bought.
What’s your favourite record in your box?Of course impossible to say. Part of the beauty of records are the memories that are evoked when you play them and there are many memories of moments in time, people and places entwined with so many records, that it would be hard to pick a favourite. Having said that, at a more basic level the current favourites are usually the ones you got recently, and in that category one that I simply cannot tire of at the moment is The Ernie Amos Jass Band- If I Could Dance on Roe. I loved dancing to this when Butch and Soul Sam had it covered up as the Glass Pyramid- I Know a Place, and it became my top want for quite a long time before I managed to snag a copy.
Which record do you regret selling the most?I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve never had to sell records to pay my rent or pay a bill, so most of the things I’ve sold have been to soften the blow of paying for another, usually more expensive record I wanted. This way I can justify in my mind that I’ve really just traded the record I sold rather than paid hard cash. Consequently, although there are bunch of records I wish I still had, I have to weigh their loss, against the records I got from them and when I do that I don’t really have many regrets. Inevitably though there’s more than a few things that I really do wish I still had in my collection including Fluorescent Smogg – All My Life on W.G. and Jax Transit Authority – Life Is A Miracle
What’s your fave all time soul club?At Last, an easy one! Hands down and without any hesitation, Parker’s in Manchester which ran monthly from 1990 to 1993. It just came at the right time when my tastes were changing and that mid tempo Manchester rare groove alongside the early doors crossover sounds, just opened up my mind to thousands of fantastic records. I had great times with great friends there. 600 plus people every month getting down to the best new releases alongside seventies classics and new crossover discoveries, beautifully put together by Richard Searling and Dean Johnson.
What’s your all time want?The days of having a list of wants and ticking them off one by one whilst regularly adding to it, are pretty much long gone for me. Escalating prices have meant that those records I didn’t pick up in the 90’s and 2000’s are now prohibitively expensive. So those all time wants are probably going to stay on the list unfortunately.
One that springs to mind as an example is Chuck Cocheram – Have I Got A Right on Mala, I procrastinated on a copy for £150 at Rod and Dave’s stall; was shocked to see the next one at a gmex record fair for £600, turned one down at $1200 because that seemed absurd and now I believe it’s around £5000… there comes a time when you just have to accept that you can’t have everything!
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