Wednesday, 4 March 2015

55 From 55 - 1971

55 songs in 55 days - one for every year of my far.

Our story actually begins a few days before the start of 1971, on Christmas Day 1970, when I received this from my Parents!

No other single present in my whole life had the same seismic effect as that one. Freedom. The freedom to listen to what I wanted, when I wanted. To begin with, I spirited away some of Dad's records to play in my room, along with the small handful I'd been given as presents here and there. But I soon became anxious for more.

Filling out. All dressed up for 'Big School'. 1971

Do you remember the days when all kinds of different places sold records? In Walthamstow High Street everyone was at it. Market stalls, clothes shops, newsagents, junk stores - look in the corner, there'd be a rack of LP's or a cardboard box full of singles. And that's not even counting the half dozen legitimate record shops within walking distance of home. I started at 'Big' School' in 1971 and opposite the school gate was a little parade of shops comprising a newsagent, a hairdressers, a chippy (very popular at lunchtimes) and an electrical shop*. Looking through the window of the electrical shop one day, I spotted a box of singles on the counter and ten minutes later, after a quick rummage and at the cost of just a few pence, I walked out clutching this.

* Remarkably, the electrical shop is still there. I'm sure the business must have changed hands at some point over the past 44 years, but looking at the exterior on a photo I found online, it appears that the decor is frozen in time (see here).  I wonder if there's still a box of singles on the counter?


Anonymous said...

'Witch Queen of New Orleans'! Did we live the same life, sir? Talk about resonant. That single meant so much to me. Getting our record player - what a moment. It's truly was amazing the places you buy records back then. Thank God the shop is still in business!

Anonymous said...

Oops - that was a weird typo - I meant to write 'your first' and simply wrote 'our'. Sorry. Your experience was so close to mine that I'm getting a bit mixed up!

Anonymous said...

Do you still have that turntable, Mr. S? I so wish that my parents hadn't taken it upon themselves to give away my Seabreeze record player when I left home.

This is such an amazing series!

C said...

You're so right about finding boxes of records in unexpected places. Grocers shops, petrol stations, and especially electrical shops like that one (love the picture). It all seemed a bit more haphazard then, and definitely in a good way!
Great tune today too. I loved the fact that they were (to use the only name I knew at that time) 'Red Indians'. Seemed so exotic to me, they looked great.
What's the betting that you were the tallest boy in your class, btw?!

Charity Chic said...

Pat and Lolly Vegas from Redbone played with Jim Ford on Harlem County. I spent ages tracking down their album At The Haunted House only to find it wasn't very good!

Brian said...

Your record player was so much better than the one I had as a young grade schooler. It's funny how we had so few choices back then. My player had a flip cover that looked like blue jeans. My wife had the exact same one. It was sold at Sears. I just found one on ebay:

Scott said...

I still recall my first record player like it was yesterday and the absolute joy of lifting the needle onto an LP for the first time on my own player.

The Swede said...

Sadly I no longer have that old record player. It had sat, unused, in my parents' house for a great many years and in reality was never going to see active service again. I let it go when I was clearing the house after Mum died and almost immediately regretted doing so, but decisions had to be made, I couldn't hold on to everything.

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