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Going For A Song: A Chronicle of the UK Record Shop Paperback – 22 Mar 2018
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"Complete with larger-than-life wide-boy skullduggery, behind-the-counter shenanigans and appearances from Prince Buster and B.B. King (amongst many of your favourite musicians). Superb." --Horace Panter (The Specials)
About the Author
Garth Cartwright is a New Zealand born, London based, oft' travelling author, journalist, critic and DJ/music promoter. He has written for many publications including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The New European, The FT, Songlines, Record Collector, fRoots and Jazzwise. He is the author of several books including Princes Amongst Men: Journeys With Gypsy Musicians, More Miles Than Money: Journeys Through American Music and Miles Davis: The Complete Illustrated History.
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So the book names names of shops, some alive and some not now. Even while writing the book, there were losses recorded. There are interviewsand quotes with customers, owners and shop workers. A lot of names I recall with happy memories. I worked at Gallup in the eighties on the Music Industry charts...I rang a lot of the independednt shops to ask about releases they had sold. It was detective work, and the shop satff were always most helpful, running round looking for the stock so we could then contact the labels and confirm what they were, and if they were eligible. These people knew their stuff....many were Specialist stores, and they were absoultley on it.
If you are a record fan, you will love this....
I have to say that towards the end of the book, as I like many others had switched from visiting record shops to trawling online, I started to speed read and skip pages.
I do wonder how interesting this book would be if you weren't there.
What is interesting is that probably the only people who got rich were the likes of Epstein and Branson who got out and moved onto other things. For the rest it was mainly an obsession.
In his exhaustively researched book, Garth Cartwright tells the story of Britain’s record shops, tracing the roots to earliest stores like Cardiff’s Spillers or London’s HMV Oxford, right through the years to the major players like Virgin, Tower and others before the internet virtually wiped out all competition. Past times are recalled when the shops were a common meeting and listening place, and specialist music (jazz, folk and others) outlets flourished, frequently detailing the person and their store, like Richard Branson’s Virgin, Brian Epstein’s NEMS and Andy Gray’s Andy’s Records, the good alongside the dodgy dealers in the author’s extensive coverage of UK retailers.
An entirely fresh slant on the music business, the book concludes with a current store directory, although some listed may have subsequently gone the way of others in the book – closed up shutter – since the book’s publication.
The depth of Garth Cartwright's research allied to to his easy-going reading style had me looking forward to each new page. Not only did I learn about the fascinating histories of long forgotten retailers from a distant past, I was reminded of shops I'd long since forgotten about, which in the 70s, 80s and 90s played a major part in my own life.
I honestly cannot recommend the book enough, regardless of whether or not you grew up in an age when high street record shops played a major role in your musical development. I only hope the new owner of HMV takes time out to read - and learn from - this superb, extremely enjoyable and educational tome!