I watched High Fidelity, that film about record shops the other day (and relationships and love and other stuff as well). Apart from it being stolen away from Britain, I actually enjoyed it on the whole. The central character notes down his ‘top 5 break-ups’ and I realised I could almost do a top 5 break ups from my previous relationships with record shops. The sad thing was that all of them was either because I moved away, or they closed (or both) So, as a matter of interest they would be 1. Selectadisc, Loughborough 2. Castles – Loughborough 3. Big Tree – Huddersfield 4. Jumbo – Leeds 5. Vinyl Exchange, Manchester. There were lots more, you know, casual things (rock a boom in Leicester, Selectadisc in Nottingham, Eastern Bloc in Manchester to name a few) but now I have eyes for only one (usually) and that is Record Collector.
Back in 1978, James Callaghan was Prime Minister, Winter brought the winter of discontent, the Bee Gees night fever was the biggest selling single of the year, and in Broomhill Sheffield, record collector opened. 34 years and a bit later, record collector remains open. Given the almost complete absence from most high streets of all independent record shops (soon to be joined by most of the chains, judging by HMV’s latest figures) that in itself is something to be celebrated. In its 34 years it has seen bands play and appear (The Crookes have played and Saint-Etienne have appeared since we’ve been inseparable) celebrity customers have come an gon (Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley are known to shop there – while I literally nearly bumped into former world snooker champion Steve Davis in there the other week- ok, maybe not the best celebrity spot, but you know, I like Steve Davis)
The shop itself is divided into two parts. One side is the cd side and the other is the vinyl side. Without going outside, you cannot move freely between these, but it doesn’t ever seem to spoil my enjoyment of it. The cd side of the shop is huge, with thousands (literally) of new and second-hand cd’s from just about every genre you can think of. And, clearly, not just supermarket slop. Although, if supermarket slop (you know, Now…. chart rubbish, cheap compilations) is your thing, I’ve no doubt that they’d be able to find it for you. There’s dvd’s box-sets, books and other memorabilia also available to buy this side as well, and I like it that the whole of the shop is crammed with just about as much stock as they can possibly get in.
The Vinyl side is my penchant. When I first went in there, I thought it was mainly an indie and psych/prog shop, with a good amount of Jazz. Since I have really rifled through and bought yes some of the Jazz and indie and psych/prog, I’ve also picked up a load of new releases (they have a big selection of new issues and re-issues) a load of Warp records and other related electronic albums, and a fair amount of Hip-hop (Mad Skillz, Wu-tang stuff, as well as your more standard, De la soul, N.W.A. and the like)
Yeah, its sometimes so full that it appears cluttered, but find me a cd or record collector that doesn’t revel in the clutter of a record shop, and I’ll find you someone with loads of rubbish records. It could do with a spruce up, but you have to remember how few of these places still exist, and forgive and learn to love that. The stock gets changed all the time, so there’s always something new in, or second-hand in or a bargain in, or they’ve brought some stuff down from upstairs. As is the law in a good record shop, the staff are tip-top, knowledgable and helpful, and as far as I can tell, not even condescending to people who ask for the supermarket slop (and god knows how, I would morph into the Jack black character at the very mention of some of the rubbish)
It does have various links and things up and running so you can keep up to date with whats going on, and coming in. My advice is, if you’re making a visit up to record collector, give yourself several hours. Other than my bank manager perhaps, I don’t know anyone that thinks its other than fantastic.
Open every day 10am – 6pm, except Wednesdays and Sundays: Closed 233 Fulwood Road, Sheffield S10 3BA; 01142 668493