About South Record Shop

Give us the background... when and why did you decide to open South Records?

I’ve worked in music for a while, working in PR at labels (XL, EMI and freelance) and just got tired of pretending to be enthusiastic about some of the terrible music I had to work on (I worked on lots of good stuff too).

I went on holiday in America, driving from LA to Nashville and stopping at record shops at every town and city we stayed in. There were so many good shops - favourites being Shangri-La in Memphis, and Amoeba in Hollywood, there was a good one in Amarillo too, but I can’t remember what it was called.

Anyway, I’d just moved back to Essex from London and there wasn’t anywhere in town to get records, so I told a few people I was going to open a record shop and had to follow through, because apparently people remember stuff like that. My own stupid mouth got me in to it.

The shop’s been here for 4 and a half years now and I still love getting the sales sheets from the labels to see what’s coming out, and especially picking up great used collections. I love recommending stuff to people and then hearing back that they loved it. You hear from people all the time that there’s no good new music anymore, speak to your local shop, they can recommend 10 things that came out this week that you’ll love.

We’re right by Southend University so we get a lot of students buying their first records – usually The Beatles, Stones, Pink Floyd etc, but there’s also a lot of garage rock fans here.

We sell a bit of everything – indie, punk, jazz, hip hop, prog, soundtracks, soul, house, folk, Afrobeat, metal, you name it.

There’s loads of great bands in Southend, many of whom shop and play in the shop. I’m particularly in to Ghost Music, Dark Globes, The Hillmisters, MelodieGroup, Rocket Ship TV (who we put out on our own label), The Plan. There’s loads, too many to mention here.

One of our favourite customers is Paul, he’s been collecting Bowie stuff since 1972 and has EVERYTHING – demos, various versions of every release, bootlegs, every original and reissue that’s ever been released, the lot. It’s always good to hear about how much he’s just spent on a Can’t Help Thinking About Me single, to upgrade his VG+ copy to a slightly better VG++. Mental.

The first record we sold was Fall Heads Roll by The Fall, as good a record to start off on as any. And the last record I sold was the first Velvet Underground album. Pretty good pair.

The first record I remember getting for Christmas was Time, Love & Tenderness by Michael Bolton (still have it, still not ashamed).

The first I remember buying with my own money was a David Bowie bootleg cassette of the final Ziggy concert.

The first record shop I went to was the only one on Canvey Island, Bee-Bees.

The Bee-Bees was just down the road from school so we’d be in there most lunchtimes, annoying the guy behind the counter by singing songs at him we’d heard on the radio but didn’t know the name of. They also used to give me the odd discount because I was buying stuff the owner liked – Johnny Thunders, Frank Black solo albums and southern soul singles.

My whole family are in to music, so it was always unavoidable growing up – my dad was a mod (a proper 60s one) and he liked all sorts of stuff (he’s particularly in to P. Diddy at the moment, at the age of 75), alongside what my parents were playing, my brothers and sister would be playing Oasis, Neil Young, George Michael, etc etc and 80s soul was massive on Canvey, with the Goldmine club, so that music was unavoidable and I was an avid NME reader. I remember reading something about Pussy Galore in there, which turned me leftways from the usual stuff I was listening to then.

Reckless Records in London is a particular favourite, I always pick up good stuff in there.

I used to go to New York a lot for work and loved Other Music and Academy Annex. It’s a real shame Other Music have gone, they got me in to so much good stuff – The Embarrassment, Cause Co-Motion, Meneguar, Woodsist…

I’m sure everybody who buys records has that one absolute win in a record shop, where you’re not quite sure how you managed it.

Mine was picking up an original Ardent copy of Big Star’s Radio City for £5 about 10 years ago. I was sure it was a trick of some sort and was expecting the person serving to laugh in my face when I went to pay. Felt a bit drunk when I came out of the shop.

Kraftwerk in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern when they did a run of all their albums. I went to the Autobahn one – quadrophonic sound, 3-D images. Incredible.

Winter Journal by Paul Auster

North By North-West directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Bring It On Home To Me (live at Harlem Square Club 1963) – Sam Cooke

To Go Home – Daniel Johnston

Cheree – Suicide

Don’t Be Cruel – Elvis Presley

Int’l Players Anthem - UGK

The Atheist’s Burden – Disco Inferno

Teardrops – Womack & Womack

Marquee Moon - Television

The Velvet Underground, The Byrds, Love, Alicia Keys, Can, Television, Suicide, Big Star, Sam Cooke, The Fall, Otis Redding, Miles Davis, Grace Jones, Cluster, Curtis Mayfield, A Tribe Called Quest, Teenage Fanclub, Nina Simone, Pixies, Dusty Springfield, Fela Kuti, Madonna, The Kinks, Ramones, Outkast, Van Halen, Beastie Boys, Lee Hazelwood, Sly & The Family Stone, Neu!, Sun City Girls, Ash Ra Temple, Pussy Galore, David Bowie, The Clash, Leonard Cohen, Yazoo, The Ronettes, Nico, Prince, Parliament/Funkadelic, Buffalo Springfield, Janet Jackson, Pavement, The Go-Betweens, The Lounge Lizards, Nagisa Ni Te, Joni Mitchell

Of course this changes hour to hour, but right now, I’d probably Like Flies On Sherbert by Alex Chilton.