Friday, May 16, 2008


If you grew up like me in small provincial towns in the days before the internets, long, long my friends before the internets, you'll remember how hard it was to find the records you liked. In my teenage years in Paignton, Devon we had just one proper record shop and a very small, inadequately stocked one at that (SOUNDZ: owner's catchphrase -'It's coming in Monday') and sometimes in desperation I would be driven to frequent card shops and electrical retailers just for the few singles they might sell at the back. Imagine it. You would hear groovy tracks on Kid Jensen or Janice Long or Peel or Mike Read's breakfast show and you would know you would not have the proverbial snowball's chance in hell of finding them in the bloody English blasted pigging bloody so-called Riviera, oh no. It was a mighty bore I can tell you.

I started going off piste, as it were.

I worked out that away from the town centre there were funny little bric-a-brac shops smelling of musty Pan paperbacks and old tins of St Bruno ready-rolled, and whilst I knew I'd never find 'The View From Her Room' by Weekend there, it did become clear that if you called in often enough, and steeled yourself for the disappointment that nine visits in ten would inevitably bring, sometimes, one time, right out of the blue, you might find amongst the pensioner-donated Vic Damone Extended Plays in that naggedy cardboard box a crackly old soul or funk single some forty-something bloke who used to run a disco had been forced by his missus to dump.

It doesn't sound like much, does it - but at the time it was water in a parched desert to a thirsty man. They could go on playing their bloody 'Don't You (Forget About Me)' in those tawdry Torquay 'nite spots'; I had found a record that was all mine.

This is one of those records.

It is TSOP - The Sound Of a Paignton junk shop, circa 1980; and now I am sharing it with the world ;)

Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes - 'Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back)' (1973)


  1. To me Paignton in the 70s was a magical place (but not as good as Butlins) where the sun was always shining and I could see live shows with Mike & Bernie Winters and featuring the likes of Lulu and Norman Collier doing his ‘hilarious’ chicken and broken microphone routines. Most importantly it was the place I could stock up on American Marvel comics from those shops between the seafront and the level crossing. The Three Degrees ‘When Will I See You Again’ was always on the radio one year I was there and to this day I can’t hear it without thinking of Paignton.

  2. Good in the summer; bleak as all heck in the winter (and when you are 15...). Torbay Road! Home to a great many grockle shops!
    I remember the Deeley Bopper summer, and a year where every other sticker, T-shirt or badge was a reference to the shooting of J.R Ewing.

    The Alessi Brothers 'Oh Lori' would have been my coming-out-of-all-transistors-on-the-beach song of one of those summers...

  3. i've been gearing up for a harold melvin post for a bit but you're always just one step ahead...
    we had an box of singles in a shop in the st georges arcade which was always brilliant and always mystifying cos it was a bloody awful shop otherwise.
    and will you stop all this devon stuff it's making my long lost appendix hurt

  4. Apologies to Ally, but…

    You don’t have to put a link on the word grockle for me. I was in a pub in north Devon (Georgeham) in the 80s and some Australian barman made some comment about grockles. I expressed my outrage in my best west country accent, counting on the fact that he wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Dorset and Devon.

    Also, I was probably there the summer you’re talking about. I went camping with my girlfriend in 80 and 81 (one of those campsites on the Totnes road) and bought a record at Steve’s Our Price in Plymouth (before his time, I think). Don’t remember seeing any 15-year old Michael Caine lookalikes.
    I’ll shut up now.

  5. Grockle defined before Emmett or Jon pop in and complain that I'm going all incomprehensibly British on them again.

    I'm sorry about the appendix Ally, I really am.

  6. I had a holiday in Torbay when philly was everywhere. It still makes me think that area - Palm Trees, Cockinton Forge, Kent's Cavern and Paington Zoo (yellow badge with a chimp on it) and our holiday home for the fortnight which smelt of burnt bananas, the lawn was overgrown and full of grasshoppers, and the sette may well have been made from bags of Blue Circle cement.

    Alessi makes me think of Midnight Mint choc ices on Woolacombe Bay, and 'I feel love' the road from Woolacoombe to Croyde.

    Great tune BTW.

  7. Kin ell. The memory juices are spurting all 'round with this fine thread.

    Limited experience for me in that part of the world, my lovers.
    'Harbour Lights' Disco, Torpoint, 1983 ish. 'Holiday' by Mad Donna was all the rage. (When she was attractive - you know, a bit chubby with a white vest and tutu). 'Thriller' vid was out and Elton John announced he was to marry ... a woman!

    It was then that I found a shrivelled, pink, rubbery, finger-shaped object floating in my cider.

    It was .......

    Ally's missing appendix.

  8. She'll want it back now.

  9. On my street were two shops owned by the Beasley Brothers. One of the shops was a bike shop, the other an electrical repair shop. But they sold records too. I bought my first singles in there. When they closed down the bike shop (I think they were approaching retirement age) they let me look through their old stock, dating back to 1969 when they'd first started selling records. I got some choice sevens for 50p a piece.

    Of course we had the Virgin Megastore in walking distance, which is where I used to go once I was old enough. I am grateful for the things I grew up with in London. Other people had sea and countryside. I had the Virgin Megastore, Waterloo Bridge and Forbidden Planet for my comics!

    And of course this was all going to be a post in the near future....damn!

  10. I have cousins who live in Paignton (my dad was originally from Plymouth)so we would often visit when I was a child either at Easter, Whitsun or Summer. One of the last times I remember going was when I was 17. My eldest cousin, Colin was also 17 so we were allowed to go to Torquay on our own together rather than hang about with the oldies.

    This must have been the summer of 1979. I remember one day we walked to Torquay and we spent half an hour jumping between Paignton and Torquay under the sign that welcomed you to Torquay on the Torbay road near the turn off for Cockington. I suspect some cider had been consumed on the journey and as young teenagers this felt incredibly funny being able to go back to the oldies and say that we had walked from Paignton to Torquay thirty times that day.

    Anyway to get to the point of this rambling reminisce. When we eventually got to Torquay we went to Ronnies's in Torquay Market. Whilst aware of punk and the new wave both Colin and I were then into "progressive" rock. I had some money from a summer job and I decided to take a punt on a record by Tangerine Dream (richochet) who some of my mates back in Harrow had said was "far out, man!" The reason I know I bought this in Ronnie's is I still have it today together with the sticker Saying "ronnies £2.25p Torquay Market" It was a seminal record in my collection. Without buying that record I would never have discovered Kraut rock and some of the more esoteric records that my taste in electronic music has led me to. So seminal in fact that it is one of the few records that survived the great marriage cull despite the fact That my wife calls it "bubble music".

    Therefore, I will not hear a bad word said against Torbay. ( although I must admit when I went back when my eldest was a baby (she is now thirteen) I thought it was a dump so haven't gone back!


  11. Ah yes, that happens...

    Ronnie's?. Yay!

    Simon - that's exactly why I got off the train at Paddington in 1983 and have lived here ever since...

  12. With a battered suitcase and marmalade sandwiches?

  13. What happened to meanwhile?

  14. TSOP - The Sound Of Paignton - Brilliant! Back in the day growing up in Bristol I had no trouble finding "off piste" record shops. But now with vinyl all but dead and gone and independent record shops too I can exactly relate to your experiences in Paignton as I doggedly trawl the charity shops for soul and funk.

    And that picture of the box of records has got me salivating!

    (btw I think my banner hater comes from Kilkenny, wots he doing using a word like dude anyway?)


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.