Reading record retailers

You must have been spoiled for choice when out shopping for records in Reading in the 1960s if this trio is anything to go by! I don’t know the town much at all having only been there a couple of time, but Friar Street was clearly one place to go with Hickie and Hickie Ltd. Pianos, records, music. 153 Friar Street, Reading. Browns Records 39 Friar Street, Reading. and the Co-operative, Reading at 99 Friar Street!

None were actually dedicated record shops though, but sold discs as an aside to their more regular trade. Founded in 1913 (see the advert on the side of a bus below!), Hickie And Hickie are still going at 153 Friar Street, and are a musical instrument shop (thought they did sell hi-fi for a time until Richer Sounds took that trade away). I have no information on Browns who were more of an electrical shop selling radios and TVs as well as records, which was quite common in the 1960s. These two blue stitched card sleeves (which are just different rubber stamps) are from 1957 and 1960 (dated from the names of the singles the owner wrote on! They were grooving to Adam Faith and Tommy Steele). I have posted the Co-op sleeve before along with some other card shop covers, but don’t know much about the history of the shop (which is now a bloody Wetherspoons). Matthew Kean say HMV used to be on Friar Street as well.

My thanks to Adam Thompson at in Hungerford antiques centre for sending me these.

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House of Andrews

Just a simple shop bag to hold a 7″ 45 rpm disc…

But then you delve into the name a little and discover there is 150 years or more of history behind it. The firm was founded by the original George Andrews (bookseller, stationer, publisher, mapseller, printseller, bookbinder and music-seller), as early as 1808. By the 1930s they had expanded considerably and opened a coffee shop (beating Waterstones by at least 70 years!) and were also selling records. By then owned by a Mr. Smart (who lived to be 100) it carried on after his death in 1965 and was still going in the 1970s, which is probably when this bag was passed over to a customer with a single in. I cannot find any reference to it at that time or when it closed. They clearly felt they were so much of a local institution they don’t even bother to put their address on the bag.

You can read a more detailed history of the early years of the business on a rare books site:

My thanks to Adam Thompson at in Hungerford antiques centre for sending me this (and other bags which I will post anon). Adam didn’t want to throw them away and found our site and thought we might like to have them.

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Chest Slap and Yell

In these strange times here’s an album find which I thought might sit well with the current move to get us all to try and relax a bit.  It was sent by Chris Meloche but he warns us that all it not what it seemsThis is not a “relaxation album” in the sense of a record with relaxing New Age music lulling you into a pleasant state of mind. Instead it contains a number of tracks in which Gunther takes you through the steps of sensory awakening achieved by literally slapping yourself around!”  In which case we might give it a miss.  There is no actual label so it looks to be a private pressing released by Sensory Awakening c/o Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California back in 1968.  You had to be there as Peter Fonda put it in The Limey.

The track titles are worth listing: Introduction / Head Tapping / Torso Slapping / Chest Slap and Yell / Breathing / Face Slapping / Arm Slap and Shake / Leg Slap and Shake / Face Slapping / Palming.

Maybe one for Gwyneth to license in and reissue? The cover is obviously a big contrast to the sort of thing the rock scene was pumping out by this time, but I quite like the simple approach caused by a budget. It also suggests a clean clinical feel which is where it was aimed market wise I suppose.

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Abbe Lane – Das Stereo Klang Wunder

Mercury klang wunder.jpg

Das Stereo Klang Wunder, or roughly, The Wonder Of Stereo Sound.  This seems to be an sampler introducing the Mercury Perfect Presence Sound Series to a German audience. Already very popular in America when they launched, the albums made much of the stereo recording techniques employed in their recording.  They also went for very bright and glamorous sleeves, and this album features model Abbe Lane (great name and this is circa 1961 so pre-Beatles!) on the cover. Abigail Francine Lassman (singer – she cut several albums under her stage name – dancer, actress) was married to Xavier Cugat for a time which is how she appears on several of his sleeves, and the photographs of Abbe on the front of this sampler were taken for an album by Cugat, though one of them seems to be an out-take from the photo shoot.  Another was used for one of her solo records. The back in mono, with German text and illustrations of many of the albums in the series.  The album was priced at just 9.80 DM and was a limited edition release.  The photographs are not credited but may be by Alfred Gescheidt who did work for Cugat on other titles.

Abbe Lane Mercury album.jpg

There is another album from this series on the site, Latin Percussion.


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Follow up your French

Suivez la piste BBC.jpg

Another classy BBC offering, this is their French language course “Suivez La Piste”  released in 1966, and designed to tie in with a BBC TV series for schools television. The design uses a grid not dis-similar to their early sound effects LPs. For youngsters, the BBC used to run special programmes from schools during the morning, so classes could wheel in the school TV and watch. Booklets and other learning material were also available. These days they show Loose Women instead.

There were two albums, the other had a slightly different colour scheme.  There are more of these vintage language albums on the site.

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The comfortable depths of your own armchair



Two more vintage 78 shop sleeves from charity shop finds. It is to me remarkable that 100 years after these were first sold they are still sometimes turning up, and as these two were in almost mint condition I couldn’t resist! Davis’s Music Store was sited in the prestigious Victorian arcade on Lord Street in Liverpool (the firm also had three more branches around the town). The arcade has survived, I don’t know when Davis’s stores closed. But clearly they had a lot of pride in their business, enough to have this special design drawn up, based perhaps on an early speaker cabinet design. All the lettering is also hand drawn. I think the sleeve dates from the 1920s and clearly the main emphasis here is on selling gramophones to the higher end market, the firm boasting of “The sound way of securing sound machines”! I cannot find any references to the business on the web.

Joseph Riley Birmingham 78.jpg

The second sleeve is from a shop in Birmingham, Joseph Riley’s, “opposite the town hall” on Paradise Street. I really like the pen and ink drawing of the old gent relaxing in his comfy chair in front of the fire, pet cat doing the same, and the wind up gramophone at his side. The sleeve promotes HMV machines; there is an HMV sleeve on the front and on the back promotional blurb for their gear, suggesting you “enjoy it all from the comfortable depths of your own armchair” as it is “better than an orchestra”. The local Birmingham history forum suggests Henry Riley & Sons Ltd had been in business since 1851 selling musical instruments and that Joseph Riley may have been his son. Perhaps the original business stuck to instruments and Joseph went after the gramophone market? Joseph Riley’s first shop was in Corporation Street and they then moved to Paradise Street, the address on this sleeve.

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Bertelsmann 7″

Bertelsmann 45 record sleeve.jpg

This attractive record bag (both sides are the same) is from the German Bertelsmann label, and adorned 45 rpm singles issued by the label in the late 1950s into the early 1960s. As with many other European countries, most German singles came in dedicated picture sleeves but not all. The single here (some sort of MOR marching band) seems to date from 1958 so I suspect the sleeve is also from that time, but information is not easy to come by and Bertelsmann had several different designs in the early days. This is the only one I’ve seen to feature a photograph however, with teenagers in a mock up of a soft drinks bar, some dancing, others reclining in metal framed canvas butterfly chairs (I remember my dad having one of these in the Fifties!). I can see an early Nina and Frederik album or ten inch from 1957 amongst several unknown records scattered on the floor.

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Brighten Your Book Covers!

A tiny slice of forgotten pop memorabilia, I have put together what information I can find on this curious series of Pop Stamps made in the Sixties by the famous games firm Waddingtons.

Waddingtons Pop Stamps, 1965. Cilla Black.

Waddingtons Pop Stamps, 1965. Cilla Black.

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Hudsons Chesterfield 78 box.jpg

I spotted this non-descript item in a local antique centre, just a card box full of 78 rpm records from the 1920s.  Frustratingly the box was plain (I have a couple which are nicely printed) but when I turned it over I spotted this scribbled in pencil underneath. So what we have is a box used to send a batch of new releases to the Hudson’s record shop in Chesterfield which has somehow survived nearly 100 years. Back then Hudsons were based in the town’s wonderful market hall and I really liked this link back to their early history.  It’s the sort of thing the local museum would probably be the best home for, and in any case the dealer wanted to flog the contents all together.  So I contented myself with a photograph!

Sadly Hudsons is no more, closing in 2012, but I did take a couple of photographs before it shut, which are on the site.

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T Rex UK 71 flyer.jpg

I used to grab bundles of the flyers from our local record shop counters back in the 1970s, and managed to stash most of them away in a box which has made it across several lofts. They also served me as writing paper for many years in the days when this was how people communicated!  I am now trying to make some sense of them all with the idea of a book.  I’ve always loved paper ephemera and at the time it was impossible to get the actual posters as these were always pasted up around town, so the flyers were the next best thing (and took up a lot less room). There are hundreds in the box and they provoke a lot of memories about the music scene at the time, as well as the gigs I actually went to, and the queues for tickets at the box office.  T. Rex were one of those groups most of us at school regarded as somewhat too teeny bopper-ish to be seen going to back then, but this is still a great flyer.  It’s A5 and printed on matt paper with just one deep red colour, and includes all the dates on the 1971 tour. The serif typeface is not what you might expect but does work quite well.  The promoters must have printed several thousand of these to be distributed around the country, although I’ve no idea how that was organised (possibly via the same company who stuck up the posters?).

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