Tag Archives: records

September 19th 1975

“Had a great drama lesson – a real good laugh. Brought home TD folder. Not much done in the evening – bath, records”

Yes, I did drama classes … what of it? (Adopts “West Side Story” fisticuffs pose)… and it seemed today’s was something of a grin and a giggle.

This is going to sound incredibly ‘pompous’ but there was a girl in my drama class – we’ll call her ‘Karen’, mainly because I think that was her name?! – who made little secret of the fact that she was somewhat infatuated with me. She wasn’t my ‘type’ at all (I was seventeen years old, did I yet have a ‘type’?) so I had to resist her advances as best as I could gentlemanly manage, but whenever there was a man/woman or boy/girl scene being acted out she would always be on the look-out to rehearse it with… me… somewhat eagerly whenever ‘kissing’ might be involved)

I eventually ‘escaped’ the problem by dumping Drama from my curriculum. Hollywood has been in mourning ever since.

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March 17th 1975

“First committee meeting, Was put in charge of records – great!”

Uh-oh…. this could either turn out great…. or fantastic!

The coffee club ‘common room’ featured a small hi-fi on which students could play their music. It was my job to make sure everyone got a chance to hear and share their stuff, although I am sure I often favoured the material I liked?!

I was also in charge of sourcing, arranging, recommending and storing music that might get played at dance nights, or for any of our 6th form stage ‘spectaculars’

I think you could describe me as that proverbial pig… knee deep.

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March 10th 1975

“Got Pioneer PL12D”

It was a mere 18 months earlier when I bought my first proper hi-fi system, containing the Garrard SP25 MkII record deck.

Seems as if in the interim I had been eagerly reading all those hi-fi magazines I used to buy and had my head swayed by the reviews of this Pioneer PL12D? An upgrade was in order!

It really was a beautiful piece of kit. Counterbalance weight on the back of the arm, open-form headshell, anti-skipping adjustment, nice finish and easy to use.

I chose well. Very well indeed. I may well have worked through a handful of cartridges and/or styli, but this record deck lasted years, decades even, and was still in use right up until I sold my home and gave away many of its contents to friends before moving to the USA.

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t looked for another one on eBay to regain a little bit of my youth.

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January 11th 1975

‘Started new Job – GREAT!”

Seems as if I was a little more excited to be at Francis Records than I was on ANY day I ventured to Lancaster & Crook supermarket, doesn’t it?

I really did fall into the new job very quickly too, revelling in the fact that I was now one of ‘those guys’ behind the counter who I admired and envied so much. Suddenly my opinion on music – for whatever it was worth – held some sway. (“Yes sir, have you ever heard Aphrodite’s Child?“)

Do I remember my first ever sale? Somewhat weirdly in what has otherwise been an utter desert of memories, I do. Elton John’s double opus “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road“. Do I remember the price. Reverting to type… nope!

Mrs Francis was a quirky old stick to work for. I guess in time – and certainly when I ended up with my own store – I eventually understood just why she only ever wanted things done her way. Because, ostensibly, her way worked. She was adamant about how every sale had to be processed, but when you’re 17 years old it just seemed ‘petty’.

This was before the days of big (even small) fancy tills. Every sale was written in a simple duplicate book, the top page of every ‘paired twin” duly rubber stamped with Francis Records’ address and phone number. The pages in these books weren’t even self-copying, thus requiring a succession of little sheets of carbon paper.

As well as handwriting the customer’s receipt, Derek and I had to ensure we also wrote the details of any transaction down on a “daily sales sheet”, basically the top page of a writing pad sitting somewhere in the near vicinity. Whilst we were able to conduct cash sales ourselves, any cheque or credit/debit card sale HAD to be handled – at least initially – by Mrs Francis… awkward if she happened not to be around at that very moment. In these circumstances we had to run downstairs and see John in the classical department and ask him to handle the sale. Bizarre, but true. However, cash WAS king so the incidents of credit or cheque sales were (perhaps surprisingly nowadays) admittedly rare.

Customers would come to the counter with their LP requirements sleeved in plastic covers which we would then fill from the masterbags in the racks behind us. People would have to ASK for singles (45’s) as there were scant few ‘picture sleeves’ in those days for customers to browse through. Cassettes were a little more problematical as the racks required a key to open them.. and Mrs Francis had the key. Again, if she wasn’t around John had to be summoned from downstairs.

Customers’ purchases would be placed in a 13″ or 8″ square paper bag advertising the Francis Records name. If we sold a poster we would wrap & tape a bag around it by way of some strange ‘proof of purchase’.

Mrs Francis DID teach me – from this early age – the ‘right and proper’ way to answer a telephone call in a manner that made the caller feel respected. It’s something I never forgot and I used pretty much the same style of greeting 11 years later when I opened my own shop.

One thing that I did of my accord – maybe at my Dad’s suggestion? – was wearing a tie to work. Whilst Mrs Francis would have been quite happy for me to wear more casual clothes, I actually spivved myself up a little each week, preferring decent trousers, a crisply ironed shirt (thanks Mum!) and, yes (the ultimate establishment icon), a tie.

Little did I know that this day in 1975 would represent the very beginning what eventually turned out to be an almost 22 year ‘romance’ with the music (and/or video) industry.

So, a belated THANK YOU Mrs Francis for giving me this early opportunity. Not just for kick-starting my eventual career but for handing me that inate ability that all record shop workers have for being somewhat dismissive and sneering of other people’s music collections!

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July 22nd 1973

“Didn’t do much all day except listen to records and do some project”

I think it’s fair to say that when I set my sights on something back then I would invariably work on it with certain fervour and enthusiasm. My attention span was certainly not ‘compromised’ like it has been the past decade.

I blame the internet.

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July 9th 1973

“Went up Trevs on bike in Evening and listened to some of his records”

We used to go to each other’s homes and just listen to records.

No Playstations, no TV or computer, and no mobile phones or texting to distract us.

Just a 10-mile round trip on my pushbike to sit on the floor and listen to some tunes (man)

I’ll continue to maintain that life as a teenager in 1973 was, yes, FAR simpler, but FAR more rewarding than any teenager can enjoy in the 21st Century.

However, I’m old.

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October 30th 1972 (I)

“Took back H.P. Focus, got money back”

Firstly can I just say that this entry made my brain open a tad.

It suddenly remembered that when I wrote “NOT good” about Hocus Pocus by Focus a few days ago I didn’t mean the song was no good, but that the record I bought was bad. As in “faulty”.

For whatever reason my brain cells kicked in to remind me I had to return the single because it skipped. The high frequency levels of the song (Thijs Van Leer’s yodeling – yes, I said yodeling) most probably responsible for making the stylus jump out of the grooves!

I bought almost all my records from the “Jack Hobbs” store on Eastleigh’s High Street. It was a ramshackle place – as were most record stores in the early seventies – run by a cantankerous bespectacled man by the name of Eric, who was actually a bicycle repair man by trade (the store used to sell bikes AND records).

I have no doubt at all that when I initially tried to return “Hocus Pocus”, Eric would have first tried to argue that the problem was actually my “needle”, that it was probably worn out, and that I needed a new one. (Guess what else he sold?) He would then test the record on the store’s own record player, an ancient beast whose record arm was carefully weighed down with a taped selection of coins… you know, just to make sure the skipping problem was mine and not his.

However, on this occasion, it would appear that even Thijs Van Leer’s yodeling was even too much for a pile of pocket change to cure, so I obtained a refund.

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