A Lark Ascending

Last Shop Standing (Whatever happened to record shops?)

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National Sound Archives apparently also has Ed Dipple's audio reminiscences on Mole Jazz on file - anyone been able to get access to these? I'd love to hear them.

That's the first I've heard of these since he told me he'd recently recorded them. Sadly, this was when he knew he hadn't long to go.

I'll have to find the website link. Apparently you can download them if you are a registered UK academic, museum curator etc. Sadly, engineers don't qualify. ;)

Edited by sidewinder

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This Southern U.S. boy doesn't have a lot to add to this conversation, but when I visited London for the first and only time about 15 years ago, my list of must-visit spots included Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Samuel Johnson's house in Gough Square, and Mole Jazz. I remember that I spent enough (over 100 pounds, I think) to get a discount.

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and Mole Jazz. I remember that I spent enough (over 100 pounds, I think) to get a discount.

A wise move, way better than Buck House. Around £40-50 triggering discount used to be my experience. Sometime less.

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National Sound Archives apparently also has Ed Dipple's audio reminiscences on Mole Jazz on file - anyone been able to get access to these? I'd love to hear them.

That's the first I've heard of these since he told me he'd recently recorded them. Sadly, this was when he knew he hadn't long to go.

Here you go, Bill..

Ed Dipple Sound Archive

Edited by sidewinder

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No Mole in the book. The author set himself a limitation of no more than one shop per town. Despite thinking twice, he decided not to waive the rule for London. Rough Trade got chosen (he's dealing with shops he did lots of business with over the years; maybe something so specialised as Mole was off his beat. Can't remember if they dealt in Proper boxes).

The egalitarian treatment of the provinces alongside the capital is quite unusual...but in the spirit of a book that celebrates the small scale in danger of being swamped by behemoths.

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Here is a picture from the later days in Charing Cross Road, after the addition of the folk and blues shop.

I went to Dobell's for the first time in about 1962 and for me it was never the same after the move to Tower Street.

dobells.jpg

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Wonderful, Steve.

That's how I remember it.

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Yes, that's exactly how I remember Dobell's at 77 Charing Cross Road too from my visits there in 1975-77 (during 2-week Easter holidays stays there organized by our school - which often found me vanishing from the class day excursions all day long to go out on my own checking out places like Dobell's, the Bloomsbury Book Shop of John Chilton and lots of others that I somehow managed to discover really fast, and when I rejoined the gang in the late afternoon the usual standard question would soon be how much LP's I'd bought on THAT day. ;) Far too less, unfortunately, high school student funds dont permit much ...)

Anyway, the relocated Dobell's was at 21 Tower St. , to be exact (I recently picked up a bunch of 80s copies of "Blues & Rhythm", and ads by this one and other fondly remembered and sadly missed shops figured prominently there).

However, are you all sure it was Honest Jon's that was in St. Martin's Lane? I distinctly remember the jazz record shop I checked out there during my trios to London in the 90s was JAMES ASMAN'S RECORD CENTRE. A pretty small shop that sort of acted as an old-time (aka "classic") jazz outlet for Mole Jazz (both shops confirmed this and the shops's addresses figured back to back on the shopping bags). It did have the advantage, though, that non-oldtime vinyl jazz usually went fairly cheaply there.

I only remember Honest Jon's from their shop waaaay up on Portobello Road (near the railway flyover).

That book that Bev mentions in the opener really would have been tempting but that one-shop-per-town policy of course makes it of very little interest for me as a furriner who'd never get much beyond London. Disregarding jazz shops, the shops around Camden Town alone would have made for quite some stories.

Anyway, those shopping trips I was able to make to London from 1993 to 2000 are priceless memories but I regret to this day I did not manage to go there far earlier in the early or mid-80s to catch up on what I'd missed during my 1975-77 stays.

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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It definitely wasn't Asmans - that was a pokey little place. I seem to recall it being on the west side of CCR, close to the Leicester Square cinema area.

The place I remember was a modernist place where Asmans did mainly trad/swing type stuff.

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Yes it was not too far off the Leicester Square tube station in a small side street but on the east side of CCR and according to the address I have that was St Martins Lane (consulting my London A-Z, actually a few steps off St. Martins Lane proper). So probably Honest jons was just around the corner from there but AFAIK when I was there in the 90s there was no Honest Jons branch anymore. I think I did fine-comb the area because once or twice I did get lost in those little side streets and as I always had a double reason for going there (the MOTOBOOKS motoring book shop where I also left fairly hefty sums was in the immediate vicinity) I did try to make sure I did not miss the right turn to get where I wanted.

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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Yes it was not too far off the Leicester Square tube station in a small side street but on the east side of CCR and according to the address I have that was St Martins Lane (consulting my London A-Z, actually a few steps off St. Martins Lane proper). So probably Honest jons was just around the corner from there but AFAIK when I was there in the 90s there was no Honest Jons branch anymore. I think I did fine-comb the area because once or twice I did get lost in those little side streets and as I always had a double reason for going there (the MOTOBOOKS motoring book shop where I also left fairly hefty sums was in the immediate vicinity) I did try to make sure I did not miss the right turn to get where I wanted.

I have a feeling we might both be right. I half recall Asman's changed premisis from the place you remember to, very briefly, the one I remember. Could be wrong.

Whilst Googling James Asmans I came across this. Don't be fooled by the 2009 date...its an article from 1987 advising US visitors where to find records in London. Sadly not the one I'm trying to recall - probably gone by then:

http://www.nytimes.com/1987/11/29/travel/s...d-bargains.html

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Wonderful, Steve.

That's how I remember it.

Come to think of it - I remember it too but it can't have been there long after my first trips into London ('77-ish), must have only seen it once or twice - I'm sure it wasn't their in the 80s (re-built over?). It's the Folk section that now looks so familiar !

There was a cheapo discount place across the road (Compendium? Our Price?) that did lots of deletions and I remember getting a few of the Blue Note brown twofer sets there.

Edited by sidewinder

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Yes it was not too far off the Leicester Square tube station in a small side street but on the east side of CCR and according to the address I have that was St Martins Lane (consulting my London A-Z, actually a few steps off St. Martins Lane proper). So probably Honest jons was just around the corner from there but AFAIK when I was there in the 90s there was no Honest Jons branch anymore.

The 'Honest Jon's' didn't last too long. It was there during my daily trips up from Charing Cross around 1981/82 but by the end of that particular (and severe) recession in the early 80s it had gone and they had consolidated back to Portobello and Camden. There was a noticeable contraction of London jazz vinyl outlets during this period.

I remember going into Asmans on a couple of occasions. A different place - and much more 'trad', also very compact. After they closed back in the 90s their stock moved upstairs at Mole (something along the lines of 'James Asman In Mole') and I think the lady who used to work there 'manned the upstairs kiosk' at Mole for some years.

Come to think of it, there is a book to be got out of all this. :D

Edited by sidewinder

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It made me think of a shop I recall from the early 80s (maybe even very late 70s) that stood in the Covent Garden area about one or two roads parallel to Charing Cross Road. It looked very modern with quite spartan walls. The front room had jazz records on sale, the back had folk records. I can recall seeing lots of Andrew Hill and Bobby Hutcherson Blue Note imports there - too expensive for me to take a chance on though later I regreted it (and later still was pleased as the music appeared on CD).

Was this the relocated Dobells or somewhere else?

This description definitely sounds like Dobell's after it relocated to Tower Street.

It probably mentions in in the NY Times article (I didn't read all of it) but Asman's was in New Row, a small street off St. Martins Lane.

The woman who ran it after James Asman retired, and moved to Mole with it, was called Maureen.

When Ray's moved from New Oxford St. to Shaftesbury Avenue, it was actually in both Shaftesbury Avenue and Monmouth St. You could walk in one side and out the other.

Monmouth St. is an extension of St. Martins Lane (actually Upper St. Martins Lane). I just mention this in case anyone was confusing Monmouth St with St. Martins Lane.

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When Ray's moved from New Oxford St. to Shaftesbury Avenue, it was actually in both Shaftesbury Avenue and Monmouth St. You could walk in one side and out the other.

Monmouth St. is an extension of St. Martins Lane (actually Upper St. Martins Lane). I just mention this in case anyone was confusing Monmouth St with St. Martins Lane.

Indeed - spot on.

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National Sound Archives apparently also has Ed Dipple's audio reminiscences on Mole Jazz on file - anyone been able to get access to these? I'd love to hear them.

That's the first I've heard of these since he told me he'd recently recorded them. Sadly, this was when he knew he hadn't long to go.

Here you go, Bill..

Ed Dipple Sound Archive

Thanks, Sidewinder. (I no longer qualify for access, but a family member does.)

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Thanks, Sidewinder. (I no longer qualify for access, but a family member does.)

Bill - brilliant. I'd be interested in a copy if you ever get one on download. Failing that, I'll see what I can arrange. Didn't realise there was so much great jazz history stuff archived there.

I'll be around and about that St Pancras Reading Room next month so may pop in and have a listen.

Edited by sidewinder

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Here is a picture from the later days in Charing Cross Road, after the addition of the folk and blues shop.

I went to Dobell's for the first time in about 1962 and for me it was never the same after the move to Tower Street.

dobells.jpg

How that photo takes me back! I remember staring transfixed at the window on the right in 1962 at the then brand-new album from the "disappeared" Sonny Rollins, The Bridge, with its hugely impressive cover photo.

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Come to think of it - I remember it too but it can't have been there long after my first trips into London ('77-ish), must have only seen it once or twice - I'm sure it wasn't their in the 80s (re-built over?). It's the Folk section that now looks so familiar !

The original Dobell's stood in a block known as "the buildings" which was demolished in the late 70s/early 80s and replaced by a new block now full of tourist trash outlets. Back in the day it was said that the ultimate in cool was to live in a cold water pad in the buildings "within the sound of Do-Bell's". :excited:

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Come to think of it - I remember it too but it can't have been there long after my first trips into London ('77-ish), must have only seen it once or twice - I'm sure it wasn't their in the 80s (re-built over?). It's the Folk section that now looks so familiar !

The original Dobell's stood in a block known as "the buildings" which was demolished in the late 70s/early 80s and replaced by a new block now full of tourist trash outlets. Back in the day it was said that the ultimate in cool was to live in a cold water pad in the buildings "within the sound of Do-Bell's". :excited:

I remember in 1993 when I made it back to the City of London for the first time since 1977 I wandered down Charing Cross Road, trying to track down Dobell's at their original address (either unaware of their disappearance or maybe I could not believe the rumours of their disappearance that I may have heard) and of course did not find any trace of the buildings that looked like they might have held that old shop front. But I also remember the buildings that were there at that address definitely did not look like they were only some 10 years old. Maybe it was just the general dirt and neglect? At any rate, London certainly managed to run down their buildings in record time in those years. ;)

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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I never felt comfortable in Dobells. The staff were not very friendly or perhaps I wasn't one of the clique. Much better in Rays where I felt much more welcome and over time got to know the folks there very well.

Asman's was okay, very friendly, but very small. Although mainly trad it was always worth a look, I found some great stuff at good prices in there over the years. If anyone can go back to the late 50s, early 60s it was the place for very cheap Esquire albums. Presumably unplayed review copies.

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I never felt comfortable in Dobells. The staff were not very friendly or perhaps I wasn't one of the clique. Much better in Rays where I felt much more welcome and over time got to know the folks there very well.

Maybe I am romanticizing things a bit because I was EXTREMELY overwhelmed by what I discovered in that "Aladdin's cave" at Dobell's back in '75-77 (remember I was 15 to 17 at that time) but I cannot remember the staff as being that off-putting. On the contrary. And I was there several times during each of my 2-week stays in each of these 3 years but (due to lack of funds) left with very few purchases after lots of rummaging that must have seemed endless to the sales staff. Or maybe I obtained bonus points due to the fact that during one of my visits I lilterally jumped on that Cyril Davies LP released on the Folklore label (a Dobell venture) not long before that I figured I just had to have (after reading about it in a book on British Beat). I guess the (to me) elderly chap at the counter (Doug Dobell himself?) never really figured out why a student youngster from "the Continent" would jump on that one like I did .... ;)

Thinking about it now, somehow I must have felt and acted like the penny-pinching browsers in the record shop portrayed in Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity". :D

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I never felt comfortable in Dobells. The staff were not very friendly or perhaps I wasn't one of the clique.

I can certainly identify with that, John! On one of my my first visits in 1957 at the age of 17 I was chased out of the booth for playing too many 78s! (They were by by Pinetop Smith and Meade Lux Lewis.) There was also an infuriatingly cool bloke behind the counter on the ground floor who accompanied everthing on the sound system with (admittedly accurate) "cymbal" strokes with his ball pen! But Johnny Kendal downstairs in the dungeon-like second-hand section was a really sweet guy, this confirmed by a woman friend of mine who went out with him.

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I never felt comfortable in Dobells. The staff were not very friendly or perhaps I wasn't one of the clique.

I can certainly identify with that, John! On one of my my first visits in 1957 at the age of 17 I was chased out of the booth for playing too many 78s! (They were by by Pinetop Smith and Meade Lux Lewis.) There was also an infuriatingly cool bloke behind the counter on the ground floor who accompanied everthing on the sound system with (admittedly accurate) "cymbal" strokes with his ball pen! But Johnny Kendal downstairs in the dungeon-like second-hand section was a really sweet guy, this confirmed by a woman friend of mine who went out with him.

I first started going to Dobell's in the 60s and I didn't think the staff were that unfriendly. Just a bit intimidated by all that grown-up music. The thing I remember was the state of the turntables in the listening booths at the back. They were like something out of the Flintstones and the pickups weighed a ton. God knows what damage they did to the records. And I loved going to Johnny Kendall's second-hand basement, although the smell of damp could be overwhelming.

I never felt comfortable in Dobells. The staff were not very friendly or perhaps I wasn't one of the clique. Much better in Rays where I felt much more welcome and over time got to know the folks there very well.

Asman's was okay, very friendly, but very small. Although mainly trad it was always worth a look, I found some great stuff at good prices in there over the years. If anyone can go back to the late 50s, early 60s it was the place for very cheap Esquire albums. Presumably unplayed review copies.

Asman's was OK if you were buying older jazz. I remember going in there and buying 'Miles In The Sky' and you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife.

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When Ray's moved from New Oxford St. to Shaftesbury Avenue, it was actually in both Shaftesbury Avenue and Monmouth St. You could walk in one side and out the other.

Monmouth St. is an extension of St. Martins Lane (actually Upper St. Martins Lane). I just mention this in case anyone was confusing Monmouth St with St. Martins Lane.

Indeed - spot on.

I believe that Ray's ( more accurately Colletts ) moved from New Oxford Street ( folk upstairs, jazz in the basement ) to Charing Cross Road as part of a larger Colletts bookshop ( mainly left wing literature ) before Ray split off and moved to St Martins Lane / Monmouth Street.

I have a vague memory of a record shop being across the road from Rays in Monmouth Street. Could this have been the short-lived branch of Honest Jon's?

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