A Lark Ascending

Last Shop Standing (Whatever happened to record shops?)

403 posts in this topic

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.

Ha, I can imagine that ... Though that might work out to your advantage. I remember one time ('94 or '95) when I went there after having made the rounds at Mole where, among other items I had picked up Vol. 2 and 3 of Hampton Hawes' All Night Sessions (UK Vogue/Contemporary originals in VG+ or better condition for 5 or 6 pounds each) and lo and behold, at Asman's there sat a copy of Vol. 1 for me - pristine vinyl but cover just a slightly bit more worn - and priced at one quid! That made my day (and maybe Asman's too as they got rid of that bummer :D :D).

As for Dobell's, does anybody remember if they still had the listening booths in the mid-70s? For the life of it I don't remember (maybe because except for one long-established shop they were a thing of the past in my hometown so i did not expect to find them anywhere else).

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Just googling and it appears that Bob Dylan once recorded in the basement at Dobell's in early 1963 :

Bob Dylan recordings

( Click on The List and there's a full rundown of Dylan recordings - broadcasts, rarities etc )

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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?

I remember Colletts moving to Charing Cross Road but for the life of me I cannot remember it having a music section, but I am sure that is just my memory failing me.

I must admit my memory of exactly when Collets morphed into Rays is very hazy.

One record shop that WAS in Monmouth St was 'Soul City' but that was at a different time and a different sort of music.

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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 remember Colletts moving to Charing Cross Road but for the life of me I cannot remember it having a music section, but I am sure that is just my memory failing me.

I must admit my memory of exactly when Collets morphed into Rays is very hazy.

Collet's still ran ads in "Blues & Rhythm" in the late 80s.

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A legendary Dobell's story is that Roland Kirk spent his days there while playing at Ronnie's at night. He is said to have brought sales to a standstill as admiring fans blocked the tiny shop to hear Roland demanding to hear track after track by Fats Waller!

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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?

I remember Colletts moving to Charing Cross Road but for the life of me I cannot remember it having a music section, but I am sure that is just my memory failing me.

I must admit my memory of exactly when Collets morphed into Rays is very hazy.

One record shop that WAS in Monmouth St was 'Soul City' but that was at a different time and a different sort of music.

I seem to remember that the music bit of Colletts in Charing Cross Road was in the back. I remember a large-ish, hippy-ish woman on the folk section ( Jill? ) who was very earnest. I'm not absolutely sure that the Jazz section ( with Ray ) moved there from New Oxford Street, or were there for only a short time before setting up in Shaftesbury Avenue.

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A legendary Dobell's story is that Roland Kirk spent his days there while playing at Ronnie's at night. He is said to have brought sales to a standstill as admiring fans blocked the tiny shop to hear Roland demanding to hear track after track by Fats Waller!

I actually saw Roland in Dobells just after 10am one morning listening to Omer Simeon! No fans, just me, Roland and the miserable Dobells guy (actually Doug Dobells son in law, can't remember his name)

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On the subject of jazz record shops in London, I'm down in Cornwall and haven't been to London for a shopping trip for a few years. Can anyone enlighten me on which shops still exist and are worth visiting. The ones I know about ( except the megastores ) are Soul Jazz in Broadwick Street, Soul Brother in Putney, Selectadisc in Berwick Street ( some jazz, used to be some bargains ), If Records in Soho ( not sure if its still there ), Rays in Foyles, Honest Jons, Rough Trade off Portobello Road. Is there nothing in Camden nowadays? My tastes go beyond jazz to funk and soul now and again so any current recommendations would be appreciated.

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A legendary Dobell's story is that Roland Kirk spent his days there while playing at Ronnie's at night. He is said to have brought sales to a standstill as admiring fans blocked the tiny shop to hear Roland demanding to hear track after track by Fats Waller!

I actually saw Roland in Dobells just after 10am one morning listening to Omer Simeon! No fans, just me, Roland and the miserable Dobells guy (actually Doug Dobells son in law, can't remember his name)

All of which confirms that Roland was a great historian of the music. "Hog Calling Blues" didn't come out of nowhere! And all this at a time when some misguided fans acted as if anything pre-Coltrane was uncool! :(

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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?

I remember Colletts moving to Charing Cross Road but for the life of me I cannot remember it having a music section, but I am sure that is just my memory failing me.

I must admit my memory of exactly when Collets morphed into Rays is very hazy.

One record shop that WAS in Monmouth St was 'Soul City' but that was at a different time and a different sort of music.

I seem to remember that the music bit of Colletts in Charing Cross Road was in the back. I remember a large-ish, hippy-ish woman on the folk section ( Jill? ) who was very earnest. I'm not absolutely sure that the Jazz section ( with Ray ) moved there from New Oxford Street, or were there for only a short time before setting up in Shaftesbury Avenue.

I recall the Charing Cross Road Colletts. Always good for 'unusual' books. My memory is of the music section being downstairs. Though it might have moved around.

I think I bought 'Beneath the Underdog' there in 1977, before I'd ever heard Mingus.

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A legendary Dobell's story is that Roland Kirk spent his days there while playing at Ronnie's at night. He is said to have brought sales to a standstill as admiring fans blocked the tiny shop to hear Roland demanding to hear track after track by Fats Waller!

That makes sense. I've heard that he spent many a day flicking through the LP racks and that he originally hired the late Joe 'Habao' Texidor (who was working in NYC Sam Goody/Broadway I think, behind the cash till) to help him identify what was in them and read the sleeve notes !

That film ('Zounds' I think it's called) with John Cale has good footage of Kirk at Ronnies with Phil Seamen !

Edited by sidewinder

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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?

It probably was. Monmouth St was on my route - its location was a bit further to the South on the Eastern side.

I must admit my memory of exactly when Collets morphed into Rays is very hazy.

Sometime in the 1980s I think (or maybe even early 90s). It was definitely still 'Collets' back in the late 70s.

Edited by sidewinder

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On the subject of jazz record shops in London, I'm down in Cornwall and haven't been to London for a shopping trip for a few years. Can anyone enlighten me on which shops still exist and are worth visiting. The ones I know about ( except the megastores ) are Soul Jazz in Broadwick Street, Soul Brother in Putney, Selectadisc in Berwick Street ( some jazz, used to be some bargains ), If Records in Soho ( not sure if its still there ), Rays in Foyles, Honest Jons, Rough Trade off Portobello Road. Is there nothing in Camden nowadays? My tastes go beyond jazz to funk and soul now and again so any current recommendations would be appreciated.

From what I gather, it's a pretty depressing scene at this time. Ray's for sure (very friendly when I phoned them earlier this week asking about Mosaic Selects :lol: ), Soul Brother for sure and I think Soul Jazz are still there in Putney. A couple of the Soho places are gone (Revolver?) and of course there is Honest Jon's in Portobello. Intoxica in Notting Hill Gate don't seem to stock jazz these days (they used to have some mega rarities - but at a price). I've got a few trips to London coming up so should be able to update this assessment.

At least the old Mole Jazz building is still standing and has its original 'Mole Logo' above the door in situ. Someone stick a preservation order on it !

Edited by sidewinder

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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?

It probably was. Monmouth St was on my route - its location was a bit further to the South on the Eastern side.

I must admit my memory of exactly when Collets morphed into Rays is very hazy.

Sometime in the 1980s I think (or maybe even early 90s). It was definitely still 'Collets' back in the late 70s.

Like I said above, ads for Collet's were still run regularly up to mid-1989 (in "Blues & Rhythm").

But their ads are conspicuously absent from the 1990/91 issues of B&R that I have.

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And I loved going to Johnny Kendall's second-hand basement, although the smell of damp could be overwhelming.

I've heard that the john in the basement was small and foul - so that may explain it !

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I'd quite forgotten the paper bags they used to serve records in!

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Fascinating stuff! I used to treasure those Dobell's bags - obviously not enough to keep any to this day, though. And that article by Manchester University friend Jack Massarik! Pleased we renewed our acquaintance the other year - if only by phone!

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I have quite a few LPs with Dobells price stickers on !

Quite a few of mine - e.g.Parker Dials on Spotlite - have stickers giving both £sd and decimal prices!

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I have quite a few LPs with Dobells price stickers on !

Me too, ;) and also quite a few of those black Mole Jazz plastic carrier bags.

BTW, while browsing through those copies of B&R, I was surprised to see Dobell's still advertised fomr that 21 Tower St. address as late as late1991 in that mag. Didn't know I had missed the closure of Dobell's THAT closely when first got back to London in the spring of 1993.

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And that article by Manchester University friend Jack Massarik! Pleased we renewed our acquaintance the other year - if only by phone!

He still writes for "Jazzwise" I think. And the London Evening Standard.

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My back issues of Jazz Journal are full of amusing adverts from Collets. I'll scan and post a few when I get time.

'From Harry Barris to Barry Harris', 'Son House to Sun Ra', that sort of thing.

Edited by sidewinder

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And that article by Manchester University friend Jack Massarik! Pleased we renewed our acquaintance the other year - if only by phone!

He still writes for "Jazzwise" I think. And the London Evening Standard.

He emailed me last year to say he'd moved from NottingHill to Ruislip. I wondered if this marked a step towards retirement. After all, like me he's rapidly approaching the big seven oh!

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