Books and Music at the Heart of Independent Publishing

First and Last and Always

March 26, 2013 | by Faber Social

Tags: Vinyl

Some things you can never escape, hard as you might try. Many of you remain in denial and some of you will never accept the brutal reality of your vinyl initiation – and I may be one of them. But like your birthplace (Stockton-on-Tees), your football team (West Ham Utd), and your first kiss (Nicola Sugget, Lady Lumleys School, Pickering), the first 7 inch single you acquired with your own hard-earned (pocket) money is an inescapable rite of passage. It sets you up for many future crap decisions about music, literature and fashion, and it is a Badge of Dishonour you’ll have pinned to the lapel of your donkey jacket forever.

Memory is an unreliable mistress and many of us are seduced into a fantastical version of what this first record really was. I’m convinced my first purchase was from the now sadly departed Hill & Jackson electrical hardware store on Pickering Market Place and that single was, the still epically groovy in an admittedly quite infantile way, Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr. But the fact this arftefact now seems absent from my collection suggests that a) my sister had off with it or b) the purchase never happened. So perhaps, and more likely, it was one of Elton John’s belters from the early ’80s or something abominable by Living in a Box. Whatever it was, it wasn’t as good or bad as some of the selections below. Let us know your own shameful first purchase, if you dare – or perhaps, if you ‘remember’ …


‘All I really remember was dragging my mum by the hand into ‘Scene and Heard’, a record shop in Halifax, and saying I want that song where the man counts backwards and he goes into space and gets lost. It was 1975 and I was 10 years old. Little did I know it but I was about to change the course of my life. The ‘a’ side kept me going for a few months but it was years later when I flipped the 7” over that it all started. Not one but two classic Bowie songs – Velvet Goldmine and Changes. A door was open and boy did I enter. I’m a Bowie bore to this day and prefer it when people call me The Fat White Duke. James is such a rubbish name.’

— James Endeacott, Faber Music, ex-Loop, ex-Rough Trade A’n’R fellow

‘Revealing the embryo of what would quickly become an impeccable grasp of the musical avant garde, my first purchased records were Whigfield’s Saturday Night and East 17’s Stay Another Day. I was ten at the time – if I remember right it wasn’t even a record shop, more of an odds-and-sods shop selling everything from car manuals to air-fix kits, so hopefully it was a case of me not having much choice rather than me not having much sense. Definitely a bit of both though.’

— Richard Milward, author of Apples and Kimberly’s Capital Punishment

‘Like most things in my life, my first record purchase is surrounded by murk and fog. And possibly just a touch of credibility-boosting reinvention. So whether it was the first or not, the first record I’ll confess to buying was a 7″ of Running With The Devil by Van Halen from W.H. Smiths in Newport, probably a year or so after its release. It’s a song that sounds now as it sounds then – a jaw-droppingly propulsive strut from the self-styled atomic punks, a record as vital as anything released in the England’s Dreaming period and certainly a much better look to admit to than the first album by Father Abraham and the Smurfs.’

— Robin Turner, author of The Search for the Perfect Pub

‘I so wish this weren’t the case but: I walked over a mile with my mum aged ten to a newsagent in Whitchurch, Cardiff which had a dusty singles section at the back and spent 99p on the 7” single of Bill Wyman’s Je Suis Un Rock Star. God knows what I was thinking.’

— Hannah Griffiths, Publisher for Fiction, Faber

Looking Through The Windows by The Jackson 5. Bought with record vouchers from Boots in the Victoria Centre, Nottingham. 1972. I was ten years old.’

— Jeff Barrett, Heavenly Records

‘The First Record I Bought was at Squires, in Ealing Broadway. This was a large furniture shop where you could also buy gramophones. The record department was downstairs, around a circular counter. (I’ve just found out that Dusty Springfield worked there at some point). Sometime in early 1963, at the age of nine, I descended into this pop environment and came out with Del Shannon’s Little Town Flirt – a fantastic slice of teen melodrama. Everything is heightened, loud, strange (those falsettos!), and it has the killer middle eight: “but you’ll think you’ve got a paper heart / when she starts to tear it apart”. I still love it.’

— Jon Savage, pop historian, author of England’s Dreaming