I used to work in Harum Records in the mid-eighties.....In fact, my first proper job in 1983 (I think) was 2 weeks in the Muswell Hill branch (they had 4 others, Archway, Barnet, Crouch End and Enfield). After my initiation in Muswell Hill I was moved more permanently to the tiny Crouch End shop at the bottom of Crouch Hill. There was just enough space behind the counter for me and the manager, Eric. My musical education was there was incredible, if it wasn't learning from Eric or the plethora of record company reps that visited daily (nothing to do with it being a chart return shop, oh no!) it was the amazing locals. We bought and sold secondhand records which I was allowed to buy at cost so my collection grew very rapidly indeed. Two unforgettable regular customers would have to be Chris and Keith. 'The boys' as we referred to them were 6'2, 25 stone identical twins and they were both blind, I assume from birth. These guys walked together along Crouch End Broadway to the shop every Saturday morning without fail. The took up the entire counter for a couple of hours, other customers had to work around them! They had the most incredible musical knowledge too, what one didn't know the other was sure to so we saved up various inquiries to ask of them each week. They asked for a copy of every album or single before it was added to their considerable pile (they spent about £70 each per week on average, in 1983!), they took it out of the sleeve and inner sleeve and would be able to tell what label it was on just from feeling the pressing with their fingers!! I swear on my life that is the truth. We had a fair number of 'celebs' come through the door too. Madonna, Bob Dylan would probably be the most famous but Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart's studio was 20 yards across the street so they were around a lot obviously. The directors were three mates who clearly loved the business and knew what they were doing in it. One of them, Colin Carter was in a comedy/covers band called Snacks at the Bar. At least once a year we'd all head down to Kentish Town to see them play. I eventually moved on to the biggest branch in Enfield and from there into the music business which I have worked in ever since. It was fun going back to those times for a while, if anyone remembers me from those days drop me a line -Spencerbaldwin@me.com
As a schoolboy from the nearby grammar school, Stationers, I used to frequent the Crouch End branch of Harum Records often in the eraly to mid 1970s. What my parents never knew was that the dinner money they gave me each week always went on a new single instead. (Well, when you're young, starvation is OK).
The manager then was (I think but I could well be wrong) a tall-ish guy with an Afro called Graham. Being at that impressionable age, we boys stupidly thought he'd care what discs we purchased and once, when buying a David Cassidy single for my girlfriend Sally, I contrived a ridiculous scenario which entailed me 'casually' turning to one of my mates as I approached the counter and asking him "what was that single Sally wanted again?". By this means, Graham would realise it wasn't for uber-cool, hip and trendy me. What an idiot I was! As if he'd be interested.
Decisions as to singles had to made quickly but it was in the days when most music in or around the charts was great - or at least seemed to be. I recall intending to buy '5.15' by The Who once, only to be informed it wasn't in stock. Rather than leave empty-handed, I plumped for Colin Blunstone and 'I Don't Believe In Miracles' instead. Never did buy '5.15', as seven days later there was some other new song undoubtedly demanding I spend my 48p on it.
Later on, when working, we had the money to buy albums and what a joy it was to rifle through all the LPs in Harum, before selecting one. Ah, those truly were the days indeed.
There was also Harum in Crouch End, a second hand shop. I was a passenger in a car going past it one day in the mid 90s when I saw a sleeve in the window that made me insist that the driver let me out. It was Maggie Bell's Queen of the Night, produced by Jerry Wexler and including Eric Gale and Richard Tee among the musicians. I had heard a friend's copy many many times, but it was too great not to have my own. Phil Abel Sound of the world forum.
Amazing to read all these comments Harum records Crouch End was our first shop in 1970. The partnership was Graham and Gary Umbo with Mike Harding and later on Colin Carter joined us. Out of the 6 shops and the 3 market stalls Crouch End will always be my favourite. The customers would discuss music sometimes for hours like the famous blind twins Keith and Chris. Such great fun in my years there. Comment: Gary.
I remember the Crouch End shop very well particularly during the mid seventies to the mid eighties. My relationship with Gary and Colin goes back to the early sixties when I went to William Grimshaw and then Creighton school with them both. My album record collection is largely made up of second hand records bought from Crouch End, from Gary Eric, Spence, Graham, Alo or Colin. I built up a working relationship with the Harum boys as Alan Wood, another school friend, and I did most of their shop fitting for the shops over this period. We built browsers, racks and counters for all the shops. I remember vividly fitting the new Crouch End shop dropped till counter with Al one Sunday morning listening to Echo Beach by Martha & the Muffins, great track, not sure about the rest of the album. We were attempting to get it finished by twelve so we could meet others at the Three Compasses between then and two, as the pubs were only open for two hours at lunch time in those d ays.
I formed ‘Snacks at the Bar’ with Colin when returning to London from college in 1973. We started as a two piece but grew into a six piece with Alo Kealy playing drums and Al Wood joining us an additional vocalist. As has been mentioned by others ‘Snacks’ gigs at Bull and Gate Kentish Town and Dublin Castle Camden, particularly the Christmas ones in the early eighties were really well attended by those affectionately known as ‘rent a crowd’ which included Harum staff and most the band ‘Bad Manners’ with whom we shared a studio in Stamford Hill in the early days.
Thanks go to my son Joseph who found and sent me this link. It is great to be reminded of those exciting and very happy days, well done Spence!
Comment: Tig Trafford.
(4 days ago) Ade Macrow said:Good to know I remembered Graham correctly. Spent a great deal of what little money I had there, not just on singles (as detailed above) but also on albums. Harum in Crouch End always seemed to stock those albums other stores didn't, such as Open Road by Donovan. Later on, in a non-musical context, also met Colin Carter, as he was briefly part of our Sunday night drinking group in the mid-1980s. And, despite my Machiavellian scheming, Sally never did marry me.......
(July 2, 2014) Richard Moore said:I remember Harum, mainly the Crouch End branch, in the 1970's. I could be wrong, but I seem to recall the name of the shop came from a partnership between Gary and Graham Umbo, and a guy who's surname was Harrington. The Umbo'slater bought out Mr Harrington. Was a great shop and they showed fantastic loyalty to their customers. They would occasionally let you have free tickets for concerts, I seem to rememeber Greenslade and Yes...Great guys with a deep knowlege of the business. flag like
(Apr 5, 2014) Judy said:I've just discovered this website. I'm in the process of going through my vinyl collection and deciding what to keep. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s my salary didn't stretch to buying full price records. Many of my LPs have HARUM stickers on them. I used to frequent the Muswell Hill branch at the weekends - happy memories! Thank you for reminding me, Spencer Baldwin!
GARY UMBO MIKE HARDING
WOULD BE GOOD TO CATCH UP AGAIN
(July 14, 2015) Fuck I loved Harum. Seems to me if I wasn't in there of a Saturday I was in John Beeby's Music Place, about four doors up the hill. Gary introduced me to Papa Nes (I had the Monkees albums but didn't realise he was good on his own) and countless others. I mainly went to Crouch End but later on I had the serious hots for the redhead that worked in the Muswell Hill branch - never did anything about it though :-(
I also played with Alo Kiely in a couple of bands later on. Oh, and @Tig - I lived in the house in Rookfield that backed on to you in Cascade :-) Comment: Jerry Browning.
( October 17, 2015) Just watching TV programme about the days of vinyl. ....reminded me of the days in the early 70 when Graham Umberleigh sat across the desk from me with a pile of records, we were supposed to be developing computer systems but he was always more interested in the music and he was already Harum records at weekends! Comment: Linda Ruston.
( April 4, 2016) I loved Harum. I used to visit the Barnet branch at lunch time when I was at school/college. Sarah and another girl with back-combed hair behind the counter would always take time to chat. I did go in to buy records too ;-) P.
Memories of Harum by Steve Glover.
My introduction to record retail started as my brother left his Saturday boy roll at HMV in Enfield and I managed to step into his shoes (I had also done the same at Woolies a year before). Loved selling records and listening to music all day long. A year or so later I was offered an assistant managers roll for HMV in Sutton, Surrey – I have no recollection as to why or how this happened but I do remember the look on my parents face when I said I was leaving accountancy and home to go full time in records shops – they must have been so proud!??
3 months into my new job, the manager left and I was now in charge – OMG! All ok but a year later I was done with bossy area managers and 12 hour days so left and blagged a job with Our Price on the Kings Road. 1982/3 – Our price turned out to be even more crap then HMV so applied for a manager’s role at Harum and got the job in the Barnet branch, a bus ride from home in Oakwood. A few weeks working with Colin gave me insight into a more relaxed way of working and both Mike and Graham welcomed my outsiders’ knowledge. Eventually a Finchley Soul Boy called Rick got the assistants role and his dance music and my indie / punk came to form a friendship. The The meets Shalamar worked! Loved the second hand section, freebies, gigs and tee shirts and of course the customers. 1983/4 – Off to Archway to work with Kaly – Had never been there before and not quite as upmarket as Barnet. Hugh Irish community, great café next door for proper lunches and a Shillelagh ( Club ) under the counter just in case! A spell working alongside Mandy, Mervin(?) in Enfield and then with Alo and Ruth (Or Root in Alo’s Irish accent!) in Muswell Hill. 1984 / 88 – Both Alo and I had been promoted to Area Managers – glorified relief managers and holiday cover – but it was a great job and time! 1989 – Returned after a year’s backpacking and earned a few quid before settling and finding working in Chesterfield where I still live.
Mike Harding – the Har in Harum – loved his cigars, great with figures and loved a hot curry.
Graham Umbo – the um in Harum - Chain smoking, fantastic music knowledge, family man, sadly not a well man when I left ( can’t remember diagnosis but possibly MS ). His brother Gary left as I started with the company.
Colin Carter – Joker, singer, “browser repair man” and very easy to work with. Made chatting up women seem so effortless. Did a bulletin called “wozzappnin” which I still have one copy of. The name now appears so ahead of its time!
Alo – Drummer, slightly mad Irish staring eyes. Married to Maureen, MCA rep, he got a Volvo and me a Fiesta! Charming and took no shit!
Ruth – M Hill - Long ginger /red hair, Loved gigs.
Erik James – C End – Loved Broooce! Loved music. Left to work for IDS and then Chrysalis and then many more. Jean jacket and still on my Xmas card list!
Guy – C end – Never really knew him but think he was tall – random!
Spencer – C End/Enf – Loved soul and dance – loved selling to DJs – hated my music! Next to deck in Enfield, selling imports with a fag on! Left to be a rep. Girlfriend call Natalie?
Dennis Dervish - C End– Funny, loved footie, big nose, loved the food from the bakers next door ( as did we all). Really easy to work with. Left to be a rep.
Gino and Scoobs – C End - Friends of Den’s – worked Archway as well.
Mark – Enfield – Dyed blond, Spurs fan, 2 Rottweiler’s.
Ian – Enfield – Soul boy, fireman, DJ, threw American football with me in the shop whilst listening to Derek and Clive Live! We also played footie out the back in delivery area.
Really Hot Blond girl from Barnet who worked in Enfield – name lost in fuddled brain!
Kaly – Archway – Loved soul, played in band, loved the café next door, Indian with attitude!
Beccy – From York, Art College, amazing crimped punk hair, my girlfriend for many years, traveller and now amigo. Loved gigs and lager, shared house chaos on the North Circular Road. Proud owner of a very cheap Glasto ticket!
Helen – Most shops – Fab thick curly hair, bright, loved indie / rock, had sis Barbara who went out with Carter and then James, Irish IDS rep whom she married.
Sarah – Barnet – Old family friend ( My parents new hers through Ireland and the Church) Blond and thin
Barry – Barnet – Very tall! Dark Haired girl – Barnet – Dressed in black… name?
Hope most of this is true and soz for omissions / errors etc – it’s been a while!
Nigel from Polydor – Think of Bad News with shinier hair – once turned up in tiny shorts on a hot summers day.
James IDS see above and Beccy and I went to stay with him and his folks in N Ireland for a hol. Played golf?
Dave – A and M – Tall and had hair like the lead singer from Showaddywaddy.
…… and so many more that my brain won’t recall!
Other bits. Lived above M Hill shop for a while – bloody freezing. Carter had it before me and had fab posters all along the hall wall. All seemed to drink black coffee coz it was just about ok luke warm or cold. You could smoke behind the counter!
We all blagged as much stock and freebies as possible and then swopped for stuff we actually liked. Most people actually liked coming to work! Hope this helps customers and staff that shopped and worked at Harum and it has been a joy to write – should have done it in my 20s / 30s not my 50’s but it was lovely to remember great times and people!
Brain started working again and the blond girl from the Enfield shop was called Sam. Also, missed naming Alex who lived above the Barnet shop with girlfriend Angie. He managed there and Enfield and then area manager (?) - possibly! Still trying to find my dark brown Harum LP bag that's around somewhere but did find a Cure Kiss me 7" bag, Buzzcocks Product LP bag and my pride and joy a Smiths 12" bag with Shoplifter on it! ...oooohhh and a Cult can of lager. Unopened!
Name Colin Dean Comment: My vinyl collection is also made up of lots of albums with the Harum sticker. I used to do the sound for Snacks At The Bar and Alo also played drums in my band, Colin Dean's Mutiny. I knew Gareth Umbo from Baptist church youth club. I too used to get the second hand records at by in price. Perk ok knowing the owners. ( Sept 30, 2016).
Name Barry O'Hagan Comment: Haha, 'very tall'. And the only girl I remember from Barnet wearing black was Helen. Last spotted her at The Town & Country Club for a Waterboys gig in 85.
Must admit, my time at Harum was brief, 6-7 months tops in 84. It was my first proper job after I bailed out of a degree at North East London Poly, and subsequently onto 10+ years working for an American computer firm. Like Harum, sadly now deceased.
But I do remember some fun times and great people. Apart from Helen there was Sarah who shared my love of hard rock. There was also a girl who was still at school and done Saturdays. Think her name was Tilly, or similar.
Steve put in a few shifts and was taken by my ability to work out the projected chart places when it came to putting in orders. I was good at that. Wasn't so good at doing the weekly finances before banking the cash. One particular day in Enfield will live on in the memory. What took others an hour or two with the maths took me about 6 hours. Have to laugh at that. So did Mandy, who I've often thought about down the years as she took me under her wing. There was another great lady from Enfield, too, but time and memory robs me of her name.
I remember Mervyn, also. Big soul fan who used to wear custom made Crusaders T-shirts and talk of Soul weekends at Caister, Frankie Beverly and Maze, Slave etc. Miles apart from my musical tastes but loved working with him. So many memories packed into half a year or so. Also remember serving Sade's mum in Barnet as she had come in to purchase 'Your Love is King'.
Colin was the only one of the 'directors' who I worked with. Brilliant wit, and funny guy. I remember some of his holiday snaps, haha. Livng in Donegal in Ireland,past twenty years and working as a Psychiatric Nurse, the last 16. Glad to see Harum have it's place on the web. Am a Muswell Hillbilly so it was always my fave record shop. Btw, there's a claim out there on the web that Nick Hornby worked in the Archway store and that this became the basis for his book 'Hi-Fidelty'. Find it hard to believe but would love it to be true. (Oct 26th, 2016)
Name ken rowland Comment:Does anyone know when Barnet Harum first opened and closed its doors? Thx (Feb 19, 2017)
Name Michael Payne Comment: At rhe risk of being wrong, was there not a record shop of the Harum name in one corner of Bounds Green tube station ticket office, there was a sweet shop in the diagonally opposite corner. This was when Roberts the greengrocers were over the road where a fried chicken shop now is, probably about 1980 or so. (May 18, 2017)