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Aerco dates from 1978-c.81; the company was based in Woking, and it appears to have functioned mainly as a custom-recording firm, making records for people who were willing to pay it to do so. Aerco was responsible for more than a dozen 7" records. Initially singles were numbered in the AERS-100s and EPs in the AERE-100s, but the EPs soon gained an extra '1' at the start of the number, presumably to avoid confusion. Several singles came out on the artists' own label but had an Aerco catalogue number; details can be found in the discography below. The musical fare on offer varied: there were Rock and Punk / New Wave records alongside Club / Cabaret, Country and even Gospel material.

Aerco used two label designs. The first had a big logo and was white with black printing on the 'A' side (1) and black with white printing on the 'B' (2); it was used for just one single, 'Man With No Brain' b/w 'Long Time Coming' by Ribs (AERS-101; 1978) - thanks to Robert Bowes for the scan. The second was red with a large white 'A' on the appropriate side (3, 4). The EP by Jimmy Kincaid & The Rustler Band (AERE-1108; 1979) had a plain light-blue label with no logo; only the AERE catalogue number shows that it was an Aerco product (5). Pressing of the majority of Aerco records that I have seen in the vinyl has been by Orlake, but the Kincaid EP was manufactured by Linguaphone. Nick Spindler has kindly sent the following account, for which I am very grateful.
Aerco Records was principally the name of a record shop and hi-fi store on the corner of Chobham Road, Woking, opposite the ABC cinema. It was owned by a father and son from nearby Addlestone, and was later taken over by a family friend, Mike Hall, after the son died prematurely of leukaemia. Mike, who was ex-RAF with no musical or audio knowledge, nevertheless expanded the shop and opened a new branch in Farnborough. The name was formed either from the initials of the son - Arnold E Ricketts - or from the name of the shop, the Addlestone Electrical Radio Company. Later the Farnborough branch closed and the remaining store was sold to Bartletts Hi-fi. Before the takeover by Bartletts, in the 1980s, Aerco the store had moved to larger premises on the Broadway, almost facing Woking rail and bus station. It remained there until it folded up by the late 1990s. I worked on Saturdays only at the Aerco hi-fi department from 1974 until about 1988. Bartlett’s original Holloway Road, North London store still exists.

The Aerco Record label came about because one of my old school colleagues was into recording. He worked in the upstairs classical department of Aerco. His name was Steve Smith and he recorded the Ribs record 'Man With No Brain'. The lads named on the label were Ian Balchin, ‘Butch’ Beagley, ‘Taff’ Evans, and Duncan Redpath, all from Woking Grammar School for Boys (housed at the time in a fine building that later became the Police station). I remember them signing the ‘contract’ in the Albion pub near Woking Railway station, where they had been playing a gig. I witnessed it as I worked in a bank, so was considered respectable! I’m not sure how Aerco Productions Ltd was formed but I imagine it was necessary to deal with copyright and so on. I’m unsure who the directors were but the address was that of the shop. Steve C Smith went on to a great career at Gimell Records, where he has recorded the Tallis Scholars to great worldwide acclaim.
Aerco the shop was the home for various commercial exploits, aside from the record label, including an early IT/computer spin-off, a cable making company that became Talk Cables, and a letting agency. I don’t recall any recording gear existing in the shop, and there was certainly no studio. I’ve a hunch the Ribs recording may have been made at Guildford University, because Steve attended the tonmeister course there and would have had access to the relevant kit. The Ribs single was definitely sold in the shop, and that was really the main link. The logo was established, and familiar locally, so the kudos was mutual - the shop gained an own label, and the band gained an outlet (decades before the iTunes store!).
That’s about all I can recall at the moment, though I daresay more will come to me. Steve is at Gimell to this day.


Comments

Dave Harwood
02 Mar 2024 at 04:41
I found this advert in 'The Stage' dated 9th November 1978: “RECORD MANUFACTURING. For professional quality at the lowest prices (also Sleeves, Cassettes, Recording, etc. Tel: 04862-64082. 27 Chobham Road, Woking. Surrey.”

Details

Locations

13 Station Road Woking / Surrey
171b Church Street Woking / Surrey

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