19th April 2014 Today is Record Store Day. It's brought back a flood of nostalgia for the greatest record store that ever existed.
Anyone who remembers 'Ear 'Ere In Lancaster knows what I mean. It was a cosier and friendlier version of the record shop in Nick Hornby's Hi-Fidelity. It was also where you could get tickets for gigs at all kinds of places around the North of England. But from my early forays in there after school, to look meaningfully at prog album covers from the likes of Genesis and King Crimson, to the more serious record buyer I became it was the centre of my world.
I remember going in as a young teen one Saturday and looking through the racks. Some lad approached me and asked me what music I liked. He was probably just being friendly, but it seemed at the time to be the equivalent of the "got the time, mate?" question at a concert or football match. So I bolted and caught up with my Mum on Lancaster market. Back then there was a ferocious mob called the Marsh Mods who had lined up outside punk gigs and battered anyone in sight. Then there was the Morecambe Punks who would use belts and chains to mash anyone who crossed them. We developed myths and scare stories about the violence these gangs would inflict on you. Most of it wildly exaggerated, but it hung over you and was a caution not to stray too far from safety.
But in reality Ear Ere was safe neutral ground. As I became more confident (cocky?) I became a regular in there. You could listen on the headphones by the counter, get recommendations from the staff, especially one character who worked there called Malcolm. The manager was Roger, or to most of us "beardie". A nostalgic Facebook post earlier has elicited the comment from an old mate that these guys had as big a stamp on his musical DNA as John Peel.
You could put your name down to pre-order records and it was the first time I'd use a nickname rather than my surname with adults. I remember a few of us sneaking out at lunch break from school to buy Going Underground by The Jam in 1980. Swaggering back in with possession of the fastest selling single of that era.
I used to be in awe of people who would ask for rare records that they didn't have in stock, but would get the staff working hard looking through books and old stock lists and seeing if they could try and order it for you. They'd also sell fanzines, a few t-shirts and badges, some they'd even give away, but mostly it was shifting units in the golden age of pop music.
And these plastic bags were such a status symbol around school.You'd cart your school books to lessons in an 'Ear 'Ere bag, the height of cool, but woefully impractical for such a purpose.
I don't buy much music these days, but I fervently stick to the principle that the local record store is a totem of a civilised culturally advanced society. So when I want a new album by a band I still follow slightly slavishly - Elbow, Manics, etc - then Piccadilly Records in Oldham Street, Manchester get my custom. I also love their devotion to new music and always sample something new from their top 100 of the year. It's hit and miss, but those moments of serendipity are what makes life interesting. It's what has always made life interesting - so on this day of all days, I raise a glass to the greatest record shop ever - Ear Ere in Lancaster. May perpetual light shine upon your memory.
See more at: http://themarpleleaf.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/ear-ere-records-greatest-record-shop.html#sthash.3yeJfari.dpuf
I loved 'Ear 'Ere. It was where I bought my first copy of Led Zep 4, and I remember the guy letting me have a rolling stones brown sugar single for free, because the owner has written on it, and drawn on it. But I loved it, and still have it! It says "June Laycock's" all over it, and the sleeve has been used by her, and her friends for doodles. You're right, that was the greatest record shop, I have ever been to. And I'm glad I had the chance to breath it in, all the times I did.
A Nice read :). Philip Mitchell
Name Tommy Pinder Comment: I got all my repro 1950s records from this shop in Lancaster. Roger the owner is one top dude. If Roger couldn't get you the 45 or album no one could. So thanks Roger. (June 28, 2017)
Best shop ever! Always had loads of diverse and current records. Bought so many records just on hearing them from hanging round in the shop after school till in my twenties when Roger (the owner ) retired. Both my dad and I would constantly have stuff on order. They always helped you find new and re-released material you wanted. From their old shop in slip alley to their last premises in upper penny street it was the gold mine you always loved.
After arriving back in town after Glastonbury 97 (I bought my ticket in the shop)I was gutted to find it was closing...I emptied my bank account buying treasure they had left. Lancaster has not had a store I loved more than EAR ERE. I still have their labels on the records I bought there.