Although they stocked all types of popular records they were an excellent source of indie UK labels such as Sue, Pama, Soul City, Action etc. As with most legendary record shops the branches gradually closed down as did the market stalls but they will be fondly remembered by a whole generation of soul record enthusiasts. Groovesville USA Blog
Paul For Music in Cambridge Heath Road, East London. You could buy all sorts of music there, especially the rarer indie stuff and even when CDs took off they still stocked a load of vinyl. I think it ended up as the last record shop in the area, but closed a few years back. It's a butchers now.
My father Paul started Paul For Music in 1954 and opened the first shop at 13 Cambridge Heath Road E1.The staff at the counter comprised Paul and Carla. The row of shops was knocked down in 1964 and Paul For Music moved to 24 Cambridge Heath Road. The main staff over the next 20 years included Paul,Carla,Sylvie,Carol and the infamous Mickey. In 1987 Paul retired and I bought the shop which continued trading till 2005. My colleagues included Mervyn,Eamon Dean and Saturday boy Daniel. Two of these gained fame as Liquid--Sweet Harmony (Eamon) and Billy Bunter--happy hardcore(Daniel) The Finsbury Park branch was bought in 1960 and sold in 1980. During the whole of this time it was run by the legendary Sally the reggae queen. A distinct business was the Leather Lane Music Shop in Holborn managed by Arthur. The shop ran under his guidance from 1964 to 1976. I have only stumbled across your site today keep up the good work brilliant. Comment David Shoben.
I grew up in Finsbury Park in the 60s and early 70s and was a frequent shopper at that record shop next to the station. Sally knew me well and was always nice to me. I live in the states now, but was in London this past July for 9 days to see my family who no longer live in that area. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to visit Finsbury Park but always wondered what became of Sally. She always had the latest reggae music and I never forgot the fun times I had at that record shop. Thanks for the blog man, regards Winston Lang.
(Sept 28, 2014) Mike Goddard said:Hi David. I started at Leather Lane on April 1st 1968, then from 1969 ran Cambridge Heath Rd.I'm not sure why I'm 'infamous'??? But, you forgot to mention Roger, who worked for years with Sally in Finsbury Park (and was an Arsenal fan). When I joined, Paul still had the jukebox business. I stayed there until 1978 then went to run Kelleys Radio in Essex. Mike f
(Aug 26, 2014) Darren said:When you said "saturday boy Daniel" did you mean me "Darren" when I was there between 86 & 87?
(Nov 24, 2012) russell simmons said:best record shop in east london.
(July 25, 2012) Anonymous said:David Shoben, Paul's son, still has the shop stock and sells it online these days !
(April 21, 2015) I might be wrong about the name but this market trader ran a good music stall almost outside Whitechapel Station. He sold mainly (or even only) singles but they were always worth a rummage and I remember with delight my joy when I found a rare Bob Dylan single with an otherwise unreleased live track there. There was also a very good electrical supplier there called “Wally for Wireless” where I bought my first Sony Walkman. Comment: David Lawson.
(November 19, 2015) I worked for Paul on the stall outside Whitechapel Station in the late 60's and a little later used to buy all my records from the shop when I DJ'd at The Green Gate, The Unicorn and The Black Horse. Mike Goddard ran the shop , he was a neighbour of mine in Bethnal Green and I also worked for his Dad who had a stall in Brick Lane. Mike's knowledge of soul music was excellent and I still have quite a few 45 gems from that time. Good memories. Comment: Ron Callaghan.
Name Mary Ann Simmons Comment I used to go to this record shop with my brother Bill we were about 10 and 11 and where mad into soul and reggae. We'd save up our pocket money to buy 45s. I can remember jostling for space as it was always busy, with lots of big black guys purchasing there Reggea etc. As I think back I never saw any other kids in there - or any other white kids. I suppose they where into heavy rock? Oh happy days. ( Nov 25, 2016)
Name Rick Starling Comment: I picked up those music charts, from Paul for Music, Leather Lane c1967. It was a busy shop in those days and I used to go in there during my lunch hours. ( Nov 30, 2016)
Started going Paul’s, Cambridge Heath Rd, 1987/88 ish. For me old school and then hardcore with a bit of everything in between.
My brain is a bit frazzled and can’t fully remember the name of the fella who worked there at that time lol.
Can anyone jog my useless memory please.
I shopped at the Cambridge Heath Road in its latter days. Picked up a lot of Soul Music 7-inch Singles.
Hi David what a lovely surprise to find this
Martin and Jenny shoben
I remember the shop at 24 Cambridge Heath Road with Dave running it. I traded a few doors away on the end but have now closed and moved to North London. still own the whole parade there at Cambridge Heath Road but its all let to different tenants.
Guys, how can you ignore my contribution? I used ti work in the Cambridge Heath shop ofter school Friday evenings and on Saturdays.Infrequently I helped Thee legendary Madame Sally in the Findsbury Park shop, which was quite challenging in the beginning, up and until you have proved your worth.
Meaning, you had to work hard, be aware of where certain records were, be alert, serve the customers quickly and dont stand around looking lost. When you pass Sally's test, her smiles and complements were shown, and loud and demmanding customers would be put into their places should they try taking liberties. Over a period of time working with sally was a joy!
It wasn't unusual for wellknown and accomplished Musicians and producers would stop by on Friday evenings with boxes of newly pressed Records for Sally to play for the benefit of Sound Systems owners and record collectors; as thats when they would squeeze into that very small space to listen and purchase their music.
Those Friday evenings and Saturdays were times to see Sally at her zenith. It wasn't necessary to play a record in its entirity;she would di what's known as "Tip the record," i.e.spin the record for about 25-30 seconds before playing another. If you didn't feel the vibes of the music and appreciate its contents, then you shouldn't be occupying valuable space where the real music lover should be standing, instead of them standing outside with ears pressing amongst others whom are listening intently for that special "Tune" destined to fill the dance floors of the Friday nights-Saturday mornings shibeens one often could be found attending between Stamford Hill to Hackney, and seen creeping home about 4:30 -5:00am and soak in a steamingly hot bath until around 7:00am before draging oneself-out to relax before readying myself fir a busy day in the Cambridge Heath shop where the day us spent working with Michael and Carol, also infrequently with Carla.
Working at Pauls for music, wasn't so much a job, it was both great fun and educational! Sometimes darn embarassing.
For example, I grew-up in Hackney,(Popla) Poplar and Limehouse and attended schools within all those Borrough, and supported "West Ham United. So you can imagine when the Local DJ, the two Steves, Dave, Michael(Manager of P.F.M. normally converged after the afore mentioned returned having scouring the specialist record shops between Tower Hamlet and the Old Kent Road in search of "Golden Oldies"
customers would be directed to whichever of the three Booths were vacant whilst they play their newly dicovered records.
On one of these afternoons a most amazingly beautiful record called "Searching for my Love" which struck a chord within me. I moved closer to have a peek to see the name of the singer, which I would often do, and during my week days I would often visit old record shops searching for those records, sometimes successful, other times not. When asked by Michael if I liked it, casually I would reply yeah, it's Okay, when really I was emotiinally moved by that song. I remembered Michael and the other Jock's glanced at my responce in a dissaproving friendly manner because we were a unifying group musically, in that if a really outstanding Soul Grouo was appearing in London, be it the Royal Albert Hall or elsewhere I was invited as part of the group. Being a school boy then, they appreciated that I couldn't always afford the ticket price, so a Block Purchase of tickets were made.Equally, uf certain clothing were in Mode, without asking any question they often purchased multiple sizes and come Saturday evenings I would arrive hime with a new Item.
Back to that piece of Music, having been told that the Band was called "Bobby Moore and The Rythm Aces" it was my brief moment if utter extacy; at which point I shouted with glee, "what! I didn't know that Bobby Moore had a Band" I thought to myself, if the earth could open-up there and then to swallow me, it wouldn't be a moment too soon. Reasons, these Guys whom regularly congregate Pauls had expected better from me following my education gained from working for "Paul's for Music".
I bravely took it on the chin with a smile of great embarrassment. Mainly because they never prolonged these situation verbally, they just give you a special glance with a smile and shake if the head as they pass by you, which allows for you to laugh at yourself.
My passion for music and record collecting didn't stop after attending full-time college education and or travelling. When visiting new countries, my first port of call are Record Shops, Department Stores and Market Stalls, places where there are not many such collectors as myself are ideal for good finds.
I considered myself as being very privileged to have spent many pleasurable years working for that company, and as faith have it, both our children are avid music lovers and collectors. And nothing gives me more pleasure than to listen to them raving over certain chart songs, at which I may casually remark that" there's nothing remarkable about it" knowing their reply telling me that I'm too hold to appreciate good music, at which point I might disappear momentarily, only to return and put the original on the sterio player, watching their dumb founded gestures asking where did I get that from?
The downside being that thoughts if maybe selling some if my rare records, are lovingly played and copied unto their phones, Equally, I've been instructed that I cannot sell records from my collection with genuine appreciation in their voices.
I conclude with so many more memorable stories and education gained from working at Pauls for Music. Particularly like walking into London College of Fashion with a large bag of Albums and Singles bought from a stall in Berrick St. Market, Musicland Record shop, Dean Street and Contempo Records, Hanway Street also in London W1, when I should have been purchasing cloths from Golden Square to make garments as part of my training, only to be seen from the Principle's office along with three other casually laughing and chattering amongst ourselves. We were ordered to his office, verbally rebuked, during which one friend released an unappreciated abjective and was dismissed from the course. Another had his apprentiship terminated. Whilst personally shaking in my shoes knowing what my parents would have done to me, which might had had them behind barrs; I received a stern warning, which was based on my all round good record, abalities plus other attributes; for which I shall ne eternally Having accomplished much during my tenure. That said, I shall forever remember my friend whose apprenticeship was curtailed; because, he had deserved another chance.
I conclude by saying that if anyone out there should bump into Michael, do give his memory bank a test by asking him for the reference number of any Tamla Mowtown and Warner/Atlantic Album,Singles to see if he's still able to read them off from memory.He's an amazing guy and friend, as is Carol a very lovely lady and co-worker.
Special mention for the late Mr. Paul Shoben. What a knowledgeable and passionate lover of Music full stop. Equally a lovely man with a very supportive and loving family. His passion for music is beyond imagination. There were times when I dreaded the arrival of the container Lorry's; because as staffs we had to fully unload them, stack them pile high which was a full afternoon's job. Then having to research our way through stacks if boxes to find certain boxes containing specific titles.
Which was bearable during Spring and mild summers days; but hell ona cold winter's and a scorching summers day.
Thanks for taking me down a pleasant walk through memory lane,
In the early 90s till it closed I would attend the shop on a regular basis picking up all the latest dance 12's plus loads of oldies from the stock at the back of the shop. wonderful times talking about music drinking coffee. Must raid the site as vinyl is king.
C. Heath Rd. Bought 'Anarchy' by the Pistol there, the day it came out. Got 'you're one of them then' not altogether complimentary in those days. That Paul's had it anyway, tells the lot. Ace place, just ace.
Just saw the long comment by George on here. Yes I do remember you George! You wer going to be a clothes designer and you even made a pair of trousers for me!! The time you were there was the greatest period for the shop imho. Hopefully you’re well and still playing gooood soul music.
It has been a while since I last looked on this wonderful site and I am astonished so many people have added their memories and comments to the blog for Paul For Music I am touched by the positive reviews and how Paul and his staff have evoked memories for life. My apologies to Darren and George for not including you by name in my original posting.
Mike--- you are infamous to me in a completely complimentary way. Your knowledge of the soul music scene at the time was second to none. I last saw you at the London premiere of Grease so a long long time ago--hope you are well.
And George I do remember you too and hope your life has been successful.
I loved your reminisces To everyone else who remembers the shops and who felt their visit was an important contribution to their musical education and pleasure I salute you. To bring things up to date the shop in Cambridge Heath Road was shut in 2005 and as someone commented I still sell the ex-shop stock online on Musicstack ( David Shoben) and Discogs (PFM).
Please feel free to make contact with me through either site to chat as I would be pleased to hear from you all with your stories.
I personally loved the time I spent at the shop from the early days in the 1950s with Rock 'n Roll ,through the 1960 pop years to the Motown/soul/reggae period of 1960/ 1970s Then Lovers Rock to the Acid / House / Garage years
Thank you for being part of the good times that I treasure still.
Mods: The New Religion-Paul Barrow.
Leather Lane 1990
Extract from book opposite