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​The following is taken from Morrissey Autobiography; On Lever Street, the cramped Virgin Records is heavy on prog and student notice boards, and always first with American imports – unaffordable at £5.25 when £2.25 is the general retail ceiling.

Mike Smith

Manchester, mid-1970s. I had a Saturday job just round the corner from the newly opened Virgin Record Shop. Lunchtime was just long enough for me to grab a bite to eat, and then head round there to ask them to play one side of a newly released album (usually Tangerine Dream). Along the back wall they had three or four seats with specially built, wrap-around headrests containing speakers. You could sit in comfort for 20 minutes, listen to great music, and decide if it was worth your hard-earned cash.

And, the assistants were so knowledgeable (and enthusiastic) about the new releases. Even the price labels contained brief, yet helpful, hand-written descriptions of the music. I remember one lunchtime reading, “If you like Yes, you must hear this” attached to the first album by Starcastle. Naturally, as a Yes fan, I asked them to play side 1, and not long after bought the album.

By the end of the seventies, money had superseded art, and the shop closed and moved to a Mega-Store closer to the city centre. End of an era.

Stewart Gunn

I remember going in there one lunchtime and finding Jon Webster my old mate from Birmingham Uni behind the counter. He managed the shop for a while on his upward trajectory through Virgin. I remember 'after hours' stocktakes where I helped out in return for albums, and getting a Robert Palmer album from him for my 21st. Pressure Drop. Someone had drawn a lobster on the promo poster echoing Derek & Clive's Worst Job' skit. Sometimes I can't recall why I went into a room, but I can remember that!

David Bickerdike

It was a great shop then. I recall it oddly became a Punk hangout later.


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