Monday, April 14, 2014

The Angel of Records watches over an old head like me

In the early 70s I used to buy records at Harum in Crouch End. It was opposite the church that Dave Stewart later turned into a recording studio. Later on there was another shop round the corner called Spanish Moon after the Little Feat record. Before fame, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart rented the flat  upstairs.

Harum kept a good cellar and they had a secondhand rack from which I picked up lots of ex-review promos. I've still got a white label of Ry Cooder's "Boomer's Story" I picked up there back in the day. It's possible that they might have also had a copy of Michael Hurley's Armchair Boogie but it would have been just that bit too obscure for even my snobbish Bearsville tastes.

Harum's long gone, along with thousands of similarly-named head shops.  I only recently heard "Armchair Boogie" via the miracle of Spotify. I was drawn to the fact that it came out in in 1971, which, as any fule no, was the annus mirabilis of the rock album.

Then, on the advice of Ian Penman, I took my amp to be fixed at Audio Gold, a shop dealing in vintage hifi not all that far from the old Harum. When I went to pick it up I saw on the counter a little rack containing half a dozen copies of "Armchair Boogie", which has been lovingly and no doubt unprofitably reissued  in a de luxe CD version by Light In The Attic Records (above). It cost me twelve quid but since the Angel of Records had gone to such trouble to place it in my path it seemed churlish to refuse.

I'm listening to it now. You know there's an Angel of Records who makes sure you get to hear everything you're supposed to hear. I really believe that.


  1. You're so right David. I've just rediscovered Jack the Lad through a mixture of wrong turns and happenchance. And, you know what? They're every bit as good as the last time I heard them - on Fluff's Saturday afternoon radio show circa 1975.

  2. Anonymous8:25 am

    You're bringing back memories now David! I too shopped in those two shops. Spanish Moon is were I discovered Southside Johnny And The Asbury Dukes. Annie Lennox also served behind the counter occasionally!

  3. OMG Hepworth - spot on. The Angel MADE me listen to 'Reckoning' by The Grateful Dead, by firstly showcasing it as a highly expensive and highly desirable item in an 'incense'-aromatised record shop in Bath, then LATER THAT SAME DAY amid the record collection of a rather tedious man who happened to be the father of a girl I lusted after. It's not the greatest album, but it was a gateway to a ton of other records. Can't even remember what the girl looked like now.

  4. William MIlne3:14 pm

    The very useful Oxfam bookshop in Park Road Crouch End has old singles with lovely sleeves, but on that site in the 70s stood Terrapin Trucking, straight out of Furry Freak Brothers, with an ur-"head" gracing the counter and a dim bulb barely illuminating a sign that said
    "No CDs". Terrifying hip!

  5. "No CDs" in the 1970s? Not only terrifyingly hip, but terrifyingly prescient too...