Sunday, January 14, 2007

Boosey & Hawkes

The titles of next my few posts will see me “moving through the high streets of my life” (to mangle an Isley Brothers lyric!).

I’m not sure now what exactly provided the initial spark for today’s post. What’s not in question is that, in the last few days, I experienced a sudden yearning to hear some Junior Walker. The question is did that feeling appear from nowhere or was it prompted by something?

Well, as I say I’m not sure, but it may have been sparked by an article on record shops in this month’s Word magazine. The article looks back, lovingly, at 50 years of record shopping and those now fast disappearing shrines to vinyl and all the new-fangled formats that have followed since. It recalls the early outlets. Typically they were shops selling sheet music and instruments, or electrical goods such as wireless’s and stereograms, that eventually branched out to sell records as well (I think that’s an example of either horizontal or vertical marketing but as I’m no marketing expert I’m not sure which it is).

My own love affair with recorded output really started in 1971, and for the next 10 years at least I spent a probably unhealthy amount of time in record shops. There was no better way of killing a couple of hours than by riffling through stacks of LP covers (or, of course, 45s if they were out on display), even if you didn’t have enough money in your pocket to be able to buy anything. By the Seventies shops specialising in selling just records (and cassettes) were well established. But you could still find outlets that harked back to an earlier era and the original template. One such establishment was Boosey & Hawkes in Bath. I remember it being on two floors, it sold musical instruments and sheet music, plenty of classical music, and some ‘popular music’ too. It wasn’t a regular haunt of mine but I do remember it used to occasionally have good sales. And I distinctly remember this is where I bought my copy of Junior Walker & The All Stars Anthology. I think I came away with four albums on that particular visit, happy that I had secured some bargains. They are probably all still in my collection, but for some reason the Junior Walker album is the only from the haul that sticks in the memory.

All of Junior Walker & The All Stars big hits were scored between 1965 and 1973 as a Motown act and, while there was an underlying conformity to ‘the sound’ on a number of their tracks, they nevertheless sounded different. Difficult to categorize, their records were, by turns, laced with R&B raunch, house party jive, supper club jazz, and straightahead soul. But regardless of whether they were doing the “Boomerang”, urging us to “Shake And Fingerpop”, or effortlessly wooing us with tracks such as “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)”, they were unmistakably Junior Walker & The All Stars. I can’t remember the last time I heard them on the radio, can’t recall them appearing on a film soundtrack (not that I’m a great moviegoer), and can’t think of an ad that’s used one of their songs. And I can’t understand that as the music is so accessible, it sorts of wraps you in blanket and makes you feel good.

Go on, get some Junior Walker in your life and feel good.

(Buy the Ultimate Collection).

Junior Walker & The All Stars – Pucker Up Buttercup 1967
Junior Walker & The The All Stars – Walk In The Night 1972

(PS I’ve just noticed that today -14th Jan - is the 42nd anniversary of the US release of their first national hit “Shotgun”. I love coincidences.)


jazzypier said...

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Darcy said...

Jazzy - I drop by from time to time, you are linked already actually. yes some good stuff, you are linked already actually.

Anonymous said...

walk in the night is just beautiful brings tears to my eyes