First records, like first loves, stay with you, no matter how embarrassing they were
‘What was the first record you bought?’ It’s a question that tells you so much about a person: their age, where in the country they grew up, their (sometimes questionable) taste… It’s a revealing ask.
The Simple Things’ Guy Foreman took us on a trip down Memory Lane in our ‘What I Treasure’ feature in the February issue (on sale now) and told us about his much-treasured record collection, and by the time he’d finished writing it we were all eagerly sharing stories of our first record purchases. So we thought we’d share a few of them with you, too.
Here, some of the staff of The Simple Things bare their (De La) Souls and more. Like Jarvis Cocker, do you remember the first time?
“I bought my first single from HMV in Enfield when I was about eight or nine. Nik Kershaw, 'I won't let the sun go down on me' (7-inch). The importance of 'buying something' definitely overshadowed the importance of which single it was. I can still see the sleeve - it was pale blue with a cutout of heart-throb Nik on the cover. With that hair style, he was quite hard to cut out, I'd imagine.”
Kate Pettifer, Chief Sub
“Mine was Shakin Stevens ‘Shaky’ album. My brother bought it me for Christmas. I remember begging him to tell me what my present was and he kept giving me clues – he said it was black and round and plastic. I couldn’t guess and was so excited when I opened it and saw Shaky on the cover in his pink jacket. I played in on my parents’ record player whenever I had the opportunity. My brother was seven years older than me so Shaky was definitely not his bag but I remember he was very good about pretending to enjoy ‘Green Door’ on replay.”
Rebecca Frank, Commissioning Editor
“Mine was the single 'Especially For You' by Kylie and Jason. I believe I was nine and on holiday in Cornwall. The shop was probably an Our Price. There was no record player in the holiday cottage and I didn't have a record player of my own anyway so when I got home, if I wanted to play it I had to ask my parents' permission to use theirs before putting it on and standing awkwardly in front of their record player, listening for the two or three minutes required, then putting it back in its sleeve and taking it back to my room. The long winter evenings in Surrey just flew by.”
Iona Bower, Blog Editor
“It was 1998. I was seven and the shop was Sydney Scarborough in Hull. This weekend’s treat was going into town with my Grandma to buy a single I wanted. Only problem was….. I didn’t actually know what it was called… only a brief line or two of the song. The guy working there played me more or less every song in the top 40 to see if it jogged my memory. When we got to the end he gave me an ultimatum. “That’s your lot… you’re going to have to sing it for me.” Knowing this was my only chance to get the single I wanted I took a breath and let out in a hushed but rhythmic tone: “Pretty Fly for a white guy.” He took off down one of the aisles and came back holding a single… Placed the headphones back on my head and popped the disc into the player. I grinned and shimmied along. My grandma handed over the money and I left proudly clutching my first single: The Offspring’s ‘Pretty Fly For A White Guy’. Much to my parent’s horror.”
Oliva O’Connor, Subscription Manager
“The first record I bought with my own money was Blondie – ‘Parallel Lines’. I’ve still got it and it’s still a great album. Ace cover with beyond-cool Debbie Harry and those boys all lined up behind her. It was released in 1978 (I’m sure I didn’t get it when it first came out or anything so it was probably the following year when I was 11). I went to Bostock Records in the Pack Horse Centre in Huddersfield. They had album-sized square carrier bags with their logo on the side – a proper badge of honour to be carrying one round of a Saturday afternoon. It was the only place to buy records in town apart from upstairs at WH Smith’s, which was where your mum went. I remember feeling like I was practically a teenager for being so grown-up and owning a record that wasn’t ABBA or Boney M that had been bought for me. With hindsight this was probably the most hip I ever got.”
Lisa Sykes, Editor
We’d love to hear your memories of your first records, too. Do share them with us in the comments below. And when you pick up your Feburary issue to read all about Guy’s treasured vinyl, don’t miss our regular feature ‘analogue’ which this month is all about vinyl, as we visit Relics, a vintage audio and record shop in Bristol.
Your Simple Things needs YOU!
What I Treasure is our series in which readers tell us about something that matters most to them. From dusty cookbooks to treasured letters, we’ve seen all sorts of prized possessions. Tell us about yours in 500 words by emailing email@example.com and you could see your ‘treasure’ gracing our pages.