Record collecting is just a hobby for some. For others, it’s a lifestyle.
But if nothing else, it’s something that can be appreciated by many. With so much art and history encapsulated in just 12”, seeing this in abundance can leave many in awe.
With this in mind, we’ve decided to capture and document some of the great record collections our fair Isle has to offer.
Welcome to the first in a series of ‘Meet the Collector’ articles, where in Part 1, we go no further than Douglas to meet former record shop owner, Rob, and his pretty modest collection of roughly 1,000 records…
For Rob his first buy was at the age of 10 (which he still has!), doing household chores for pocket money he saved up his pennies to buy Supertramp – Even in the Quietest Moments, ever since then he’s never looked back!
So, Rob, with so many records, how do you keep them organised?!
Well, none of this is in alphabetical order! My logic is, often I will be looking for something in particular and while I’m searching, I’ll find something that I haven’t listened to for a long time, so I’ll then stick that on while I look for the one I originally wanted to listen to! I know roughly where things are but it can sometimes take a while.
What’s your most cherished album?
Supertramp – Even in the Quietest Moments. First album I ever bought at just 10 years old. 40 odd years I’ve had it.
Do you remember the record shop you bought it from?
Just a little one from the town I grew up in, I can’t remember the name of it but it was very small and very narrow. This is the second collection by the way! I had one stolen when I was at university. Someone walked into my room and just walked out with almost everything, it included the complete collection of Led Zep and God Save the Queen on EMI, about 50 records were taken. They left Supertramp behind! But it was still so upsetting because someone has taken my memories, each record has a time, a place associated with it. I mean I used the very first money I had to buy records, which was around £1.50.
So, record collecting was the reason you started work?
(Laughing) Well yeah, really! I was mowing grass and stuff like that to get a bit of cash, but once I got into record collecting there was no looking back, I’ve been on the search ever since.
What’s the one artist or band that you’ve collected the most of?
The Grateful Dead, I have all the studio albums plus a few extras! The one thing I love most about the Grateful Dead, is they always had an area in their concerts for the bootleggers, the people taping the show. There are two unwritten rules in the Grateful Dead and that’s that there were no money transactions. It was always a case of, you have something I want and I have something you want so let’s swap! The second rule is that you’re allowed to tape freely, but you have to distribute it freely too. Allegedly you can get every Grateful Dead concert they ever did on tape.
I see you have a few Neil Young albums, which would you say is your favourite?
Now that’s a difficult question… I think, Rust Never Sleeps, the live album. And Freedom, probably.
Have you got any Fleetwood Mac!?
Well, there’s two Fleetwood Macs, so which are you referring to?! (laughs) But yes, I have a copy of Rumours, I think anyone with a record collection has one!
Sixto Rodriguez, Cold Fact.
WOW! Where did you find that?
Online, somewhere. I paid a lot of money for it. But it’s a South African copy, and I wanted it.
What else is on your radar for rare albums that you want?
The Zombies – Odessey & Oracle. It’s such a great album, but it was released around the same time as Sgt Pepper by the Beatles, and that album really took over. Nothing else mattered when Sgt Pepper came out, that’s all that everyone wanted. And so, they didn’t press many more other albums! As a result, the original pressing of Odessey & Oracle has become quite rare.
If your house was on fire and you only have time to grab one album, what would you grab?
I would just have to grab any lump off the shelf!
I suppose, with the way you’ve organised yours, the place would be ashes by the time you’ve found one!
Yeah exactly! I would have to grab a chunk towards where the Grateful Dead collection is kept, I don’t think I could live without the Dead, I play it all the time.
What’s your most played?
Free – Heartbreaker. Because it’s just a stonking good album! It’s brilliant in every form… infact, now you’ve mentioned it, I want to play it. (Rob starts his search for the album)
Do you have any John Martyn?
I have quite a lot of John Martyn. (At this point we’re interrupted by Rob’s excitement for finding Heartbreaker!) Here it is Heartbreaker, just a brilliant album!
If there was one album that you would recommend for any collector to have, what would it be?
Well, it’s not a collection unless you’ve got, for example, John Martyn – Solid Air. (YES ROB, great pick!) Or… Heartbreaker, it’s just perfect.
Any tips for other collectors?
There are two tricks to record collecting. One is furniture polish. I always wipe the covers with furniture polish. This seals them and gives them back their shine. And the other thing is warm soapy water to clean the records.
What was your Record Shop in Peel like?
Great, it was like being on holiday for two years! I loved it. Knightmare Records it was called, but it was around the time when CDs were really on the up. This was between 1991 – ’93, and it was on Market Street in Peel. I kind of had enough of work so decided to take on the shop that was formally video rentals, but I got rid of that and stocked records. And that’s when the hunt began, constantly looking to stock the shop.
I put most of my collection in at first, which was a bit of a raunch! But I would sit and listen to music all day, it was great. And then we had band practice in the shop in the evening. A band called Spectrum rehearsed there, which included, Anglin Buttimore, Adam Wakeman, maybe Simon Buttimore on bass and I can’t remember who was lead vocals or drums!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start collecting records?
Well, buy what you like and want to listen to… and start hanging around at Sound Records! If you really really like it, and really want it then be prepared to pay the money because it will appreciate and be worth more over time! Also, buy quality over quantity. Buy something that is in better nick rather than buying a few which are in bad nick. And just enjoy it, because it’s fun!
As I begin to close up, Rob asks me to select an album from his collection for us to listen to… after a quick look through I stumble across a few Terry Reid Albums and stick on ‘River’ – now there’s an album I now need!