We're selecting the best DJs in the business and taking them back to the record shops that mean the most to them. They will then lay down an immensely special set from their record shop of choice, and needless to say, the mix is 100% vinyl
Earlier this week we caught up with a true don of wax, Mr Scruff, to discuss record collecting, top tips for keeping vinyl in pristine condition and we even got a sneaky peek into that legendary record bag of his. Now we provide a portal into his record shop of choice, Piccadilly Records. As record shops go, there aren't many that have stood the test of time as well as Piccadilly Records. It's provided Manchester with quality music for over 35 years, stocking everything from reggae to punk, house to folk and jazz to rock. With such a wide range of sounds on offer it's easy to see why the ever-so-varied Scruff has such a love for the shop.
We spoke to part owner Phillipa to discuss some of the major challenges the store has faced over the years and provides a very special chart put together by the current staff as well as a photo gallery taking you into the shop itself. Scruff's seamless set from Piccadilly Records can also be found below with the full track list available here.
So can you give us some background on the shop. How long it's been going and what the shop is all about?
We opened in 1978 with the new wave/post punk boom 80s. Initially we were based around Manchester bands such as The Smiths, Happy Mondays and Stone Roses. We moved to our current location in the mid-90s and have been building a strong reputation ever since. We went online in 2000 and it's just been getting better ever since. We pride ourselves on stocking a wide range of music such as indie, house and techno, downbeat stuff like Balearica, funk, soul, reggae and psychedelica. Everything you can imagine that could land in one shop!
As someone who's been working there for so long what do you think makes the record shop so special?
It's a combination of stuff, really. We have great musical knowledge between us and everyone has their specialist subject. We've got people from my age (which I won't say) right down to the younger generation. So a mix of great knowledge and taste combined with working very very hard. And we all first and foremost have an absolute passion and love for music, regardless of what format. Vinyl is having a moment again but we've always stuck with it. Ever since we got our first box of CDs I've been interviewed about the death and revival of vinyl, but its not going anywhere.
Most in-demand record in the shop's history?
We used to get cues down the entire street for the new Smiths album. The Stone Roses' first album did about 600 copies in the first week and back in the day when The Chemical Brothers were the Dust Brothers, their '14th Century Sky' 12" sold about 100 copies a week for about 10 weeks straight – and that was before we had a website! Most recently the Goat LP [Swedish psychedelica] did 600 on vinyl and about 500 CDs extremely quickly.
What makes this shop unique compared to other record shops?
A lot of record shops are quite focused on a few genres but we're unique in the sense of the number of types of music we have in one shop: indie, psychedelica, avant, boom, house, techno, electronic, ambient, classical Balearica, new age, disco, cosmic disco; we have a whole section for things that would fall under Andy Weatherall stuff, boogie, jazz funk, dance hall, ska, rock steady, folk, blues, r'n'b, rock and roll… We have subsections within subsections within subsections! As we stock so much we're big-time into the descriptions on the sleeve to give our customers that extra bit of help. But mainly we're incredibly friendly, none of that 'We're above you 'cause our taste is so supreme' nonsense. We're all in this together, every single one of us.
Has there ever been a time you were worried about the shop's future?
The main time we struggled was after the financial crash of 2008. Sales dipped quite a lot around that time. We were getting fewer customers but we just worked extra hard to make it a special place to come shopping and we worked hard on the website to make it user friendly. Record Store Day continued to play its part, too, and it can't be underestimated the knock-on effect it has on us. For every regular customer you get week-in, week-out, the day creates hundreds more who fell out of love with buying the physical format. Record Store Day kicks them back into shopping again. And OK, it may only get people coming back in for one day a year, but at least they're in the record shop so surely that's good thing!
What's the local neighbourhood like?
We're set in the Northern quarter of the centre of Manchester. It's the younger part of the city and it's surrounded by bars and nice places to eat but there is very much still a mixture of the old and the new here. There are boutique shops as well as old-skool curry houses and other cool shops tucked along the back streets. There used to be about six record shops all pretty close together, very similar to Soho in London, but now there are about four of us left so if you want specialist music it's the place to come.
You guys have a very well known website when did that all kick off?
We went online in 2000. We were extremely early; in fact, we were one of the first shops to go online in terms of independent record shops and at the beginning it was the dance side of thing that was doing really well. I remember Sébastien Tellier selling hundreds of copies online as people couldn't get it anywhere else. Now it's more about pre-ordering the big indie/rock records and we do loads of those online. We tried to make the website like the shop, really: friendly, informative, with sound clips and reviews and we've just done a version for tablets and iPhones which is really simple to use.
Explain the shops relationship with Mr Scruff. How longs he been coming in?
He's been popping up at our counter really regularly! He's sorted for soul and funk, so he comes in here to buy things like house and bass – but his taste is so varied. He's been coming in since the 90s and he's immensely thorough and really personal. We used to have Fat City Records and he'd go over there for hip hop, soul and funk and then he'd come over to us for some other bits and bobs. His knowledge is amazing.
And aside from Mr Scruff who are some of your well known customers?
Paul Weller used to come in and move his record to the front of the rack every now and then, which we used to love; and the LDC Soundsystem guys would always come in when they were in town to often pick up imported disco from New York, of all places. I never really understood that considering that's where they're from!
Check out the chart of favourite new releases submitted by Piccadilly Records staff and order then direct from the store.
PICCADILLY RECORDS TOP 10
1) Begin - Bassballs (Begin). Order from Piccadilly here
2) Tempelhof - Piano Piano (Aficionado). Order from Piccadilly here
3) Waldemar Schwarz - Taza De Oro (Golf Channel). Order from Piccadilly here
4) Project E - Denbossa (Golf Channel). Order from Piccadilly here
5) Alphonse Rozel - Can't Keep It (Resista). Order from Piccadilly here
6) Starion - Mindbender EP (Red Laser Records). Order from Piccadilly here
7) Joanne Wilson - Got To Have You (Cultures Of Soul). Order from Piccadilly here
8) Vin Sol - Western Ways (Soo Wavey). Order from Piccadilly here
9) Caribou - Can't Do Without You (Jiaolong). Order from Piccadilly here
10) Various - The Love Below #3 (The Love Below). Order from Piccadilly here
Click the arrows below to check out some shots of Piccadilly Records and here you can find our very first 100% vinyl episode with Cassy from the notorious Berlin record shop Hard Wax