Those of you who were infected with hip hop back in the 1980s will no doubt recognise the shop in this photo below. This is a rare snap of the legendary hip hop record spot that was GROOVE RECORDS in London's SOHO area - Greek Street to be precise. Firstly I gotta say I have to thank UK graff veteran SKIRE for the photo; I have searched high and low and asked old friends for photos without success. The memories I have of this shop are very fond (hi Jean!). Then recently I spotted this great shot - apparently SKIRE has ammassed a huge hip hop and graffiti archive over the last 30 years. I don't know the man personally, but if you're reading this SKIRE please get in touch, I would love to see more.
In the latter half of the 80s, GROOVE RECORDS was the place to go in LONDON for the latest hip hop records. The shop was tiny, and often it meant queuing for an hour or so to even enter the shop on a busy Saturday. If you were lucky, BLADE would be outside peddling his vinyl wares. But all in all, the journey to London's SOHO area was worth it just to see what GROOVE had in stock. I can still recall records I own that came from the GROOVE racks. And the TIM WESTWOOD Future Rap chart on the wall as you entered the door. My man DJH has kept one of the poly bags from back then, and won't part with it despite my constant hassling. Please let's raise a glass to London's legendary Hip Hop spot GROOVE RECORDS - they knew what time it was!
Yes indeed KID, i too have fond memories of catching the train into LONDON, then making my way to what was then, the MECCA of all hip hop shops GROOVE RECORDS (IMO). Like you said, the spot was tiny but boy, did they have the dope shit...!! I left there many a time with record bags bulging..! Loved the TOP 10 CHART on the wall too.
Wish i had kept one of the bags like DJH it, damn.!!
SOHO was the shit back then, loads of wicked shops!
Here`s a question to all you diggers out there, is anyone still in touch with cats that worked in GROOVE? I`m sure they would have some great stories to tell..!
Absolutely, the place to be, many times i ventured into the west end I'd skive off from school just to check out the records, sometimes coming back with a fresh new 12 or album and sometimes empty handed because the records i was after were sold out, and it was usually the dopest releases in the electro chart that sold out very quickly, only to be told to come back Saturday which i couldn't always do.
The most disappointing buy i can still remember was getting a copy of 'Force Desire - Jazzy Keith', a blind buy in a mad rush to just get something, plus the counter was so busy i couldnt be arsed to wait.
You definitely had to hit the Groove very early to get the best releases of that week.
btw KD, was Jean that elderly lady who used to help run the shop, often seen behind the counter perched upon a stool,right?
Great post, great memories
Yo SUPREME, i think JEAN owned the shop & was often in there helping out. Seems a bit weird for an old lady to run one of the best hip hop record shops ever but to be fair, she did a mighty fine job..!!
Anyone buy records from BLADE outside?
On a related note, once GROOVE closed down, a shop called CATCH A GROOVE opened up not far from GROOVE, any links between the two? Was CATCH A GROOVE the son of GROOVE...????
Yes, many shops came and went during that era, but Groove was the stalwart. I remember always hearing Mike Allen plugging it with the Groove Weekend sales chart, and I always assumed it was a big store like HMV or Our Price. first time I went there, I was shocked at the size of it, but instantly fell in love with the place. I don't know why, but it just seemed more official if you went home carrying your goodies in that yellow bag! (BTW, I still have all the classic shop's bags like Groove, Hitman, Bluebird, Red, round my mums, I think I'm gonna have to dig them out!)
Kool Dyno I will pass on your details.
thanks for clearing that one up, yeah i thought it unique to find an elderly lady in a non-stop hardcore hip hop/soul record shop, apparently she knew about the beats too huh? a bit like my mum!
Never bought a record directly from Blade, but i know how the story goes.LEGEND.
Not sure about the Catch A Groove connection, but it sure became a regular spot for me later on. Its hard to accept these shops will never be replaced. Still, fond memories.
No doubt SUPREME, fond memories indeed, as good as the internet is, its killed the majority of independent record shops & the excitment of diggin` for records. I`d give anything to return to the days of diggin` for records in SHOPS & finding spots on nearly every corner. You can`t beat gettin` your fingers dusty rather than sat at home typing on a key board for records..!!!
CATCH-A-GROOVE was defo a dope spot to hit, friendly service, all the dope new releases & it had that extra hip hop vibe by being in the basement of the shop.
And yeah bro, apparently JEAN did know a lot about hip hop records!!
I still have a Groove bag, signed by none other than the Boo Yaa Tribe who I met in Carnaby Street after going there
Only went a handful of times but remember it so well, even sent my mum there when she went shopping one (she got me Juice Crew Dis- you know how my mum rolls)
Even later on, all those shops down Berwick Street was good times, I can still vividly pulling out a copy of Brooklyn Blew Up The Bridge from a box under the racks in Daddy Kools. 10p too. That doesn't happen anymore.
Sad as it is Martin to be sitting behind a pc diggin' for wax you need in the collection there aint too many other ways to find dope records these days, especially if you live where i live, most shops round here have gone under over the past ten years.
Also sad that the fun has been taken out of diggin' because the amount of info online about records hence prices shooting up in 2nd hand record and Oxfam-like charity shops and of course what the next man is willing to pay for a title at auction, plus people now up on their ebay game even more so, and im sure you'd be hard as hell pressed to find an old MC MITCHSKI 12 like Brookly Blew Up The Bridge in 2010 like Bobby, for the princely sum of 10p!(btw score Bobby,nice one!)unless you are extremely lucky to find in a junk shop stashed away somewhere in South London where owner couldn't give a toss about records.
I got my 1st proper copy of that MITCHSKI a couple years back and still had to pay top dollar because of demand which i don't begrudge a bit as i only ever had it on Electro hip-hop 17 i think it was on?, and I always wanted a real import copy of it one I never saw in the racks at GROOVE btw.
I also miss the atmosphere in a busy import record shop, ploughing through sections, asking about records racked up behind the counter and being put up on whats dope by the store workers and what you'd find other heads were bagin' up at the same time, fresh beats playing on the decks pumpin out the speakers etc. Chuffed with a bag full of sealed fresh 12s and albums to play at home and to your mates. Often getting that new 12 Westwood premiered the night before.
Real shame we've lost an essential tradition. There really is no personal buzz from ordering a current 12 online, record buying was as much a social event as much as just getting any old record and taking it home imo.
eh YO fellas - Bobby, Martin, Downstroke, and Supreme Dominion. I guess I touched a nerve with you guys. I'm really enjoying reading these comments about the GROOVE days. Yo Supreme you have perfectly described my feelings about the shop, and the whole buying attitude back then. Buying hip hop records back then was a social scene in itself. And as you said Supreme you would rush to GROOVE to cop that joint WESTWOOD had dropped the night before.
Remember how many people would pack that shop on a Saturday? Damn.
I remember WESTWOOD played a 15 minute set on JANICE LONG's show on a Saturday too, I would record that shit on tape and hunt down the wax. Back in 86 I was 14 or 15 and lived on the South Coast but still caught a train to London's Soho just for GROOVE RECORDS. Soho back then was all hookers and junkies! Once a friend of mine who was 15 but looked about 25 (yo what's up Doug) was even propositioned by a girl just along Greek Street LOL. All he wanted to do was get home and play his DJ CHEESE and WORD OF MOUTH 12".
Remember the first time you heard "I'm Bad" by Ladies Love Cool James?
I can recall perfectly walking along Greek Street from Oxford Street end, and hearing "I'm Bad" with the police sirens and all pumping out of the shop. Man my spine is tingling as I write!
Those GROOVE memories are as fond as they ever were. And Downstroke, the love for that place is obviously widespread. If you dig out those bags (Bluebird, RED RECORDS etc..) please lemme see.
Remember Spin Offs records?
They were a great mail order place whose distinctive logo would always appear on the red flight cases of artists like RUN DMC, COOL J or BEASTIES when they hit the UK.
Remember the glass counter in GROOVE so you could see the mixer and decks underneath?
Great great memories eh? I wish I could get those feelings back. It just ain't the same these days, but at least we can all reminisce...
I did get propositioned down Berwick Street when I was in London with my mum. She looked like Pat Butcher too (not my mum). I heard a "do you want a good time luv", made my excuses and left.
I remember Westwood being on Janice Long, there was a bit of that on the start of Bad Meaning Good as far as I remember.
And speaking of Westwood, I'm still looking for my "beatbox stickers and badges" but I did find two letters from him with slightly different wording.
Yeah SUPREME, it`s the same where i live bro (bournemouth) there just aren`t any record shops here. Like you say, the only way to get that dope-on-a-rope rap record now is on the internet. But just think if there was no internet, all those dope records on ebay, discogs ect would all be sat in the racks, in some dusty old second hand record shops, ready to be dug up by us..!
@ dynO & Supreme.. yeah the buzz in the shop just added to the whole experience & vibe whilst diggin` for wax. The latest tunes being played loudly in the shop whilst you`re trawling through the racks, seeing all the promos up on the wall & elbowing the next man to get to the racks first haha.
Another thing i used to love back in the GROOVE days is after a long day diggin`, i`d jump on the train back to bournemouth & get all my records out the bags to study them. I`m sure the average person on the train thought i was mad..!
If anyone has a spare GROOVE bag, i`d be very interested, i`d love to frame it & put it up on the record room wall.
Right, i`m just gonna get in touch with DR WHO & get him to transport me back to `88 :-)
Yes KD, Spin Offs!
Another great shop,a wicked selection of DJ gear like the dope GLI PMX-9000!. I've still got a Spin Offs MANTRONIX slip mat that sits on the left 1210.
@Bobby-nice blog,man! dope indie 90's mix too,thanx for sharing the science. Also, your WESTWOOD letters are just classic pieces of vintage WESTWOOD talk think Nsign radio.."Takin no shorts at the gangster boogie".BANG!.superb.
"No left turns, no right turns..." HAHA.
'IM OTTA HERE..PEACE *punch*
When hip hop on the radio was essential listening every week no matter who you listened to. Mike Allen then Tim Westwood were the best but I always loved FRESH START TO THE WEEK with Dave Pearce 'The Pearce Posse' with George K and Roger Johnson on the wheels of steel, the playlist was sometimes slightly different to the others but it was great to get a tape load of fresh jams for the week at school ahead, put it in your Walkman for the bus ride there and back, and at break time taking your mind of the monotony of lessons by getting schooled on new rap coming out on import stateside, and UK stuff. Fond memories like you guys i expect, especially when i 1st heard things like 'Public Enemy No.1','It's A Demo','You Know How To Reach Us','Ego Trippin','Mentally Mad','Strong Island','Something Fresh To SwingTo','Raw',
'Top Billin' for the 1st time a near religious experience like wtf did i just hear on the radio?.
@Martin, ditto: "Right, i`m just gonna get in touch with DR WHO & get him to transport me back to `88"
Lend me a tardis and i'd do 86 and 87 again too, easily mate.
Westwood made a documentary for the BBC that features a drive by of Groove Records in its prime, then unbelievably a 5 second shot where the camera walks into the shop itself - rushy rushy rushy. You can dig it up and re-live the magic - Bad Meaning Good
Good memories!! Groove was deinately the boss but nice to see some mentions of Bluebird who offered an excellent mail order service which was good for those outside of London. Although nothing beat a trip into the smoke to buy the plastic in the flesh!!
Groove Records I went into what used to be the shop just this year ..just to stand in there what was the shop that defined our teenage yrs . Apparently people go in there asking about the record shop all the time ...it still has a place in peoples hearts ...I went to bluebird records and music power records too still got bags well you have to really and I still go diggin for vinyl now give me a record shop anyday :-)
I spent a fortune in that shop between 91/92, and still have all the 12 inch imports to prove it...Riot in Lagos. Riuichi Sakamoto.. bought before the awesome Paul Trouble Anderson could buy it !...Knew one of the staff there quite well.. Mark Wells. Jean would often come out and stop us chatting, but hey ho.. don't think anything can compare to that shop..Thanks for stirring up some old memories.. Jayne
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