Wednesday, April 08, 2015

SG50: Where Have The Vinyl Record Shops Gone?

Wandering Around Places Which Are Mostly Gone
I sent mail to friends last week and wrote that I found vinyl records at a place which will soon be gone. Here's reaction from regular U.K. contributor and good friend Allan Thompson who was in RAF Changi in the 1960's.

Dear Andy,  

Reading your reference to a place which will soon be gone reminded me of some of the lovely record shops which existed in Singapore in the 1960's.

In Orchard Road was the Deutsch Gramophone shop which sold new (and expensive) classical records on that label, as well as a few by other companies,          notably British Decca.  
Donald Moore Galleries also sold records and I remember seeing an unusual L.P. (Long Playing) consisting of speeches by Ernest Hemingway on sale there at about S$24,  twice the normal price for an LP at that time. I also recall going into the RCA record shop where I bought "Listen To The Warm", by Rod McKuen.  

I particularly remember that visit because, while I was looking through the records,  I was taken ill with an excruciating pain in my groin and almost collapsed. I broke out in a cold sweat which soaked my shirt and the shopkeeper was so alarmed that he offered me a chair and then gave me a bottle of Coca Cola and a Consulate menthol cigarette!

When I felt a little better, I took a taxi home and almost fainted as the pain returned.  I tried to pass water but was unable to, until, at the sixth or seventh attempt, still in intense pain, I passed a quantity of dark-red liquid.  It became less painful and I lay down for a little while to recover.  When I examined the liquid, I found a chalky lump which turned out to be a stone.  I felt no after-effects, nor did I ever suffer from that problem again, thank goodness.  
Another shop which I visited often was in Hill Street, near Telephone House, where I bought the first two London-American albums by Jerry Lee Lewis. There were other shops tucked away in side streets and it was possible to find long-deleted gems there very cheaply.

Changi village had two record shops and the bigger of the two was Uttam's where I bought most of my records during my time there. (I seem to remember that it burned down some time afterwards). 

The amah's market also visited Changi regularly with several record stalls in its midst.  Most villages had regular markets and I bought two early Johnny Cash LPs at one in Serangoon.  Serangoon also had a good record shop where I was delighted to find "Return Of The Outlaws" by The Outlaws on an HMV single. 

My girl-friend's brother was keen on guitar instrumentals, his favourite group being the Flee-Rekkers, whose records were produced by Joe Meek, who, incidentally, was also the Outlaws' producer.
Changi Village, Singapore 1960s.

One of my treasured possessions in 1964 was "The Ventures Play The Country Classics" which had been given to me by my girl-friend.  Sadly, like her, it was lost some time later. Happily, I was able to replace both the record and the girl-friend in due course! 
Yes, my good friend, those were happy days when we never knew what we might turn up in the record-racks.

Best wishes,

Dear Allan,

Thanks for the mail. I used to buy records from shop houses at North Bridge Road. These unique rows of buildings are mostly gone now. Singaporeans call these shops, "Vanished Places."
Vanished Places: North Bridge Road in the 60s and 70s.
Images: Google.



ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Vinyl records were inexpensive then; perhaps $2/00 for a single; $4/00 for an EP. An LP is about $8/00 to $10/00 and so on.

Yeo Hong Eng said...

Hi Andy
Have you tried Sungai Road and area around Campbell Road?

You may find what you wanted.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Yes Hong Eng. Hardly anything left. Another soon to vanish place. The whole area is making way for our new MRT Line.

Thanks for the tip.

chakapchakap said...

Rodney Marvin "Rod" McKuen (April 29, 1933 – January 29, 2015), an American singer-songwriter, musician and poet was one of the best-selling poets in the U.S. in the late 1960s. McKuen produced recordings, which included pop music, poetry, soundtracks and classical music. He received two Academy Award nominations and one Pulitzer nomination for his music compositions. His poetry themes tell of love, the natural world and spirituality. His songs sold over 100 million recordings and poetry books 60 million.


Hi Andy

In these days, vinyl record seems to be picking up its momentum and has become the in thing now-a-days. I do know of one guy whom is keeping a sizeable collection, has a shop that sells them too and in some case you can call it at exorbitant price with some goes as high as by a few thousand of dollars or even thousand of pounds, believe it or not.

There are currently also shop that sell high end turntable specially to caters to these vinyl record collectors though seemingly looks to me like and expensive hobby to enjoy some really nice sound or to put it better nice music to the ears.

Thanks for sharing the story as it reminds me of the good old days.



Dear Andy,

Many thanks indeed!

It’s really enjoyable reading your blog.

The stories posted by you were absolutely lively with fervent gusto and fascination!

It’s amazing that you’d gather so much information. The time & effort you have spent in gathering them can make it “The Chronicle of Singapore 60s Music”, like an encyclopedia!

With best regards.

POEM said...


Rod McKuen (1933 - 2015)

I live alone.
It hasn't always been that way.
It's nice sometimes
to open up the heart a little
and let some hurt come in.
It proves you're still alive.

I'm not sure what it means.
Why we can't shake the old loves from our minds.
It must be that we build on memory
and make them more than what they were.
And is the manufacture
just a safe device for closing up the wall?

I do remember.
The only fuzzy circumstance
is sometimes where-and-how
Why, I know.

It happens just because we need
to want and to be wanted too,
when love is here or gone
to lie down in the darkness
and listen to the warm.

"Listen to the Warm" - 1967

anonymous said...

Generally there are sufficient copies of new or like new records to satisfy all collectors.

The best value on used records is the enjoyment you can still get when you continue to play them, enjoying the music and remembering the moments. Isn't this why the records were bought in the first place?

Love your records, keep them. Don't try to sell them for a large amount. Unless of course there's a buyer somewhere out there who's willing to pay your price?


Hi Andy,
Glad to see you just as active with your very popular and interesting site of 60s music.
My favourite singer Bobby Bare just cerebrated his 80th birthday and just to show you the card I have sent him!

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks again to everyone for the response. Vinyl records seem to be a very popular topic. I must thank Allan Thompson for his nostalgic insights about our record shops in the 60s. He remembers all the places with names intact.

Fantastic memory this gentleman has.

Reg said...

"Listen to the warm" could mean listening to the warm, natural sound that comes from a vinyl record?

Bird Dog said...

As a music living schoolboy back in late 60s, I could not afford genuine records. They only have a few good tracks by the same artiste unless it was a greatest hits one.However there were affordable pirated ones which had great selections by various artists but their sound quality sucks. A pirated LP costs about $4 & a memorable 'brand' was JaguarE

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you Bird Dog for the interesting piece. 'JaguarE' I haven't heard of. I found one called 'Music Girl' which seems to have produced copies of top hits in a series.

The Volume 6 one that I have includes, 'Southern Nights', Stormbringer', 'Car Wash' and "Ma Baker.' Actually 12 songs in all. Quite a collection.

Your topic is very interesting. Do visit this blog again.

CSMUN said...

Hi Andy,

Its been quite sometime to get in touch with you regarding the
subject, vinyl recorded music of the 60s.

I would like to share with you in my collection a 33 1/3 long playing
on the above subject. These are "Modern Singapore Songs" sung in

I hope you like them.