Back in the mists of time, just before punk raised it’s challenging head, there existed in Rosemount Viaduct a clothes shop that sold jeans and the like. This business was called Happy Trails, possibly named after a record by an American band who went under the name of Pure Prairie League.
In the back section of the premises, by the changing rooms if my memory serves me right, there was situated a couple of stands that sold second hand long playing records, or as they are fashionably known now, vinyl.
This part of the store was run by a very affable young man who originally came from Edinburgh. This man is called Raymond Bird.
After serving his time there, as it were, he decided to open up his own shop just a short distance up the road from Happy Trails. Taking his two record stands with him, he started selling new releases, and, as punk took off, t-shirts etc.
I had been friends with Ray for some time, and it was during this period of time that I helped him out on Saturdays in the shop, which all know as One Up. We were a tight band of people working there, as well as myself and Ray, there was Debbie, a lady who stuck with him all through the different locations of One Up, and a young proper punk lad called, Scars. I can’t remember his proper name.
Debbie, who was quiet and very friendly, and often Ray’s business rock, had no apprehensions about passing the odd scathing comment on the choice of record that a customer might be purchasing. Meanwhile Scars, who looked every bit the youth of the time with his sticky up hair and his leather jacket with his name painted on the back, was ever polite to the customers.
We were both in our twenties at the time, and he often confided in me that he was only be going to do this until he was thirty.
I remember having One Up’s first anniversary and my birthday party as a joint do in the upstairs of the also now defunct, East Neuk.
As the guests started to arrive, the owner of the bar was showing signs of great consternation and concern. The leather jackets, bright clothing and safety pins and bondage trousers worn by a good proportion of the young people, fairly scared him. He thought that trouble was on the horizon. It took some persuading by the two of us to let the party go ahead. But afterwards he thanked us and told us we were the best behaved bunch of people he had had there.
Being the punk era, and being skint, we provided the food ourselves and we both acted as dj’s on a borrowed set of decks, with records from the shop and from my collection.
As business got better, he decided to open a second shop over in George Street. And this is where long term business partner Fred Craig came in. A man I have known even longer than I have known Ray. He told me he was going to offer Fred the running of this new venture over me as, rightfully, due my family commitments, I was a single parent at the time, I couldn’t be full time. I already had cut back working in the Rosemount shop.
Ray still insisted that he was only going to keep the business going until he was 40;
This shop took off, and before long they decided to amalgamate the two shops under one roof in Diamond Street. Such was the success, that they soon needed even bigger premises, and thus the legendary One Up in Belmont Street was born. The staff continued to espouse the tight, friendly (at times), and knowledgeable style that was always synonymous with this wonderful music shop.
When it closed in 2013, Ray had turned 60.
Why this bout of, no, not nostalgia, but history you may ask?
Well recently I was in 17 Belmont Street, looking at their contribution to the Look Again art festival.
It has been transformed into an imaginary record store called, Record Store.
“Record Store is a curated project created by visual artists Chris Biddlecombe and Janie Nicoll, aka Obstacle Soup. It is a hybrid fictional record store interior that is the result of a collaboration involving the creation of over 60 fictional record cover artworks and poster works by a range of Scottish artists each of whom have a strong interest in or connection to music making.
Previously shown in record shops, Record Store in Aberdeen takes the records into the gallery, adds work by 12 artists connected to the north east to the existing 25 artists’ previous installations.
Exploring ideas of authorship and fiction, art and merchandise, shared histories, and sound and performance interpreted through the visual, the project places the artwork at the centre of the action, while the music remains entirely in the viewer’ s head.
Record Store is also a celebration of the underground and the ‘grassroots’; the fertile ground of cross-pollination between visual arts and music that has so influenced Scotland’s cultural scene, and in which independent record stores have played such an important role. Seventeen, the creative hub and exhibition space in Belmont Street was formerly the much-loved One Up Records.” – From Look Again Festival website.
I was asked to share my memories of One Up, so I thought I would share them with you all too.
Record Store is open until May 27.
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