For an Impressive 37 years Manchester’s Piccadilly Records has been providing what Psychonaut, adventurer and staff member Matt Ward describes as : ‘’A sonic Psychiatric Ward for the Aurally obsessed’’, as a metaphor for the importance this record shop enjoys both locally and nationally, it’s spot on. Piccadilly answers a visceral yearning for anyone happily suffering from music addiction, the absolute need for good fucking tunes, and lots of them.
The secret of their success, if indeed it is a secret? (To most its just obvious) ,is that they have never been carried by the ill winds of fashion, but have maintained an unbending dedication to quality whatever its stripe. To many this lends the shop an almost Oracle like quality : many a time i have wondered through the doors in search of say, i don’t know, a collection of long lost Italian disco…. only to leave with a box set of pre war Ambient music and a limited edition Afro-Beat 7’’ into the bargain. It’s that easy going accessibility and eagerness to share the joy of music that has made Piccadilly Records such a cherished institution.
This shop, like all truly great record stores, has been variously described as ‘’A Sanctuary’’ or ’A Social Club’’ , the music it sells characterised as ‘’a lover’’, ‘’a friend’’ or ‘’a constant companion ‘’. For those who do not share a passion for music , this might seem like a perverse exaggeration , but then if you are not touched by music in that way , you are most probably a robot ; and your opinion can be largely discounted. For many of us humans ; a trip to Piccadilly is a yearly, monthly, weekly or even daily opportunity to escape from the norm ,relieve the stress of life and experience a little magic.
Now some of that enthusiasm has been captured in a photographic collection succinctly titled ‘’ The Piccadilly Records Book’’. The images of Staff, customers , Djs, Pop Stars and general acolytes have been lovingly captured by Gwen Riley Jones, and their Quotes , thoughts and general musical wisdom are interspersed amongst the Pictures throughout . The introductory ‘Sleeve Notes’ come courtesy of Manchester Aesthete and ex Staff member : Richard Hector – Jones, they provide a vivid description of some of the shop’s pivotal moments , including surviving the IRA’s own brand of urban renewal : the 1996 bombing of Manchester city centre, along with great insights into why Piccadilly Records remains such a beacon of quality, variety and sonic evangelism in an increasingly homogenised landscape.
Photographs by Gwen Riley Jones
Creative Direction by Michael Riley Jones with Introductory text By Richard Hector – Jones
“The Piccadilly Records Book’’ is Published by A Riley Jones Thing. Piccadilly Records can be found here.