The best record shops are more than just bricks, mortar and vinyl. Patrons of Probe, viewers and readers of High Fidelity and anyone with a lovingly curated collection will know a good record shop is the passion and knowledge of its staff as much as it is the breadth of its stock. Upon opening it’s cellar doors in 2014, DIG VINYL didn’t only become a vital asset to Bold Street’s independent retail offer, but a cornerstone of Liverpool’s music community. The staff established themselves as much behind the decks and stalls at key music events in the city as well as dishing out expert advice and recommendations in Soho’s basement.
Now, Dig is growing. Moving up from the underground to the first floor of Resurrection, still on Bold Street but now with more space for their crates of specially selected wax treats. To celebrate this we’ve asked the staff at Dig – Yvonne, Elliot, Al, Carl, Anthony and Nina – to carefully select the tracks which best tell the story of the store. Below you’ll find dance floor bangers which kick started the story, recommendations which have moved collectors to tears, and re-discovered favourites. Memories which make a record shop more than a retail space. Here’s the story of Dig in 10 Tracks…
Black Cow (Aja, 1977)
A band that’s undoubtedly at the very core of record shop culture, Steely Dan join the dots between Jazz, Rock, Soul and Prog – whilst still maintaining a pop sensibility! Their catalog has been on the shop deck from the moment we opened our doors and none more frequently than deep groove masterpiece “Black Cow”. In five years of service, nothing makes me happier than selling this one straight from the deck.
The Hurt’s All Gone (1965)
This 7” remains one of the most powerful moments behind the counter, the time an older Italian gentleman dropped by during his trip to the UK and was immediately stopped in his tracks as the shop deck’s needle hit the wax on this 7”. I didn’t realise I had ended a 40 year search for his warmest childhood memory! Not a word of English. Grinning at me in tears. That’s the power of music!
Move Your Body (The House Music Anthem) (1986)
It’s 1988, Nude Night at the Hacienda and I’m standing on a podium lost in a sea of smiles, E and communal worship. This tune soundtracked those days and still makes the hairs on my neck tingle and those waves kick in…’gotta have House music all night long’! A tune that started me on the house road and should be in everyone’s collection.
Maximum Style (1994)
Tom & Jerry
Dennis & Mark of 4 Hero drop the jungle bomb! The year is 1993 and we’re full on raving; Blackburn, Blackpool, Preston. This tune was blasting out in every motorway service station. A work of pure beauty that blends UK street soul with roughneck rave and truly captures that ‘93 moment. A key tune in getting me to start a label in ‘95 and ultimately run a record shop!
Light Flight (1969)
I joined Dig in May 2018, after overhearing a conversation between Yvonne and Anthony whilst browsing as a customer. Definitely a case of right time, right place when I followed up with my CV, as the advertised position that Nina filled a few months later garnered hundreds of applications. In the 9 months since I started, thousands of records have passed through the doors, but two stand out above all others. One is Steely Dan’s Aja, which Elliot beat me to writing about, as I knew he would. The other is Pentangle’s Basket Of Light. Dig is a busy shop and whenever a record reaches the runout groove while you’re in the middle of serving someone it’s always a mad scramble to fill the silence. And despite being surrounded by more music than you could listen to in a lifetime, you often find yourself making a grab for something familiar, something you know is great. A record that people either know and love already or are sure to come and ask you about. There are no rules for the shop stereo, but you quickly learn what works and what doesn’t. Elliot and I can only get away with cranking Free Jazz on a weekday afternoon in the same way that 80’s House classics always sound best when Carl is on on a Friday and his infectious enthusiasm for them resonates around the shop. Techno gets you through a hectic Saturday afternoon, ambient is for Monday mornings. But only a handful of records can be played in the shop any time of day, any day of the week and always be right. Basket Of Light is one of those.
Nag Nag Nag (1979)
A song that reminds me of the wide-eyed innocence of youth; a 14 year-old locked in their bedroom playing this other-worldly song on a loop. With those huge synth stabs and the incessant pounding beat, coupled with that distorted urgent vocal driving you towards the precipice until you free your mind and gladly throw yourself off the edge and into a whole new world.
If Nag Nag Nag is all about wide-eyed innocence, Dusseldorf is a band striving for pop perfection while wrapping it in a melancholic shroud. A song as much about the loss of innocence as it is an ode to Kraftwerk with a riff that could happily play in my head for the rest of time. The fact that this was a discovery I made in Dig Vinyl (another incredible Elliot Hutchinson recommendation) just makes the track all that much sweeter.
Lola’s Theme (2004)
Like a rocket-sized sugar high, seeing this record in the shop sent me wild. Can you imagine my hurt when a member of the Dig team, whose name shall remain anonymous, professed never to have heard it. Where were you in 2004? I was being sick after eating too much candyfloss, just like this pink-tinged, hyperactive icon of a record. Even so, here the true joy of a record shop lies. Discovering, rediscovering, re-rediscovering, learning, digging. Complete unknowing of what you’ll unearth. Will it be obscure rare jazz? Or a well-known artist that’s new to you? (Somehow, all folk music didn’t exist for me until I started at Dig.) Or will it be a long-forgotten gem from your frolicking and carefree early years? Lola’s Theme is that for me.
Hall of Mirrors (1993)
Sometimes it’s a bit tricky to find that sweet little spot where all of our tastes can intersect and coexist in joy whilst we scuffle over the staff turntable. In some strange twist of fate, Elliot and I have managed to co-opt Monday mornings into being the allocated Acid House and Obnoxious Electro segments of our/my week. Nonetheless, I’m often on a mission to bleed clappy drum machines into the rest of the week and this was the more gentle record I use to do so. Chicago house and Detroit techno put through a blender, ground into powder and brewed in a teabag into something gentle, clever, soulful, distinctly UK-sounding and somehow greater than the sum of its parts. With a stamp of approval from a psych-head and a soul-head (that stamp of approval being momentary confusion, a slight nod and a ‘….huh…this is actually quite good’ ) it’s slinked a quiet, floaty path into multiple spins on the shop record player. I also once pressed this record eagerly onto an innocent young man (16?) who said he wanted to get into dance music. After 40 minutes of him sitting at the turntable with his eyes closed, he came to me watery and wide-eyed as a spring deer and said ‘wow, I’ve never heard anything like this.’ Yes, this is techno. Now go forth, young grasshopper. It brings a proud tear to my eye. Now I just need to convert the rest of the Dig staff.
I Look Good On You (2012)
The Wild Eyes
One of the very first singles to grace our ‘local’ section many years ago, this 2min 41sec nugget is a true Scouse banger for those ‘in the know’. This song soundtracked many late nights in my early twenties – discovering Liverpool via festival after-parties and gigs in venues that sadly no longer exist. Both Liverpool and Dig Vinyl have undergone considerable transformation and growth since then, and while it hasn’t always been easy, I couldn’t be more proud of where we are now. This 7” still gets a massive response when thrown in during any DJ set, and I think it’s partly because it holds similar memories for some of my peers – and partly because it’s such an incredible, punchy and raw tune. At our Dig Vinyl and IWFM New Year’s Eve party in Kaz Gardens last year, the Pale Rider crew went so wild when this track hit the deck that I had to play it twice!
Dig Vinyl moves to its new premises above Resurrection, Bold Street on Friday 25th January.