Monday, 16 August 2010

Wondrous Place

I was listening to my BBC local radio station earlier today and as BBC local radio stations do, they were talking about a local shop for local people from some distant memory.

Actually that's not quite true. They were talking about Probe Records. Probe Records, as the name suggests is a record shop based in Liverpool City Centre and has been since 1971. The important wording there by the way is record shop. Not music shop or multimedia emporium. Probe is a record shop and has been part of most under 60 year old Scousers teenage years.

It sells records. Those dinner plate sized black vinyl circles that come in a square cardboard container with sleeve notes. (It also does CD's). But it isn't a second hand shop. It stocks as many of the (do people still say Hit Parade?) current choons as are available in the original format.

Probe has had a few locations. When I was in my Probe phase, it was about 100 metres from where The Cavern once stood (and where the new Cavern has been rebuilt). I can still remember climbing the stone steps into the front door and entering a wonderful world of sound. I was mesmerised by the selection available. As a seventeen year old I was discovering music properly for the first time. I wasn't just interested in the current chart. I had also come to seek out those classics that every collection should include.

Probe had some history with the Liverpool music scene in the early eighties as well. The likes of Julian Cope, Pete Wylie, Holly Johnson et al all frequented that shop on their way to Eric's to launch the rebirth of Merseybeat. This period of Liverpool's musical heritage is best chronicled in Paul Du Noyer's book Wondrous Place which also talks about the 60's and 90's too.

So why was the Beeb talking about my teenage place of musical pilgrimage? Well, not only is it still alive and kicking, but it has found another new place dwell. It's always placed itself in an area where artistic types like to frequent. I first remember it in the Cavern Quarter, it is currently in Seel Street, where a number of small independent theatres, art galleries and clubs are situated. It's new home however is part of the brand spangly new Liverpool One complex. But, keeping true to it's roots, it's once again in the arty area near the Bluecoat Chambers.

While Probe is open, I'm still young.

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