Our journey to Darlington today did not require Neil’s debatable navigational skills as this was a journey that I used to take daily for around the fifteen years when I worked in this vibrant market town famous for trains and oats (Quakers of course).
I can clearly remember when Darren Carr (the owner) opened his first shop in the town around seven years ago across the road from Saxosoul’s current and much larger premises.
It is always a good sign upon entering any record store to see overflowing boxes of records stored on the floor under the record racks (although not so much good news for my knees) as this shop is absolutely crammed with records from covering every era, genre, rarity & price so do not be misled by name of the store.
The main front area of the shop is stocked with rock, pop, indie, dance, reggae etc, all clearly organised & labelled.
Darren as we discovered originates from ‘the Boro’ and Neil and I had a good conversation involving mutual acquaintances and the current form of Chuba Akpom before we even got around to the business of the shop.
Since my last visit to the store Darren has opened a second room at the back of the store concentrating on his first love, soul music of which Darren also is involved with the organisation of various live local events.
This second room also has a sizable collection of Jazz and funk vinyl, some of which came home with me. The shop has regular customers who journey from places afar as Leeds and Lancashire which is surely a testament to the stock of any great store.
One of the great joys of visiting record shops and indeed this blog is the characters that you meet and their stories and recollections of the record industry we all love. Darren as many other entrepreneurs before him started by selling records at local fairs.
One of the first collections Darren bought was from a house in a village located in the outskirts of Richmond. While Darren was browsing through this fantastic collection of soul records the eccentric seller insisted that he also looked through a photo album that was pushed under his nose.
This album contained photos of various soul legends through the years of his time within the industry (he was a DJ) and he recalled to Darren his regret of not marrying a particular legendary soul artist, (because this story is completely unverified, she will have to remain unnamed, though apparently ‘he killed her softly with his songs’.
There is a small collection of new vinyl available here and it’s something Darren would clearly like to expand he also likes to champion local and up and coming artists so with Fairsound offering new artists the chance to get vinyl pressed and local stores willing to stock the albums it’s a no brainer.
Despite the outlay required Darren stated he would love to participate in Record Store Day at some point in the future.
This is a record store which I would heartily recommend to anyone that was starting a record collection or a seasoned ‘crate digger’ who is searching for that particular rare item to fill a gap in your shelf, oh and by the way thanks Darren for the Stephen Bishop album, I love it.
Darren Carr’s Five Vinyl Records I Can’t Live Without
1. Bobby Womack – Roads Of Life
2. Stephen Bishop – Careless
3. Steely Dan – Can’t Buy A Thrill
4. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
5. John Coltrane – Blue Train
Darren Carr’s selection for the Press On Vinyl collection.
Teddy Pendergrass – Ready For Teddy Pendergrass.
Steve’s selection – The The – Infected
Neil’s selection – Taylor Swift – Fearless
P.S. We hope Darren’s Richmond story doesn’t get us any “Flack” (you really don’t need any more clues)
P.P.S. The Stockton to Darlington railway line was the first public railway to use steam locomotives it was opened on 27th September 1825 it was due to open on the 26th but the RMT called a strike. (not true).
Check out more Vinyl Odyssey here