Back in the 1980s a shy teenage girl dressed in black and a burgundy beret could be found whiling away her time in a certain record store upstairs at Cardiff Market. That teenager was me and the stall was Kelly’s Records, a goldmine of second-hand vinyl classics where I would happily spend my free time in. At the time I remember it was run by an elderly couple, Phyllis and Eddie Kelly. I always remember the lady had a shock of red hair and it was lovely to have a couple running it, it felt almost homely.
Only recently, by accident (and Facebook) I came across a picture of an album cover by a Cardiff band I’d not heard of before: The School, the album being Wasting Away and Wondering. The cover portrays a young woman (apparently the band’s lead singer, Liz Hunt) looking at records in a store in what looks like a market building. “That has to be Kelly’s Records” I thought to myself, “It’s just like it”. Sure enough, after some enquiries it turned out it was indeed taken at said store in the indoor market. (Hailing from Cardiff myself but not having lived there for 15 years) this picture brought back such strong memories I felt I had to put pen to paper.
Cardiff indoor market was, and still is a lovely market, a hive of activity and a gem in the centre of the city. My late mum would take me shopping there once a week. First left on entering was the fish stall where she’d get something for tea, then onto buy some fruit and vegetables, some fabric (she did a lot of dressmaking) and then for me, as a child upstairs to see the puppies, cats and small animals for sale at the pet shop. But as I grew into my teens the pull was no longer the pet shop but the record store “Kelly’s Records” with hundreds of albums second-hand!
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I bought some interesting ones there I can tell you including Twiggy and the Girlfriends where Twiggy sang songs such as Beautiful Dreams backed by a ragtime band. (This was off the back of her success in the Boyfriend) and a Cher album from the 60s with Alfie on it (I always loved 60s music). I’m so glad to see and hear that in this day and age Kelly’s Records is still going strong (it’s now run by the Kelly’s’ nephew Allan Parkins who took over the running of the stall in the early 90s and has a strong following with customers coming from all over the world. Nicky Wire from the Manics is also said to pop in whilst on tour. Also, if the School had never had this album cover taken I’d never have written this article. Incidentally I had a listen to their music and love it: very 1960s funnily enough.
But for me, a music-obsessed teenager in the 1980s, who’d not found her place in the world it was a musical haven filled with vinyl mysteries yet to be discovered.
(The new School album Wasting Away and Wondering is out now on Elefant Records).