On the corner of Bateman & Greek street in London`s Soho stood Groove records.....There of course were other good import record stores in London like Contempo Records in Hanway Street, or City Sounds, but for us Groove had it all...A small shop that if you had 10-15 people in there you couldn`t move, with wall to wall tunes stacked everywhere.....Our thing then was, after closing at the 3 C`s youth club around 8pm, we`d mingle outside for a while chatting up the girls, Tim in his resplendent silk strides and plastic sandels always seemed to be able to blag the best of the lot, even though he was more effeminate than either Mickey D or myself. Once the youngest of the priests had locked the front door we`d head off through the small streets and alleys towards Soho. We knew every nook and cranny, `cause residing in W1 & NW1 this was our playground....passing wineos, prozzies and urine smelling doorways, we never flinched an inch `cause we was on a mission to Catch that Groove.
Passing Soho Square our adrenalin would start to pump, wondering what goodies we would discover tonight..Every now and then we would see the white distributors van pull up outside the shop loaded with the freshest American black music imports. It was then a race. 3 kids running down the street pulling, bumping and jumping each other to be the first inside and reach the counter where the guy`s would be shifting though the vinyl,like a poker player dealing out the cards....5 of that, 10 of this, 20 of that, as ML the shopworker called out his restocks...We just couldn`t wait until this was over and the real fun would begin, the New Stuff!
Mickey D, would always have a piece of paper and pencil at the ready as ML would listen through the LP`s first, followed by the 12" extended mixes and then the 45`s, with Mickey leaning over the counter scribbling away, he was always a bit more trainspotterish.....Timmy on the other hand would be practicing new dance moves at the back of the shop and me digging through the shelves in case I`d missed something from the day or week before. Once the vanman had left, ML would go through them all again. This time listening all the way through the tracks, with 2 beady eyed kids leaning over the counter to look at the centre disc`s spinning around.. Wass zat! I`d say, still digging...."New Johnny Hammond", Mickey would bark out, "I want that", I`d bark back. This would go on until everything had been heard and documented..
It would be getting close to midnight and i`d have to get home before my dad finished one of his early shifts in the print on Fleet Street....We`d calculate how much cash we had between the 3 of us and buy, what we considered the best tune. It was an arrangement we had, but Mickey always got to keep the tune for the first few days....What we did was record the track on to tape, either one already in progress or a brand new one, these we used to sell, like our own 3 amigo compilations.....We`d all take turns to have the tune, until Mickey payed us back our share, then we would purchase our own copy. A major discovery in Groove for me was this track by an artist I`d never heard before.
With the pubs of Soho kicking there customers out for the evening and the nightpeople jostling in queues to their favorite haunts...we`d be off walking back norf, hopefully not bumping into the old lady that actually owned Groove. An unlikely large matriarch, with tights rolled down around her ankles, curlers in and oversized red cardy, who ruled her roost from the small office behind the counter with an iron fist. Happy in the knowledge that we had secured another killer track, tucked up under our arms.
We`d sometimes pass by Ronnie Scott`s to look at the people outside and check what artists were playing and other times step pass another club at the top of Wardour Street, to say hi to the doormen who know us by name.
This club would become our church of all things FUNKY!