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A Magazine for Sheffield

Bouquet of Steel: A very Sheffield record shop

We find out about the first record shop in the world dedicated to one city’s music.

Bouquet of steel

Stumbling across a good record shop, an old friendly furniture warehouse or a magical book cave is exciting because of what you might discover. The Indiana Jones/Del Boy giddiness kicks in as you reach behind a pile of dusty lampshades and find a small jade elephant, a collection of frenzied drawings in an old atlas, or a 7-inch of that forgotten club banger.

Tucked away next to the upstairs café in Strip the Willow, a furniture-making shop and social enterprise on Abbeydale Road, Bouquet of Steel is immediately intriguing. A round portal decked out in shiny silver spaceship wallpaper glints at you from across the room. CDs, records, books and t-shirts are visible through the shiny airlock and demand your attention.

Browsing through this collection of musical gold, one thing should strike you pretty quickly. Everything is from Sheffield. Sheffield bands, Sheffield labels, Sheffield authors, Sheffield DJs, Sheffield artists.

Running the shop with help from his partner Zowie, the owner is a man who has been wedged deep inside Sheffield’s mish-mash music scene for over 30 years. Known as Jamie Headcharge - after the internationally renowned underground night he ran at the Arches - he has been in punk bands, worked at record labels, organised nights and helped put on festivals, keeping Sheffield’s raging musical furnace firing. As well as Headcharge, he helped start other important Sheffield gems such as Dubcentral, Peace in the Park and the Music in the Sun Festival.

“I’ve always wanted to do something like this,” explained Jamie when I came to visit his little Sheffield spaceship. “Bouquet of Steel was an inspiration for me when it came out on Aardvark Records. It inspired me to put out a Made in Sheffield compilation in ’94 and now here we are in 2014 with the shop. There’s a direct link back to that [Bouquet of Steel release].”

Bouquet of Steel was a special compilation put out by Aardvark Records in 1980 of a selection of the new Sheffield electro bands that had forged a futuristic sound for the city. Jamie hopes to re-release it on a label of the same name next year. When he had the chance to start his own shop dedicated to Sheffield, the first thing he did was ring Marcus Featherby, owner of Aardvark Records and Pax Records and his former boss, to ask if he could use the name Bouquet of Steel for the shop.

“When I got in touch with Marcus to use the name Bouquet of Steel, he loved the idea. He let me have the name and gave me all this stuff, basically the whole back catalogue of Pax and Aardvark Records. He was so overjoyed that his legacy and the spirit of his labels were carrying on that he has given me copyright to all the old unreleased masters.”

This haul of old masters, most of which have never been released, are the real treasures in this shiny record chest. Never-before-heard recordings of bands such as Artery and Stunt Kites are being carefully catalogued and researched and Jamie is starting to talk with the bands about releasing them next year under the Bouquet of Steel name.

One nondescript white box with an old tape reel inside simply says in pencil on the front, ‘Pulp – Recorded February 1982 at Marples’. This is the first ever live recording of Pulp. When Jamie got in touch with Jarvis Cocker and explained about this recording, Jarvis was amazed. He had no idea it existed and is journeying up from Paris just to listen to it.

“He’s eager to listen and keen on it being re-released,” explained Jamie. “He was 18 at the time it was recorded. Tapes that old can get warped but I’ve heard it, it’s pretty good! Well releasable.”

The excitement this discovery has generated is slowly giving Jamie’s shop a big name in record collector and industry circles and it turns out the shop may have more than one claim to fame. Jamie was contacted by Graham Jones, author of a book about British record shops called Last Shop Standing, and told that as far as he knows Bouquet of Steel is the first record shop in the world to dedicate to one city’s music. Proof that Sheffield truly has a uniquely varied and continuously prolific music scene.

You can find Bouquet of Steel at 226B South View Road, on the corner of Abbeydale Road.

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