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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nostalgia Trip: Oldies Unlimited

Today's post is a tribute of sorts to an 80's pop music institution - at least in Britain. Who else remembers Oldies Unlimited? Here's a reminder:


Not very visual, is it? Anyway, let me set the scene for you. First, I will get my pipe and slippers and mutter something like, "You kids today, you don't know how lucky you are...".

Let's say it's the mid-eighties and you want to hear an Ultravox B-Side. No downloads, no file sharing, you have to actually buy the real record the track was on. So you go down to the local record shop and say, would I be able to order "We Came To Dance" by Ultravox? Then the hippie looking bloke (some things have not changed that much) would pull out a book the size of Cardiff and look for the catalogue number. I think those books still exist - most libraries seem to have hidden racks of them in the reference sections. Then, you would wait. About a week later you would check back and they would look at their order book - all handwritten in biro - and shake their head, nah mate sorry, couldn't get it.

Oldies Unlimited was great precisely because they had all kinds of records, you just had to go through the whole mail-order experience. This starts with them sending you a booklet with a list of their records, which they would send every month or so. When you ordered records, you had to put some extras down so you never knew exactly what you were going to get (Hey, wasn't that also how you ordered Panini stickers for your albums? I'd forgotten about the whole "provide alternatives" approach). No scans, no digital photos, just writing to some place called Telford which could have been the moon for all I knew. No credit card - just send a check or a postal order. This was while I was still at school, so placing an order was a rare treat.

On one occasion I took a chance and bought a box of 100 singles for about ten pounds, it was one of those grab-bag deals. When they came, of course they were all rubbish and I'd never heard of any of them. The only one I remember at all was "I Never Go Out In The Rain" by High Society. For some reason I've always had a soft spot for tunes that hark back to Vaudeville and the roaring twenties.

High Society - I Never Go Out In The Rain (7" Single, 1980)

15 comments:

whiteray said...

This is superb! Very much in the spirit of Guy Marks' "Loving You Has Made Me Bananas" from 1968. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

i remember being over the moon with two clash singles i bought from oldies unlimited in the early 80s,white riot and clash city rockers .both arrived in picture sleeves and brand new.i was a happy little punk that day.
david

Kippers said...

Ahh, Oldies Unlimited! I'd forgotten all about them! I used to loved looking through their catalogues and ordering 7" singles (plus alternatives!). Wasn't there an Oldies Unlimited record label for a while too? Lovely stuff.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kipper - There was no Oldies Unlimited record label you were thinking of Old Gold perhaps; an easy mistake to make as a lot of people did back then. It was indeed run out of Telford, I worked there for a while in the 80's and it was a fantastic bunch of people on the shop floor and in the warehouses.

Dave

maurice said...

Whatever happened to Oldies Unlimited? Are they still trading? I used to buy tonnes of stuff from them, even considered becoming an agent at one time.

kevin said...

oldies unlimted. a paradise for the record coleector. i stared getting there mag in the post in the mid 70s. fantastic. then in the early 80s i started working mobile discos. and also worked for a company based in the black country. making deliveries all over. but my area was yes youve guessed w.ton telford shresbury. i was in dream land i actually used to pop in to oldies and buy direct. and after a few visits i got to know the owner quite well. who then used to invite me to look around. help yourself and pay at the counter. dreamland. i also got to know one of the ladys that worked there and started dating her daughter. were is she now.lol happy happy days.

djspooky said...

I was actually thinking about oldies unlimited the other day and was actually thinking are they still going too. Sadly not but they definitely got me started in collecting records/

djspooky said...

I wish they were still going I loved getting records from them me and a friend when we were at school splashed out on a 100 7 inch pack from them and yes a lot of random stuff but some gems too like Shalamar's Second Time Around and A Tubes single which I cant remember what the track was But it was a limited White vinyl which my friend nabbed from me the git lol.

Happy Days

TomR said...

I was a regular customer of Oldies Unlimited in the states when I lived in Tampa Florida in the early 70's. The reggae 100-singles grab bag was less of a good deal once overseas shipping was factored in, and you had to wait as long as 8 weeks for surface mail and customs. But in the US where there was little reggae out at the time, it was great to get all these Trojan and Studio 1 artists, and the dub sides, you'd never heard of. I still have many of those records today, many are pretty rare; old reggae 45's sell well. Great service, they are missed.

Anonymous said...

I remember Oldies Unlimited too. I ordered quite a few records from them. I remember spending hour upon hour reading through the lists.

Anonymous said...

I remember OU well. we were record wholesalers and used to sometimes buy large quantites of stock from them at low prices to sell in Europe. I remember buying 1000 David Bowie picture disks for 20p each !!!

DaK

Anonymous said...

Yes! I bought loads of 45s from Oldies Unlimited in the 80s. I still have a credit note from them somewhere for about 25p. I wish I had kept all the records but I had a colleague 'tape' them all for me on the basis that he got to keep the vinyl. Probably worth a fortune now. Damn him (ha ha)!

Anonymous said...

Oldies unlimited was taken over and moved to yorkshire and it traded as New Oldies Unlimited for a several years. A large proportion of the stock is still in existance (although it has changed hands several times) and is currently being re-catalogued for sale. www.oldiesunlimited.co.uk should have some information soon.

Anonymous said...

I used to have loads of singles from Oldies Unlimited. Hours of fun going over the lists looking for some obscure band or other.

Great fun.

Andy

Anonymous said...

I've fond memories of this place, I used to live just down the road from them and used to get a lot of Northern Soul singles from them.
Their 100 for £10 Soul singles were a bargain.


Steve