Spinning Around – Glasgow’s Remarkable Record Shops

The Bluebells launch new music exhibition at Glasgow’s Riverside Museum celebrating a golden era for the city’s record stores

Scots band The Bluebells, who topped the UK charts in the 1990s with their pop-hit ‘Young at Heart’, opened a new exhibition at Glasgow’s Riverside Museum today (Wednesday 2 March) which will transport music fans back to a golden era for the city’s record stores.

Robert Hodgens, founder of The Bluebells and better known as Bobby Bluebell, was joined by brothers and fellow bandmates Ken and David McCluskey for the launch of ‘Spinning Around – Glasgow’s Remarkable Record Shops’; a celebration of the numerous music stores that thrived in the city from the 1980s to the mid-1990s.

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During that period, Glasgow was home to 130 much-loved record shops. However, businesses like A1; Bruce’s; Gloria’s; John Smith & Son; Listen; Rub-a-Dub; 23rd Precinct; Tower; and Volume were regarded as much more than just places to buy music, they were melting pots for the growth of the city’s burgeoning cultural and creative scene – outlets of expression which galvanised Glasgow’s identity as a City of Music long before that title was officially granted by UNESCO in 2008.

Scots band The Bluebells, who topped the UK charts in the 1990s with their pop-hit Young at Heart
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Glasgow’s record shops acted as meeting places where people could experience new sounds and styles, create club nights and forge friendships. Such places helped to launch the careers of several successful Scottish acts, from The Bluebells; Deacon Blue; Orange Juice; and Simple Minds to The Bathers; BMX Bandits; Strawberry Switchblade; and The Wake.

The new display is the first to open at the Riverside Museum – managed by Glasgow Life – since 2019 and turns back time to the days before digital downloads, when all genres of music were discoverable by visiting one of the city’s record stores and flipping through racks of vinyl which held everything from mainstream hits to classical, jazz, folk, dance and reggae.

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Comprising 134 objects and housed in the museum’s former 1950s Pawn Shop, it reflects the work and success of major Glasgow acts like Teenage Fanclub; Deacon Blue; Primal Scream; Simple Minds and Texas. In all, more than 60 Scottish bands and artists who were active between 1980 and 1995 are represented through records; cassettes; CDs; posters; t-shirts and other music memorabilia.

A host of groups and musicians have supported the display through donating and loaning items, including: The Bluebells; Simple Minds; Belle and Sebastian; The Pastels; Urusei Yatsura; Kevin McDermott of The Suede Crocodiles; and Ross Sinclair of The Soup Dragons.