A new regular feature on the Diggin’ Melbourne website has arrived! Over upcoming weeks and months we’ll be talking with the owners, operators and staff of Melbourne’s finest record stores about their history, favourite records and most cherished moments. To get things started we sent our Undercover Digger to one of Melbourne’s oldest and most respected music emporiums – Greville Records.
Watch this space for more Record Store features soon – or follow us receive updates.
Greville Records – We travel the Spaceways!
Here’s a record store steeped in a rich history, and depending on who you speak to and where you’re from, it’s often a store shrouded in mystery! According to the owner, Warwick Brown, “the shop first opened in 1978, I think, maybe ’79… open before 1980 anyway”. Since then the shop has been a mainstay for Melbourne’s music lovers and visitors from far and abroad, as well as a champion of Melbourne’s independent music scene.
For many people, including myself, the first experience of Greville Records is seeing someone else rocking the classic Greville Records T-Shirt, or carrying a white record bag marked with that familiar design. When you step through the door of Greville Records you can literally smell the the vinyl, and the other-worldly design and homage to Sun Ra featured on the T-shirts and record bags all makes sense…
We asked Greville Records owner Warwick Brown a few questions about the highlights of last 35 years. Here’s what he had to share.
First commenced trading?
The shop first opened in 1978, I think, maybe ’79… 0pen before 1980 anyway..?
(And according to Steve: 1979)
What is the main focus of Greville Records?
The main focus for a while has been to survive these wild and crazy times. Apart from that my main focus is to enjoy my day and to keep finding as many new and exciting LPs to get into the racks.
How have you seen the role of record stores change in the last 30 years?
It hasn’t really changed at all – we’re still striving to keeping all you crazy collectors bursting with tuneful happiness. Record stores are a place to come to get away from the usual horrible drab or surfing the net for tunes… a place for local indie artists to stock their records when no one else gives a damn… and a place to employ manic old record guys like me and keep us form destitution.
You’ve always stocked a lot of vinyl, and possibly more now than ever before. What is it that makes vinyl so desirable?
Well… in a world of fake, mass produced, cheap junk, vinyl takes us back to a time when there was a product that was beautiful, and real, and made with thought, pride, love, care, and artistic & creative desire… records are big… they are beautiful… the are real… they represent the best aspect of the human race.
Can you name some of the most amazing records that have passed through the store in recent times?
WOW… UMMM, We had some mind blowing Northern soul singles recently. Steve and the Board album, an extroadinary and rare Australian LP. A first week/mono UK pressing of the Beatles Please Please Me. A promotional white label USA pressing of Hendrix Electric Ladyland. A collection of Nirvana test pressings…
I could go on?
Name 3 records that define your store?
The Stooges: Funhouse
Betty Davis: Betty Davis
Bob Dylan: Blonde on Blonde
ABOVE: Cleves LP “Insane Rare OZ Folk Psych Rock”
BELOW: I asked Steve did he have a sleeveface for me – it took him about 6 seconds to reveal Françoise Hardy
3 records everyone should own?
Marvin Gaye: What’s Going On
Neil Young: Tonight’s the Night
Over the years many incredible musicians and artists have passed through your store. The Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth, You Am I… and so on. Is there any particular moment you cherish – one that makes owing a record store all worthwile?
Instore… yes we’ve had anyone and everyone pass through here… the guys from Bob Dylan’s band would come hang out and buy piles of records – and became good freinds of the store. Alex Chilton – doing an instore performance and hanging out smoking weed afterwards was a massive, unbelievable day… He’s a a hero of ours! YOU AM I did a series of gigs in our carpark at the back of the shop in the 1990’s… they were incredible, brilliant!
Heads up and the low-down:
152 Greville St, Prahran
(03) 9510 3012 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Current Vinyl stock:
In excess of 20,000 LPs / 12″
10,000+ 45s + thousands yet to be sorted & priced
The diversity at Greville Records is incredible – Punk, Indie, Psyche, Stoner, Metal, Garage, Rock, Blues, Cajun, Soul, Funk, Folk, Brasilian, Cumbia, Jazz, Indo, Latin, R&B, Reggae, Dub, Hip Hop, Electronica, Krautrock, Tropical, Country, Rockabilly, 60s, 70s, 80s and more – and all on vinyl. T-shirts, Books, CDs, music, exploitation and cult DVDs.
Electronic dance music, House, Techno, Top 40 or Classical.
* may stock from time to time
Sadly there are no facilities for listening to records at this store – You need to do your research before you go. Parking in this neighbourhood is a bitch… If you’re serious about having a dig you should avoid parking in 1 hour zones, or catch the train.
What I saw/heard/bought:
Customer: “What’s that record like?”
Warwick: “It does it all – play it backwards sideways and it will walk your dog and make your dinner…”
From here it’s only a short stroll to Obese Records on Izett St, and Bounce Audio on Cato St. For the dedicated it’s only 10 minutes back up the road to Licorice Pie.
Story + photos: Rex. August 2014