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The place i brought my first single freda payne deeper and deeper and many more from brees i also remember the soul import box.great memories spending all my pocket money in there. Comment: Micki Harding

Oh my gosh this was my saturday home in the 70s a great place to get those hard to find Reggae singles. Comment: Lee Gough.

(May 11, 2015) I ran the music department for nearly ten years when I was young. The Salems were the best employers I ever had. Most of the staff have passed on now and I don't suppose I will be long following, but I have happy memories of Brees. Brees was an old fashioned 'Grace Brothers' type store but the Salem's, who owned it, were the most wonderful people, and all of us were very happy for many years. I was on a good salary plus a profit share twice yearly, as were the other senior staff, but even counter hands were well looked after and always got a double pay packet at Christmas, something that you don't hear much of today. As one example of Mr Salem's humanity I think I can tell you, after all this time, that they preferred not to prosecute shoplifters and so far as I can remember , they never did. I was not allowed to call in the police or make a big issue of such occasions. They were banned but that was all. The Salem's were Jewish and Mr Salem senior had strong socialist principals. One day a customer, whom I later learnt, held extreme views, asked to try an accordion, he played quite well but I did not realise the tune he was playing was the "Horst-Vessel-Lied" a Nazi anthem with very bad connotations everywhere, disliked, particularly by the older generation that had been through the war, it was the equivalent of being racist today, only a thousand times more so. It was banned in Germany and never played by the BBC etc..Don't forget this was only twenty five years after the war. There was a torrent of complaints. I soon found I was in big trouble.The office sent for me to explain.Mr Salem was deeply upset . 'Anyone born in the wartime should know how offensive the song was surely?' But I was born at the end of the war and such things were not spoken about, they preferred to forget, the song was never ever broadcast and there were no recordings and no sheet music. I was treated with great courtesy and my assurance that I did not know the song in question was believed without question. I was told to put it out of mind,at the same time it must never ever occur again. The customer concerned returned to the store several weeks later and I asked him whether he knew what he was playing and he smiled and said 'oh yes, of course I did' , I mentioned there had been many complaints and that it had placed me in a difficult position, he just looked at me and said 'SO !' and walked out.

When I saw your site and read the Brees entry with the picture we used as a standard block, I can tell you, it brought tears to my eyes. How the years fly by.I will soon be joining the rest of the staff on the other side I expect, but I'm not worried,and one thing I am looking forward to is, seeing all the old team again. Comment: Barry Waterfield.

(September 17, 2015) I used to go into the Oadby shop with my nan each week when I was 5 and pick one 7 inch record. This carried on for years and I still collect vinyl today. I remember the shop well, my nan is 90 now and still lives in Oadby, happy memories. Comment: Ryan Brown.

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It was me who played the accordion in Brees that day. I knew Barry for years, and playing that particular tune was a mistake, I had just learned it and was very surprised when Barry cam running down the stairs and told me to stop playing. I wonder if he ever forgot me asking him to find the sheet music for a tune called "Jennifer's Rabbit" ? I'd be pleased to be put in touch with him again.
Name
Rob Davis

Comment
I lived in Barkby when I was 13-16 and used to buy my albums at Brees as it was the first record shop you came to from the bus station.
There was a long row of album-holders along the left wall labelled "Underground" which was in itself a bit surprising as the shop was otherwise pretty straight and proper. As a young lad it felt a bit cool and exciting. This was around 1969-72 (a golden age of rock) and the album covers were fantastic.
There were 2 or 3 booths at the back where you could listen to stuff. I have a memory of the staff being a little stiff but not unfriendly.
Name
Chrid Mann
(2020)

Comment
I worked as the Saturday girl in the record department mid eighties under John Brooks, there were Brenda and Doris too. I ended up dating the Saturday lad from downstairs in the music department and we are still together and married. Also remember Carol and Mark upstairs and Stuart downstairs after Barry finished. Happy days.
Name
Rachel Cherry
​(2021)
Comment
Wonderful to see this logo which was a big part of my childhood and teenage years!I worked as a Saturday lad in the classical department under John Brooks in the early 80s until I went to music college in 1987.Loved working with John and Chris, who was the senior assistant. Such happy memories of this place and Arno and Brenda Salem who were the most wonderful people. There was a real team spirit. Lunch and coffee in Brucciani’s across the road and we used to have such a laugh with Penny upstairs in ‘pop’ and lovely Barry downstairs in sheet music. A huge part of my current vinyl collection still has the familiar letter ‘B’ stamped inside the inside cover. Would love to catch up with my lovely former colleagues if they read this.
Happy days.
Name
Philip Mountford
​(2022)

I sold most singles in about 1965 there may be some in my basement. I do have a few albums. Remember, I was a school boy and would have had to work two Saturdays to buy an LP.

From memory this is what I bought from Brees, there may be others

Stormsville - Johnny and the Hurricanes

Francis Faye - Caught In The Act (2)

Ray Charles - Ray Charles In Person

Ray Charles - Ray Charles at Newport (EP)

At the time I was at the store 1960-1962 the music had changed from my likes, ie Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Everly Brothers DuaneEddie etc. It was the period between that and the Beatles, or the sixties sound. It was dominated by solo males like Del Shannon, Billy Fury, Bobby Vee, John Leyton, and Eden Kane. It was awful in my opinion so I looked to alternative stuff like jazz, blues and reggae. I even admired Frank Sinatra albeit old fogie stuff at the time but he had a fabulous tone to his voice. My mates ribbed me a lot about that. As an aside, I actually met him in a restaurant in Rancho Mirage in California when I lived near there.

I would go to the Demont and watch Errol Garner, Duke Ellington and Buddy Rich although that was a couple of years later when I could afford it. Bruxe Smith (2024)


Comments

Vicky Salem
26 Nov 2023 at 11:53
I'm Brenda and Arno Salem's daughter Victoria and I have been deeply moved to come across these comments about Brees Records in November, 2023. Barry - if you read this I'd love to hear from you, though I don't know if you'll remember me. [email protected]
Bruce A Smith
27 Apr 2024 at 04:22
I worked at the Brees shop at the top of Churchgate from 1960 -1962 a Saturday and holiday job. I was 14 when I started. The manager, Mr Rice and the owners were wonderful people. I started on the first day at a pound and the week after, they increased it to 30 shillings. At school leaving age, 16 for me, they offered me a full time job but I declined as I wanted to do something other than retail and went into civil engineering.

I have very fond memories of that place and was always welcomed when I returned as a customer and Mr Rice would give me a little discount.

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