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Starting out as a singles buyer for a record shop, Jeff Barrett went on, via Revolver and Creation, to enduring success as founder of Heavenly Records. Ben Wardle visits Barrett’s bar to find out more

“When I was at school, careers people would come round and say: ‘What do you wanna do?’ and I’d say: ‘Work in a record shop’. All I wanted to do was work in a record shop. Back then, the mines were still open and they’d say: ‘Have you thought about the pit?’” Sipping his first pint and enjoying the unseasonably clement weather, Jeff Barrett sits opposite LLV, perched comfortably on a table outside his own gaff. Next year, The Social – Barrett’s bar and venue, just round the corner from London’s Oxford Circus – will be 20 years old. His label, Heavenly, is just shy of 30. We’re here to celebrate the man’s life through vinyl, but initially at least, the past is not high on Jeff’s agenda: “We’re doing good now. We’re so strong now that I actually believe we’re as good as we’ve ever been… so looking back isn’t the thing, really – tomorrow’s more important.”

He’s right. Despite lamenting that he hasn’t had a band on BBC flagship music show Later… in 12 years, the month after we meet he’ll be sitting on the set watching Jools introduce his current signings multilingual singer Gwenno and Cardiff psych-rock fourpiece Boy Azooga, as well as globe-straddling early signings Manic Street Preachers. Past releases include Saint Etienne, Beth Orton, Doves and The Magic Numbers, who together have racked up millions of sales. Not bad for someone who sees his career in a very straightforward manner. “I just like putting out records. If every day allows me to put a record out and meet supremely talented artists, then… I’m a fanboy, really.

Barrett’s love of vinyl goes back a long way: “Record shops were like libraries to me – fountains of knowledge”
Pics: Wendy Barrett



UK 2000

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About Long Live Vinyl

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? Issue 21 of Long Live Vinyl celebrates the moment 50 years ago when the two biggest bands on earth went head to head on record-shop shelves. Our cover story tells the inside story of the making of The White Album and Beggars Banquet, while taking a look inside the new Deluxe Editions of both albums – you’ve never heard The White Album like this before! And our special collector’s edition covers enable you to choose either a Beatles or Stones edition – or buy both! Elsewhere this issue, we meet two of the most outspoken characters in the current musical landscape – Richard Ashcroft and Baxter Dury – to hear about their extraordinary new albums, and Heavenly Records founder Jeff Barrett talks us through his remarkable life in music, selecting the records that have soundtracked his career. Tim Burgess sits down for a chat about his O Genesis record label, The Trip visits Liverpool, our Classic Album is A Tribe Called Quest’s 1993 hip-hop masterpiece Midnight Marauders and we round up 40 Essential Laurel Canyon records that should be residing in your collection. If all that’s not enough, we bring you the most extensive range of new album, reissue and hardware reviews anywhere on the newsstand.