The Inner Sleeve Record Library was exactly that: not a library where one would get books, but one where you could borrow records. Vinyl records. Black gold.
It was located at No. 4, Pretoria Street, Hillbrow, Johannesburg.
Though I remember not the circumstances under which it was first discovered, what I do recall is the sheer delight when I did. This was the mother lode!
Sure, there were many decent record stores in Hillbrow at the time — but buying records was expensive. It is true that schoolmates and friends often had the hippest material worth copying — but they were consistent only in their reluctance to lend theirs out. It is also true that my parents’ friends were more willing to share their records — but their collections were lame.
So I scratched together my pocket money, signed up for a year’s contract on the 27th of December 1985 — and was promptly given a complimentary Maxell tape!
While the legalities of a “record library” can be discussed ad nauseam, none of this mattered to a teenager in the middle of musical self-discovery: if it sounded good or interesting or something I could “get into”, then it had to be copied. They had much of the regular new stuff, and they had loads of alternative old stuff. It was an interesting place to explore and hang out at. According to a recently re-discovered list, the first records I took out were the “Beverly Hills Cop” soundtrack and the 12-inch maxi of Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F”. Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” filled the other half of the C-90.
Over the next few months I borrowed a total of 57 records before we moved out of “the Bronx”. Not an awful lot, I must concede, but enough to see me through until other music sources came my way and the CD became the preferred medium for the long run.
I’ve no idea what happened to the record library thereafter. The last I heard in the late eighties is that the two people who ran it relocated to the Yeoville area from where they sold art, posters and similar music esoterica — also under the “Inner Sleeve” name.
Image credits: Scans by hmvh DOT net