VINYL JUNKIE: Dave Sandford AKA Oldwah Part I

As a record collector it’s always a pleasure to meet like minded people. We can chat about rare records, records we want, label art anything really that has to do with our love of old vinyl. There are certain collectors though that have taken their love of collecting to an extreme. They’ve been collecting for 30 years or more and go to great lengths to get the records they desire. It’s like a drug to get a new piece of vinyl and drop it onto the player to hear those sweet grooves whistle with those classic sounds.

Dave Sandford is one of those cats. He’s been collecting records and losing em for decades now. He collected records as a young lad, sold em all at one point and then started collecting again years later.

While some just keep em locked in their archives listening to them by themselves or with a few close friends, he grasped onto the power of Youtube and started posting videos of the records he had started collecting again. And he just kept doing it – adding more and more rare tunes for the world to hear again. As a fan of his channel where I could find such vinyl gems I recently asked him about sharing some of his history with us and he readily gave me way more than I had asked! So straight from the man himself comes a little history lesson from a true vinyl junkie.

My name is Dave Sandford, but in recent years have come to be known as “oldwah”, as this is the web name I use for all things Reggae related.

Let’s start before I even knew what Reggae was . . . Catching the bus to school everyday, I meet up with some new kids and get chatting, one of them has an LP under their arm, which just happens to be a Trojan LP. I think it was “Man From Carolina”.

Anyway I get to borrow it and find I like it. Subsequently at lunchtime at school, kids bring records in to play on a little portable record player, a kid called Kev brought in a Duke single, and when I heard it, I was knocked out, it was “Bigger Boss” by Ansell Collins. I eventually managed to buy it from him for 50p.

That was it! The seed was there. I started collecting. Not only that, the kids on the bus were now my best friends and we had a gang of four.

They all collected reggae singles, but being me, I had to go 100% into it. The collection grew, bit by bit, buying off other kids, ordering tunes from record shops, trawling 2nd hand shops etc. As a point of interest, nearly every mate of mine had a copy of “Skinhead Revolt” on Joe! And any party we went to, even if was hosted by a girl, she had a rack of reggae singles!

When I started work, it gave me the opportunity to buy even more, and made regular Saturday trips to Lewisham and Deptford. Buying the latest tunes over the counter, but also scouring the many second hand shops around the area, going back and finding earlier tunes. Even in Lewisham on my once a week trip, I seemed to fall in with a group of people right into the sounds.

And then one day, as I was in Gravesend Market, buying some reggae tunes from a stall, which I remember was excellent, as there was a whole box of someones collection that they must have outed. The stall owner, said it was hard for him to sell 45s at 25p each when Tesco were selling them brand new for 10p. I pretended not to be too enthusiastic about it, but paid my money for the 20 or so tunes, and ran full pelt up to Tesco’s which was about 2 minutes away.

Can I swear? Bloody hell, I went upstairs to the department that was called “The Home ‘n’ Wear” and inside a massive wire tub full to the brim, were mint reggae singles from Pama, Trojan, Bamboo and all the subsidiaries. Needless to say, I purchased 100’s and 100’s.

What were they? Well just about everything you could possibly want (by today’s standards) . . . Crabs, Bullets, Escorts, Dukes, Upsetter, Spinning Wheel, Banana to name but a few. So here are some I can remember: “Haunted House” on Spinning Wheel, “Skinhead Speaks His Mind” on Hot Rod, “Granny Show” on Upsetter, “Fresh Up”, “Sipreano”, “Ten to Twelve” plus many more all on Upsetter. Regarding the Song Bird label, well, I bought nearly everything that was released. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

So in my room, I now had 20+ record boxes packed out, I must have had over a 1000 singles.

I continued collecting until mid-1973, when for some reason my enthusiasm seemed to wane. A couple of reasons . . . One: I had started to play bass (not very well), but my little gang were drifting away from the reggae sounds and getting into rock, blues etc, and hence I was listening to other music from a learning how to play bass perspective.

Also the tunes coming out every week from Musik City were becoming less attractive to me, in fact they were damn right poor. So on a whim, I just stopped collecting.

Not only did I stop collecting, but decided to get rid of my whole collection. A few people turned up at my house when they heard I was getting rid of them, so they cherry picked what they wanted. When they stopped coming round, I carted all the rest down the market and sold them for 5p each to a record stall!

Find out next week what happened.

The first record video he put up on the site was “Hypocrite” by Bob Marley on the Doctor Bird label on Feb. 12, 2007.

Check out his Youtube channel here. He also runs the Pama Forum which you can check out here.

I've been involved in the Los Angeles music scene since at least 1995 going to shows, promoting, spinning records and running labels. Ska and Early Reggae are my passion among other things of course.