At a time when so many record shops are closing in favour of on-line shopping, streaming and downloads, this book charts a time when Rock and Roll was first arriving in the UK and the very first shops specialising in 'popular music' were opening. The story is told through the eyes of the down-trodden, devious, Ron Ward and likeable record shop owner Joe Fothergill.
Ron lives in the working-class Nottingham suburb of Sneinton. In the early 1950s, whilst still a schoolboy, he stumbles on rock & roll music and becomes besotted. Owning any records is beyond his means, but Ron wants them. His aspirations are raised further when, as a teenager, he becomes involved with a sophisticated older woman who opens his eyes to another world. In a parallel storyline, Joe, the likeable son of a wealthy brewer, finds himself living a dream selling records to a public infatuated with popular music. Joe is a few years older than Ron, and we follow him as he is presented with the opportunity to sell rock & roll/blues records—first in a department store and later in his own record shop.
The second half of the book jumps forward to 1977 as punk rock is dominating the British music scene. Joe has continued to do well for himself, and we discover more about his private life and the rise of record shop culture. Meanwhile, Ron, now working at a large country house, has spent time in prison and has become a desperate man who is willing to take criminal actions to achieve his goal of a life of luxury. As the title of the book (a reference to a Muddy Waters’ song) implies, there are elements of “road trip” (Yorkshire, Cumbria, Scotland) to Ron’s somewhat nomadic pursuit of a better/easier life. The paths of Joe and Ron occasionally cross in benign ways, but it seems that they may yet be destined to meet in more dramatic circumstances.