The previous 14 months have been brutal for all retailers, however unbiased document outlets have had it more durable than most. Not solely have been outlets closed for a lot of the previous yr however, since reopening, the dearth of vacationers and workplaces staff has saved footfall worryingly low.
Are their clients now resigned to buying on-line? Has Discogs – the massive US document resale web site – siphoned off those that used to like digging by crates of LPs and packing containers of 45s? London favourites Tough Commerce and Trustworthy Jon’s discovered their on-line orders booming, however many different outlets have been left stranded. Neither Camden City’s All Ages – London’s final punk rock document store – nor longstanding Black music vendor Maestro Information in Peckham has a web-based presence. With no golf equipment open, dance music outlets like Soho’s Phonica and Brixton’s Container Information have discovered a void of types to fill.
All of the aforementioned outlets are nonetheless toughing it out. For now. Others weren’t so fortunate. If Music (Soho), Issues Of Vinyl Significance (Shoreditch) and Low Firm (Hackney Wick) have all closed previously yr.
I began researching my e-book, London’s Document Outlets, earlier than anybody had heard of Covid-19, when the vinyl revival ensured document outlets have been a spot to congregate and supply nice music. Regardless of the crushing impact of the pandemic I nonetheless consider London is the world’s foremost document store metropolis: every week spent drifting from store to buy wouldn’t permit sufficient time to go to all of them. But it surely’s powerful on the market – in case you worth unbiased merchants then get on the market and help your native document store(s)!
Reckless Information, Soho
Opened in 1984, Reckless Information is the oldest document store in Soho and one in every of solely two now buying and selling on Berwick Road (as soon as Europe’s foremost document store haven). Reckless has all the time dealt in secondhand and continues to supply deep inventory (largely LPs however loads of 45s and CDs too). Truthful costs and pleasant employees guarantee it’s nonetheless a lot beloved. I picked up LPs by The Fatback Band and Mose Allison final time I popped in and virtually by no means go away empty-handed: from 50p 45s to LPs costing near £100, Reckless all the time has gems.
Managed since 1984 by Duncan Kerr – like many document store staff he additionally makes music, taking part in guitar in The Darts and Brainiac 5 – the store format was redesigned throughout lockdown one to permit for social distancing. Two additional lockdowns have ensured that buyer numbers haven’t recovered to pre-pandemic ranges. “Typically I’m wondering how, when or if document outlets will disappear utterly,” says Kerr, “however they hold opening up in essentially the most surprising locations. Many people wouldn’t know what else to do anyway!”
30 Berwick Road W1, reckless.co.uk
Sounds Of The Universe, Soho
Dwelling to the Soul Jazz document label, Sounds Of The Universe (Sotu) is run by Stuart Baker, a visionary vendor whose enthusiasm for music from Latin America, Jamaica, New Orleans and west Africa, plus jazz, dubstep, home, disco, funk, soul, early punk, proto-rap, nation rock (and extra) fuels his label’s releases (and Soul Jazz’s e-book publishing arm) and gives the store with a lot of its inventory (new upstairs, used downstairs – LPs, 45s, CDs, books). Sustaining a noble Soho custom of a specialist document store that largely celebrates music of African origin, Sotu is eclectic and expansive, an emporium whose inventory feeds minds whereas protecting ft dancing.
7 Broadwick St W1, soundsoftheuniverse.com
Supertone Information, Brixton
Brixton’s oldest document store – opened in 1983 – can be one of many world’s foremost reggae document merchants. Owned by Wally Bryant, a convivial Jamaican nationwide who has run sound techniques for the reason that Nineteen Sixties, Supertone stands as a proud emblem of Brixton because the cultural coronary heart of Black Britain. With its excessive counter, partitions coated in information, group atmosphere and quiet delight, Supertone has modified little over the many years. Whereas a reggae vinyl specialist it additionally shares CDs and has “huge individuals music” – Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves, Charley Delight, Ace Cannon et al – accessible alongside the ska, rocksteady, roots, dub and dancehall releases (from very new to historical). Wally’s a humble man however once I requested if any famous artists had ever visited Supertone he answered “All of them! Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Twinkle Brothers – Supertone identified throughout the globe.”
110 Acre Lane SW2, supertonerecords.co.uk
Rat Information, Camberwell
For music followers who like to crate-dig then Rat Information would possibly simply be the UK’s dream store. Inventory is consistently refreshed, costs are low, the vary is deep and surprises are a lot. Opened by Tom Fisher within the late Nineteen Nineties, Rat’s inventory is all used – largely LPs, some 45s, a wholesome CD choice – and, pre-pandemic, Saturday morning noticed vinyl junkies queueing down the New Highway, hungry to get their paws on what had simply been positioned within the crates. Social distancing means this weekly 11am feeding frenzy can now not happen, however Rat stays a gem. I’ve purchased 1000’s of information right here – lately a choice of Mighty Sparrow LPs offered calypso heaven.
348 Camberwell New Highway SE5, ratrecordsuk.internet
That Peckham has skilled gentrification throughout the final decade shouldn’t be information. What needs to be famous is how its African-Caribbean merchants stay embedded among the many stylish eating places and hipster bars. None extra in order that Maestro Information, a Black music store run by Michael Fountaine within the house that after housed Reed’s Information (a Peckham mainstay from the Nineteen Fifties-Nineteen Nineties). Maestro sells soul, reggae, funk, rap – now extra on vinyl than CD, though Fountaine admits this can be a reversal of when he began buying and selling final century – and mixes new and used LPs, 45s and CDs alongside hair oils, books, live performance tickets and such. What, I questioned, did he make of the brand new Peckhamites? “They arrive right here with wealth of their pockets. That’s a great factor!”
161 Rye Lane SE15, maestrorecords.uk
Sounds That Swing, Camden City
Camden City has lengthy been an centre for rockabillies, punks, goths and indie children, someplace they head to socialize, pose, go to gigs and store. The busy north London hub is house to a number of excellent document outlets, none extra good than Sounds That Swing. Right here rock’n’roll, storage rock, rhythm and blues, trad’ jazz, ska and different genres are celebrated in superb retro model by Neil Scott and Martin Heaphy. There’s loads of area of interest new LPs and CDs however the actual treasure listed here are the 45s – jukebox heaven! The late DJ/producer Andy Weatherall was a daily buyer. It’s loaded with outdated (and infrequently obscure) American music.
88 Parkway NW1, nohitrecords.co.uk
Trustworthy Jon’s, Ladbroke Grove
Ladbroke Grove is house to 2 of the world’s foremost document outlets. There’s Tough Commerce, the unique punk rock store (nonetheless buying and selling at 130 Talbot Highway, if now overshadowed by the massive Tough Commerce East in Brick Lane) and Trustworthy Jon’s. This small store, opened in 1974 by Jon Clare and owned since 1992 by Mark Ainley and Alan Scholefield, has all the time specialised in unique imports and underground sounds, championing music that hardly ever will get media consideration. The Trustworthy Jon’s document label has helmed groundbreaking reissues of pioneering Black British recordings (the seven-volume London Is The Place For Me is exemplary), Congolese rumba, gospel, southern soul and far else. Those that work listed here are sonic disciples, with former workers having gone on to launch the Mo’ Wax, Blood & Fireplace and World Circuit document labels. Filled with new LPs, 45s and CDs, Trustworthy Jon’s is eclectic and electrical. The likes of Joe Strummer, Courtney Pine, Neneh Cherry and Damon Albarn have been a loyal clients through the years – you need to be, too.
278 Portobello Highway w10, honestjons.com
Yo-Yo Information, Bethnal Inexperienced
Whereas Soho and west London have seen document outlets shut in enormous numbers, from Whitechapel to Walthamstow east London has skilled a exceptional flowering of document outlets opening within the final decade. Yo-Yo Information (buying and selling as Cosmos Information till March 2020) opened in 2015 and sells high-end, used vinyl, specializing in jazz, funk, soul, gospel, Afrobeat, Brazilian and such. A lot of its inventory is sourced from the US and Canada – which implies the classic vinyl right here may be significantly dear. Run by a pleasant Canadian artist who prefers to be identified solely as Derek, Yo-Yo is London’s foremost collector’s store. Not all the things is pricey although – there are wonderful LPs underneath £20 and I picked up some moderately priced American R&B 45s – however if you wish to purchase first version Lee Morgan and John Coltrane LPs, or search out an obscure psych rock LP that’s rattling close to unattainable to seek out elsewhere, then Yo-Yo is the place you go to interrupt the financial institution.
324d Hackney Highway E2, yoyorecordslondon.com
Stranger Than Paradise Information, Mare Road Market, Hackney
Noreen McShane and Phil Adams, who used to work at Tough Commerce East, opened right here in 2018. The store’s focus tends in direction of post-rock/indie with loads of inventory from perennial pioneers (Can, Kraftwerk, Bowie, Solar Ra) whereas additionally providing up to date British jazz, Mississippi blues primitive Junior Kimbrough, “misplaced” gospel recordings, Serge Gainsbourg’s soundtracks to French softcore motion pictures et al. Noreen and Phil “curate” the alternatives, making this small, shiny store contained in the transformed warehouse that’s Mare Road Market a vibrant, partaking place to take a look at leftfield music.
117 Mare Road E8, strangerthanparadiserecords.com
Atlantis Information, Decrease Clapton
Opening solely three weeks earlier than lockdown 1, Atlantis Information is a unusual store promoting LPs, 45s, 78s and cassettes. Initially Liam Casey’s cafe, he teamed up with John Coxson (a musician previously of Spring Heel Jack and Spiritualised) to open Atlantis – and sure, Liam nonetheless makes espresso when you dig. Coxson runs Treader Information, a label issuing esoteric music: in between lockdowns jazz saxophonist Evan Parker performed in Atlantis’ store window to have a good time Treader’s reissue of his 1978 LP Monoceros. Providing all the things from Gujurati and Yoruba 78s by dubplates, Soviet X-ray bootlegs, Arthur Russell tapes to uncommon Hyperlink Wray LPs … my head spins each time I enter Atlantis. “We attempt to inventory each form of music,” says Coxson. “We wish this to be a document store the place individuals come and shock themselves with what they could discover. We’re not promoting our information on Discogs as a result of what’s the purpose of getting a document store if you’re a web-based dealer?” What certainly!
8 Clarence Rd E5, atlantisrecords.co.uk
London’s Document Outlets by Garth Cartwright and Quintina Valero is revealed by the Historical past Press