The much-vaunted vinyl revival has allowed Britain’s independent record shops to fill their lungs with air, to relax a little bit, and take a few more chances.
More and more seem to opening each week, with London enjoying a glut of weird and wonderful shops that sit a little off the grid.
While the Vinyl Mile on Wardour Street still thrives – just look at the queues in Sister Ray across the weekend, for instance – those who want something just a little bit more bizarre can find plenty to feast on in outlets across the capital.
From floating vinyl emporiums to specialist outlets, we’re here to cater for every taste, no matter how outlandish.
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The Record Deck
What better way to kick off this selection than a shop with no fixed abode? The Record Deck is a floating record shop, stopping off at points along the Regent’s Canal with regular placements at Clapton’s Princess Of Wales pub.
The stock is finely selected, with a leaning towards 60s and 70s rock, alongside lashings of folk. There’s plenty of oddball gems to be found, though, including cheap as chips party favourites and some current releases.
Passing along London’s waterways, perhaps it’s better to let The Record Deck find you, rather than attempting to chase it along the canal…
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Dalston’s Gillett Square is a community landmark. A hub for East London residents, you’re as likely to find old Afro-Caribbean gents playing dominoes as you are to stumble across an NTS selector, or even a free jazz innovator at the nearby Vortex venue.
Just around the corner from this you can find Eldica, an absolute treasure trove of second hand vinyl that specialises in funk, soul, rare groove, reggae, jazz, and other delights.
The bulk of it is aimed at the dancefloor, too – serious diggers can find anything from jazz funk comps to original calypso singles, all sold with a clear love for and knowledge of the music.
An absolute gem, Eldica manages to find the balance between knowing its own niche and delivering this in a completely comfortable, unpretentious fashion. Plus, you can squeeze in a game of Dominoes with the old blokes round the corner!
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Peckham’s sprawling, intensely creative music community is well-served by record shops, with Rye Wax acting as both an outlet and platform for new talent.
Just around the corner, though, you can find the smaller and rather more mysterious YAM Records, nestled in an old arcade next to knock off DVD shops and vintage clothing boutiques. Online radio station Balamii broadcasts next door, and this seriously cool outlet is firmly embedded in the community that overlaps around it.
YAM Records stocks both new and vintage vinyl, a hand-selected concoction that moves from collectable left field techno releases right up to some of the cutting edge sounds emanating from South East London itself.
Friendly and welcoming while being completely on point, it also runs its own in-house label to support and develop some of the exciting new talent coming out of Peckham way. Definitely worth an adventure.
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Staying south of the river, Sacred Grooves lingers on the outskirts of Peckham, a shop that is almost more myth than reality.
The product of two vinyl obsessives, Jim Davidson and Ben Grymm combined their collections to fuel the shop’s heady fusion of music from just about every continent. There is a catch, though: it’s only open on Saturdays, and even then you might sometimes miss it.
Sacred Grooves is worth spending time on, however, with the shop boasting some releases you simply won’t find elsewhere, either online or off.
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The Book And Record Bar
Much of the discussion around London record shops hinges on certain key areas – East London, and South East London in particular. A little bit off the beaten track, West Norwood’s Book And Record Bar is superb, easily one of the best vinyl outlets in the city.
Well stocked – seriously, those shelves are heaving with releases – the selection veers from punk to soul, jazz, and reggae.
Located in an old pub, The Book And Record Bar successfully retains that community role by frequent live events, DJ sessions, and more. Licensed to sell alcohol and coffee on site, it’ll be remarkable if you come back from West Norwood.
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Crypt Of The Wizard
The vinyl revival is a little bit of a misleading term – after all, the vast majority of articles pieced together on the phenomenon detail indie and dance releases, showing a real genre bias.
Hackney’s Crypt Of The Wizard is here to correct this. A metal specialist, the shop – painted in deep, unrelenting shades of black, naturally – heaves at the edges with all manner of fuzzed out, de-tuned, monolithic slabs of vinyl.
A portal into some of metal’s most fetid delights, Crypt Of The Wizard was created by fans, for fans, and it seems to be thriving – a flurry of in-store events and continually revised stock means that it’s simply one of the most vital points of consciousness for metal in London, and beyond.
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