Support Your Local Record Shop
"Here comes the sun," George Harrison once wrote; "It's been a long cold lonely winter..."
For music fans, this latest lockdown has perhaps bit hardest of all. Starting just before Christmas, it's kept us separated from family and friends, and pinned our lives down away from the places that bring us joy.
Places like record shops. Much more than just money-making ventures, record shops are community hubs, a place for fans to gather, geek out, and emerge penniless clutching slabs of vinyl.
With the country beginning to open up, many of us are making our first trips down to our local record shop for months, re-connecting with the communities we were forced to leave behind.
As a thank you, a few Clash writers gathered to pen a few words on their local outlets, on their neighbourhood record shop.
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Wilderness Records, Manchester
Wilderness Records is a warm and inviting space (almost) hidden in Withington, South Manchester.
An expertly curated vinyl collection within a cosy hangout. Offering cakes, beers and snacks for those who intend on browsing the day away, Wilderness Records are known for their live sets, DJs and independent zine launches. A community focused space praised for their friendly and well-informed staff, homey ambiance and support of local musicians.
A firm favourite for Manchester vinyl-heads, this prime record destination is one for discovering underground talent from the local area, growing your tastes in psychedelic world music or picking up that niche cassette tape you’ve been hunting for – cold beer in hand. Wilderness Records is a welcoming space for all, whether you’re a long-time collector or looking to purchase your first disk. Definitely one worth visiting for a browse should you be in the area. (Amelia Lloyd)
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Some Great Reward, Glasgow
It may have only opened its doors three years ago, but Some Great Reward has already become a staple in Glasgow's burgeoning Southside. Small but perfectly curated, whether you're looking to begin your vinyl collection with some indie classics, or delve into the crates of esoteric jazz or extreme metal, there's something for everyone.
The passionate and knowledgeable staff will point you in the right direction, whilst fixing you up a freshly brewed coffee and some home-baked cake. What's more, throughout lockdown, the shop has been hosting Radio Buena Vida, a community radio station showcasing the incredible cultural diversity of the local area; expect everything from Subclub regulars and Afro House takeovers to social discussions and community magazine shows.
Some Great Reward already feels like a hub for a thriving neighbourhood, and long may it continue. (David Weaver)
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I love Spunout in Northampton for a lot of reasons. One of them is Chris, the amazing chap who runs the store and seems to have a working knowledge of pretty much everything he sells. You don’t get that on a faceless internet platform.
The number of times Chris has lovingly (because he himself loves the records and doesn’t want to be parted from them I think) handed me a record by a band I barely know which has gone on to change my listening life is…well I’ve lost count. I’ll always be grateful for the first Motorpsycho record he sold me, though.
Spunout is a community, a family. Visiting is an event. Often an expensive one, but also special. There are very few shops of any sort I’d miss if they closed down but Spunoiut would be top of that list. If you’re ever on Gold Street in Northampton, do visit. (Haydon Spenceley)
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Le Freak, Dundee
With Groucho’s (one of Johnny Marr’s favourite record stores) and the inimitable Reading Rooms nightclub now gone forever, Le Freak Records has been somewhat of a lifeline for Dundee people like me: young, sometimes responsible adults navigating their way through life with music and the best, one-of-a-kind mates by their side.
More than just a record store, the Le Feuvre brothers, Jack and Tom, have created a small but perfectly proportioned space for live music sets to blossom over recent years at Le Freak. The store’s dolphin dog has danced to records old and new, and so too have crowds spilled out onto the street with carry-outs in hand (alcohol, for any English readers) all trying to catch a slice of the action in lovingly drunken embrace.
I can’t wait to uncover another 50p gem in their ‘pish’ records crate and for the dolphin dog to groove once again. (Jamie Wilde)
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Junkwax Records, Penzance
Hidden away on the side of some steps rising up from Penzance’s historic Market Jew Street is Junkwax Records, a tiny, minimalist, one-room vinyl collector’s paradise that’s a much-needed addition to South-West Cornwall’s thriving independent retailer community.
You want the owner of a record shop to have a huge amount of crate-digging zeal and an encyclopaedic knowledge of genres, and owner Steve has both of these qualities in abundance, wrapped up with a relaxed, easy- going take-all-the-time-in-the-world attitude. I alighted upon rare copies of The Dave Brubeck Trio & Gerry Mulligan’s ‘Blues Roots’ and Talking Heads’ ‘Remain In Light’, which prompted a lengthy discussion about Brubeck’s contribution to the popularising of jazz, how we both reckoned having David Byrne over for a dinner party would be great and, bizarrely, how Cliff Richard’s ‘Devil Woman’ was his undoubted career highlight.
Steve also DJs and you can see his eclectic tastes – reggae, punk, electronics, jazz, all points in between – on show in the bins and on the wall-mounted racks, as well as vibrating enthusiastically from his Kef speakers. (Mat Smith)
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Head Records, Royal Leamington Spa
Head is a small record store situated in the West Midlands of my hometown, Royal Leamington Spa. Running for just over two decades in the Royal Priors shopping centre, Head has been the standalone, ‘cool,’ music shop in Leamington for a very long while.
As retailers re-opened for the first time in four months today, it felt fucking great to walk past Head and see it with its shutters up, and doors open. I’ve missed being able to chat to the music lovers in there and picking up a vinyl fresh off their shelves.
With the pandemic putting a holt to retail, live music, bars and just the day-to-day sources of life that give us any glimpse of serotonin, supporting independent record stores is very high on my agenda for the foreseeable. (Laviea Thomas)
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Spillers Records, Cardiff
Fondly remembered days as a Nineties teenager gazing at the windows awash with CDs blur into others spent nestled down the back of their old, long and thin premises on The Hayes in what was for much of the Noughties a small but wonderfully curated vinyl section.
Now as then, in its most recent incarnation at the heart of the Morgan Arcade, Spillers Records in Cardiff is the perfect record shop. Its history is often spoken of, but just as important is its present. A passionate, personable and principled team led by Ashli, they take great pride in knowing their customers inside out.
Living over the bridge, my visits are less frequent than I’d like, but I never leave without adding at least one emphatic recommendation from behind the counter to my pile. I’ve danced with them to Richard Dawson, swooned to Huw M and even met The Space Lady. Their concern for everyone’s safety and wellbeing this past year has been heartfelt, reinforcing the sense of the extended Spillers family highlighted by their ubiquitous T-shirts, while their range is as exciting and varied as ever.
Long may they prosper. (Gareth James)
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Mixed Up Records, Glasgow
Mixed Up Records is a wee nook situated in Otago Lane at the bohemian heart of Glasgow’s West End. Sharing streets with notorious book emporium Voltaire and Rousseau, Mixed Up is a calling point for when you are done playing Jenga with well-thumbed Kaftka paperbacks and fancy a hefty vinyl hunt.
Founded in 1997, this independent record store is a student favourite, boasting an extensive second-hand collection ranging from northern soul to hardcore punk. Not only can you get your hands on a record for as little as a pound, but you can also sell your vinyls to the store as they look to expand their collection.
The crates in the back are full of obscure gems - worth getting your knees dirty for! For those still self-isolating, Mixed Up have a Discogs account under the username mxdup98 where you can peruse their eccentric collection online. (Chloe Waterhouse)
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Rarekind Records, Brighton
Living in Brighton I am spoilt for choice when it comes to record shopping. Resident has become synonymous with the town. Nick Cave called it the “best fucking record shop in Britain!!!!” which, in a way, it is... but it isn’t my favourite.
That honour goes to Rarekind Records. Situated at the bottom of Trafalgar Street it might be off the beaten path, but it is well worth a visit. Primarily a mecca for Hip-Hop and beat music it does also have a fantastic selection of used prog, jazz, electronica, indie, rock, metal reggae, soundtracks, and everything else you could possibly desire.
The staff, lead by Ewan, are friendly and knowledgeable. During lockdown, when the shop was closed, if you ordered online and lived in Brighton, they would drive your order to you. I had a few care packages in the dark days of lockdown II that really lifted my spirits. If you are after the latest chart releases Resident is probably for you, but if you love digging through record boxes looking for something different then Rarekind is the place for you!
You might even see me there. Hunched a box, looking for my next obsession. (Nick Roseblade)
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Peckham Soul, London
Londoners are lucky enough to have a surfeit of record shops on their doorstep. While my immediate local - Let It Roll Records in Kentish Town - is well worth seeking out, it's also nice to highlight a shop at the other end of the city.
Peckham Soul is well worth seeking out. Helmed by a Scot-in-exile, it matches the old with the new, specialising in rare records galore. At the name suggests, it's a rare soul hub - from rhythm 'n' blues to low riders, via a hefty dollop of Northern Soul - but it also stocks jazz, reggae, psychedelia, and a lot more.
Run by a respected DJ, Peckham Soul specialises in bringing the unfamiliar to the fore, supplying crate diggers across the capital and beyond with their next great acquisition. (Robin Murray)
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Record Store Day 2021 takes place on Saturday, June 12th and Saturday, July 17th.
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