London Record Shops



Rummaging through London's best music havens
-Funk soul brother or hardcore punker? Check Out LondonNet's lowdown on the best record shops in town...

London Record Shops: Rough Trade. Photo Credit: sonictruth. C.C.LicenseProbably the nearest the casual record buyer would come to understanding the minds of dedicating musos is by watching Steven Frears' hit film High Fidelity, based on the novel by Nick Hornby. There's a scene early in the film where record shop owner, Rob, talks about his customers. "I get by because of the people who make a special effort to shop here, who spend all their time looking for deleted Smiths singles and 'original not re-released' - underline - Frank Zappa albums." The serious music buyer, the SMB, is more likely to be found rummaging with brow-furrowing concentration through the racks at a small independent shop than the monochrome megastores. If you feel youself nodding in agreement then chances are you'll need to check out LondonNet's record shop guide pronto! Read on...

Central London
Rough Trade, was, and still is, the quintessential model of all independent record shops. RT was a second hand shop-which later developed into a label- set up in 1976 by Geoff Travis. While the label, responsible for spawning the Smiths among others, went into liquidation in 1991, the shop became a thriving business and the bastion of independence. Tucked away in Neals Yard, Covent Garden, this shop is a must-visit for the SMB. It's also spearheaded a culture with its regulars being a mixture of hippies, dreadlocks, scuzz rockers and fanzine writers.

Many of the best shops are clustered together on Soho's Berwick St, just a few minutes walk from Oxford Circus tube. Here you'll find Selectadisc, Reckless, Sister Ray, Mister CD and Music And Video Exchange.

Reckless Records closed in January 2007 and was replaced by Revival Records. A shop which is on first name terms with limited 12 inch singles, Revival is pretty damn good at sourcing rarities and even has a separate shop for soul and dance. Those after guitar-based rock would find it in their interests to have a good rummage through Revival's racks. Like most independent shops they've got separate sections on US indie, some of which goes under label headings such as Domino and Matador.

London Record Shops: Sister Ray. Photo Credit: currybet. C.C.LicenseJust across the road is Sister Ray, another good stop for second hand stuff. Arranged alphabetically and well priced, with separate metal ambient and trance sections, singles atat the front and new releases neatly filed on the left as soon as you walk in, the SMB can't go wrong here. Sometimes difficult to manoeuvre, it can get a tad frustrating during busy hours but it's still well worth investigation. Tourists are likely to be happier milling around Mister CD. With all the latest chart CDs and older popular stuff it's usually rammed at the weekends. Most chart albums don't go for more than a tenner and there's a separate metal section as well. Down in the basement CDs go for as little as £1. Be warned though, don't expect to hear music here - the footie's usually on.

Second hand buyers should check out the ubiquitous Music And Video Exchange which has branches in Soho, Camden and Notting Hill to name a few, and is crammed full of music bods at the weekends. With a slacker style ambience and DIY ethic, MAVE is, unlike some select shops, devoid of muso snobbery. Their madcap pricing policy means you can go in and find some stuff reduced a week later, but the range of stuff (bags of promos) is pretty exhaustive.

London Record Shops: Minus Zero. Photo Credit: surprise truck's. C.C.LicenseWandering around Soho, it's quite possible you may stumble into the aptly named Cheapo Cheapo Records. A belter of a tiny shop found located on Rupert St that has cheesy vinyl and oddball stuff hidden amongst its dusty shelves. An assortment of second hand vinyl, Cheapo Cheapo might resemble a jumble sale inside but you can lose yourself for hours.

BM Soho on D'Arblay St is well stocked on every style of dance music you can think of - along with plenty of listening decks as well.

Jazz
Jazz enthusiasts probably don't need telling of the two specialist jazz shops. Ray's Jazz shop in Covent Garden reigns supreme in blues, gospel and world as well as jazz.

East London
The record shop darling of East London is Rough Trade East on Brick Lane. There's a great cafe, a huge stock of rare and vital records and regular live music sets.

North London
North of the Capital, well Camden Town to be precise, you'll find yourself among the trendiest music buyers. Camden, home to many of London's toilet venues such as the Dublin Castle (Blur kick-started their career here) and The Monarch, should quite rightly be flourishing with good record shops. And it doesn't disappoint - there's Resurrection Records, which specialises in black metal industrial and goth. Resurrection regulars are most likely to a) in need of a long-overdue trip to the hairdressers, b) have king-sized chunky boots - so mind those feet! and c) wear any colour as long as it's black.

West London
Heading west towards Portobello Rd in the very trendy Notting Hill you'll come across a wide range of outlets including the first Rough Trade shop for lo-fi gems and punk, Intoxica for re-issues and obscure vinyl, and the near legendary Honest Jon's for the latest reggae hip hop soul and r'n' b. If you're after a quirkier shop, rumour has it that the owners of Minus Zero, a sixties obscurities heaven, run their shop somewhat different to other record owners. Minus Zero is owned by two men who then fell out. Consequently they own half the shop each and, allegedly, have a curtain pulled across the half that was closed if only one of them turned up to work.

South London
Finally, heading South of the river, the quotient of record shops down Sarf London matches that of its Northern counterpart, especially in soul and reggae. One worth checking out is Soul Brother in Putney. With more imports than you can shake a head full of dreadlocks at and a comprehensive back catalogue selection, you can always be sure to find it well stocked with vintage classics.

- Catherine Chambers

Of course there may be other shops that we may not have stumbled across or in blind ignorance neglected to mention in our list! If you know of an ace little record haven that is worthy of mention, please bend our ears! Feedback page




Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2012-05-18 20:57.

Camden Lock Vinyl is a great place to buy vinyl, a small independant record shop in the heart of Camden Lock Market. Buy and Sell records of all genres. Check it out at www.camdenlockvinyl.co.cc.

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2012-03-03 05:50.

hey all

i'm coming to london on the second semester and i am interested in getting to know some heavy metal / hard rock records and cds stores. any suggestions? thanks and cheers

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2012-01-28 19:54.

anyone still read this thread? any places in central London open on Sundays? Ta

Submitted by Peter on Sat, 2012-01-28 20:28.

We're in the process of a big update of this page, with lots of new photos, information (including opening times where possible) and news on London's Record Shops. Watch this space (as they say)...

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 2011-11-23 22:55.

Out On The Floor in Camden is also pretty decent.

Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 2011-09-29 19:52.

I used to manage City Sounds in Holborn during the early eighties....they were one of the great importers of Jazz/Soul from the states and Japan. On a friday afternoon the place was always filled with London's top DJ's

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2010-12-03 12:59.

so easy to get around. peeps in there know everything. crazy amounts of quality in there too

Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 2010-07-19 18:17.

Great 2nd vynill and 7" classic soul 50s-60s-70s. Great prices, good knowledge found some Oscar Tony jnr. Put this in the south London list.

Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 2010-07-17 15:41.

Wanted Music is a rip off!

Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 2010-07-19 18:21.

Its not that bad. I've known the owner for over 25 years. You need to ask for a discount or better still check your prices beforehand and haggle with him.

Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 2010-07-13 16:15.

Selectors Music in Brixton is one of the last remaining second hand/collectors record shops, they have loads of old reggae and soul over two floors (though they don't always let you go downstairs) I've picked up so many rare and hard to find tracks and all reasonably priced.

Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 2010-07-05 13:43.

There's a nice record store in stoke newington church street, not far from clissold park. I dont remember the number but it's a decent place for vinyls, books and comics. resonable prices as well.

Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 2010-06-03 12:53.

i have around 600 vinyls for sale all drum & bass, any ideas who will buy the lot, i live in kent and willing to tavel, no record shops around me buy in bulk thanks luke

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2011-08-19 13:25.

Hi there,

I don't suppose you're still trying to sell your drum and bass records are you?

Please email me at chilliard@howdengroup.com if so.
Would pay for delivery.

Thanks,
Charlotte

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 2010-04-14 11:39.

Sadly most of the good Soul/Dance/Disco/Rave record shops have closed down, its a real shame as I spent most weekends in Wired for Sounds Hackney Buebird records Streatham City Sounds Holborn Music power Ilford and a great shop in Petticoat Lane (name misses me) Anyone know of any record shops left in East London.

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 2009-11-25 05:20.

Damn this will save me aimless wandering around when I go there in a few weeks. Cheers!

Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 2009-09-15 19:42.

Cheapo Cheapo in Rupert Street Soho is long gone now, as is Mister CD in Berwick Street, and Rays Jazz has moved into the top floor of Foyles Bookshop 113-119 Charing Cross Road

Best London shops for Vinyl are in Islington's Essex Road - Flashback

Flashback, 50 Essex Road Islington London, N1 8LR. Telephone 020 7354 9356.

30 yards further is another Vinyl Specialist who's name escapes me right now.

Tube: Angel Islington

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2010-12-03 12:57.

30 yards further theres haggle and be careful how you speak to the man in there cos hes infamous for being mad rude but hes got one of the best shops for finding quality.

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 2009-11-18 00:30.

The other shop who's name escapes you is Haggle Records

Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 2009-07-30 18:29.

MAVE is the shit

Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 2009-06-18 21:38.

Thanks for the great introduction to the many crate digging hubs of London!

It coveres almost everything, but you've missed out two stores in Soho. Not necessarily second-hand, but record stores nonetheless.

One is Phonica in Poland Street, just a block or two away from BM and Sister Ray. They really like their nu-disco and minimal house, but they also stock funk, electro, techno, all styles of house, dubstep, grime and the odd oddity.

Then there's Sounds of the Universe, again just around the corner from the other stores. I've never checked it out, but it looks like a good store for Jazz aficionados.

Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 2009-03-19 14:02.

Great article thanks. I'm off down Berwick St now!

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2009-02-20 14:54.

It always gets missed out but the best one for value by far is Rat Records in Camberwell. Realistic prices on the records and CDs and constant stuff coming through the doors. Think I might be blowing a few peoples best kept secret here...

Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 2011-02-22 14:02.

...
yeah you are! last saturday when they put the fresh stock out there were 10 guys queing up. Well worth constant checking!

Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 2008-12-25 20:47.

check out Wanted Music, Beckenham to add to your South London listing.

415 Croydon Road
Beckenham, BR3 3PP
020 8658 7460

Thousands of vinyl every genre - reasonable prices