With many people tightening their purse-strings amid a gloomy economic forecast, this week’s Black Friday sale may come as an opportunity to find a bargain. In fact, research suggests UK consumers will spend a whopping £7.5 billion on the event this year – an extra £500 million compared to last year.
Yet the noise for Black Friday tends to be centred around huge online retailers, who in reality need no further assistance. So instead, we want to highlight some of the brilliant independent record stores around the UK. The kind of outlets that could really use your support…
A Coventry-based vinyl store that stocks new and used albums, Fantazyzia particularly specialises in videogame and movie soundtracks. You can order online, or book an appointment to visit its store.
A maven of Ladbroke Grove’s Caribbean culture, People’s Sound Records holds crate upon crate of rare singles and well-known LPs, specialising in dancehall and reggae. Established in 1988, People’s Sound has a Sound System that plays every Carnival. The shop is courtesy of Daddy Vego, one of the original club DJs of London (who practically invented the genre in the 50s).
Most likely the oldest record store on the list, and certainly the oldest record store in Brighton, The Record Album first opened all the way back in 1940. So rather than engage in a new-ish, shopping day fad like Black Friday, why not pay a visit to (and support) this historical shrine to record collections.
Just down the street from the Cutty Sark, Casbah Records dropped anchor on Creek Road in 2009, after nearly two decades spent trading at Greenwich Market. With a fascinating blend of expertise in 60s & 70s rock, as well as more contemporary music, Casbah Records is a small record shop packed with authentic musical character.
Soho’s oldest record shop, dating back to 1984, Reckless Records keeps the music playing to this day. Managed since its inception by musician Duncan Kerr, Reckless has tried to maintain its individual charm in the face of big business. “Sometimes I wonder how, when or if record shops will disappear completely,” Kerr told The Guardian last year. “But they keep opening up in the most unexpected places. Many of us wouldn’t know what else to do anyway!”
This Shepherd’s Bush institution is one of the progenitors of reggae music in the UK, helping shape the cultural landscape of London. George ‘Peckings’ Price was present at the very beginning of Jamaican sound system culture, collaborating with originators such as Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Prince Buster on the streets of Kingston, Jamaica. Moving to London in the 1960’s, George began trade with fellow Caribbean ex-pats who were similarly miles away from their homeland, the birthplace of Reggae and Blue Beat.
Glasgow’s Monorail Music opened in 2002, following a three-year saga while they tried to find a suitable location. The space Monorail decided on in the end is (fun fact) a former Mexican restaurant, unique in shape and lighting, and a brilliant place to host their impressive collection.
A former butcher’s shop until it was converted in the 70s, Honest Jon’s records was originally situated in Golborne Road until making the switch to Portobello in the 80s. In collaboration with Notting Hill resident, Damon Albarn, the Honest Jon label has released an eclectic mix over the years whilst remaining true to its local roots.
A slightly more expensive record shop, Yo-Yo Records will have you looking up and down, then up and down, then up and down… you get the gist… at their divine collection. Focusing on jazz, funk, soul, and Afro-beat, this store’s vintage vinyl is well-worth buying when the bargains are available.
Needless to say, this list is as far from exhaustive as you can get. There are plenty of stores for you to peruse in town; many of you will know better than I which ones (and if you have any good ones you know, send them over to email@example.com, for both personal and professional reasons).
And whilst I’ve got you generous, music-loving folk – the best kind in my honest opinion – here’s another offering: a new documentary short about the work being done at Mantra Music. The film tells the story of four people who have been helped by what the charity and record label do best: helping care-experienced artists get off the ground with their music careers. Give it a watch and for more information and to find out ways you can support, visit Mantra Music.