The vinyl countdown: Britain’s best record stores

Nearly ten years ago Travis Elborough wrote a book called The Long Player Goodbye, waving farewell to the LP. But with vinyl sales now at their highest for 25 years it’s time to say Long Player Hello (Again). You can even buy LPs at Tesco’s.

The need for tangible music in a digital world

What is going on? Elborough thinks that people simply “want something tangible in a digital world”. The advantage of vinyl is that you really have to listen to the music, without just skipping to the next track or fending off friends trying to plug their phone into your music system.

Vinyls countdown - LP release queue at Crash Records in Leeds

New LP releases at Crash Records are worth queuing for

Records are, according to Elborough, “an extension of the owner’s personality“. Sometimes they just decorate a room. In fact, many people who buy records don’t even own a player and around 40% of records just go unplayed.

That’s a shame, especially as electronics giants like Pioneer, Sony and Denon have started making quality turntables again.

One of the keys to the vinyl revival was the birth of Record Store Day in 2007. This was a wake-up call for music lovers everywhere that if they’d didn’t use their local record shop, then it would disappear. It’s been wildly successful.

Best record shops near York – Jumbo Records and Crash Records

At Jumbo Records in Leeds, vinyl sales are up 50% and they are planning a move to a bigger shop. While Jumbo specialises in rock music, indie and jazz, nearby Crash Records is more cutting edge. Dance music kept vinyl alive here throughout the 90s and 00s. As well as records, you can buy tickets for clubs.

Leeds is famous for its pulsating nightlife and it’s only 20 minutes on the train from York and a bed at the local Hotel Indigo York. Besides, York itself plays host to two great record shops itself: Earworm Records and Vinyl Eddie. Both new to town, they offer a fresh look at vinyl and LP, with some well-curated collections in all genres, including rare collectibles.

Vinyls countdown - Leeds' Jumbo Records is one of the best LP shops in Northern England

Leeds’ Jumbo Records is one of the best LP shops in Northern England

Best record shops in London – Sister Ray, Rough Trade, Soul Brother, Banquet Records and Crazy Beat

Down in London, there was much sadness in 2008 when Soho’s Sister Ray closed down but it has reopened on the other side of Berwick Street. It caters to a mainly to rock and indie crowd, with a good dance selection too.

Probably the most most famous of London’s record shops is Rough Trade, on Portobello Road near Hotel Indigo London – Paddington. It’s a great place to browse and talk about obscure bands.

Vinyls countdown - London's Rough Trade record shop in Portobello Road and East London

London’s Rough Trade is one of the best record shops in the capital – especially for vinyl

London’s suburbs are particularly rich in record shops, often in the most unlikely places. SW15 has to be London’s least funky postcode but there in leafy Putney you’ll find Soul Brother Records selling funk, soul and jazz.

In nearby Kingston-upon-Thames, there’s Banquet Records who put on gigs. Finally, head to Crazy Beat in Upminster in far east London for rare soul 45s.

Best record shops in Edinburgh & Glasgow – Underground Solu’shn, Rubadub and Monorail

Just on the other side of the railway tracks from Hotel Indigo Edinburgh – Princes Street lies Underground Solu’shn. You’ll probably guess from the name that this isn’t the place to pick up rare Creedence Clearwater Revival records. It’s all about dance music, both vinyl and CD. Bass lovers should also head to Glasgow.

Vinyls countdown - Glasgow's Rubadub and Monorail are among the best in Scotland

Glasgow’s Rubadub specialises in electronic music vinyl and hardware, while Monorail is more community-centric

About five minutes from Hotel Indigo Glasgow on Waterloo Street you’ll find Rubadub, which specialises in electronic music and also sells hardware such as turntables and samplers.

The best record shops function as hubs for the community, and one such place is Monorail above an arts centre/ vegan café where you can buy new releases from Glasgow bands and find out about gigs.

So take a break from the digital world and, in the words of 90s indie band Elastica, “make a cup of tea, put a record on“.

Featured image at the top:
Umberto Cofini

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