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Monday, 13 March 2006
Record Shopping

Topic: Music
Yesterday's entry got a little weighty so we're going to lighten things up a bit with some good old fashioned consumption advice. London has a reputation for being expensive, but once you get your mindset converted to pounds and start thinking of things relative to one another it doesn't seem bad. Just don't mentally convert everything to dollars, or you'll bum yourself out.

One of TAKOTRON's points of pride is the modest but impressive international LP archive hidden deep in our HQ's secret vaults. We've tapped into some great sources here in the USofA, such as Mr Cheapo's (seriously!) back in Commack (props to the Goldberg family) and Reckless Records in Chicago, plus the scavenger heaps of yard sales, eBay and MusicStack.

But travel brings new opportunities to unleash the thrill of the hunt. And London's got some great offerings. First up, there are some places up on Portobello Road, North of Notting Hill. Intoxica has a decent selection for every genre, and lots of obscure/novelty vinyl. A couple blocks North is Honest Johns, which is crammed full with crates of Hip Hop and Reggae. I was on a Dub mission and had huge luck finding some classics there--King Tubby, Scratch Perry, Yabby Yu, and Scientist. The owners also do distribution for some local Dub artists, putting out some interesting small production run stuff. It's a genre that didn't really take off in the States, and next to Kingston, London is the place to find it. Way up and out of the way is the supposedly legendary Rough Trade, the alleged "quintessential model of all independent record shops." Well, it was a bitch getting there and totally not worth it--super hipster, small selection, lots of American stuff. Not up my alley, but if you're a big indie/emo hair-tufts-combed-over-your-ears type and want to have the Wicker Park experience a few thousand miles away, then check this place out.

I had much better luck down on Berwyck street in Soho. Do yourself a big favor and get off at Bond Street and walk up to The Golden Hind at 73 Marlybone Lane W1U 2PN, where I had a transcendental fish and chips experience (and mushy peas). An unpretentious, friendly place. Then walk it off down Oxford Street to Berwyck (near the Oxford Circus tube). Take Berwyck south, where it gets sleazy, and you'll find a cluster of record shops. Sister Ray was amazing--in my opinion, the best record shop in London. They bought Selectadisc's store and moved into it (they used to be a few blocks farther south), and have a gigantic selection of used CDs and LPs, all very reasonably priced. Farther along is Reckless Records, which happens to be owned by the same people as the Chicago stores. It's not a big place, but the basement is full of good vinyl finds, well organized and priced.

Around here is a Music and Video Exchange, one of many. They are pretty grimy, rocking the consignment shop atmosphere. Another place is Cheapo Cheapo Records, again, a longshot place where you might stumble upon some diamonds in the rough. As backup, near the Oxford Circus tube is a huge HMV store. I haven't seen them in the States, but I know they're all over Japan. It's a bigass corporate chain, a la Tower and Virgin, but they are well stocked, inexpensive, and seem to do a good job hiring competent, knowledgable people. They often have staff recommendation corners that make them seem a little more intimate compared to their shinier, more sterile competitors, if that makes sense.

I should have taken more food pictures, but I didn't, so more buildings are on the way at TAKOTRON NEWS. England is supposed to have crappy food, but I didn't have one disappointing meal, and kept a pretty tight budget, too. It helps if you like processed meat, but there's a plethora of cafes, panini joints, and kebab stands. Here's some more helpful record shop info:

Londonnet record shops guide
Another guide
A third, with good links to store's homepages

Posted by thenovakids at 10:04 PM CST
Updated: Monday, 29 May 2006 11:57 PM CDT
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