Thursday, 28 October 2010

Secondhand Record Shops #7 : Soho & Notting Hill Gate, London

It always seems to be the rule of thumb that when I am going to London I will be meeting a friend in a pub in Soho...or Covent Garden. No complaints as this always means a trip to the shops on Berwick Street. Berwick Street runs off Oxford Street (use the Tottenham Court Road Tube Station) and takes you deep into Soho...with its tacky sex shops, peep shows and prostitutes. "Sotosland" as we call it. Berwick Street houses three fine record shops and if walking from Oxford Street the first one you'll find (on the left) is Sister Ray. To be fair Sister Ray also sells new stuff as well, well mainly new stuff but it has a secondhand vinyl section. If this shop was in Nottingham it would be called Selectadisc. I have never bought from this shop but it is a fine place to browse for half an hour or so. Virtually next door is Reckless Records. Reckless Records used to be in Islington thirty years back and was a fine place for a bargain but now it is situated in the centre of town it has become a little pricey. I have paid £18 for a copy of Die Form "Photogrammes" LP here (with 7")! But, it'll probably have what you're looking for. If you are shopping for secondhand vinyl in London be prepared to pay its' worth and be even more prepared to pay above and beyond its' worth. No 7" singles on display here, you'll have to ask a counter assistant who can be surly at times. "Can I have a look at your seven inches"? (Always a favourite question of a teenager I loved going into record shops and asking if they had any Vibrators). Adopt bored tone "Yeah, what you looking for"? Now there's a question. "I don't know, but when I see it...I'll buy it...let's start in 1977 shall we"? Carrying on walking and you will find (on the right) Music & Video Exchange, formerly Record & Tape Exchange and to me shall always be Record & Tape Exchange. Again you will probably find what you are looking for in one of these shops.. I usually always buy something here. Friendly staff and open at 11am on a Sunday. Excellent shop. This visit (last Sunday at 11am) I found a copy of the first Splintered 7" "Nothing" for a fiver. I left a happy man.

Living in the South West of the UK the train (I don't drive) into London lands at Paddington. 20 minutes walk from Paddington is Notting Hill Gate. Notting Hill Gate is also 5-10 minutes on the central line tube from Tottenham Court Road Station. Notting Hill Gate is home to the finest Music & Video Exchange shop. In fact there are 5 Music & Video Exchange shops in Notting Hill gate. There's the book shop, the retro clothing shop, the classical music shop and the jazz/dance/hip-hop/techno techno techno notice shop - all of which I've never been in (apart from the book shop). The cream is the "Rock" shop. I have been visiting this shop for over thirty years and I have never left empty handed. I remember going into this shop and finding Ted Milton "Confessions Of An Aeroplane Farter" 12" with sick bag for a pound and a mint copy of the Liebstandarte SSMB LP with insert for 50 pence. That was back in the day though and now you pay its' worth. One good thing about Music & Video shops is that if the piece of vinyl is collecting a shelf life they do knock The price down a quid or two. Earlier in the year I bought an Eddie & Sunshine LP for £9 when it was originally £11. Small things make the mind think it has found a bargain. Huge selection of vinyl on the ground floor, upstairs the massive selection of 7" vinyl, and rare LP's. "It's Onomatopoeia"LP hung on the wall for £18 for years upstairs...gone now, wish I'd bought it! This time flicking through the "post-punk" 7" section I found a copy of "Nothing" by Rene Halkett & David Jay (1981, 4AD Records). £7. Been after this beauty for 27 years. The cry of "Got It" resounded across the top floor. In the basement is the bargain section. Poor quality vinyl for a pound type thing. Again, a good browse, nearly bought a John Foxx shaped picture disc 12" single, wish I had now...probably be there next visit though.

1: Sister Ray, Berwick Street.
2: Reckless Records, Berwick Street.
3: Music & Video Exchange, Berwick Street.
4: Music & Video Exchange, Notting Hill Gate.

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