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19 April 2012 | Best Of London, Music | By: Chris Lockie

Mapped: The Best Record Shops In London

Mapped: The Best Record Shops In London

Updated March 2016

The death of physical music has been put on hold. Fans have twigged that paying for something you can never touch is a sure-fire way of accepting air will one day be privatised and have duly begun to remember how brilliant record shops were back in the day.

Thankfully there are plenty in London, so here are the best of them in our opinion. We’ve tried to give a good geographical spread – better to live nearby as you cart home an armful of vinyl – but please let us know your own favourites in the comments below the list.

The new boy: Yam Records

Yam Records ('you and music' apparently, not the mysterious vegetable) surfaced in Peckham in 2014, declaring itself 'a small shop for small labels', mostly due to the space constraints of their little place on Holdron's Arcade. Funk, soul, boogie, jazz are the focus of their carefully selected vinyl, featuring a mixture of second-hand stock and new releases hand-picked by staff. Closed on Mondays, and Sundays are variable and perhaps hangover-dependent, but the rest of the week it's noon to 8pm.

The stalwart: Sister Ray

Sister Ray, Berwick Street, Soho

Sister Ray has ridden the storm of physical music, somehow surviving the massacre that took down so many other record shops on Berwick Street and its surrounds - if they'd gone the way of Vinyl Junkies, Koobla, Ambient Soho and the rest it would have been a bloody tragedy. Not only are they still on that same Soho street - albeit in new premises across the road - they've also branched out with a small presence in the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch. Quality vinyl is the name of the game, both new releases, second-hand gems and rarities (they're regular participants in Record Store Day), with CDs available in the Soho shop (though vinyl only in Shoreditch).

Punk and hardcore heaven: All Ages Records

Hardcore is a word with so many wonderful uses, but in this case it means shouty guitar music, rather than happy hardcore pilled up to the gills or whatever other kind of hardcore your mind might have conjured up, you filthy beast. It's obvious what punk is, and it's obvious that if you like it you'll love All Ages Records in Camden. In addition to new releases and second-hand finds, they also stock a whole load of new stuff from unsigned and often local bands. You never know, that frightening hand-drawn CD cover you're peering at sceptically could be worth thousands when Mornington Chaos hit the big time.

A forager's paradise: Flashback

Flashback, Essex Street, Islington

Back when people were predicting the death of record shops, the saddest aspect was the end of the foraging for hidden delights among huge stacks of records. That's what Flashback are all about, designed for those folks who like to rummage through piles of music, peering beyond much-regretted copies of Darkness 12 inches for the elusive second album by Teenage Fanclub or whatever equivalent your mind thrusts forth when thinking of rarities. And there are three branches to choose from: Essex Road, Crouch Hill and Bethnal Green Road.

Aficionados: Intoxica

In the rarefied confines of Cecil Court you'll find Intoxica, the purveyors of beat, psychedelia, R&B, soul, jazz, soundtracks, punk, new wave and 'anything bonkers in between', which probably means Captain Beefheart. Their website pulls no punches: "If the music is blasting, it's blasting for a reason. Your hangover be damned." You'll also be begging for a beating if you go in asking for Led Zeppelin, Journey, Styx "or any other dreadful bands we don't like".

(Frank admission: we haven't ourselves visited Intoxica as yet, we're giving it the benefit on reputation alone here, and it's possible they share a shop with David Drummond's Pleasures of Past Times — the pair's online presence muddies the waters of their connection, so if anyone in the know wants to set us straight before we next brave the environs of Leicester Square please do so in the comments.)

An emporium of garish delights: Lucky 7

It's not just about the music in Lucky 7 of Stoke Newington - there's books, comics and probably a garage full of second-hand lawnmowers out the back, such is their extensive range. But this is a list of record shops, and Lucky 7 fits in snugly thanks to a selection of vinyl and CDs they're often selling at bizarrely cheap prices. The place is bewildering colourful, so if you've over-enjoyed the night before it may be one of the few times sunglasses are acceptable indoors.

Of vintage stock: Sounds Original

The 1950s and 1960s formed a crucible for every form of music we know and love today, taking blues, jazz, gospel, music hall and every other noisey endeavour and mashing them together to form rock and roll, soul, pop and of course David Bowie, gawd bless him. And if it's the music of those two decades that gives you that special tingle, Sounds Original of South Ealing is the joint for you. They claim 95% of their records are 'original top quality 45's EP's & LP's pressed in the UK between 1953 and 1968', and if you're not licking your lips at the thought of that you must have a heart of stone.

Not rock and roll: Soul Brother

Specialists in funk, soul and jazz (though we shouldn't hold that third one against them), Soul Brother have been plying their trade in East Putney since 1991. They do a tasty line in disco 12 inch records and supply some of south London's finest DJs with the very finest in polyvinyl chloride. If you've an afternoon to waste, try and find a single negative review of this shop anywhere on the internet — or you could get down to Soul Brother and buy yourself the new Karl Hector record instead.

For the discerning drinker: Book & Record Bar

Obsessed with drinking as Londonist necessarily is, we are powerless to resist a record shop that allows you to sup while browsing. Open since 2013 on the site of an old pub, the Book & Record Bar in West Norwood not only have an excellent selection of second-hand vinyl assembled by semi-legendary local record collector Michael Johnson, there's also a range of books to peruse as you imbibe, confirming its claim to be a 'social hub' as much as a shop. They even do 'coffee', whatever that is.

A local favourite: Alan's Records

Alan's Record And CD Shop, High Road, East Finchley

No such list could be deemed acceptable without the inclusion of Alan's Records, an institution of some repute in East Finchley. They claim to have a stock of over 15,000 records and 3,500 CDs across all the genres - an impressive haul for a store with a deceptively small frontage. Alan's website prominently displays Never Mind the Bollocks, The Fall, the Stone Roses, and a section for USA Punk, and only people with problems wouldn't be happy with all that. Bear in mind they're closed on Mondays and Wednesdays.

The outlier: Crazy Beat

Out in the wildlands of not-Essex-anymore, Crazy Beat Records are making sure east London’s extremities are kept well stocked with quality vinyl across every genre imaginable. Well into their third decade in Upminster, they claim their staff have an excellent knowledge of the records they sell so we suggest you get in there and quiz them at random about a few of the 100,000 items their website says they have in stock. And when they do indeed have all the answers, that’ll be you told.

The one everyone knows about: Honest Jon's

Arguably London’s most famous record shop, Honest Jon's has a pedigree going back to 1974, taking in some of the most significant developments in the business. It specialises in soul/funk, reggae, jazz and world music, all of which is nicely catalogued.

Worthy mentions go to:

Sounds of the Universe – another Soho old boy.

Rough Trade - legendary pair of shops need a mention, but not a bump.

Music & Video Exchange – alive and well in Notting Hill and Greenwich, and allegedly returning to Soho this year.

Banquet – home to the much-loved record label of the same name, based in Kingston

Record Detective Agency – there’s no website and we’re not quite sure if this is just one bloke in a shed, but everyone raves about it.

Love Vinyl – open since 2014 on Pearson Street in Hoxton.

Harold Moores Records – catering to fans of classical music and various genres floating nearby.

Chris Lockie

Article by Chris Lockie | 247 articles | View Profile

GoodnightLondon

There's also Lucky7 and Kristina Records, both in Hackney

Cementimental

Second Layer records in Highgate is totally amazing for noise/power electronics/experimental/free jazz/world music etc.

Claptout

Not the easiest to get to, but Audio Gold near Ally Pally for vinyl and hifi

Ray Juss

Hey, sorry if this is considered spam but I run a vinyl only night in Angel every Wednesday where anyone is welcome to come down and play some records. All genres are considered as long as they fit the vibe of the bar on a Wednesday evening. You can find more info here or drop me a line on ray@brokenhomes.co.uk http://offtherecordldn.tumblr.... THANKS!

Sophie E

Defo missed out Banquet Records in Kingston, awesome shop, they do instores tied in with album releases and put on New Slang in a local venue every week showcasing up and coming talents. Theyre just awesome.

Julie Shrive

There used to be one on Richmond Hill next to Nandos formerly L'Auberge . Can't remember the name Ronnie Wood may know? Then there was an early R&B / Blues one in Soho. 

Largeinbox

Nice list, think you missed out that guy called Vinyl Pimp in Hackney Wick - 
http://www.vinylpimp.co.uk/ 

neo newmann

Peckings Studio 1 in 
81 Askew Road, Shepherd's Bush

London, W12 9AH. Best 
R&B / Reggae / Soul distributors in west! i was living in the top floor!

Andy

And Croydon,
MEMORY LANE RECORDS.
55, FEITH ROAD,
CROYDON,
SURRY,
CRO 1TR.

Vinyl Pimp

Vinyl Pimp now has a shop on 14 Felstead Street, E9 5LT 0207 9988 586

gorsefan

Sounds of The Universe should be in the top ten due to it's excellent selection, knowledgeable staff and, along with BM, being the last of the great Soho specialist shops. Haggle Vinyl should not be in the 10 as the covers are bent, the records overpriced and the guy who runs it is proper miserable.

AL

Haggle is a mess and the guy in their really angry and basically his own worst enemy. He probably has loads of great records in there but they are lost to his hopeless filing system. I have bought several records that were not in good condition either. be warned

Paula McClelland

The guy in Camden market is a must visit for second hand vinyl! I got almost every King Crimson Record I own from that guy and he always does me a deal!

Lindsey Berthoud

Can't believe no one's mentioned the Record Detective Agency in Palmers Green! No website, but see the last paragraph in this article http://www.guardian.co.uk/musi...

EnergyforLondon

A good list: been meaning to get to the Record Detective Agency for a while now - so will do! Alan's Records is the bomb. Never have enough time there! So sad so many other good stores in London have closed...Just to say Rays Jazz in Foyles is always worth a vinyl-browse, as is the great jazz section downstairs at Harold Moore's. Oxfam Dalston is digging-fun. But - we need more quality second-hand vinyl in London. Entrepreneurs pls take note!

big maybelle

Sounds That Swing in parkway, Camden is fantastic and always gets missed on these lists - Wood Street Market in Walthamstow is brilliant with four or five shops and stalls inside the really nice covered market including one that only sells 78's and Mikes shop in the corner - - - Haggle is awful - overpriced and unfriendly and the guy that runs it is a dick . . . supertone in brixton is very good n all . . .

Samm Stanley (Eclectica)

Hey..don't forget me at ECLECTICA, 803 Wandsworth Road Clapham SW8 3JH Tel 0207 622 6844 Tues-Sat 11am-7pm. Vinyl 12", Lps and 7" singles, Rock,Pop Reggae, Jazz Soul also cds, tapes (when available) DVDS and collectables,bric-a-brac, clothing.. etc

Philip 'Doyley' Doyle

Hello Ive had a vinyl shop in Camden for 2 years now Camden Arch Records http://www.camdenarch.co.uk/

phil

DnR Vinyl - Croydon. They have plenty of oldskool garage, grime, dubstep, drum & bass - www.dnrvinyl.co.uk

LITTLE RECORD SHOP

The Little Record Shop fri sat sun tues 1-6
43 Tottenham Lane
N8 9BD
AMAZING LITTLE RECORD SHOP FULL OF EX VINYL ..RARE ...DAILY FRESH STOCK ...2ND HAND .... AMAZING PRICES TOO !!
FRIENDLY ...

dave

Vinyl fayre Karamel restaurant , 4 Coburn St.Woodgreen,Sat.7th Feb.1030-530.

Akso

Of Records tucked somewhere behind Oxford Street. Guy who runs it had a night at plastic. Its a tiny living room on the third floor of a building and very easy to never find. Small but good array of dance, funk, soul with a knowledgeable cat to talk to about it

djdocs

Hello.Where can i buy vinyl from US in london. Techno. THX

Joanna

The Oxfam bookshop on Strutton Ground in Victoria also has a perry good selection of vinyl.

whyilovestreatham

Love Turnstyle records on Streatham High Road, eclectic mix of folk, indie, soul, jazz etc, old and new. Owner is friendly and very helpful.

thomoz

I wouldn't say Intoxica is a bad shop per se . . . but when I have bought things from them mail order the items were in nowhere near the condition as advertised (so I obviously overpaid) and being across the pond in the States I could not return them without losing big money. So: buyer beware. Inspect in person under a decent light.