Ed The Saint's Guide To Central London Record Stores 2006
(2008 Update - The route's still good, but Camden now has no record shops that sell new releases. They've all closed. Bloomin' internet)
Many years ago, I sent an email to a soon to be tourist, giving him the lowdown on how to get round all Londons' Indie record stores.
And he posted it on the web.
And on the web it stayed, never being updated and with me totally unable to remove a couple of attempts at humour that, whilst side creasingly hilarious at the time, fall a bit flat now.
So here it is again, updated for 2006, with humour that's side splittingly funny now. hmmmm:
Buy a one day travelcard, purchaseable at any tube, for zones 1-4 for £8.40 (£5.40 Off Peak, which means weekends)
(Notes - Stone me, it was £3.50 in 1999!). You can use that on buses, trains etc.
Tottenham Court Road
Now go to tottenham court road tube (this is on the Northern and Central lines). Outside this tube, on Oxford street (the tube is on the corner). Is a Virgin Megastore (very big, some vinyl, though bear in mind, whilst it's got stock, there's cheaper prices ahead).
Walk down Oxford Street to Hmv. Some 7" (much less these days, and they've shoved them and a now paltry singles section down the back), some 12", quite big, you can ask at information for stock details.
Come out of HMV, and there's a street facing you (a little way back up toward Virgin, I think its the first right if you walk back up the street).
Berwick Street On Streetmap
This is Berwick Street. Head down Berwick street. You now go past (some way down), a couple of shops that sell very cheap chart albums, Selectadisc, Sister Ray, Record And Tape Exchange, couple of dance shops etc.
Selectadisc is excellent, truly.
Cheap indie albums, new releases, decent singles, knowledgable staff, s'excellent.
Sister Ray, which (I think) is moving at the moment, is great too and has some decent back catalogue stuff.
Record and tape exchange is notorious for being pricey, but there's sometimes very cool and hard to find promos and some odd stuff in the basement.
Ok, now you'll probably need a break at this point, back in the day I said get a pint, but the pubs have dropped in quality pint wise and gone up price wise in the intervening seven years, you could go back up to the road to broadwick street and go left or right and there's pubs that are a tad better...or you could hang on.
Back to Berwick street.
Keep going down to the end of Berwick Street, you have to go through a bit of soho (strip clubs), theres a record stall at the end on weekends and half way down the road running up to Shaftsebury avenue, a record shop on the right, with videos in the window.
Not bad basement, you find some gems occassionally.
Next, You come to Shaftesbury Avenue. There used to be a Tower records on your right, it's a Virgin megastore now, so it has the same stock as the previous one. Skip it, head left as we proceed on to Covent Garden.
We head left down Shaftesbury avenue, past the cinema on your left, and past the theatre which has les miserables in it.
You can see an all bar one ahead and, if you keep going past that, a Fopp over the road.
Ok, this Fopp is great too, good range of cheap cds. Good back catalogue, special deals....
Once your sated, we're aiming for Rough Trade, down Neal Street.
Map of the area
On your left, quite a long way down Earlham street (and trust me, you may have to ask, especially when you hit the roundabout), is Neals Yard, down a tiny alley, it's the last left before you hit the road. Really, You might have to ask, its a tricky one.
Eventually, amidst a load of hippy shops, You'll find slam city skates under which is Rough Trade.
Also, around Covent Garden are some decent clothes shops and, actually come to think of it, the odd not too bad pub.
Either way, Thats probably enough for one day.
Not a full day these days, Camden, so you could split this whole thing up by heading to Tottenham court road from Covent garden and going to Camden on the Northern Line, but I'll assume you're into day two and starting from Camden tube.
As I say, Camden has been gutted, record shop wise now, but does cover some bases still.
There's basically these record shops in camden now, for the discerning indie fan:
1) The market (the stables market is good for second hand, the covered for boots, the first market you hit has little or nothing in it).
2) Out on the floor (10 inverness street, where the good mixer is, not the home of indie it once was, but still a mecca for the thoroughly historically minded tourist).
3) Record And Tape Exchange, down on the road toward the stables market. Again, pricey, but with some decent promos.
4) Selectadisc, the only record shop in the other direction from the stables market.
And, unless I remember otherwise, that's it. But you can spend a decent day in camden, if you don't mind crowds and, frankly, if you've not found everything you need in the last two days indie wise, there's no helping you.
Though I'm sure the web will try.
Originally by Ed The Saint (Edmund Hornsby) for a bloke off the indiepop list in June 1998, updated and mild slander removed, February 2006
Page created by Edmund Hornsby