15 record stores in the UK to visit in person or online this Christmas
- Craig Angus
- 3 November 2020
Our round-up of the best shops to find vinyl gems around the UK, from Glasgow to Brighton
It's been heartening to see people gather online in 2020 for Tim Burgess' Twitter Listening Parties, sharing memories of the first time they heard a classic album, spinning a yarn about lost weekends spent following their favourite band on tour, or discovering something totally new. It's a reminder that being a music lover is to be part of a passionate community. Record stores are central to that, and we're blessed with some of the world's best in this country. We've gathered a list of places that are open for business, whether you're after presents for friends and family, or just fancy treating yourself to new sounds for your turntable. In the words of Mr Burgess, 'they need us more than ever, and we definitely need them'.
Monorail Music (Glasgow)
A long-standing institution, Monorail Music is found in Glasgow's Trongate area. Normally it's attached to a music venue that's played host to Angel Olsen, Parquet Courts and Alex Cameron in recent years, and a popular vegan café/bar. The shop itself is staffed by a knowledgeable group of music lovers (including members of The Pastels, Sacred Paws). They're good. Follow their excellent mailing list for recommendations, and for the occasional essay about releases especially close to them.
Monorail Music is open from 11am-6pm Mon-Sat; or order from www.monorailmusic.com
Some Great Reward (Glasgow)
A fairly recent addition to Glasgow's Southside, Some Great Reward, which sits at the northern end of Victoria Road, shares its name with a Depeche Mode record from 1984 and is packed full of new releases to whet your curiosity, old favourites that'll take you back to a simpler time and carefully curated music reads too. SGR doubles as a café, selling locally roasted coffee and bakes, and is a community focussed shop with a friendly vibe.
Some Great Reward is open from 11am-4pm Thu/Fri, 10am-4pm Sat and 12-4pm Sun; or order from www.somegreatreward.scot
Mixed Up Records (Glasgow)
Down Otago Lane, near Glasgow University, lies the Mixed Up Records which, amongst a collection of thousands of LPs, CDs and 7" singles, is most notable for having an extensive second-hand section. They've a broad selection of new releases too, stocking indie rock, new wave, Brazillian jazz and hardcore punk. A place where you can blissfully pass hours browsing, and where the prices are always agreeable.
Mixed Up Records is open from 11am-5pm Mon-Sat.
Vox Box Records (Edinburgh)
Vox Box does Record Store Day very well, taking over a couple of pubs on Edinburgh's St Stephen's Street and, along with local label Gerry Loves Records, putting on a great day of live music, for which the sun always comes out. They do record shopping very well generally, their tiny Stockbridge shop - off the beaten track of the city's main tourist trail - is typical of the area, which is packed with great independent shops. A great place to pick up new and pre-owned records.
Vox Box is open Wed-Fri 12-5pm, Sat 10.30am-5pm, Sun 12-4pm.
Assai Records (Edinburgh and Dundee)
Over on the east coast of Scotland, Assai Records has premises both in Edinburgh and Dundee, as well as a smooth web store that ships everywhere. As well as a plethora of records, Assai sells a range of turntables and speakers if you're looking to set yourself up with a home stereo system (or maybe fancy an upgrade). They also stock the excellent 33 ⅓ series of books in which writers, musicians and journalists explore classic albums, from Pet Sounds to Parallel Lines.
Assai Records Edinburgh is open Mon, Wed and Thu 12-5pm, Fri/Sat 11am-5.30pm and Sun 12-4.30pm. Assai Records Dundee is open Sun, Mon and Wed 12-4pm, Thu 12-5pm, Fri 11-5pm and Sat 11-5.30pm; or order from www.assai.co.uk
Piccadilly Records (Manchester)
An essential part of any trip to Manchester's Northern Quarter since 1978, Piccadilly Records is still one of the UK's best record shops, with a phenomenal range of vinyl - encompassing indie, disco, funk, jazz, house, Balearic and psych rock - and also an impressive range of CDs. The shop is notable for publishing a detailed end-of-year-review booklet that includes individual staff picks, and sings the praises of the underground.
Piccadilly Records is open Mon-Thu 12-5pm, Fri 11am-5pm, Sat 10am-5pm and Sun 11-5pm; or order from www.piccadillyrecords.com
The Vinyl Exchange (Manchester)
Across the road from Piccadilly on Oldham Street is The Vinyl Exchange, which is the largest seller and buyer of rare and second-hand CDs, records and DVDs in England's North West. The shop itself has two floors devoted to the records, with staff who know about every genre of music you could have a question about.
The Vinyl Exchange is open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm and Sun 12-5pm; order from www.vinylexchange.co.uk
Located in Leeds' Merrion Centre, Jumbo was established in 1971 and moved to its current premises in 2017. The shop supports the city's thriving music scene, supporting local talent, and sells a range of CDs, vinyl, books, magazines, styli and other accessories. Visit the shop, or peruse their webstore.
Jumbo is open Mon-Thu 9.30am-5.30pm, Fri/Sat 9am-5.30pm and Sun 11am-5pm.
Spillers Records (Cardiff)
Spillers can proudly claim to be the oldest record store in the world, having opened back in 1894, long before vinyl had become popular for the first time. Currently found in the city's Morgan Arcade, the shop is currently welcoming a limited number of shoppers through its doors, but you can shop remotely too - following some very detailed guidelines they've published.
Spillers is open Mon-Fri 10am-6pm and Sat 10am-5.30pm; or order from www.spillersrecords.uk
Sister Ray (London)
Founded as a stall at the Camden Market, Sister Ray has been doing a roaring trade in Soho for over 30 year, selling new releases, classic albums, and rare and second-hand vinyl across two floors. Fun fact for Oasis fans, the shop front can be seen on the cover of (What's The Story) Morning Glory?
Sister Ray is open Mon-Sat 10am-8pm and Sun 12-6pm; or order from www.sisterray.co.uk
Rough Trade (London, Nottingham, Bristol)
A shop since 1976, and a record label since 1978, Rough Trade is one of the most recognisable names in British independent music. Since the addition of a Bristol shop in 2017 they're up to four shops across the country, with two in London and another in Nottingham. Their webstore is brilliantly stocked, if there's something you're looking for, whether music, books or some Rough Trade merch, there's a strong chance you'll find it there.
Rough Trade East is open Mon-Sat 11am-7pm, and Sun 11am-5pm. Rough Trade West, Nottingham and Bristol are open Mon-Sat 11am-6.30pm, and Sun 11am-5pm; or order from www.roughtrade.com
Banquet Records (Kingston Upon Thames)
'More than just your local record store' is Banquet's slogan, and residents of Kingston have benefited from this community ethic, with Banquet functioning both as a record label and gig promoter, bringing small up and coming bands to the town to play tiny venues and in-stores, and packing out bigger venues with more established acts. Run by music lovers for music lovers, their shop is currently closed due to the pandemic, but their online shop is open for business.
With the cost of living in London swelling and pricing young creatives out of big city existence, Margate has proved a popular seaside alternative. There's a lot to love about the town, and Transmission is one of them. Founded in 2015 by Spencer Hickman and Kimberley Holladay, it's a wonderfully idiosyncratic shop, specialising in hard to find Japanese pressings, soundtracks, post-punk, electronics and metal.
The Lanes in Brighton is one of the coolest shopping districts in the country, just a thoroughly enjoyable spot to wander, packed with independent producers and artists selling their unique goods. Resident, a favourite of Nick Cave no less, is the city's best known record shop, with a reputation nationally for supporting the city's vibrant live music scene and hosting intimate in-store gigs. That's on hold for now, but staff are still sending out informative newsletters and keeping on top of an excellent online shop.
Resident is open Mon-Sun 9am-5.30pm; or order from www.resident-music.com
Pie and Vinyl (Portsmouth)
This Southsea record café has an incredible niche that covers all of your senses. If you're a fan of pies and physical copies of music this'll be some sort of Mecca for you. Founded in 2012 the shop places a focus on new releases, often welcoming nascent touring acts for in-store performances. The present moment isn't proving an obstacle to Pie and Vinyl's mission statement - you can have your records posted and your pies couriered too. Perfect.
Pie and Vinyl is open 11am-5pm Mon-Sun; or shop at www.pandvrecords.co.uk