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With music app downloads skyrocketing over the past years, you’d think they have overtaken the music industry. And true enough, vinyl has taken quite a hit. However, against all odds, it seems that because vinyl shops offer a much more immersive musical experience, they continue to thrive despite many setbacks.
Here are 20 of the best vinyl record shops in London:
- Honest Jon’s Records
- All Ages Records
- Reckless Records
- Sounds of the Universe
- Alan’s Records
- Casbah Records
- Phonica Records
- Supertone Records
- Atlantis Records
- Rat Records
- Love Vinyl
- Rough Trade East
- Banquet Records
- Flashback Records
- Dreamhouse Records
- Sounds That Swing
- Sister Ray
- Vinyl Pimp
- Yo-Yo Records
If you’re planning to take a vinyl tour of the city, read through this guide to find out what each of these shops has to offer and why many agree that they deserve a spot on the top 20 list.
1. Honest Jon’s Records
Undeniably a London favorite, Honest Jon’s has definitely made a name for itself in the music scene ever since it opened its doors in 1974. It has not only become a hub for music lovers with its wide range of selections (specializing in the exotic tracks that you may not find in other shops), but also an informal music school.
But did you know that the store was once a butcher’s shop? Yep, that’s right. If you happen to drop by Honest Jon’s, don’t be surprised to find meat hooks still lingering inside the store. Interestingly, they add to Honest Jon’s exotic vibe.
2. All Ages Records
Are you into punk, rock, and heavy metal? All Ages Records definitely is the place for you. This store carries records that date all the way back to the 70s and is also known to have plenty of cassette tapes in stock. If you’re into the hard rock scene, you might want to get your hands on some of those.
All Ages Records opened its doors in 2003 and is located in Camden Town, London. If you don’t have the time to go to the physical store, though, they have an online store as well.
3. Reckless Records
There’s something so charmingly old-school about secondhand vinyl. And Reckless Records is one of the few record stores that still sell those. Plus, you can get rare records at exceptionally low prices. Tough to beat that. Ever since Reckless Records opened in 1984, it has become a musical landmark in Soho. In fact, it is the oldest record store in the area.
If you’re interested, you can even sell your old CDs and vinyl to them. Their music-loving and friendly staff will make sure that you have a pleasant visit.
4. Sounds of the Universe
One of the best places to go if you’re looking for soul music is Sounds of the Universe, known by many as Sotu, in Soho. It was once a tiny, nondescript stall in Camden Street, until owner Stuart Baker decided to move to Soho in the 1990s.
Sotu’s collection focuses on jazz, blues, dubstep, funk, disco, Latin American, and African music. Here, you can find both second hand records and brand-new ones at fair prices. However, I find the store’s 90s radio vibe quite endearing too.
5. Alan’s Records
If you just want to browse through some records without any idea what you want exactly, Alan’s Records is a great place to start looking. The store has a wide-ranging collection of records from different genres and periods. Plus, you are sure to get fresh stocks every week, as they refresh their collection of over 700 records weekly.
You can also browse through musical memorabilia and even enjoy refreshments so you can take your time. The staff are also not your typical sales clerks, because they know their music maybe even more than the average music-loving customer does.
6. Casbah Records
Like Sounds of the Universe, Casbah Records opened in 1986 as a small stall in Greenwich Market. 20 years later, it moved to a permanent store in Creek Road where it features rock, punk, electronica, and indie records. If you’re looking for collector’s items and rare records, chances are high that you’ll find what you need here.
Additionally, if you’re interested in other memorabilia like vintage comics, you will find a sizable collection here. You might to schedule your visit on Record Store Day, as they put out new releases during this time of the year.
7. Phonica Records
A bridge between a record store and a daytime club, Phonica Records is the absolute go-to place for new and old dance music. From retro dance to old-school disco to fresh club mixes, you will find it all here. And did I mention that the place is basically a club?
Yep. Phonica features some of the biggest DJs in London. So not only can you get your hands on good dance records, but you can also feel like you’re killing it on the dance floor as you browse through the store’s wide range of vinyl collections.
8. Supertone Records
Ready to dance to the beat of reggae music? You’ll find the best reggae collections in Supertone Records in Brixton, London. The store is the oldest record store in this part of London and is considered one of the biggest cultural hubs in the UK. The store is a small, humble establishment, so much like the quiet and simple personality of its owner, Wally Bryant.
But don’t let the humble facade fool you. Supertone has long cemented its reputation in the industry, and the store has even been visited by some of the biggest names in music, including Dennis Brown and The Twinkle Brothers.
9. Atlantis Records
Unlike other record stores mentioned here, Atlantis Records is a newer establishment. The store’s stocks are made mostly of Travis’s personal collection on vinyl and cassettes. According to Travis, the whole goal behind opening the store is to give customers the opportunity to get their hands on records of all genres.
The small store in Hackney has an eccentric, small-group feel that invites all sorts of music lovers, from hardcore collectors to youngsters that are up for a new discovery. If you want to catch a glimpse of what the community looks like, you can check out their Instagram page.
10. Rat Records
If you’re someone who loves a fresh drop of records every week, you will surely enjoy Rat Records. This place has a massive collection of used vinyls priced very affordably and which they refresh every week.
The store is so popular among music enthusiasts in Camberwell that you need to come early to get a spot at the front of the long queue of customers every Saturday when new stocks are brought to the store. Sure enough, people continue to flock to the Rat for the rare finds that can be purchased here.
11. Love Vinyl
Love Vinyl in Pearson Street, London has one of the biggest record collections in the country, with thousands on display in its two-story shop. With stocks ranging from vintage to fresh drops, such as house music and techno, Love Vinyl opened in 2014 as the perfect balance between traditional and modern.
If you’re lucky, you might even stumble upon one of the musical events and live shows that the store usually holds in-store. The crowd is typically a mix of music old-timers and party-loving youth, which makes these events pretty electric.
Ever wonder if there was a record store in London that’s just funky enough for the whole family? Maestro in Peckham is the place. The oldest record store in this part of London, Maestro is considered a family-friendly store where it’s common to see whole families browsing through the collections.
For decades, Maestro has prided itself in its varied collection of records, which include reggae, hip hop, and dancehall.
13. Rough Trade East
This store is the perfect hangout spot for those who want access to vinyl, coffee, and a study or workspace. The first Rough Trade store was opened in 1976 by George Travis, the same person who owns Atlantis Record, in Notting Hill. The store also hosts live performances and shows.
However, if you prefer the quaint, hole-in-the-wall vibe, you can go instead to its sister branch, Rough Trade West.
14. Banquet Records
Another place where you can not only buy vinyl but also enjoy gigs and live acoustic performances is Banquet Records in Kingston upon Thames. If you’re lucky, you might even catch some big names in the music industry performing to a small but enthusiastic audience here at Banquet. To do so, make sure to check their events schedule first!
The store boasts of fresh collections of new music as well as vintage and even rare records.
15. Flashback Records
Flashback Records has three branches in London, but the most notable one is the branch in Essex. Opened in 1997, it’s the oldest branch in the franchise and proudly displays a wide variety of record collections, from tropical music and krautrock to movie soundtracks.
Here, you won’t have a problem spotting what you’re looking for, as the store is neatly organized by genre.
16. Dreamhouse Records
Enjoy a chill afternoon at Dreamhouse Records where you can access vintage records, brand-new vinyl, and secondhand records–together with a lovely cup of coffee. Dreamhouse is a charming record store slash coffee shop slash gift shop that was intended to be a hub for music lovers and musicians.
While the store offers an updated collection of records that cover old-school classics as well as fresh drops, it also has a quiet, vintage feel that’s perfect if you want to spend some downtime.
17. Sounds That Swing
A true-blue rock n’ roll and blues spot, Sounds That Swing is definitely for those who want to go rocking to the musical stylings of Elvis Presley and The Beatles. This quaint store on Camden Street is a paradise for vinyl lovers. You will see all sorts of vinyl plastered on the walls and filed neatly in the racks.
And if you spend enough time browsing, you might even get your hands on a rare find.
18. Sister Ray
Sister Ray is one of those record stores that has thrived through the decades. It’s been in Soho since 1987, although occupying different addresses before finally settling in its current location in Berwick Street.
If you’re looking for a proper vinyl place, you will definitely enjoy Sister Ray. They sell not only vinyl records but also flexi discs and football records, which are quite rare and hard to find in most record shops.
19. Vinyl Pimp
One of the reasons why this store is on this list is its huge collection of records–and we’re talking about thousands both in its online and physical store catalogs. An interesting thing about Vinyl Pimp is that while most record stores are transitioning from physical stores to online shops, this one seems to be going way around.
20. Yo-Yo Records
Unlike most quaint record stores, Yo-Yo Records is pretty chic. Its vinyl records are elegantly displayed on the walls and in racks. They don’t only sell records but also provide an incredible musical experience which involves friendly and welcoming staff that can surely give you a lesson on music if you want them to. They’re that knowledgeable about their stuff.
Yo-Yo Records specializes in vintage records and genres like funk, jazz, blues, and soul.
You may also be interested in these articles:
- 10 Best Vinyl Record Stores in New York
- 16 Best Vinyl Record Stores in Toronto
- 15 Best Vinyl Record Stores in Philadelphia
- 8 Best Vinyl Record Stores in Houston
- 8 Best Vinyl Record Stores in Los Angeles
- 13 Best Vinyl Record Stores in Chicago
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