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Pearsall's Guide to Record Shopping in London

Reported by Pearsall / Submitted 28-09-03 12:37

With so much record shopping to do, and so little time, where is best to go? This is by no means a comprehensive list (as I must admit that I don't know much south of the river or in East London), but should help you track down your vinyl wants.

Pearsall's Guide to Record Shopping in London

Hard Dance Related:

Smile Banging Tunes (formerly Kinetec), Little Portland Street. Tube: Oxford Circus (head north from the station on Regent Street, and then right at the McDonald's. It's about four doors down and it's a stairway leading down). For years now one of the best record stores for underground dance in London. An excellent selection across the board. Hard trance, hard house, the full range of techno (from housey to funky to minimal to hard to acid), as well as breakd, electro, gabba, and drum n'bass. Plenty of back catalogue. Lots of listening posts and even a sofa to deposit bored friends/lovers/family. Highly recommended.

Smile Basement Vinyl, Kilburn High Road. Tube: Kilburn (across the road from Speedy Noodle). Excellent selection and service. More narrowly focused on hard house and hard trance than BT but they get the odd bit of other stuff in as well. Martin, the guy who runs it, is really friendly and is more than willing to hand you an enormous stack of tunes to listen to. Except for the busiest times there should be no problem getting a listening post. Large back catalogue section as well. Highly recommended.

Smile Eukatech, Endell Street, Covent Garden. Tube: Covent Garden (right from the station onto Long Acre, and then left onto Endell Street). Excellent store for technoheads. The ground floor is mostly cd's and the records are in the basement. Superb and upfront selection of the various flavours of 'purist techno' from deep and funky tech-house to fierce hard stuff. Large back catalogue section and plentiful bargain bins. If techno makes you recoil shouting "but nothing ever happens!" then this isn't for you.

Smile Pure Groove, Holloway Road, Archway. Tube: Archway (left out the station, then the first right onto Holloway Road). The home of Tripoli Trax this shop is weirdly split between 'hard dance' and garage. As you'd expect there is a lot of the Tripoli back cat available, as well as a good amount of stuff from other labels. They get lots of new stuff in, so if you are only just visiting London, you should probably head up to North London and check it out.

Smile XSF, Berwick Street, Soho. Tube: Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road or Piccadilly Circus (parallel to Wardour Street and Poland Street, if you are heading down Oxford Street from Oxford Circus tube then it's on your right, from Tottenham Court Road tube its on your left, from Piccadilly Circus head up Shaftesbury Avenue and a left on the street with the market stalls, then through the alleyway with the porno shops). Not been in here much but I know they do get a certain amount of hard house and hard trance in. They also sell other styles of music.

Smile Trax, Greek Street, Soho. Tube: Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus (between Soho Square and Old Compton Street). Only been in here a few times, does some hard house (along with funky house and trance and some other stuff). Not an essential stop but if you're in the area and have nothing better to do, you might as well pop your head in.

Smile Kokon-To-Zai, Greek Street, Soho. A couple doors down from Trax this shop is split between hard trance/hard house/trance/house records (behind the counter) and a variety of Japanese consumer goods in the rest of the shop (such as shoes and clothes and other stuff). Not essential, but worth a look if you're in the area.

Smile Mad Records, Silver Place, Soho. Tube: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus. Good shop tucked down a small Soho alley. Good selection across the board from techno to trance to hard house with a reasonable back catalogue selection. The guy who was working the day I went in was a nice guy, so a plus on that too. Recommended

Smile Trackheadz @ Access All Areas, Kentish Town Road. Tube: Camden Town (left out of the left exit from Camden Town tube). Not been in since they were at their previous location and were called Dragon Discs. Think the focus is still on techno, electro, hardcore techno, and drum n' bass. Also has Access All Areas, an information resource centre for the underground party scene (drugs info, tickets, hippy stuff haha).

Smile Psychedelic Dream Temple, Camden Stables Market, Camden High Street. Tube: Camden Town (there are a couple markets in and around Camden so make sure you go to Camden Stables, take a right from the right exit of Camden Town tube). Only poked my way around a couple times, but looked pretty good if you're into psytrance. If you're having a hard time finding it, it's basically right next to Cyberdog, which is not hard to find at all.

RIP all those stores I used to buy from that have disappeared: Choci's Chewns, Fat Cat, Pendragon, Elite, Ambient Soho

General music stores:

Smile Rough Trade, Talbot Road, Notting Hill. Tube: Ladbroke Grove. West London institution (ie it's been around since the punk explosion in the 70's), just off the Portobello Road market. Huge selection across all sorts of genres. Little in the way of hard dance beyond the odd bit of psytrance, but good for pretty much anything else you can think of. Has two listening posts and the shop system. Also has a branch in Covent Garden, but I've never been there.

Smile Honest Jon's, Portobello Road, Notting Hill. Tube: Ladbroke Grove. North of the Westway is this gem of a shop, there are two parts, one specifically jazz, and the other catering for soul, hip-hop, reggae, funk, Detroit techno, house, breaks, and drum n' bass. Oh so tasteful, but that's never a bad thing.

Smile Selectadisc, Berwick Street, Soho. Tube: as XSF Excellent general selection, all sorts of styles of music covered. Loads of cd's and vinyl to be found. Definitely worth a look. Further down the road is a reggae store (Daddy Kool) another general store (Sister Ray, which is inferior to Selectadisc), and Mr. CD which does cheap cd's. There's also a fruit and veg market in the middle of the street. And porno shops and prostitutes.

Smile Mr. Bongo, Poland Street, Soho. Tube: Oxford Circus. Ground floor is hip-hop (with a particular slant on the underground as opposed to bling stuff), techno, house, and breaks.

Smile Uptown, D'Arblay Street, Soho. Tube: Tottenham Court Road, Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Circus (between Wardour Street and Berwick Street). Hip-hop and rnb on the ground floor, house and garage in the basement.

Smile Blackmarket, D'Arblay Street, Soho. Tube: as above (it's inbetween Poland Street and Berwick Street) House, garage, hip-hop and rnb on the ground floor, drum n' bass in the basement. This is one of the most famous drum n' bass record stores in London and has been around since the early 90's. Staff can be very rude, and it can be pricey, but it gets all the new stuff in. A landmark, although if you are only casually into the style you are better off going somewhere like Rough Trade or Selectadisc.

Smile HMV, Oxford Street. Tube: Tottenham Court Road or Oxford Circus. Obviously a big corporate music store, stocks a huge variety of stuff from cd's, movies, games, magazines, books. The branch east of Oxford Circus is the best for vinyl shopping. Not the place to hunt down underground gems, but they're as likely as anyone else to have the really obvious stuff. Branches around the capital.

Smile Virgin Megastore, Oxford Street/Tottenham Court Road (two entrances). Tube: Tottenham Court Road. Vinyl is on the ground floor. Mostly new stuff, like HMV you can find good deals on certain tunes. Not a mind-blowing selection by any means, but if you're in buying a birthday present for someone you might as well have a look for yourself.

Smile Tower, Piccadilly Circus. Tube: Piccadilly Circus. The other big corporate music store. Vinyl is on the ground floor and is ok-ish. Best selection of magazines of any of the big stores. They won't have the new Vicious Circle promos but they might have some quality stuff hanging around the bargain bins.


Smile Music & Video Exchange, Camden High St. Tube: Camden Town (the right exit from the station, then a right again up the High Street). Large chain with branches all over London, but this is probably the best branch for our purposes (or at least historically it's been). Head for the basement where 12" singles are 50p and, if you have the patience to wade through thousands upon thousands of utterly rubbish wastes of plastic, you will find some excellent stuff. Other branches (that I know of, I know there's more):
Soul & Dance Exchange, Notting Hill Gate (tube: Notting Hill Gate)
Music & Video Exchange, Berwick Street, Soho

Smile Reckless, Berwick Street, Soho. Tube: as everywhere else on Berwick Street. Excellent hunting ground, look in the UK techno (which gets lots of hard trance as well for some reason), Trance, and European Techno sections. Highly recommended. Very consistent in the finds you'll make, although not as joyous as seeking out bargains at M&VE. There's another branch on Upper Street in Islington.
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Other Features By Pearsall:
Interview: JP & Jukesy
Review: Zoology - The Summer Trance Party (01/08/03)
Interview: Carbon Based/Finrg Collective (Finland)
Redtrip Corrosive - Review
The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.

From: Adamantium on 29th Sep 2003 08:54.39
Great article mate, also worth mentioning West London Records on Uxbridge Road, Shepards Bush. They have a Nice selection from funky to hard house, trance, hard trance, and techno. Very friendly and helpful guys they have been able to order pretty much all the tunes on my wants list, worth checking out

From: Stevi D on 29th Sep 2003 15:34.29
Well done bro, i quite like this, a good help out for those that never knew!

From: Thesorus on 30th Sep 2003 00:11.23
Arrggghhh! You should have posted this 3 weeks ago !!!

But will keep it 'til my next visit to London !


From: Pearsall on 1st Oct 2003 09:37.42
Sorry about that...actually I first discussed with Tom writing this up as a full feature back in June but I've been pretty slack recently!

From: TheDon on 1st Oct 2003 15:02.55
Good article, should be saved for people actually. Just got to push Mad Records a bit more, Anthony is a top lad, my Dad and I were walking past and only stopped in to see if he had Marco V in, he didn't. But still managed to sell us some stuff! From then on I'm a loyal customer, never see's me wrong.

From: Steve Prince on 1st Oct 2003 16:58.53
i will check it out next time i come to london i am all ways up that way

From: Adam Symbiosis on 9th Jul 2004 10:45.18
Good review mate Thumbs up

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