Just got back from a trip to London and am happy to report that it is still one of the record shopping capitals of the world. I’ve had many memorable visits there before, especially to the great Beano’s in Croydon when it was still three stories of original UK ’60s and ’70s pressings at reasonable prices, and of course rummaging around in the back room of Minus Zero for folk private pressings, and a memorably expensive (but totally worth it) trawl through the boxes at Intoxica that netted me original 7″es by the Poets and the Mockingbirds as well a mint Parlophone 1st/2nd matrix original mono Rubber Soul.
But this trip was mostly about shopping for new records. I visited the (relatively) new Rough Trade East in Brick Lane, which is London’s answer to Amoeba. Totally great experience – nice people, huge selection (esp of dubstep and funky 12″es), interesting books, lots of space. I bought several singles by the great Ramadanman (thanks Dean) as well as a super-cavernous 12″ from Aardvarck (recommended by staff), and a £5.99 CD of Richard & Linda Thompson in concert in 1975 that I somehow missed when it came out last year. Also scored double vinyl of the latest Benin comp from Samy Ben Redjeb’s Analog Africa label.
The original Rough Trade shop in Talbot Road off Portobello Market is also still great, though I remain stymied by the cramped upstairs. Downstairs is a different matter though – the vinyl is extremely well chosen and guaranteed to appeal to American buyers who are used to paying through the nose on eBay for decent copies of UK original rock and folk. I decided to spend £10 on Genesis’s Selling England By The Pound, and also picked up a dead mint Scott 3 in its gorgeous laminated Philips gatefold. Unfortunately the £30 original UK (with insert!) of The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter was not mint.
On to Stand Out / Minus Zero, which remains as mindblowing as ever. I didn’t have a chance to talk to the ever friendly Bill Forsyth, but on the Stand Out side of the shop, Bill Allerton still presides over the greatest collection of UK freakbeat and psych still being offered in a physical location. I spotted a copy of The Hush 7″ Grey on the wall, one of my longest-term wants, and correctly guessed its price as being £500. Oh well – pass. Bill immediately remarked, “I have boxes and boxes of that sort of thing under the counter.”
On for a quick visit to Intoxica, where they were playing some insanely over the top British humor record that could have been a Vivian Stanshall solo album – I wasn’t sure. Crazy Latin records I’d never seen before, plus the Turkish alternate sleeve for Led Zep II on the wall – also for £500, in VG. Pass. Didn’t go behind the counter here… the stock is incredible, but I don’t have that kind of money to spend at the moment.
Finally up to the top of Portobello Road to Honest Jon’s, the best world / dub / ethnic store on earth. The genial Alan Scholefield was behind the counter spinning unbelievable deep reggae cuts and coming out to discuss Trikont comps of Vietnamese street music (“total Bo Diddley”). We grabbed a bunch of the latest Honest Jon’s comps – including one compiling ’70s bands from Upper Volta – and I scored a Tabu Ley Rochereau record from 1969 and a clean original Fela Ikoyi Blindness Nigerian pressing for £25.
Great day? ABSOLUTELY.