The best record shops in the world
It was only a decade ago that the humble vinyl LP looked to be heading for the same obsolete fate as the Betamax and the cassette. But the past 12 months have seen a dramatic revival, with more vinyl being sold in the UK than in any other year over the past three decades.
We asked old-school LP lover Rob Crossan, host of the BBC Radio 6 Music show and podcast The Happiness Map, a show that reveals the tracks that remind its musician guests of their favourite travels, to share his pick of the ultimate vinyl-specialist record shops around the world.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The Flip Side
‘Opened by UAE DJ and producer Shadi Megallaa in 2017, The Flip Side is one of the very, very few specialist vinyl stores in the Middle East and has an eclectic range of vinyl from all corners of the globe, plus its own house-produced fanzine, No Budget, and a diverse range of contemporary Arabic music released on pioneering local record labels such as Ark to Ashes and Bedouin Records. It currently ships only to other countries in the Middle East, but if you email the store through the website, the team will be happy to suggest other sources where you may be able to get your hands on rarer releases.’
Address: The Flip Side, Alserkal Avenue, Unit 71, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
‘This vinyl-only warren of records specialises in music from Africa, so expect to find anything from Seventies Yoruban funk bands to new-school Afrobeat pioneers such as Fela Kuti, and even some hilariously cheesy slabs of retro Afrikaans from easy-listening crooners such as Bles Bridges.’
Address: Record Mad, Shop 11, Linden Place, 59 Fourth Avenue, Linden, Johannesburg
‘Ingvar Geirsson, aka DJ Lucky operates this temple to records in Iceland’s capital, specialising in tracks from the most exciting new Icelandic artists, including soundscape experiments from Hekla and the muscular techno beats of Volruptus. All its stock is available to buy online. Even the lights are made of old records in the store itself, which regularly hosts live gigs and DJ sets.’
Address: Lucky Records, 105, Rauðarárstígur 10, Reykjavík, Iceland
PRAGUE, Czech Republic
‘I admit I haven’t been to this brand-new opening yet, but it’s on my list to visit the first chance I get to return to the Czech Republic. I’m fascinated by its approach to vinyl – the husband-and-wife owners are mirroring the slow-food movement. So this is a store which is also a gallery and has comfy spaces for sitting and reading as well as browsing the LPs. The Czech dance-music scene is in rude health at the moment – particularly in the more avant-garde end of electronica – and this is the place where I hope I can buy works by some of my fave artists from Prague right now, such as DJ Loutka and Smeti.’
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
‘This place is owned by an amazing local producer called DJ Soulscape and promotes itself as less a mere record shop and more a cultural movement for young artists. T-shirts, figurines, magazines and DJ booths are all on offer and this is by far the best spot in the city to get acquainted with Seoul’s burgeoning dance music scene. Also, DJ Soulscape and the other guys who run the store, DJ Jeyon and Maalib, are all members of the 360 Sounds collective of artists whose output ranges from hip-hop to Korean pop. All three are often manning the counter, giving advice to novice and old-timer crate surfers – common parlance for vinyl-store junkies.’
Address: rm.360, 1st Floor, 985-11, Bangbae 3-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul
The new series of The Happiness Map with Rob Crossan begins at 1pm on Sunday 8 August on BBC Radio 6 Music and will be available on BBC Sounds shortly afterwards
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