Tag Archives: Record shops

Crate digging in Paris

bild 1You know there are myths about French people being rude? Well, that’s of course a stereotype and a misunderstanding, but when I was in Paris looking for records the other week I actually experienced it. For the second time. Both times it has happened in record shops.

The first time was two years ago when I visited the grumpy old man at Goodies Records. He asked me to leave, or rather threw me out, when I didn’t buy anything.

And three weeks ago it happened again. I wasn’t asked to leave though. This time it was the other way around, since I wasn’t allowed to pay for my records at Crocodisc until I had listened to five records suggested by the record store clerk. When I finally got to pay for Ras Michael’s Rastafari in Dub, The Skatalites’ Rolling Steady and Prince Jammy’s Computerised Dub he slammed each record down on the counter as some kind of statement. A very weird experience.

Luckily all other people I met in record stores, or at other places, were not ruder than in any other country. The owner of Heartbeat Vinyl was extremely helpful and friendly, so was the people at Betinos, Superfly Records, Music Avenue, Le Silence de la Rue and Patate, the latter probably being the most well-known reggae record store in France.

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For a full list of all the record stores I visited check Reggaemani on Instagram. For a very comprehensive list of record stores in Paris you can check this thread on Discogs.

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Record store rundown Barcelona

Recently got home from a three day trip to Spain and the beautiful city of Barcelona. Coming from the northern part of Europe it was a blessing to have sun more than four hours a day and a decent temperature. Since I live in Stockholm, Sweden, the temperature in January is usually below zero, whereas in Barcelona it was well-over ten degrees. No further explanation needed.

But Barcelona is more than sweet climate and thoughtful architecture signed Antoni Gaudí. It’s also a city for hunting reggae records, and prior to my journey I had conducted some research which showed that Barcelona still has some record shops. King Atupali Records looked particularly tasty since it stashed lots of reggae. A pity though that it was closed the three times I walked by.

I visited about eight stores focusing mainly on rock and dance music in the El Raval and the Barri Gòtic areas, and it actually shocked me that I wasn’t the only customer in the store. It seems that people in Barcelona actually still buy physical records – both CD and vinyl. They’re probably the only ones left doing so. Well, me too. And I managed to pick up four LP’s – the recently reissued In the Kingdom of Dub by Scientist, Prince Ras Murray’s Militant Dread, Kayawah & The Movement Band’s Culture Rock and the various artists’ compilation Rockers Vibration, the only original of the bunch.

Discos Paradiso in El Raval, Barcelona, Spain.

Discos Paradiso in El Raval, Barcelona, Spain.

Speaking of originals, most of the reggae I found was reissues, mostly from Kingston Sounds/Jamaican Recordings. These guys must have an insane distribution network. I tend to find their material everywhere I go.

Anyhow, there wasn’t much second hand vinyl, which is a pity. I had high hopes to score some gems. But then again, I didn’t have the time to visit all the stores I had looked up, so I might be in for a great surprise when I visit next time.

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Why I love record stores

This past weekend I was in Uppsala to attend the Uppsala Reggae Festival. During my stay I had some spare time, and decided to find a record store or two. Since I didn’t find any using Google I posted a question on Facebook where to find record stores in Uppsala. The only answer I got was the rather laconic “record stores, what’s that?”

And that’s actually terrible, because it’s true.

Few people are buying physical records these days and even fewer buy them in a physical venue. In this digital age most people – myself included – buy records, digital or physical, online using Amazon and other huge retailers.

There’s of course an ever increasing amount of people that are using streaming services such as Spotify or Wimp. And don’t get me started on the whole piracy issue.

Personally, I love record stores. At the age of twelve I started hanging out in record stores in Stockholm at least once a week.

Nowadays I don’t visit them as much. Partly because the number of physical retailers, in Sweden as well as in other places, has decreased. And the ones that are still with us have a limited stock, which makes it much easier to buy online.

The number of music retailers continues to fall and will probably do so in the coming years as well. And that’s a real pity. I believe that the physical shops fill an important function that can’t be found online.

I mean, you don’t have that scent of vintage vinyl records. Sure some people may call it musty, but it’s rather the scent of history.

You also have the record store clerks, or may I call some of them nerds. You don’t have these people to talk to and discuss with on Amazon. You can of course find the information on Internet forums and blogs these days. But again, it’s not the same as the actual conversation.

If you purchase your records online you also miss out on all the great surprises that can be found in the physical store. Online you can type in your keywords and probably get the exact information. But, in the store there’s another type of hunting going on. I just love to leaf through the record bins until my arms hurt and fingers turn red. And the store clerks can show you some nice items from behind the counter. I’ve several times been invited to the back of the store to check out the rarities sold. You don’t get that online.

When in a store you can also choose for yourself what songs to listen to and for how long. Online – someone else has chosen for you. Sure, it might be comfortable, but I want to decide for myself.

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