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Off the Record

London Confidential's guide to record shopping

Written by . Published on October 5th 2011.

Off the Record

ENVISAGE that rush you get when you buy an album, the initial unwrapping of the record, the fresh, unscratched disc  and the images they conjure up. Popping it into the machine and listening to it on repeat until you get sick of it. The shear contentment you feel whilst looking at your collection growing and the satisfaction that playing each one brings. The atmosphere and the aroma of the little record shop, hidden down a lane in the darkest depths of London. Surely there are still people out there who love the idea of a hardcopy, something tactile that can be treasured? Yet the reality is that cheaper and more accessible music is available on the Internet, which is slowly causing a decline of our much-loved record shops.

Take for instance, Dub Vendor. This September saw the shop close its doors for the last time after over 30 years, due to a drop in sales, congestion charges and perhaps damages caused by the recent rioting in London. All is not lost, as they have created an online shop so you can still purchase your original ska, rocksteady and reggae records. In celebration of the iconic music retailer created by music lovers, for music lovers we have put together a few of the best record shops around London, so take a look and perhaps make the effort to go visit them, unlike the generic HMV with mainstream chart toppers, record shops have unknown alternative artists, back catalogues of true legends and are an experience in their own right.



Rough Trade East
Unlike many of the smaller record shops, Rough Trade East is known throughout London and beyond. Situated in Brick Lane, it is a hit with the younger generation as well as its devout customers. Rapidly becoming a mecca, providing the cool kids with crucial music, whilst also home to a live stage for all of us who feel involved with the store. The independent record hub has two homes, Rough Trade East in Brick Lane and West on Talbot Road. While the hip east shop is full of walls adorned with posters and artwork and its famous photo booth, the west store is for the more serious music lovers and offers a more experienced service. Providing that the music genre doesn’t become to mainstream and stray from a leftfield catalogue of music, this store will be around for a while.

Rough Trade East

'Dray Walk'

Old Truman Brewery

91 Brick Lane


E1 6QL

T: 0207 392 7788



Situated on Essex Road in Islington and opened in 1997, this store is fairly young in comparison to the other record stores in the capital. However, founded with the view to change the record shop experience from intimidating to enjoyable, it was voted the 17th best shop in London (this means all shops, not just record stores!). The shop has a wide  selection of music and with it being mostly second-hand stock; the prices are absolute bargains! One of the shop’s most attention grabbing quirks is the comical, inventive wall and window displays, a must see in itself! This shop caters for all ages, genres, with a collection of vinyl’s and CD’s, current and collectable.

50 Essex Road



N1 8LR

T: 020 7354 9356




Honest Jon’s
This legendary record store has been established for over 35 years and is described as the essential meeting place for the London Jazz scene. Honest Jon’s has a wide range of soul, reggae, jazz and global music. Located on Portobello Road in west London, the sanctuary for all music lovers is now a renowned record label. The small Notting Hill shop is for serious music enthusiasts, providing you with a wonderfully thought out collections of iconic music. Although the quirky shop is more for the more music educated of us, the shop is very inviting and the employees are very helpful and  personable.

278 Portobello Road


W10 5TE


T: 0208 969 9822

Rssisterray1 Sister Ray
With a formidable reputation and an extensive back catalogue of music, Sister Ray is a definite must for beat fanatics. Named after the Velvet Underground song, Sister Ray has been graced with performances from the likes of Lily Allen and Richard Hawley. Delve deep into racks and treasure troves of indie, mainstream pop-rock, dance, hip-hop, electronica, garage rock, drum ‘n’ base, techno, industrial, house, metal and drone, one of the more general stores  of this selection so far.  Again, another great independent shop that stocks  affordable records - as well as being named Music Week’s Independent Record Shop of the Year in 2007.

34 – 35 Berwick Street


London W1F 8RP

T: 020 7734 3297



Out on the Floor Records
Self-proclaimed ‘digital orbit of audio vinyl and digital delights’, Out on the Floor Records in Camden is a sanctuary for big record hoarders. Separated onto 3 floors, the cool shop houses soul, jazz rock, reggae and punk records. The basement supplies guitar music, the middle floor is home to ‘Backroom Records’, which caters to the collector market, whilst the top floor is home to Up, which stocks 12 inch reggae and ‘60’s soul music. Out on the Floor Records is the first place DJ’s turn to and for those who dread the idea of entering a giant HMV.

10 Inverness Street

London NW1 7HJ

Camden Town

T: 020 7485 9958

Photo credit: Kate Berry

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