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Vinyl has had somewhat of a resurgence of late with 2016 seeing sales in the fantastic plastic hitting a 25 year high. As ever, our independent businesses, coupled with the local music scene, are on top of things, keeping up with the latest trends in music consumption, if not leading the way.
Record Store Day is just around the corner and 2017 promises to be a big one. Therefore, we’re on hand to let you know the best places for you to spend your day on 22nd April.
Founded by Alan Williams in 1957, The Jac is steeped in history. Lennon and co famously decorated the club in return for them being able to rehearse and perform in the basement, as well as have Williams book them a gig or two. After closing down in 2011, The Jac reopened in 2014 with a vengeance. Each table in the revamped coffee shop features a self-contained booth with a vinyl deck set built in, so you can listen as you sup. The centrepiece of the record store, the ‘cherry on top’, the pièce de résistance, is the restored 1948 Voice-O-Graph booth which allows customers to make their own record. Visitors can record acapella, bring their own instrument, or borrow the in-store guitar to accompany their performance. The Jac’s Voice-O-Graph is one of a few remaining functioning booths in the world, and the only one permanently available to the public in Britain. This will be the hottest spot in town come Record Store Day.
This quaint café is another on the list that has recently been revamped; very recently in fact. Management has changed hands, turning the function space in the back in to a fully-fledged venue, giving the café a lick of paint and opening a brilliant basement vinyl store. This humble little shop has a small, but varied selection with some rare pieces. The owners are as friendly as they are helpful, with interesting insights in to what is on offer and a realistic price range. The café also offers a delicious range of treats, with an exceptional vegan breakfast that includes vegan black pudding (yes, it’s amazing). For a more intimate day, we recommend this hidden gem.
Located below Soho Vintage on Bold Street, Dig Vinyl is also relatively new. So far, we have had the vinyl shops located in a café or bar, something that is popular for obvious reasons. However, vintage clothing and vinyl seem to go together like salt and pepper, a harmony that Dig Vinyl and Soho Vintage strike perfectly. Dig does a fantastic job of stocking a carefully selected range of records new, pre-owned and in many genres. The staff are passionate, friendly and knowledgeable, showing us that these guys don’t just dig vinyl, they live it.
Established in 1971, Probe Records is one of the city’s most loved record stores. Open 7 days a week and stocked with an ever-changing selection, this little haven is a vinyl lover’s dream. The walls are decorated with the staff and owners own selection of what is new, new in or just must be listened to. Relocating a business can do considerable damage, however this has not been the case for Probe since relocating to the heart of Liverpool’s shopping district in 2010, meaning that the shop has enjoyed a wealth of custom, some regulars, some first time buyers. The history and enthusiasm that you’ll find here makes Probe perfect for Record Store Day.
One for the less mainstream among us, 3B Records is located on Slater Street, just along from The Shipping Forecast. 3B is a pleasure to browse around, with an aesthetic that would be more suited to The Baltic Triangle and a selection that keeps up with the best of ‘em. 3B Records are sure to have some great finds come Record Store Day. The shop has a knack of getting in new, interesting presses that no one else has even heard of, let alone has in stock, meaning that you are certain to discover some brand new sounds on every visit; exactly what being a vinyl collector is all about.
This place is a grotto of wonder for the plastic stuff. Tucked away in The Hippie Hole, this place offers a quieter, more cultured experience when shopping. Although Cult is small, it still has crates upon crates, boxes upon boxes of rare and charting vinyl for the customers. Maybe it is something to do with where it is housed, but Cult Vinyl has a certain personality that you won’t find anywhere else.
Defend Vinyl is a little further out of the city if you don’t want the stress of traipsing into the centre. Located on Smithdown Road, Defend is a classic vinyl store with a classic vibe. The staff are well versed in the medium and very helpful with that, meaning that you can browse in the comfort of knowing that you are in the hands of the experts. If you’re looking for some of the classics without the city centre hassle, Defend is your next stop.
The Beatles Shop
One guess at what records this place specialises in; and boy do they specialise in it! If you’re after something new from the Fab4 then you’ve probably lost all hope, but that is where The Beatles Shop, located on the famous Mathew Street, can help. The store has an array of Limited-Edition presses along with vintage posters and books. This basement venue is perfect for tourists and locals alike, as there is no better, or more romantic place to buy a rare Beatles record than on Mathew Street, where the super group spent their early years.
Liverpool independent record stores are plentiful and wonderful. There is something for every sort of vinyl fan, whether that be choice in genre, era or just the surrounding and manner in which they want to listen and browse. Record Store Day is Saturday 22nd April, and with this guide, you can pick exactly where you want to spend it. Stay in one place for the duration, or fly around, the choice is all yours.
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