We take you through some of the festivities taking place this Saturday.
So, the big day is almost upon us. Over the past few years, as the sales of vinyl have gone through the roof and many more youngsters have joined the old guard in developing a wax addiction, it’s become something of a red letter day. With labels pouncing on the opportunity to re-issue rare, and sometimes not so rare, records, as well as brand new material, and carnival-esque street parties taking place across London, the event shows no sign of losing momentum.
So what can you expect from this year? To provide you with a comprehensive answer to that question, we had a saunter around the capital to find out what’s on the cards for Record Store Day 2014. The epicentre of the action once again will be in the streets of Soho. Long established as the hub of most things vinyl, there’s an eclectic array of genres at your disposal within a radius of a few hundred metres. This variety is well represented in a richly varied programme of events, all a few minutes walk from Oxford Circus. Sister Ray is the old-timer here, with 25 years of service under its belt and an amount of stock so vast, it borders on intimidating. With such a heritage, it’s not too surprising that they’re going the whole hog with a proper stage and the likes of Adam Ant set to bring something that the older contingent will appreciate. They’re expecting punters to be queuing up from as early as 4am (!), so you might want to make your way straight from your Friday night out to ensure you get your hands on what your looking for. Just try and sober up a bit first.
But for majority of Hyponik readers, it will be the side streets surrounding the main stage that will offer the most attractive prospects. With a triumvirate of quality electronic music stores in the shape of Sounds Of The Universe, Phonica and BM Soho, whether it’s House, Techno, Grime, Garage, Dubstep, Drum n’ Bass, or anything inbetween for that matter, you’re going to find something to please your eardrums.
After a resoundingly tropical affair last year in the sun, Sounds of the Universe looks set to continue where it left off, bringing a handful of the most well respected DJs around to play in-store on Broadwick Street itself. Associated with the ever-wonderful Soul Jazz Records, it’s hardly surprising that SOTU should have such a stellar line-up, as it welcomes the likes of Alexander Nut, Illum Sphere, Andrew Ashong and Four Tet to the turntables. It’s also a store for bookworms, as its selection of literature on the subject of music is the perfect way to bone up on the topic and impress/bore your friends with your newfound knowledge.
It’s already been a big year for Phonica, with it celebrating a landmark 10th birthday, complete with a nice little compilation to mark the occasion. It’s certainly asserted itself as the go-to venue for house and techno over the decade, thanks to some great members of staff and a litany of in-stores that have seen so many of the best in the biz perform for free in an intimate setting. Squeezing into the building are an army of selectors, with a lot of Hyponik’s favourites making an appearance. Special Request, Throwing Snow and Call Super will be gracing everyone with their presence, with loads of special guests set to be showing their faces. My tip’s got to be DMX Krew, expect the best. This one’s set to be a bit of a sweatbox so bring some spare clothes.
If the previous selections haven’t floated your boat and you want something a bit different, BM Soho is there for anyone who’s into the sounds of Dubstep and Drum n’ Bass. Exit Records are having a b2b showcase with dBridge, Fracture and Stray, whilst Vivek represents the darker side of Dubstep and, in a act of sheer genius, there’s going to be free cocktails flowing and chances to win records and hardware throughout the long day.
Of course, if you fancy a wander from the beaten track, there’s plenty going on elsewhere to pull you away from the madding crowd. For me, Honest Jon’s is the best store in London, with a refreshingly refined take on new stock. Rather than flood the store with the next flash-in-the-pan act to make a quick buck, Honest Jon’s has an impeccably selected array of records. With a focus on Reggae, Soul and the weirder side of the musical spectrum, if they have it in stock, it’s going to be good. After a small spat with the local council, they’re set to have a market stall set up outside the store drawing from the forgotten annals of the store’s history, buried deep in the dungeons of the storage rooms. Record Store Day shouldn’t just be about indulging in the new, with this stall set to have many forgotten gems that are once again set to see the light of day. With some set to fly as cheap as chips, it might be worth getting down early to reap the rewards before enjoying a few beverages. Be sure to check out the Caribbean takeaway down the road too.
For a fresh-faced youngster in a pool of well established contenders, Kristina Records on Kingsland Road has quickly established itself as one of the major players in the record store game. The minimal interior belies the depth of choice available to customers. Whilst it might be moving more towards the electronic end of the spectrum, there’s always going to be a few unexpected finds in store, whether it’s prog rock or new wave. Mr Beatnick, Bell Towers and Tevo Howard are all stepping up to the plate to provide entertainment, so you’ll be well looked after. And then there’s rumblings of a potential set from a DJ who would undoubtedly be my top pick of the day (should he make an appearance)…
Whilst there is certainly some great stuff going on at the more established stores, arguably one of the best things about Record Store Day is shying away from the biggest players in the game and showing some love to the ever-dependable second hand stores dotted around the capital. For me, it’s these treasure troves that can often deliver the most joy. Whilst they may not be offering the shiny new bits, you can rest assured that there’s numerous pieces of black gold nestling amongst the shop, just waiting to be picked up.
If you fancy a chinwag, why not make your way up the road from Kristina to the secluded Eldica. A diggers paradise, it’s not hard to see why the likes of J-Rocc have been papped in the store and the friendly gent who served us was more than willing to chat to us about everything from buying a t-shirt off late R&B singer Bobby Byrd in Clapham to making mixtapes for The Clash whilst they were on tour in ’76. We probably could have stayed there for the whole day mulling over the JBs discograpy, but alas we had work to do.
Closer to home for me is Camberwell’s Rat Records, and it’s served me well. They’re welcoming a bunch of local DJs to bring a personal touch to the proceedings. They pride themselves on having the cheapest and best selection of classics and obscurities so if you can stomach a trip south of the river, it will be well worth your time. I managed to bolster my Black Sabbath collection there as well, which is always a bonus.
But what did we learn from our journey across London? One particularly astute employee perhaps put it best when he asked, ‘is not every day Record Store Day?’, albeit coupled with a hearty laugh at the cheesy sentiment. For a relatively small proportion of top calibre exclusive releases, there’s a slew of unnecessary reissues of records that can be bought for small change at record exchanges, all with a mark-up price that can be quite hard to stomach. The more cynically minded amongst us might complain that the bigger labels are cashing in with lazy rehashed material dressed up in the emperor’s new clothes of wacky coloured vinyl, with little reverence for the culture behind the scene. But to put the event down for this may be a little harsh. If the prospective line-ups and plans across London are anything to go by, Record Store Day 2014 is set to be a resounding success. Support your local record dealers, no matter where you are, and get involved in the action.
And in case you were wondering, here are my top five picks for the exclusive releases this year:
Dance Mania- ‘Revival Traxx’ (Dance Mania)
Die Kreuzen – ‘Cows and Beer’ (Barbarian Records)
Joy Division – ‘An Ideal For Living’ (An Ideal For Living)
Kode 9 And The Spaceape – ‘Memories Of The Future’ (Hyperdub)
Donna McGhee – ‘Make It Last Forever’ (Red Greg Records)
Words: Patrick Henderson
Photography: Conor McTernan