Have you really been to a city if you don’t visit one of its record shops – heroically rooting a vinyl out of a wooden box, secreting it under your arm so no one else notices your find and tries to wrestle it from you, and finally sliding it over to the judgy bearded man behind the counter? These shops are so often hubs of communities, meeting places for like-minded people, and pointers as to what’s going on in a city, that not to track one down would be to miss out. Here is the definitive guide to the best record shops in 25hours cities.
Wrangelstrasse 95, 10997 Berlin
Where can’t you buy records in Berlin? It wouldn’t really surprise me if you popped into one of the local Spätis and were able to pick up a rare white label by an up-and-coming DJ playing Berghain on Thursday. About 5am. Please queue early to avoid disappointment. For a true German flavour to your audiophiling, however, head down to the ultra-cool Kreuzberg district where you will find 33rpm, a store stocked with more Krautrock than you can rattle a Can at. Punching way above their small size, the friendly staff are sure to help you find that ultra-rare Neu! Japanese 10” you’ve been hankering for, you nerd.
In a city so refined–good-looking, well-dressed people who can really knot a scarf, extraordinary cakes, brilliant bars, gorgeous architecture, criminally good Scandi Noir–they must be able to put in a decent effort with record stores, right? Right (well, I wasn’t going to say “wrong” after all that build up, was I). A three-minute walk from the doors of 25hours Indre By is Accord, the oldest record business in Copenhagen, and still going strong with bargains and rare finds. Once you get back to the hotel, if you make it obvious that you’re not pinching one of their lovely records, you can even spin your new purchase in 25hours’ Vinyl Lounge, and recline on a beanbag chair to drink it in.
You’ve not really visited Florence until you’ve hit Rock Bottom. No–wait–let me explain. A mere 10-minute walk away from the divine madness of 25hours’ Dante’s Inferno-inspired Firenze offering, in a quiet street away from the tourist throngs, nestled in the beautiful Centro Storico, is Rock Bottom Records. Almost out of place amongst the classical grandeur of its surroundings, the sleek store is stacked to the gills and wonderfully curated, covering any genre you’d care to mention. This writer was lucky enough to track down a rare Beatles US LP for a knock-down price…Well, I wasn’t going to say “rock bottom price”, now was I?
The place that moulded the aforementioned Beatles into the band they became was hardly going to skimp on the vinyl. This gritty and cool city has always been the first port (pun intended) of call for new sounds. From the docks of Liverpool or the merchant ships from America, it’s never shied from embracing all comers–the weirder the better–from every corner of the globe. You will find this rich history depicted (and sold back to you) in local institution Zardoz Records, which stocks everything from classical to hip-hop… you might even find a few records by a certain Liverpool four piece–that’s right, The Zutons.
The Flip Side: Unit 71, Alserkal Avenue; Virgin Megastore: Unit SF - 016 - Financial Center Rd - Downtown Dubai
Hardly a city associated with ‘vintage’, ‘bargain’ or ‘second hand’, the shiny edifices of this desert oasis may fool you into thinking that there’s no record box rooting to be done. But where there’s money to be made, Dubai will do it fabulously. The Flip Side is the place to go, especially if you’re into your techno and funk. It is also very much worth noting that, for retro value alone, you really should visit the Virgin Megastore–a Proustian rush for those of us old enough to remember queuing for Arctic Monkeys’ first LP on London’s Oxford Street on a cold winter morning… whoever that may apply to.
It would be rude–and slightly embarrassing–if the home of Kraftwerk, one of the most influential electronic bands of all time, didn’t raise the game when it came to stores full of wax. And so our Trans-Europe Express pulls into Beat Retreat. With one of the most impressive and retro shop fronts on our list–all metro tiling and orange signage–this is, surprisingly, one of the city’s newest record stores. Offering an array of styles to sample for your next banging set or mixtape, there’s everything from jazz, via dub, hip-hop, electronic, and right up to Latin on offer here, as well as many in-store events.
Where most other record stores around the world usually have an air of organised chaos, it’s no surprise that the surprisingly high volume of record shops in this, the largest city in Switzerland, are all finely tuned…like some kind of timing device…I’ll leave it to you to finish the analogy. Mono Records looks as if someone has taken the 25hours design aesthetic and smashed it together with a record shop (now there’s an idea)–all genres are to be found here, and feel free to kick back in one of the plush couches and have a listen to yours or other people’s purchases with a beverage from the in-house bar. Yes please.
You know when you walk into a record store and think, “this is nice, but I wish there was a life-size model of a crocodile suspended over my head whilst I flicked through the racks”? Well, do I have the place for you. In the heart of the student quarter of a city so adept at offering the kind of shops you want to rummage through all day, Crocodisc is an institution, possessing a stock of almost half a million records, with 60,000 on display. With such a vast catalogue, you can expect every genre. Indeed, the shop has now expanded twice to accommodate every music lover’s taste under one roof…a roof which, and I can’t emphasise this enough, has a life-sized-crocodile model suspended from it.