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Bobbyisms: Best places to find vinyl

Bobby Foley | Interrobang | Culture | April 11th, 2011

I write about random things a lot. I write a lot about random things. And okay, I know that I always fill this space with insights or interviews to do with music, but the reason this particular column is random is that I've actually planned this one out in advance!

If this isn't your first time reading, you may know I collect vinyl. I love the medium, honestly, and I'm always very excited to share my finds. As such, the question I've been asked the most by Interrobang readers is where to get vinyl here in London.

Now, I know it's the end of the school year, but no matter whether you're staying in London or heading out of town, it's a great time to grow your collection... or perhaps a great time to get some vinyl for your collection before you travel back home to see it.

Any way you look at it, there are a lot of options in London for vinyl collectors. Listed below are my favourite few shops; I've recently visited all of them to give you the most accurate report I can, so if you choose to go, tell them that I sent you. But please, tell me right after so I can then rush over and introduce myself.

The Village Idiot - 519-434-9594
"And how's this troublemaker?" asked the man behind the counter, though I'm not sure I've ever met him. Good, I replied, telling him I hadn't been in the shop for quite some time. "I know," he answered. "I was beginning to think you didn't like me anymore."

Located at 133 Wortley Rd. in Wortley Village, a few minutes south of downtown London, The Village Idiot is a great shop, and the perfect example of a classic vinyl store — though there is a staggeringly large selection, it is (nearly) all used vinyl and mostly rock and jazz records.

On my most recent visit, I purchased Stevie Ray Vaughan's Couldn't Stand The Weather ($10), the Blues Brothers' Briefcase Full Of Blues ($10) and Transvision Vamp's If Looks Could Kill 12" ($5).

City Lights Bookshop - 519-679-8420
Located at 356 Richmond St., just north of York St., you might walk past this place if it weren't for the hand-made sign beside the otherwise nearly invisible entrance. A staircase immediately leads you to the third floor, but the vinyl treasures you can find in the room at the top of the stairs is astounding.

This shop doesn't have a huge collection, but it is a good one. Though all of the vinyl here is used, most of it is in stellar condition, as though from someone's personal collection. Popular music from the 1970s and '80s is the general theme here, and if that fits your interest, I would recommend this shop before all others.

On my most recent visit, I purchased Stevie Ray Vaughan's Texas Flood ($5) and Peter Gabriel's So ($5).

Sunrise Records
Sunrise Records has three locations here in London, (and all of them have a section of vinyl that you can browse through). Unlike those shops mentioned above, Sunrise carries only new releases on vinyl, and the average price is around $18 to $25 per album.

Also noteworthy is that Sunrise is the only music chain I've found that actually stocks vinyl - HMV are happy to look in a database and place an order for you, but they don't have any actual vinyl to browse through.

At White Oaks Mall (519-649- 4493), Sunrise has a vinyl section you could easily get lost in for a half an hour. The selection is very diverse, and they have vinyl available that really speaks to collectors of new music; as far as locations in London for new releases on vinyl, Sunrise at White Oaks mall is the place to go.

On my most recent visit, I purchased Brand New's Daisy and John Mayer's Battle Studies.

At Masonville Place (519-661- 0942), however, the vinyl selection at Sunrise seems wildly different; though their selection is as large as White Oaks, for some reason at this mall, the titles you can choose from are more indie than popular. You might really dig this place — if you're closer to here than White Oaks, all the more power to you.

On my most recent visit, I purchased Bright Eyes' The People's Key and John Mayer's Continuum.

Sunrise also has a location downtown, at 209 Dundas St. (519- 642-2257), very close to Clarence Street. This location has a selection that nearly rivals White Oaks for variety and appeal, but the average cost here is considerably higher - many of the same records as the other stores are here marked on average from $22 to $30 per album.

Though a bit more expensive, this downtown location offers a great selection in a very convenient area of London. Definitely worth it if you're looking for new vinyl but don't make a lot of trips to the malls.

On my most recent visit, I purchased Bob Marley and the Wailers' greatest hits record, Legend.

Grooves - 519-640-6714
Located at 353 Clarence St. across from Citi Plaza downtown, Grooves has all your needs covered. New and used vinyl have distinct sections in the shop, while the latter — some four times larger than the former — is so expansive and complete, it contains entire decades' worth of artists and their work. And used vinyl will likely only cost you $5 or $6 dollars.

Despite its vast selection, Grooves is the one shop I haven't bought any vinyl in, and it's simply because I can't make up my mind on anything while I'm in there. Even simply looking through old records is overwhelming, because there are so many great ones to choose from, like Van Halen, Steely Dan, Depeche Mode and way more.

That's about it. Congratulations on another school year done, everyone, and thanks for reading. I hope you have a great summer, be safe. Then be a little reckless. But safely.

If you're on the Twitter and interested in keeping up on music news and downloads, check out @FSU_Bobbyisms. I'm sharing all that stuff there just because I like to, no reason why you shouldn't benefit from it. And keep in touch, too. That would be awesome ... but no pressure. I'm out of words.
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