Why the book Vinyl London is a Crate Digger’s delight.
I remember when Beano’s (my local record shop in Croydon) shut down in 2010. Gone are the days of taking in my charity shop finds to part exchange for the luscious secondhand vinyl adorning its walls. If only Beano’s had held on for just a few more years it could have made it! Fast forward to 2019 and record shops are sprouting like daisies all over the U.K, Europe and across the globe.
I must confess that I am no longer a London local, having moved to sunny Suffolk six years ago. I was nevertheless gripped when a copy of Vinyl London landed on my doormat in early June. Written by Tom Greig, it is a feast for the eyes and whetted my palate for a trip to the big smoke.
This handy guide kicks off with a map of some of London’s vinyl hot spots. The map cuts off South London a little prematurely at around Zone 2, and would have benefitted from adding landmarks and tube stations; aside from these issues however, Vinyl London gives an excellent overview of where vinyl shops are in the capital.
Sumptuous photography by Sam Mellish gives you an insight into what to expect when you enter the holy sanctums of these wonderful shops. Tom Greig’s information is also invaluable in stopping you from wasting time visiting an outlet that specialises in genres that don’t interest you. Each entry also has an introduction to the shop’s history, coveys the atmosphere of the place and gives you an overview of the general stock.
You quickly realise how passionate these record shop owners are about spreading the love of sacred plastic discs. Crate digging is as much a hobby as a social event with many dealers, hosting live events, creating their own record labels and offering coffees and discussion alongside your vinyl perusal.
I was also delighted to discover record shops that I didn’t even know existed housed within this user friendly paperback. It guides you through the eclectic mix of obscure shops (one housed in a shipping container) to the relative mega hubs of 'Rough Trade' in East London. Also listed are record cafes, local record fairs and markets (well worth an inspection if on the hunt for bargains) and info on shops in the London suburbs.
Greig also reveals which outlets have genres so rare they should be on the 'endangered species list' and includes the handful of brave heroes who don’t sell their treasures online. I very much look forward to my next expedition to London, fully armed with a copy of Vinyl London in search of these particular treasures.
Reviewed by Amanda Caswell-Robinson for Whizzy Wallop Vinyl.
Vinyl London by Tom Greig
Photography by Sam Mellish
Published by ACCCARTBOOKS