London 7th June – Record Shopping

Back home from London and back at the MacBook. I had about 5 hours of wandering time on Friday morning with no pressure to be anywhere or do anything so it was time to have a wander. The first place I stopped to browse through the record racks was ‘Sounds of the Universe’. Upstairs was new vinyl, and I browsed through that, almost buying a couple of things but didn’t want to blow my limited budget straight away. There was a fair bit of soul, jazz, electronic and rock upstairs but I was dripping wet from the persistent rain on the walk there and a little uncomfortable, so I moved on around the corner where I knew there were two more shops.

I went to Sister Ray first, I’ve been there before and headed into the smallish basement to see what I could find down there. It didn’t take long. I’d been looking for ‘The Epic’ by Kamasi Washington for a while (it had been on sale in a local record store and I kept thinking next time I go I’ll get it, then it was gone). It’s a triple album, in a nice box with some extra pages with a story on I haven’t read yet, nicely packaged.

It seems that this and subsequent releases are quite polarising, in that a lot of people don’t seem to see any value in it whatsover, other than appreciating the skill if the musicians. I’m much simpler than seasoned jazz listeners, I either like it or I don’t, at a high level, so I enjoy listening to it? Yes I do, that’s all I care about really.

I actually bought all but 1 of the records I got at Sister Ray, the next was from 1959, and I mentioned it before, John Lee Hooker, ‘House of the Blues’. A re-issue which was very reasonably priced at £11, as many of these 1959 albums are now, although the originals in good condition are, of course, much pricier, but I want them to listen to not as an investment so a re-issue is fine for me.

I was looking for a Howlin Wolf album as well but didn’t find it, I’m sure it’s been reissued at some point though.

There was a lot at Sister Ray that I didn’t look through, spending most of my time in the Jazz and Blues section. Last time I went through the Krautrock and some of the rock, electronic etc, indie, punk, all that, but I was still damp and uncomfortable so I just did what I felt like doing and didn’t worry about maybe missing something good. While in the jazz section I saw a John Coltrane re-issue of ‘A Love Supreme’, which was an album I’d been meaning to get for ages so that became number 3 in Sister Ray.

I was about done down in the basement but had a very quick scout around and did find one more thing that was a nice surprise. I’ve been looking for a copy of Takk by Sigur Rós ‎for what seems like forever, and there was one just sitting there. Not the original, which I think was released as 10″ vinyl, but a repress from 2015 on 2 x 12″ with one 10″ containing a single track on one side and etching on the other. The cover is embossed and the 10″ slips quite cleverly in a pocket in the sleeve. Not that I knew this at the time as Sister Ray is one of those shops where you take a photocopy of the sleeve to the counter and they get the records for you from the shelves behind them.

the actual albums behind the counter

So I was delighted to get a copy of Takk, and it’s a really nice re-issue, although not cheap. I had tried to get it from Canada once and the one I bought worked out about £30 cheaper than that one, so I feel a little better about it.

Just across the road is Reckless Records, so I popped in there and didn’t find much, but I was looking for rather specific things and so limiting myself, there was plenty there really. I bought another re-issue, as second 1959 album, this time from Ornette Coleman and ‘The Shape of Jazz to Come’, which I’d streamed a lot since writing the Best of 1959 post, so I was glad to find that.

This is Reckless Records, inside and out. I did see one album that I seriously though about getting and I am regretting a little that I didn’t, but never mind, too late now.

I then went to Phonica, as it was quite nearby but didn’t expect to really find anything as it is mostly for DJ’s I think, white label vinyl, electronic, not very mainstream. I didn’t find anything.

I then went back to Sounds of the Universe and had a look in the basement where there were some used records and a lot of books. I could have at this point bought the couple of albums that tempted me earlier, but I was close to having spent enough and they were both quite pricey. So I headed off to find Fopp, which would be my last record shop for the day. I was really very wet by now and getting grumpy and at the point where I just wanted to have a sit down with a coffee. Fopp was disappointing really, I bought nothing there.

And that was it. I’m pretty pleased with my purchases and, I ended up back in Leicester square where this happened: