We pick 17 of the finest music stores in Britain
Andrew Trendell

11:20 16th April 2014

Record Store Day draws ever nearer, as thousands of music fans will be lining the streets on Saturday 19 April to queue outside their favourite record stores to grab this year's exclusive releases. But let's not forget what it's all about - amazing independent and smaller record stores. Here are 17 of the UK's best. 

There's much more to running a record store than just leaving some CDs and vinyl out in crates and letting folk hand over cash - it's about offering an experience. That experience is one of community, celebration, knowledge and atmosphere. That's what all of these record stores have in abundance.

Some have been around for generations and gone down in rock n' roll history, others are relatively new but still showing the world how it's done. Of course we can't list them all, but here are 17 of the UK's most brilliant and renowned record stores. Happy Record Store Day, long live record stores. 

  • The Music Exchange, Nottingham: Die-hard Notts music lovers were still mourning the loss of the legendary Selectadisc, when The Music Exchange continued their spirit. Not only did they have an awesome and affordable range of stock, but they also championed the underrated local scene, are a favourite of Notts fashion icon Paul Smith and also acts as a commendable social enterprise. Sadly, they closed down last month - but we included them to remind you of the importance of supporting your local record store.

  • Rough Trade, London: An obvious choice, but with good reason. Opening in 1976 before fuelling the punk movement and spawning Rough Trade Records (giving a home to everyone from The Smiths to The Libertines), Rough Trade now has legendary offspring around the world - but the two in London offer a mecca to music lovers. They have an unbeatable range of stock and put on intimate in-stores to huge names like Beady Eye, London Grammar and Queens Of The Stone Age.

  • Rise, Bristol: Musically, Bristol is a world unto itself - but somehow inspiring the world with the generations of eclectic acts it produces. Selling books, comics and posters as well as old and new records, Rise does all that it can to harvest and cultivate Bristol's inimitable subculture.

  • Eastern Bloc, Manchester: A pilgrimage for lovers of white label vinyl, an amazingly varied range of stock and they even a brilliant cafe serving cake and their own blend of coffee. Not bad, eh?

  • Union Music, Lewes: They have their own label, put on gigs, sell everything from posters and vinyl to t-shirts and Lord knows what else - all in one of the most intimate and charming settings you can hope to find. VIP customers include Mumford & Sons, who loved Lewes so much they even held their own festival there.

  • Banquet, Kingston Upon Thames: Over a decade ago, Beggars Banquet decided to close all its shops - but two of the store's most dedicated frequenters were having none of it. Now, their "indie-minded shop touching on very mainstream things" is a hub for local culture and is famed for its unsnobbish attitude.

  • Jumbo Records, Leeds: A local institution and the beating heart of a scene that has given us so very much.

  • Record Collector, Sheffield: Of course the city that gave us Pulp, Arctic Monkeys and Human League was going to have an amazing record store. Frequented by the late great John Peel on his hunt for rarities, local legend Richard Hawley describes it as a 'little temple of knowledge'.

  • Piccadilly Records, Manchester: The Peoples' Republic of Mancunia has always been a hotbed for amazing music, and born in 1978, Piccadilly has been at the heart of it generations. They strike that rare balance of expert knowledge and a friendly approach.

  • Sound It Out, Teeside: The last surviving record store in one of the UK's most deprived areas, Sound It Out continues to thrive and cultivate the local music community like no other. Check out Jeanie Finlay's astonishing documentary of the same name to fall in love with it yourself.

  • LOVEMusic, Glasgow: Simply an amazing catalogue and amazing atmosphere in one of the UK's most vibrant musical cities.

  • Vinyl Pimp, Hackney Wick: One of the most achingly cool vinyl re-sellers in London, or anywhere else.

  • Spillers Records, Cardiff: Founded in 1894, Spillers is not only the world's oldest record store but one of its best. It's a struggle for record stores to survive, so these guys must be doing something brilliantly right to still be going strong after over a century. No wonder they're championed by Welsh heroes Huw Stephens and Manic Street Preachers.

  • BM Soho, London: Formerly known as Black Market Records, this legendary store is London’s longest running independent specialist underground dance music record shop. Don't just take our word for it, Will Kennard from Chase & Status telling The Guardian that it was 'an iconic place, one of the centres of the whole drum'n'bass scene."

  • Soundclash, Norwich: Still going strong since 1991, Soundclash was named one of Britain's best small shops by the Guardian in 2007. The secret to its success and survival? The customer service and sheer range of everything from vinyl to gig tickets breeds a loyal following throughout East Anglia.

  • Phonica, Soho, London: Not only a Mecca for lovers of dance and electronic music, but now a record label too. They're renowned for miles around and sure to be packed to the rafters come Record Store Day.

  • Pie and Vinyl, Southsea: Excellent service, beautiful screenprints, brilliant vinyl - oh and they servce delicious pie...by the sea. What more do you want?

  • Reckless Records, London: The first record store in Berwick Street and key to the heart of Soho since 1984, Reckless even features on the cover of Oasis' (What's The Story) Morning Glory and is just as legendary.

  • Resident Records, Brighton: Few music scenes are as vibrant and welcoming as that of Brighton - and since 2004, Resident Records have done their utmost to reflect that.

  • Pop Recs Ltd, Sunderland: Designed and managed Frankie & The Heartstrings, Pop Recs is a thing of beauty - not just an independent record shop but also a music venue, a coffee shop and a gallery. Visit there at all costs.

  • Rob's Records, Nottingham: Not one to visit if you've just popped out on your lunch break, but if you've got a spare few hours and the resolve to climb over and under piles of unsorted records, you're pretty much guaranteed to uncover a gem. A local landmark and true treasure trove.

  • Sister Ray, London: A new addition to the capital's already bustling record scene - but a welcome one. Personality and great service meets a pretty damn good range of stock for this neighbour to the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch.

Photo: Press