NOWADAYS, music is often as insubstantial as your average ghost. When a song is released into the world it drifts and flows upon the ether – on Spotify, iTunes or SoundCloud – before creeping into the listener’s skull via a plastic earbud, where it haunts the head in a flimsy, flickering, fleeting fashion.
But music used to be a solid thing. Something you touched with covetous hands. It was vinyl. Or a CD. Perhaps even a cassette.
There was album artwork to be adored; lyrics to study on the back of a record sleeve.
Now all that’s gone… though not quite. For hardcore obsessives are keeping the culture of the long player (and single) revolving on a turntable that refuses to grind to a halt. In independent record stores across the nation vinyl is making a valiant last stand.
Here’s our pick of the best shops where that music war is being waged, and perhaps even won by the good guys… the Battling Brigade of Renegade Record Collectors.
97 King Street, 12 Kings Court, Glasgow, Tel: 0141 552 9458
OPERATING from within the ever-so-hip Mono cafe-bar, Monorail Music is merely a brief bohemian saunter from Glasgow’s Trongate.
If you’re not sure what to purchase, there’s expert help to call upon. A number of bona fide musical icons have been spotted serving behind the counter, including Stephen McRobbie, tunesmith with Scottish indie pop legends The Pastels.
The shop has strong connections with numerous other local bands, including Belle & Sebastian and Mogwai
There are also regular in-store performances to enjoy or endure, depending on your taste. (Only kidding. It’s all enjoyable. Just ask Stephen McRobbie, if you don’t believe us.)
347 Leith Walk, Edinburgh, Tel: 0131 561 1363
NOWADAYS gender fluidity is the happening thing. But what about retail fluidity? Elvis Shakespeare is a record store that also presents as a book shop. Or is it a book shop that presents as a record store?
You decide. Better yet, don’t decide, just rummage. You’ll find plenty of rare vinyl and CDs.
Specialisms include punk, alternative, indie and dance, with classical thrown in for any shopper who arrives wearing a smoking jacket and monocle.
13-15 Chisholm Street, Glasgow, Tel: 0141 552 5696
ONE of the few independent shops that not only made a go of the Thatcherite 1980s, but prospered.
Established in ‘83, when it was a mere stall in Argyle Street Market, it’s now a world-wide mega chain with branches in New York, Paris and Rome. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. There’s just the one store in Glasgow. But it’s a very nice store, at that.
The owner has a special affinity for punk and rock, though there’s plenty of records by other artists, too.
There’s also some nifty and natty merchandise, including T-Shirts, hoodies and studded belts, just like Val Doonican used to wear.
Aberdeen VINYL Records
101-103 Union Street, Aberdeen, Tel: 07917 752 713
IN France there are truffle hounds, which are dogs trained to snuffle around in forests, searching for highly prized fungi which taste yum when sprinkled on posh scoff.
In Scotland the truffle hound is less prevalent. Though you will find the vinyl hound, especially if you visit Aberdeen VINYL Records, the vinyl hound’s natural habitat.
The staff of this popular shop buy records from the public, and they have a great nose (and ear) for musical perfection.
They also sell stock to lucky customers, of course.
So just remember, a vinyl disk can be enjoyed for life. (Unlike a truffle, which disappears sharpish, once you’ve sprinkled it on an omelette aux truffles, then chomped the lot.)
35 Howard Street, Glasgow, Tel: 0141 882 9900
THERE’S gadgets galore in this very store, including drum machines, samplers and other dance music hardware. Rubadub also stocks a wide variety of vinyl records.
As you may have guessed, the specialities are house, techno and electronica. The sort of stuff that would make Bob Dylan’s ears bleed.
The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, though probably best not to saunter in with your acoustic guitar, then ask them to sing along while you strum Puff The Magic Dragon.
21 St Stephen Street, Stockbridge, Edinburgh Tel: 0131 629 6775
THERE are many great boxes in history. The blue box that Doctor Who pops into for a quick whiz round the universe.
The well-wrapped boxes that Santa dumps next to the Christmas tree.
And, of course, VoxBox, which specialises in high quality new and used records. This store is a veritable vinyl vestibule for lovers of soul, pop and psychedelia. The back room is the place to bag a bargain.
5 Elm Row, Edinburgh, Tel: 0131 558 1170
WE hear that Vinyl Villains was recently selling a cassette from TV show Heartbeat, with Nick Berry warbling the theme tune.
But don’t let that put you off.
This is another of Edinburgh’s premier music emporiums, where you can dig in the stacks and find gold rather than Nickish Naffness.
An old school shop, you’ll spot obscure gems galore. (And, no. Obscure Gems Galore is not the name of a band fronted by Nick Berry, with fellow soap opera renegade Kylie Minogue on drums.)
34 Dundas Street, Glasgow, Tel: 0141 332 2099
THIS legendary record emporium is a stone’s throw from Queen Street station. Or should that be a Rolling Stone’s throw, considering the sort of chuckable discs on display in Love Music.
But don’t chuck them, even if they do look a lot like frisbees. Because many of the records on display are rare, and all are delightful.
The busy browser will find plenty of second-hand CDs and vinyl, plus an assortment of new releases.
There’s also a wide range of merch, including the obligatory T-shirts, and slightly less obligatory fridge magnets.
Love Music specialises in all forms of rock. The shop supports local groups and record labels, stocking hundreds of unsigned artists. Past in-store appearances have included Moby, KT Tunstall and James Blunt.
33 Union Street, Dundee, Tel: 01382 205 671
THIS busy record store is committed to new music, particularly of the homegrown Scottish ilk. The shop regularly hosts in-store gigs and signings, and brings major acts such as Snow Patrol and Lewis Capaldi to the city for larger shows at local venues. Upcoming events include Travis and Kate Tempest.
As well as releasing local artists’ music on the Assai Recordings label, they have launched Assai Obi Editions, which are exclusive hand-numbered copies of new releases, often signed by the artist.
51 Oswald Street, Glasgow, Tel: 0141 248 7546
ANOTHER stalwart of the West Coast scene, this store has been a rights of passage for many a Glasgow yoof.
For you can only truly say that you have become an adult when you’ve done all of the following…
1) Supped a pint with your old fella in the local boozer.
2) Glanced at your first payslip and muttered: “The tax man nabbed THAT amount, from little ol’ me?!”
3) Rummaged in Missing Records, desperately searching for that sliver of vinyl vim that truly defines you, and everything you stand for.