Why We Love Record Shops!

spillers records cardiff 01

So its Record Store day across the UK tomorrow(16th of April). Taking place in 150 independent stores up and down the country, featuring exclusive performances from artists and exciting limited vinyl releases from large label acts right down to those starting out. It’s basically a wonderful celebration of that much-loved institution in this country the Record Shop.

So that got us thinking about or own memories of Record shopping as a kid, that feeling of excitement when rifling through actual vinyl records plastered in intriguing artwork, and offering you a window upon unique worlds (Bowie, The Clash, Dylan, Kate Bush, and beyond). And that was even before you got home to christen your newly acquired piece of vinyl(7″, 12″) removing the sleeve like your handling a new born baby, the distinctive smell hitting your nostrils and when the needle hit you were taken to another place. But what of those special Record Shops that you remember as a kid? Michael James Hall (Grace Cathedral Park) guides us through his memories of Record Shops(like Music Mania, Spilers) whilst growing up in South Wales and those that the still frequents to this day in London(Sister Ray, Rough Trade ect).

Music Mania in Merthyr Tydfil is my favourite record shop. It brought me, in my younger years, the exotic, otherworldly joy and frisson of metal bands like WASP, Motley Crue and Iron Maiden, then as my tastes moved on with age it delivered my first Dinosaur Jr 7” (99p), a grab-bag of cd singles by bands as varied as Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Orbital, Teenage Fanclub and Paw – it’s importance in my formative musical life peaking with my purchase of ‘In Utero’ on it’s first day of release. I was with three friends who all bought a copy each and we bunked off school to listen to it for the rest of the day. Good times.

Music Mania closed more than fifteen years ago, the first step in making Merthyr a place where you just can’t buy music any more – a sad scenario repeated in towns and cities across the UK over the last decade.

Spillers Records in Cardiff is clearly the BEST record shop in existence – but it’s system of cardboard photocopied sleeves rammed ‘alphabetically’ into tiny, cramped shelving pockets just didn’t please my childhood need for bright and shiny displays. These days I’d rather buy a record from there – wherever it may have had to run and relocate in the face of Cardiff’s ‘progress’ – than anywhere
else, even though I now live just a stone’s throw from London’s legendary Sister Ray and Rough Trade. You can take the boy out of Wales…etc

I worked for a few years at HMV in Central London – a company that’s now closing it’s shops at a terrifyingly swift rate – and while HMV was never technically a ‘good’ record store, it provided many people with their main point of access to the music they wanted, sometimes needed, and best of all – loved. There’s still something to be said for the mass appeal of a chain store that may
well have made it’s bread and butter from chart compilations but would often be the only place around you could find a Dead Kennedys album or, in brighter days, a ton of old Dylan cds at a fiver a throw.

The fall of Fopp, the death of Virgin/Zavvi, the downsizing of HMV and the mass migration of kids from the local indie store to i-tunes or pirate bay are all indicators that I’ll be a part of the last generation to have the sort of memories described above – the weight of vinyl in your hands, the smell of a brand new sleeve, the bittersweet joust between you and the know-better guy behind
the counter, the joy of finding a deleted or rare album after months of rabidly searching the shelves of every record shop around for miles.

Record Store Day is a yearly wake-up call to say it doesn’t HAVE to be this way. There ARE still record shops left and we can help them survive. The bands we love – from Springsteen to Superchunk, Thom Yorke to Tom Petty(or even the Ting Tings should you prefer) also want you to hear their records on a physical, actual, real format you can eye up on your shelf and display proudly to your
friends – that’s why they and hundreds of others release exclusive singles and albums to indie shops on Record Store Day. Your local independent record shop, should you be blessed enough to have one, is the last bastion of the visceral, vital experience of record buying. They are the window to a vast, encyclopedic world of musical history and modern excitement. Treasure it, support it, and, above all, enjoy the music they offer!

Listen to our MIXTAPE: We Love Record Store day of releases that you can purchase tomorrow!

What are you memories of record shopping? What are your favourite Record Shops?

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.