It’s the annual Record Store Day on Saturday. Here’s our guide to where in the West Midlands you can purchase music in physical form.
HMV is the last remaining big chain, at least in the West Midlands, with stores in Birmingham’s Bull Ring shopping centre, the Merry Hill Centre (on the Upper Mall) in Brierley Hill, the Mander Centre, Wolverhampton, Mell Square, Solihull and Smithford Way, Coventry. Each stocks a wide range of new and catalogue material, from acts famous to niche. Lots of CDs and some vinyl, music video, books and merchandise, and price competitive with the big online players such as iTunes and Amazon.
Birmingham has several independents, Swordfish Records in Dalton Street (behind the Crown pub on Corporation Street) and Polar Bear Records in York Road, King’s Heath. Both eschew most mainstream pop and chart music, aiming more at rock and indie fans. Swordfish is particularly strong on catalogue artists such as the Beatles, Led Zep, Hendrix etc but also offer a wide selection of second hand records, mainly vinyl. Staff at both shops are very knowledgable and up for long chats about the minutiae of their (and possibly your) favourites.
Somewhat smaller and perhaps harder to find is punk and metal store Ignite, who occupy space on the lower floor of the Oasis fashion complex in Corporation Street, and Summit, reggae, dub and roots specialists trading from a stall at the Bull Ring Indoor Market in Edgbaston Street. Opened in June 2016, Psychotron Records is in Sutton Coldfield’s Indoor Market in South Parade. Stock carried – mainly second hand vinyl – is necessarily small, but a visit might well be rewarding for the hardcore music fan and definitely not the place to find Adele and Ed bloody Sheeran.
Arguably the best small record shop in the region is to be found in Royal Leamington Spa, where Head (part of a chain of four stores nationwide) offers a primarily (but by no means exclusively) indie/rock selection, with CDs, vinyl, music DVDs and Blu Rays, plus memorabilia, books and second hand records. Find it on the Lower Mall of the Royal Priors shopping emporium off Warwick Street in the heart of the town. Meanwhile Seismic Records, near the Assembly music venue in Spencer Street, is also well worth a visit. CDs, vinyl, t-shirts and other merchandise as well gig tickets await you.
Leamington’s third record shop is Presto Classical, purveyors of CDs, vinyl and sheet music. but they can order items not already in stock. Located in Park Street near the junction with Warwick Street, the shop also hosts live performances as well as sponsoring and promoting classical music in the town.
The Diskery has been a fixture on Birmingham’s Bristol Street for decades. A floor to ceiling array of second hand vinyl, from the 1940s onwards, along with second hand books, posters etc. An extended rummage through the racks can be a good musical education in and of itself.
Wolverhampton has two particularly fine second hand specialist shops, the long established Oldies Unlimited on Darlington Street (opposite Beatties) and It’s For You Vinyl and Vintage, in Cleveland Street, near the Mander Shopping Centre. Both stock books, videos and other music related merchandise as well and both are run by knowledgeable and enthusiastic music fans.
S.T. Records at 165 Wolverhampton Street, Dudley, is a hidden gem, a treasure trove of new and used rock, alternative and indie on both CD and vinyl. A throw back to the golden age of record shops. On the eastern side of the conurbation, Roman’s Records at Fargo Village, just off Far Gosford Street in Coventry stocks most genres, although mainly second hand, whilst Vinyl Destinations, located in Coventry Indoor Market in the city centre, belies its name with a selection of CDs in addition to the aforementioned vinyl. A few miles away, Kenilworth Record Store in The Square, just off Warwick Road, offers second hand vinyl, worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Finally, and to complete the picture, most charity shops stock second hand records (both vinyl and CD), DVDs and music books, with a few bargains and rare gems to be found. Larger supermarkets usually offer a limited selection of chart albums, best of packages and compilations discs. Also, W.H .Smith and several other (non record store) retailers are currently running a series of beautifully presented Beatles vinyl albums, with a new title every fortnight. Current offering is the White album; Rubber Soul is up next. And of course, many artists sell CDs both at their concerts and via their websites, sometimes offering exclusive editions.
We think that’s all, but apologies if we’ve missed anything.