Tour of York’s Record Shops

tours York in a desperate search for rare, black plastic

It’s a tricky time to be selling records on the high street. The changing landscape of the music industry has caused many traditional record shops to disappear, due to the advent of downloading and the increasing perception of music as a free product. Yes, music has been liberated, but the consumer has never been so apathetic towards going out and buying it. Record nerds now live behind computer screens, squabbling about their favourite bands on Last.fm rather than hanging out in the record boutiques of old.

The record shop is an essential component of the pantheon of rock ‘n roll. Unhappy at this state of affairs, and longing for the more social, intereractive and fun record shop experience of yore, my companion and I decided to attempt to map out the various vinyl vendors in town, to create the ultimate York record shop guide. The epic quest was hard and fraught but we succeeded and coming home tired and happy with an armful of LPs.

HMV
10A Coney Street, YO1 9NA
Best Find: Donkey Punch DVD
Rating: **

As we began our mission, walking into town from Gallery bus stop, there loomed Mordor-like the most obvious of record shops: His Master’s Voice, also known as HMV. While the shop was huge, the lack of phonograph records dismayed us. Even HMV used to stock trance and drum ‘n bass 7”s, so we felt a bitter resentment that commercial music stores have finally rejected the vinyl format. We flicked through the CDs for a while though, and finally settled on buying a reduced copy of ‘Donkey Punch’ on DVD for three quid.

Rebound Records
5 Gillygate, YO31 7EA
Best Find: Pussy Galore – Historia De La Música Rock
Rating: ****

Heading up Gillygate, amongst several vintage shops and a Chinese takeaway is this gem. A very smart and well designed boutique, this place is too clean to truly capture the grotty record shop experience (a record shop needs to reek of smoke for true authenticity) but has a fantastic selection of folk, country and blues CDs.

I was cheered up by the burgeoning vinyl area at the back of the shop, which was choc-full of post-punk, eighties indie and classic rock vinyl, as well as plenty of electronica, breaks and dance.

The assistant was also extremely knowledgable and helpful, and offered plenty of musical titbits for our appreciation while engaging with our entirely over-enthusiastic banter. Well worth a browse, especially for specialists.

Banks Music
18 Lendal, YO1 8AU
Best Find: A Shaky Egg
Rating: ***

Our spirits buoyed by finding an actual record shop still in business we travelled on. However, looking for shops recommended on the internet, we discovered that the vast majority of these have disappeared. The Lamb CD Shop, which The Independent placed in their 50 best record shops list six years ago is no more. Walking towards Betty’s for a cuppa we came across Banks, and while it looked like a shop for instruments, we thought it might stock some CDs. It had plenty of books of sheet music, but, as neither of us are musicians, it was hard to enjoy reading these. Despite buying a percussive shaky egg, I left disappointed.

Attic Records
1 Patrick Pool, YO1 8BB
Best Find: Black Lips – We Did Not Know The Forest Spirit Made The Flowers Grow
Rating: *****

We were just about ready to accept that the ‘High Fidelity’ record shop breed was extinct when we chanced upon Attic Records. Hidden on a street corner near Milk Shack, and up several flights of stairs, it is literally an attic. Walking up to it feels like you’re going to the dentist. A tiny room next to a hairdresser’s curated by a bloke chilling out and spinning records all day (best job ever?) it was just what we were looking for. With sexy t-shirts, gig tickets, obscure art rock LPs for sale, and not even a single CD in sight it was a vinyl fantasy. I felt euphoric sniffing the aged Black Sabbath 12” goodness.

We need more of these classic labour-of-love establishments, with music fans foolish enough to put livelihood on the line to bring real music back to the high street.

Music fans should stop hiding in their rooms and come together. The true record shops that legend tells of are still out there: let’s strive to keep them alive.

20 comments

  1. This is a great feature, although it’s a shame that it missed out the Oxfam bookshop on Micklegate which has a small but interesting selection and the guy on the market who sells a load of great vinyl for £4.00 a shot.

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  2. I found Attic Records a few months back. Excellent little shop, just what a record shop should be! A better collection than anyone else in the area.

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  3. ‘Rebound’ has good stock, but his LPs are very pricey. Go to any record fair and you’ll see the same records at a fraction of the price. Get yourselves along to the record fair at the ‘Duchess’ on Stonebow on Sunday 25th April ad you’ll see what I mean. It’s great what the guys at ‘Attic’ are doing, but I wasn’t convinced about the condition of a lot of the vinyl. Best bet for me is Phil on the market, every Saturday and Sunday – great records, not expensive and good crack. Check him out !

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  4. 4 Mar ’10 at 8:34 am

    'Vinyl' Phil

    Just read your review of the local record shops and its a great feature. I’m ‘the guy on the market’ and its nice to see some favourable comments from your readers. If you’ve got time come and visit the stall, open every Saturday and Sunday, you’ll see what buying music is all about. There’s two music stalls on the market so don’t confuse me with the other chap, a really good bloke but he caters for a more (shall we say) easy listening crowd!
    There’s always LOADS of great records in amazing condition and they’re priced to sell. I also stock CDs and a few DVDs.
    If you’ve got any items you don’t want I can guarantee I’ll pay the best prices or do an unbeatable part-ex deal.
    If you’re serious about music look me up, as that Bill guy said – ‘great records, not expensive and good crack’.

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  5. I’d like to echo the person who said Oxfam on Micklegate, which is always worth it. They’re very on the ball there, so don’t expect any bargains, but otherwise…if you can’t find anything to buy there, don’t call yourself a vinyl enthusiast ;)

    And hallo, guy on the market- I bought a Police LP from you a year ago and I’ve listened to it about 100 times since then. Fab selection! Great prices too.

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  6. Took all these recommendations with me for a weekend in York. All well worth a visit but “Phil on the market” really got my pulse racing with a good selection of well priced collectors’ vinyl and a good chap to boot. Highly recommended.

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  7. Attic Records seems to the be the best, if a bit pricey for some secondhand stuff, but market guy does some amazing stuff toom like 3 for a tenner deals etc.

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  8. The Inkwell on Gillygate has been going for a while too, mix of old and new vinyl, books and stuff too. Cool shop.

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  9. It’s not in York but only a 25 min train journey away… “Therapy – The Hub” in Leeds is probably the best record store I’ve ever been in. Weird name and hard to find the store (Google for it), but so many records, and the owner seems like a great guy.

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  10. How do I get in touch with ‘Phil on the market’ have a load of vinyl to sell

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  11. 2 Jun ’13 at 1:35 pm

    Joanne Robinson

    I also have a lot of vinyl to sell and would like to get in touch with the guy from the market.

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  12. 8 Dec ’13 at 10:38 pm

    john parkinson

    Hello all,
    My son Eddie is disabled and is looking to set up a small business (with me as the leg man!) buying and selling vinyls and sports memorabilia.
    We are looking to buy stock at the moment. Can be collections or selected single albums.
    We will treat your treasured items with respect and not just trash what we don’t fancy.
    Cash paid and we will collect in the York area ( and a reasonable radius).
    If you want to contact at the above email address; we can see what can be done.
    Thank You
    John

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  13. hi peps i hav about 3000( trance)( dance)( house)( electro) id like sell as one email me

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  14. 5 May ’14 at 6:06 pm

    Arthur Mytum

    Sadly attic records has now closed down, so realistically its either Inkwell on Gillygate which has a good collection of blues and they do some good three LPs for £10, or the market dude who does similar deals and has a larger collection.

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    • 5 May ’14 at 8:40 pm

      john parkinson

      My son will be opening up in about three weeks on Tadcaster Road near the Fox & Roman Pub. Just about to start shopfitting. He has got a great collection of vinyl including some really rare stuff eg 1st pressing Dark Side.
      A holding webpage is live (we are new to this!). Vinyleddie.co.uk
      Sorry about Attic; just when vinyl is making good strides forward too.
      We plan to get in touch with Student Unions soon and will offer discounts.
      Will stock some good t shirts and posters too. Even getting a coffee machine.
      Hope to see you soon

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  15. Hi guys, don’t forget vinyl Eddie shop based at tadcaster road 2 steps left holiday Inn, they got best records off all,and the owner really know a lot about music, really brilliant, have a look ciao

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