HAIRY RECORDS / DIG VINYL
At the start of the 2000s, walking to Bold Street used to be a daily pilgrimage for me before band practice. Back then it was to go to Hairy Records, where you’d get into a lengthy conversation with the owner, and he’d recommend some band from the 60s you’d never heard of. If you were buying a record, he would go into a spiel and tell you about the lesser known album by the same band. Or if you were buying a single, he would rant and rave about the B-side. This is probably where I was first introduced to stuff like Forever Changes, 13th Floor Elevators, Beefhart, etc.
Sadly, Hairy Records is gone now, (the owner still does the tour merch for The Coral). But luckily, Bold Street now has Dig Vinyl, where theres always a great selection of second hand vinyl across all genres. Rummaging through their Blues section recently, I found a Charlie Patton record I didn’t know I had been looking for. And at a very reasonable price!
I’ve been going to Rollercoaster for years. This place isn’t only a great record shop, but it’s also a label, and it runs its own events. It even has its own festival! Founded by the great Willie Meighan, and now run by Davey and Gary, it’s the absolute pulse of the whole town. When the guys aren’t in the shop, they are busy putting on various gigs, or booking the acts for the brilliant Rhythm and Roots Festival and the Arts Festival. There’s always a party in Kilkenny and Rollercoaster are usually behind it. I can’t imagine what the town would be like without it. When I think of Kilkenny, I think of Rollercoaster.
Is this place still there? I hope it is. I haven’t been in years, but it’s always my first stop when I get to Edinburgh. Proper old school, with books and records stacked on top of each other. You have to really dig deep. You might find a first pressing of The White Album underneath a stack of Rod Steward greatest hits records. I did. I also found Patrick Sky’s first two records on Vanguard here. In fact I never found them anywhere else, before or since. Also check out their lucky dip bags, where you buy a stack of 45s for a fiver and don’t find out what they are til you open the bag. Mine were all Roy Orbison!
This is such a great spot for picking up some American pressings of your favourite albums. Everything is so cheap that you end up buying a truckload. The only problem is flying back home with it all! The place is run by Jake, who also does a DJ slot at the bar right next door, where he brings a crate of records that he sells as he spins. They also put on gigs and run their own small label that put out local Tucson artists. Well worth a visit when your over yonder direction.
I was a bit apprehensive to go in here after reading the on line reviews. The owner has a reputation for being the cranky type, often throwing customers out of the shop simply because he doesn’t like the cut of their gib. He also has no set opening hours. He opens and closes when he pleases. It’s a wonder he’s still in business. I couldn’t leave krackow without seeing this enigma for myself. True enough, when I got there the place was closed. But after an hour or two, my loitering paid off and he was finally opened the fourth time I checked. Inside, records were stacked everywhere, in no particular order. You had to climb over heaps of vinyl to get to another stack. I was avoiding eye contact with the dreaded owner when I nervously went to pay for my selection. From those reviews on line, I was fully expecting a punch. But I must have said the right thing, as he could not have been more friendly. We ended up getting into a lengthy chat about ireland and how he fell in love with a woman there many years ago. His story was long, and he was opening up to me like an old pal. He had a tear in his eye as he told me about his long lost Irish love. I think he was drunk. Then it hit me that I went too deep. It was impossible to leave now. There was no escape. He had flipped the vibe. The dreaded beast had become a friend. How did that happen?
Yes it’s true that charity shops have gotten wise to the vinyl junky who used to be able to walk in the door and pick up The Smiths back catalogue for 50p a pop. Sadly, those days are gone. But you can still find a bargain out there if you look hard enough. Only a couple of years ago, while in a New York thrift shop, I noticed an old box of records. Among them I found a second state Beatles butcher cover. I thought I was seeing things. Specially when I seen the price.. $5!!
I quickly paid and took it back to my hotel room, believing it to be a fake. But all the signs were there, it was indeed a genuine copy. In decent nick too, and also the more rare stereo copy. I notified Record Collector magazine of my finding and they ran a full page article on it. Not bad for five dabs!
HOUSE OF OLDIES
The House Of Oldies in New York, where it’s worth visiting just to have a chat with the owner who will tell you about the days when John Lennon used to come there to buy records for his jukebox. Apparently all he ever bought was old 50s rock n roll, and he always left a tip. David Bowie was another regular.
ECSTATIC PEACE LIBRARY
Great spot on church street in Stoke Newie. Picked up an early pressing of a John Fahey record here on a recent visit. They also have a great £12 section of second hand vinyl that is mostly USA imports. It’s also owned by Thurston Moore, who mans the shop when he isn’t busy being Thurston Moore.