Everyone loves to dig, at least most of my friends do. Living in Leeds we do ok. We are not as spoilt for choice as those in London, Berlin or New York, but if you are prepared to spend a little time or get on a bus or train there is much to find in Leeds and its surrounding districts. This is unlikely to be a comprehensive list, many have their own private or secret digging spots, however in the interests of supporting local vinyl purveyors I’m going to share the best places to go whether you are after the latest Aphex Twin, or are hoping to stumble upon a second hand CTI George Benson LP. Hell, who knows what you’ll find when you start digging. I never cease to be amazed at some of the records I find. How the hell do 70’s Polish jazz-rock albums end up in West Yorkshire village charity shops anyway?
Let’s start at the mothership. Jumbo is Leeds largest independent music store and has been serving the good people of Leeds for over 40 years with vinyl, cd’s, tapes not to mention gig tickets, t-shirts, stylus and much more besides. However, be clear, they really are all about the music. Some faces change, some seem to have been there forever (in the nicest possible way), but regardless of who you find manning (or womanning? Personning?) the counter they will be knowledgeable, friendly and never happier than if they help you find some new music to love.
They never stopped selling vinyl and carry the widest selection of new wax in the city, covering a huge range of genres. Helpfully they order and label these, with a well laid out range supplemented with many records also carrying handwritten descriptions. Hip hop, electronica, blues, funk, latin, jazz, house, reggae, indie, rock, and many more genres are each lavished with theur own sections. The fact that say, dub, is overflowing with choice gives a clue as to how much there is on offer. With the previously mentioned cd’s, tickets and more to go at this really is a great spot to spend some time and money. Unlike some stores, like one in Nottingham that springs to mind, they won’t add premium price hikes to rarities either. If the rrp is £10 for a rare limited press 12″ by Burial & Four Tet then that is what you’ll pay. They’d really like it if you bought it, play it and love it and maybe came back to find more.
Jumbo also has a pretty awesome reputation for in stores too. The list of guests is pretty special, from Lily Allen to Mark Ronson at the pop end of the spectrum to Asian Dub Foundation shaking the entire shopping centre with their sound system, taking in local legends such as Nightmares On Wax. Forthcoming guests include the Charlatans and Kate Tempest, so you should keep your eyes peeled to see whats happening. Below is a link to a film made for Brazillian TV on Jumbo.
Minha Loja de Discos | Jumbo Records: http://youtu.be/68pIQeorVwk
Crash Records – The Headrow Leeds City Centre
Another city centre stalwart, Crash records has a long history and is another excellent spot for digging, as well as picking up tickets and more. Some years ago the basement was a buzzing cave of diggers, dj’s and clubbers often queing 3 or 4 deep at the tiny counter staffed by Darius Syrossian amongst others. Records would appear from beneath the counter from named bags as the great and good of Leeds hustled on a Friday and Saturday to get their hands on the vinyl that would be getting spun across the city that weekend.
Sadly as (some) dj’s dumped vinyl and digital hit physical sales the basement closed. Darius went on to become one of the finest real house DJ’s in the world (no exaggeration – check DJ mag awards and beyond…) whilst Crash consolidated and focused on what it now does best, that is serve the alternative and leftfield market with a carefully selected range of vinyl, cd’s tickets and memorabilia. That’s not to say the range is small, whilst the shop is cosy when compared to the HMV round the corner it probably has more choice when it comes to music. Racks are overflowing with indie, rock, hip hop, soundtracks, electronica and much more. If they haven’t got what you are after they’ll try and get it for you (as will Jumbo – there is none of the maligned snobbery some indie shops are known for in Leeds). Similar, yet distinct from Jumbo, again Crash is well worth calling in on. And the basement? Well that has risen phoenix like to become…
Dragnet Records – Crash Basement.
Dragnet took up residence in the basement of Crash in late 2014. The first second hand record store on the list, this offers a range of records ranging from punk 45’s to prog rock, hip hop, reggae and beyond. Occasional bargain dig days offer a great introduction to Dragnet, however its worth keeping your eyes peeled as you never know what will turn up. Decent sized world and soundtrack sections offer up untold treasues too. They are relatively selective about what stock they carry, so you don’t have to wade through dozens of Duran Duran or Smokie albums to find something decent. Keep an eye on their Facebook page as they regularly post new stock up there first.
Relics Records – Briggate Leeds City Centre
Long time second hand dealers, buy sell trade written above the door, they have been doing just that for over 2 decades. Huge vinyl selection in the basement with even more on the ground floor as you go in. Large rock/pop section supplemented with comprehensive jazz, 7 inch, soundtrack, hip hop ranges and more. The chaps here know what they are doing and are happy to help you if you are trying to track down a record.
Norman Records – Mail Order
rom Leeds and gentleman all (plus ladies too). Whilst this isn’t a dig spot per se, honourable mention must go to Norman records as a fine purveyor of online vinyl. A great selection of genres, very good back catalogue availability, speedy service and a loyalty bonus points system. Sign up for their mailer and never miss a release again. As a bonus you can get free postage if you live in Leeds. To qualify you just have to go and collect your records. Which in my book is a few quid saved that can be spent on more records. You get to look them in the eye and may get freebies, anything from a mince pie, haribo, beer or even music related stuff like posters, stickers or badges. Wow. Oh they sell cd’s too if that’s your thing. Check their site on the link below, you may even see some reviews from me.
Outlaws Yacht Club – New York Street Bar, Art Space & Hang out
Outlaws is now firmly established as one of Leeds finest bars, holding chinwags with the likes of Irvine Welsh, Andrew Weatherall and other heroes of the leftfield as well as hosting an eclectic collection of dj’s and art exhibitions. Did I mention the quiz nights and food? No, they do that too. Oh and also share space with a hair salon. That should be enough to be getting on with, however there is more & the reason for their appearance on this list. They also sell records. A compact selection of second hand vinyl sits neatly by the bar, very reasonably priced and well worth a dig through whilst enjoying a pint, or a coffee. They also have a regular record fair (Reggies record fair pictured above) a far more laidback affair than many record fairs, you may even end up buying from or trading with some familiar DJ faces from around Leeds. Next one is due Easter Sunday.
Charity Shops – Everywhere
Everyone knows charity shops are ace, especially if you like records. A lot have caught on in terms of pricing, so the days of finding Blue Note originals, golden era hip hop and more for 25p are largely gone. However, bargains are still to be found and if you begrudge giving a good cause a few quid for a record or two then its a rum do.
There are many approaches to charity shop digs, however I tend to think that there are 2 broad ways of looking at buying from your Sue Ryders or Oxfams. One, you browse hoping to find something you know and are happy to find for a bit less than you’d pay on discogs (plus you avoid postage, so don’t be tight if its a bit more than discogs – your still up!). The other tack is gamble. Albums that are a quid or two are surely worth a punt, if they have pictures of beardy men on boats, outer space or have cosmic in the title they stand a reasonable chance of being good. If they are rubbish, look upon it as a donation, give the record back and wallow in your sense of wellbeing.
Anyway, there are a handful of charity shops in most districts in Leeds, not all have records, but those that do are well worth checking. You may not find anything most of the time, but if you keep looking you’ll likely find some great records.
Record Fairs –
The Brudenell Social Club run by Chimp Fairs, held around 3 times a year. Look them up vua @recordfairleeds on twitter or brudenellrecordfair.co.uk for latest details. Great fair, has always been free entry, lots of good dealers with a range of music and prices. I’ve never failed to come away with some quality finds.
For more records, try the Street Feast on the 2nd Saturday of each month at the Belgrave Music Hall where they regularly have vinyl sellers. There are also regular fairs to be had at the Trinity Church, The Corn Exchange & The Queens Hotel.