Following a weekend digging trip to this fine city, I thought I should share the best of the shops we visited. This really is a superb destination for wax obsessives, whilst the city is well known for a variety of reasons, it is also one of the best cities I have visited for vinyl shopping. So, here are some great shops to get anyone started once in Amsterdam.
Redlight Records – Oudekerksplein 26
Wow, the most tucked away of those I checked out, this shop carries a carefully selected range of superb records. Pretty much everything you see and hear in this shop you will want to buy. This is largely second hand, but you don’t have to wade through any dodgy stuff here, its all good. Records range from €6-8 up to three figures, but what you get here is stuff unlikely to be found elsewhere. They do have some bargain crates on the floor too, so the budget buyer can still find good stuff. It’s rarity value you pay for with some of these. Overall the vinyl is all in very nice condition, you can also listen on open decks, so buy with confidence.
The shop itself is tucked away in the Red Light district, you may need to press a buzzer to be allowed down the alleyway the shop is at the end of. The alley opens up into a small courtyard that houses Red Light records, Red Light Radio and another small record shop, Vintage Voudou. Unfortunately we spent so long in Red Light, not leaving until half an hour after closing that Voudou had closed. With it being a Saturday both these shops were closed the next day.
Red Light is a boutique outlet, it hasn’t got tens of thousands of records like some, however where it stands out is the quality it carries and easily the most friendly welcome of any of the shops we visited. Make sure you include this on your trip if you are after a gem no one else has.
Wax Well Records – Gasthuismolensteeg 6
A second hand store open Sundays (and the rest of the week) packed tightly with a great selection of funk, soul, hip hop, jazz plus the usual pop and rock. Bargain crates on the floor where the likes of Tower Of Power and MFSB albums can be found for €2-5 with the main sections ranging from around €6-20 for the rarer stuff. There are some signed hip hop records on the wall from the likes of Madlib and DJ Premier suggesting that you are following in the footsteps of legendary diggers.
I picked up some records I’d been after a while here on the last day of my trip – Buddy Miles and Wanda Robinson being the 2 best finds here. These were not the best finds in terms of rarity, rather because it feels better to find a record in the racks than pay over the odds for an instant hit via discogs. (Not knocking discogs here, it’s a great resource, but dusty fingers browsing trumps for fun and the social element everytime). The pic at the top of this post is my fellow digger checking out some wax on the open decks.
Record Mania – Ferdinand Bolstraat 30
This is found in the Di Pijp area of the city, not far from the Rijksmuseum. Worth a look is the bargain basement where everything is €3 with a solid range of funk, soul, jazz, hip hop on the main floor at good prices. Probably one of the more competitively priced shops we visited, it is slightly further out of the centre. Worth a visit as the area is up and coming so has decent cafés and bars – you have to take a break at some point.
Rush Hour – Spuistraat 98
As well as world wide mail order, this smallish shop squeezes 20,000+ records into its racks. Focusing more on electronic and dancefloor music styles it still offers a superb range of disco, funk, brazillian and afro records. Loads of new wax, including releases on its own label, you can also pick up second hand rarities and more. Better prices than I expected for new records with 12″ at €8 probably cheaper than you may find in the UK. Open everyday too.
Record Palace – Weteringschans 33A
Second hand haven for diggers. Massive range of records in the basement supplementing a pretty decent collection upstairs. Jazz, Soundtracks, Rock, Funk, Soul, Indian, French, Italian, Fusion, Spoken Word, Rock and beyond. There must be tens of thousands to go at here, a decent price range too. Some are marked up a little high, but if you know what to avoid you should get a decent haul here.
There are plenty of good albums on labels such as CTI, Groove Merchant and the like from €8. There is a single turntable upstairs, but ask nicely if you want to use it. The chap was a little taciturn at first, but soon warmed up when he realised we were actually going to buy stuff. I guess its proximity to the museums means he might get a few ‘vinyl tourists’ calling in to gawp and mishandle the black stuff, so if he is a bit precious at first you should forgive him. The photo below is the basement of this shop, so you can get an idea of what’s there to be found.
Before setting off for any if these I’d recommend double checking opening hours – pretty much all have a web presence so it shouldn’t be hard. All of these are pretty central, so could be covered in a day. There are many more to be found though, those listed above were my favourite. Therd are many more to check out across the city, the below is a far from comprehensive list of some of the further stores.
Eardrum Buzz – Haarlemmerplein 9 2nd hand
Distortion – Westerstraat 244 New Dance/Underground
7 Records & Books – Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 371 30k in stock mostly 2nd hand
Concerto – Utrectstraat – 2nd hand lots of Jazz
Backbeat – Egelantiersstraat 19 Latin/World/Funk/Jazz
So, get your passport and ticket, save some pennies and get stuck in. Let me know if you find anything great…