Birmingham record shop

Got two hours to kill in Birmingham tomorrow and would ideally like to spend it browsing and buying music. Where’s best to go?

Was looking at The Diskery or Swordfish, but no idea if they’re any good.

There’s a massive massive HMV, it’s like their big flagship one.

(Or there was pre Covid, anyway)

Not a Birmingham native but I do spend a fair bit of time there for work. Locals will know better but the town centre has always seemed poorly served for record shops compared with, say, Leeds or Manchester.

Swordfish is decent - not massive but a good second hand selection and a reasonable amount of new stuff too.

There’s also the big HMV Vault - their attempt to open a new specialist music shop. It’s a soulless as you would expect but it is really, really big as record shops these days go. I went a few times just after it opened a couple of years ago and was pretty impressed by the stock. Don’t know if they have stuck to their guns or if it’s turned into a more typical modern HMV (i.e. rubbish).

There’s the massive HMV which you need to remortage to go into but its got A LOT of records. Its soulless and has a lot of merch inside. You can normally find one record cheaper than everywhere else if you’re patient. (there is another hmv in the bullring - this ‘vault’ one is much better) Its very close to…

My favourite store in brum, inside the oasis market (http://www.theoasisfashionstore.co.uk/) and run by Rich it’s called ignite. Hes a legend who has put out hardcore records for years as Speedowax. He has a fuck ton of records, all good honest prices - generally ‘alt’ is best to describe what he has - plenty of obscure and known stuff. Such a good guy who loves music and loves selling records for the right reasons… Id totally recommend this place. (its on the ground floor if you access from the ‘square’ side, down one flight of stairs if from the main road.)

Swordfish - been around for ages and has new and old stuff. Good psych and jazz stuff. Worth a look but i can’t get too excited about it these days.

The diskery is your old school record shop. Loads of old stuff and records packed in corners. Rare stuff on the walls. Good if you’re in the mood.

Think there is a couple down in digbeth by the custard factory but i haven’t been an explored for ages to be honest. If you google custard factory/digbeth/records it may show some up but i can’t vouch.

If you’re not stuck to the centre Polar Bear in Kings Heath is good also - down the road from the hare and hounds (and my house!). Owner loves Bob Dylan. Mix of old and new, surprisingly good metal section and has some rare stuff. It’s 20/30mins by bus out of the centre though.

I’d go ignite first - he has so much and he loves recommending if you tell him what you’re into. (This guy blew my mind and changed my life playing/selling me Celestial by Isis and Calculating infinity by DEP about 20 odd years ago - and has got me on to many others since - and a few misses :smiley: )

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Am I right in thinking that Swordfish used to be a decent sized shop on one of those roads that go up from New Street towards Cathedral Square? It’s a slightly sad little place in a dingy backstreet now.

It does seem surprising that Birmingham town centre can’t support a good sized independent record shop - I suppose the absence of one is why HMV put their Vault in the city.

Yeah, totally right! That’s the one - used to be pretty big and now it’s down a side street as you say. I find it really depressing whereas again, in it’s old location it was a much better store (bought my first Reading ticket there in '99 i think)

It is weird that a big indie hasn’t worked out. Tempest (which Rich from Ignite helped run) was around for a good while in the 90s though to early 00s - but the rent was too high and i think the owner was a bit dodgy at the end. I think Rich does pretty well as i punx from across the country know him and he has a good rep. He also stocks some mainstream stuff which i guess helps with trade. His location must be a hinderance though.

I think rent is a big blocker for a start up n the city centre…but then i can’t imagine it’s relatively any worse than other uk cities so i dunno. There is definitely the market for it.

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I was just about to ask but I think you’ve just answered it. Went to Margaret Street art college 2003-2006 and was thinking of that shop that used to be on the corner opposite Virgin. Was that Tempest?

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Is the record and tape exchange still there?

The other one I remember is that second hand shop called Reddingtons (I think). That was a great place but I think it’s been gone for ages.

There doesn’t seem to be any obvious logic to which cities have kept record shops and which have lost them. Thinking of places that I visit regularly- Newcastle has two brilliant shops for new stuff and and at least two great second hand shops as does Leeds. Manchester has Piccadilly for new stuff and lots of good second hand places. On the other hand Birmingham, which is bigger than all of those places, seems a bit lacking.

This is all great, thanks. I’m ideally looking for some cheaper used stuff so I’ll try a couple of them, but might pop into the giant HMV just because I’m intrigued. Also it’s en route so would be silly not to.

Reddington’s Rare Records was glorious chaos. Sadly went in (I think) 2014. Sadly too, Gaz from Swordfish (or Rockers as it was) passed away earlier this year. Used to be the best record shop for miles a couple of premises ago, sadly diminished these days.

All this talk of Ignite (great guy) makes me want to go down the Oasis in nineteen eighty something to flip through the paisley shirts, patchouli oil and bootleg Napalm and Ned’s tapes.

That HMV is ridiculous. Miles and miles of things that no one wants at wild prices no one would ever pay. The only thing shifting seems to be Peaky Blinders hats and mugs and it’s surprisingly easy to be the only person in there. Love the idea of a big old bastard record shop - like the old Tower Records or something - a bit naff, but not off-puttingly cool, probably overpriced but got everything - but this is just a car park full of Funko Pops. Such a shame.

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Sounds terrible - quite want to go now😸

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I happened to be working in Brum when the HMV opened and I was quite impressed by it - loads and loads of vinyl in stock. The charm of the old fashioned record shop is all very well but sometimes it’s nice to go in looking for something and actually come out with a copy of that thing. They seemed to making a real effort to stock pretty much everything. It didn’t seem unduly expensive then either.

If it’s gradually turned into the temp of over-priced tat that HMV usually is that’s sad but no great surprise.

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Thank you so much for this. Ignite came up with the goods. Could spend a small fortune in there.

Misfits is an early birthday present for the other half.

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Sure was! Great shop

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:rofl: this is so true! Happened to me a few time.

Music & Video Exchange?

Sadly gone if so. Used to love racing down there from New St station for a speed mooch if I had 30 mins until the next train. Real shame they couldn’t have held out until the vinyl revival.

Yeah, that’s what i meant. Sad it’s gone :frowning: