Sunday, January 12, 2003


The New Year naturally comes with all those resolutions about cutting down on CD and vinyl purchases. But if your willpower has already started to weaken, here’s my guide (for those living in, or visiting, England; or shopping their in cyberspace) to some of the best places to scare your bank manager – remember those? On the other hand, most of them do second hand, so who’s complaining…?

First on my personal list is the incomparable Gramex - the old Gramophone Exchange, which stocks some 10,000 CDs and LPs, including 78s. Full details are available at their website, Gramexonline. For those reading this in on Sunday 12 January, there are 800 new CDs coming in tomorrow (Monday). Gramex get a good deal via the industry and reviewers, as well as private collectors. The shop has a curiously antique atmosphere and is a place where the music, as well as the product, is really cherished. They are located close to London’s Waterloo rail station. Verdi fans should start here, for sure.

Also in the capital (with material of wide and variable quality in my experience) is Classical Music Exchange (36 Notting Hill gate, W11), who are known for cash and exchange deals on CDs, LPs, tapes and videos. If you have rarities, or think you have, get assessments from both CME and Gramex. This is one way of adjusting your budget.

Mole Jazz, near London’s King’s Cross, continues to enjoy a wonderful reputation – and rightly so. In addition to a great website, they stock a full range of jazz CDs from early classic reissues to bebop, post-bop, modern jazz and the latest recordings. There is an extensive selection of second hand CDs, jazz books and special offers.

Meanwhile Martin and Sarah Wale run the very fine Seaford Music in Eastbourne, which is one of the very best places in Britain to get hold of imports from other parts of Europe, Australasia and the US. Also distributors of a number of specialist labels. Couldn’t be more helpful.

Then, when in the beautiful city of York, there’s the newly named and greatly enlarged Classical and Jazz (formerly The Blake Head Record Shop). They have stock in excess of 30,000 and an international reputation. You can also email wants lists and for sale lists to:

Of course there are hundreds of great record stores throughout Britain. NFE welcomes recommendations. If in doubt check the classifieds in Gramophone, BBC Music, Avant and The Wire.

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