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How do you improve a well-stocked community record shop run by a true vinyl addict who’s worked in more or less every corner of the music industry? Easy. Open a bar next door. Gary Walker visits Bristol’s Friendly Records

Tom Friend’s CV read like a rough guide to working in the music industry before moving from London to Bristol’s cool and increasingly popular Southville area in 2006. Born in Somerset, Friend had been a designer for Heavenly Recordings, an A&R man for DB, 679 and Island Records, managed bands, taught at a music college and opened an art gallery with Portishead’s Geoff Barrow. The only thing remaining was to launch a record shop, and he put that right in the summer of 2016, when Friendly Records opened on the city’s North Street.

A bright and inviting space with rustic unfinished charm, neatly ordered racks and pot plants, Friendly Records lives up to its name – all are welcome in this South Bristol vinyl hub. While Friend has travelled a circuitous route to being a record store owner, the seeds of inspiration were sewn in the city at the tail end of the 1980s, when he’d make weekly teenage pilgrimages up the A38 to Bristol’s then formidable crop of record shops.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Long Live Vinyl - Apr 2019: Record Store Day
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