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Digital Subscriptions > Long Live Vinyl > Mar 2019 > North & West London

North & West London

The relentless pursuit of desirable vinyl takes avid collector Mark Elliott on another excursion to the capital

The trip

Planning a trip to London for a day’s record shopping is tricky. Distances between the clusters of shops can be significant, and then there is always that gem tucked out on a limb, just calling out for your attention. I’ve reported that Soho’s crown as the cratedigging centre of our capital is somewhat tarnished; I’ve covered the trendy eastern side of the city and taken a turn round the north and north-east. So, if in doubt, it’s usually best to consider what one of your icons might do. Who better, then, for inspiration than Pet Shop Boys Neil and Chris who told us to ‘Go West’ on their last really significant hit? Yes, I know, strictly speaking the rallying call came from Village People songsmiths Jacques Morali, Henri Belolo and Victor Willis, but, sadly, the budget won’t stretch to the West Coast of the USA this month.

Okay, for the pedantic, Camden is strictly north-centralish London, but I’d say Notting Hill and Portobello Road deffinitely pass the synth duo broader compass measure. Camden’s another zone-one area decimated or evolved (depending on your perspective) by the ravages of the retail turf-war. Still, the market remains a big draw and many of the independents are doing well, even if we have lost some major record shops there over the years. The weekends are the best time to follow my route, as you’ll catch the Portobello Road Market at its best (and busiest) on a Saturday; while Camden is equally crowded most days of the week (especially across the summer when the foreign students descend in droves).

I’ll be honest: the compact European cities lend themselves best to a defined day of shopping, but this trip is do-able in a day, and I found travelling in from the west worked particularly well. Don’t be tempted to pass on the South Ealing store I went to first, as it’s a real gem. London, as we know, is expensive, but I’d say prices here are consistent with most of the cities I visit and the choice is world-class (especially given the number of imports you come across). In fact, one of them was to be the highlight of my trip, proving there are still some surprises out there for us all. Even someone with an allconsuming vinyl habit like mine.

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About Long Live Vinyl

Issue 24 of Long Live Vinyl is now on sale! Join us as we uncover vinyl’s great lost albums – the 40 essential bootlegs and live records that never got an official release. From David Bowie to Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Kraftwerk, Amy Winehouse, Jay-Z and The Beatles, don’t miss our definitive guide. Elsewhere this issue, Mercury Rev tell us about revisiting Bobbie Gentry’s lost classic, The Delta Sweete, and we speak to Julia Jacklin and Fun Lovin’ Criminal Huey Morgan about their brilliant new albums. 1980s pop mastermind Trevor Horn talks us through the 10 records that shaped his remarkable career, we meet the punk labels who are redefining the future of vinyl, celebrate Warp Records’ 30th birthday, look back at the work of the great Andy Warhol, and pay tribute to our Classic Album – The Flying Burrito Brothers’ The Gilded Palace Of Sin. If all that’s not enough, you’ll find the most comprehensive range of new album, reissue and gear reviews anywhere on the newsstand.