Record Store Day: Independent record shops in Leeds
The eve of the sixth annual Record Store Day would seem the most opportune of times in which to take a spin round the independent record shops of Leeds. In an era when up to two thousand record stores have disappeared off the face of our cultural map, Britain’s third largest city still remains, relatively speaking, well served.
Satisfying a more specialist market for house, disco and funk records is Waxwerks. To enter it and in literal step with the underground vibe it seeks to promote, you have to go down some steps and into the compact subterranean East Parade space it shares with The Garage nightclub. In a similar specialist vein is Tribe Records. Situated on the other side of the city centre just around the corner from the magnificent Grade I listed Victorian structure that is the Corn Exchange, house, techno, breaks, drum + bass, reggae and dub is this store’s brand new bag.
Traversing back across town and approaching the entrance to the Romanesque splendour of the Grand Theatre and Opera House you are now standing on the edge of Leeds golden independent record shop triangle. From there you can look across New Briggate and see Relics. Given its strong emphasis on buying and selling second hand collectable vinyl and CDs, purists may not view this store as being a true independent but now in its 23nd year of operation its place in the Leeds music scene would seem to be secure.
A short walk down New Briggate and turning the corner into The Headrow you will notice Greens of Leeds tobacconist on the opposite side of the road. Slap bang next door to it is Crash Records in the very same location it has enjoyed for the past 26 years. Specialising in indie, alternative, rock, punk and metal music, it has also recognized the need in these austere times to diversify from its core function of selling CDs and vinyl into the official merchandising and ticketing markets.
The jewel in the Leeds independent record shop crown, though, still remains Jumbo Records. Go up The Headrow a-piece, swing right at TK Maxx and enter the St Johns Centre and there tucked away in the corner upstairs is the shop that has been trading in rare records and concerts tickets in Leeds since 1971. Jumbo, along with Crash is everything that you could ever wish for in an independent record shop; walls emblazoned with T-shirts and posters advertising both the latest recorded product and a multitude of local gigs ranging from Peatbog Faeries to Public Service Broadcasting; shelves heaving with CDs and vinyl spanning more musical genres than you could care to shake a stick at; and counters festooned with fanzines and flyers behind which stand probably the very hackneyed but most true of all statements about independent record shops, knowledgeable and friendly staff.
In the middle of a digital age and the most uncertain of economic times, Leeds is proof positive that the independent record shop can not only survive but positively thrive. This is reflected in the gusto with which Leeds two principals have embraced this year’s Record Store Day. In addition to the sale of the traditional special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products which have been made exclusively for the day, Crash will be providing refreshments (including tea and coffee supplied by Tim Burgess of The Charlatans) and live in-store music courtesy of Dog Is Dead and Evile, whilst a host of artists including The Ukrainians, Jess Bryant, Lone Wolf and James Yorkston will all be joining Jumbo on Saturday 20th April to celebrate the art of music in general and the continuing existence of the independent record store in particular.