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28th November 2019

Searching for Beefheart in Berlin: A record store tale

Will Stonier reminisces on what makes record stores so special this Record Store Day
Searching for Beefheart in Berlin: A record store tale

It was in a record shop in Berlin — and, yes, I am cognizant as to the horrible cliché framing this whole piece — where the following took place:

I asked the curmudgeonly clerk how much his copy of Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica was — the copy, to be precise, that was sat nestled atop his glossy library of hazel-coloured crates of repressed vinyl.


I had, however, misheard him.

‘€15! Oh, sound mate. I’ll have that one there please then bossman. Nice one, ta.’


‘Ah — right — er — I’ll just nip out and get some cash.’

‘We take card.’

‘Er — it’s fine, mate. I might have that one already.’

My travel companion had sheepishly scuttled out. We had not left empty handed, though: my friend was very excitable as he managed to get his hands on a copy of Ronnie Laws’ 1981 jazz-funk LP Solid Ground. He later left it on a flight to Glasgow, though, where I’d like to imagine it is now in the hands of a disgruntled Glaswegian air traffic controller who developed a newfound love for overproduced ‘80s saxophone solos.

We went to a bar across the road and drank an over-elaborate pint of IPA and, whilst my mate was buzzing about his frankly bang average record, I checked Discogs for that Beefheart record. I felt like the worst person in the world. 

Though my anecdote is imbued with a hue of cynicism, record shops are things to be cherished. Interactions, both good and not so good (such as the above), are part of what makes the whole process of buying records so enjoyable.

Just make sure you don’t get ripped off by these super deluxe dusty basement recordings of CAN, Funkadelic, Zappa, Hendrix etc. where the likelihood is they were previously unreleased simply because the producer was too strung-out to set the bass levels right.

As for Berlin? You don’t need it, honestly. Manchester is a fantastic place to spend your time (and money) this Record Store Day: Black Friday. The Northern Quarter serves as a vibrant hub, combining a number of vinyl-hunting crate-digging subcultures including BBC 6Music dads, indie kids, and chin stroking jazz fans.

My favourite record shop in the Manchester area — also a perfect spot if you’re looking to escape the early December throng of the Christmas Markets — is SK1 Records in Stockport, with its plush interior and encyclopaedic selection of music.

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