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Image © Matthew Clapson via Sifters Records on Facebook

Top 5 Record Shops in Manchester

15 May 2019 | Daniel Lovatt

It should be expected that a city with such an immensely diverse and popular music legacy hosts its fair share of record havens. Shrines that hold homage to both its own history and the vast, multi-genre splendour of all music throughout the decades. Luckily for music lovers, Manchester meets all expectations. Whether down winding side-streets or slap-bang in the middle of the action, the record shops on offer leave those in search of a savoury sound spoilt for choice. Here, we’ve handpicked five of the best record shops to spend an afternoon in, both for the multitude of their collections and the quaint beauty of the stores themselves. Before we crack on, it should be mentioned that Piccadilly Records does not make the list as it is well known and well-loved beyond the confines of the gloomy northern sky.


Image credit: Vinyl Exchange, Manchester via Facebook 
Vinyl Exchange
18 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JN

Right in the heart of the northern quarter stands ‘Vinyl Exchange’.  Perhaps not the most aesthetically pleasing of the list, but in this case, you would be a fool to judge a record shop by its cover. Vinyl Exchange celebrated its 30th birthday last year, and since opening in 1988, it has boasted one of the largest varieties of record collections across all genres. You can buy any second-hand record (or CD’s) ranging from Indie/Alternative, Metal, Electronica, Drum&Bass, Jazz and everything in between. Within each of these title genres, exists several sub-genres which is great as it allows customers to become more familiar with the correct jargon whilst simultaneously finding nuances to sink their teeth into. A brilliant example of this is their House collection containing 21 sub-genres. And who knew Scouse House would have its own spot in the shop? A place with a great sense of history, that continues to stay with the times and stock the latest records whilst staying true to its roots. 


Image credit: Clampdown Records via Facebook 
Clampdown Records
9-11 Paton St, Manchester M1 2BA

Another record shop with a whole boat load of variety is ‘Clampdown Records’. Another outlet which opened in the 1980’s and has a rich history, albeit an arduous one. Clampdown originally started as a mail order business, graduated into the record fair circuit before finally opening its store. Like Vinyl Exchange, there is a substantial range of records on hand, from indie to pop to disco to blues, all at very reasonable prices (rarely beyond £19.99). Clampdown hit the ground running in the early 1990’s, before 1996, when the IRA attack rendered much of its vintage stock ruined. In the spirit of the city, Clampdown built from the bottom again, and is now situated in between Piccadilly station and the northern quarter. In an age of digital downloads, proprietor Neil Clarke is optimistic that Vinyl will continue to make a resurgence as it has in the past couple of years. Its fate may swing in the balance, but its stock we know, speaks for itself. 


Image credit: Vinyl Revival via Facebook 
Vinyl Revival
5 Hilton St, Manchester M4 1LP

Specialising in the sounds of the city back to the 1950’s Vinyl Revival is the godfather of Manchester-orientated record shops, which is immediately recognisable from the moment you enter to the moment you leave. Established in 1997, and found between Oldham street and Tib Street, the room is plastered in retro gig posters from prodigal sons Oasis, The Stone Roses and The Smiths. As well as a nod to the illustrious history of the Hacienda.  You can’t help but be swept up in the history as you browse for your next find. Owner Colin White recognises the global impact that Manchester’s music scene has had and opened the shop to satisfy the needs of any traveller wanting a slice of the action. Never fear though, if the music of Manchester doesn’t completely appeal to you, Vinyl Revival also hosts a great range of ska, jazz, house and soul records. You’ll be surprised to find that those genres too have a wider relevance in the city’s scene. 


Image credit: Eastern Bloc via Facebook 
Eastern Bloc
5a Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DN

Perhaps the most diverse of the list in terms of what it has to offer, Stevenson Square’s ‘Eastern Bloc’ opened in 1985 and positions itself as a record shop for the true electronic vinyl purist.  Despite this, the outlet did host in-house signings by The Happy Mondays and helped to launch the career of Inspiral Carpets. Specialising in all things electronic: from Drum & Bass, dubstep, house and techno, Eastern Bloc is undoubtedly an integral part of Manchester’s music culture. All records are reasonably priced, and customers can also enjoy the sounds of the shop in the café area of the store! Music and coffee, winner! Famous customers of the store include Carl Cox, Mike Pickering, the Chemical Brothers and Laurent Garnier amongst many others. If that’s not enough to swing the vote, one of the owners also went on to become part of 808 state. By helping artists across different genres get their careers on track, Eastern Bloc has won the hearts of musicians and customers alike and cannot be missed when you find yourself in the city centre.


Image credit: Matthew Clapson via Sifters Records on Facebook  
Sifters Records
177 Fog Ln, Manchester M20 6FJ

Noel Gallagher once wrote ‘Mr Sifter sold me records when I was just 16.” Whilst Noel and his brother Liam may have more glamorous record shops to frequent now, as teenagers, the brothers absolutely adored this store. After 30 years in business, Sifters Records is still one of the most notorious affordable, second-hand record shops in the city.  Located in Burnage, it houses extensive collections specialising in rock, soul, country, classical and jazz. Once again, customers cannot help themselves but be swept up in the history of the store and its relevance to the past developing reputation of Manchester. For the first time on this list, fans of classical music are also facilitated here. Sifters does offer to buy any unwanted records providing that they fall into these genres. So even if you’re short of pocket, you can pass down your shelf-fillers and be safe in the knowledge that they will live in a brilliant home for years to come. Unless, somebody snaps them up that is!
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