Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are probably aware of the so-called Vinyl Revival. Much like the filters of Instagram brought the nostalgic return of the polaroid, the digital wave of music services like Spotify and iTunes, providing instant access to pretty much any song, has led to invigorated sales of physical music in the retro form of the humble LP.
Whether you are a vested supporter of the format for its superior sound quality, or are more into the aesthetic quality a record can bring to interior design (a study for the BBC revealed that almost half of people who buy vinyls haven’t listened to them), LPs are here to stay. If you want a summer project, or to make use of that Crosley turntable you got for Christmas, then look no further. Here are my second-hand record buying tips to help you get the most vinyl for your cash.
Growing up, I spent a ridiculous amount of time in charity shops while my Dad scoured the music section for any vinyls, CDs or cassettes. Now I’m the same! When I give myself an afternoon off my dissertation, I walk up and down Ecclesall Road and nip in and out of various charity shops. For me, they are the Forest Gump of record buying: just like a box of chocolates, you don’t know what you’re gonna get. Larger organisations like Oxfam, who are more savvy on the valuations of their donations, tend to have higher prices than regional charity shops. However, because Oxfam and Cancer Research have such large networks, there does tend to be a wider range of music in store. Personally, my best finds have been in smaller charity shops where I’ve had to rifle through unsorted boxes to discover a gem. Just like this Stevie Nicks album I found for £1.99 in the Epilepsy Charity Shop.
Rare and Racy
If you have a more eclectic taste, then you barely have to leave uni to get to Rare and Racy on Division street. The clue is all in the name, and they stock music and books that you won’t find in mainstream stores. So if electronica, jazz and rare classical music is up your street, you need to get down there! Established in 1969, it’s a Sheffield legend, and the announcement last year to demolish the building culminated in a record-level of petition signatures put forward to Sheffield City Council. So grab yourself a bargain, like Bryan Ferry’s début solo album I found for a fiver, and support a Sheffield dynasty.
Books (and Vinyl) on the Park
Spent a sunny day at Endcliffe park? Why not go see what Books on the Park has to offer. Another independent store with an interesting collection of books as well as vinyl, Books on the Park has a dedicated music back room stocking CDs, records and enough artist biographies to keep any music lover occupied for hours. There are rarer pressings, ready framed records alongside the standard and new-in racks. That’s where I found this fantastic 1973 album featuring two of Motown’s biggest stars: Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye. The shop also has a bargain box outside, so if you’re strapped for cash you can take something home for the price of a student bus single.
A day at the record fair
In March I had a great day at the Workstation when Premier Music Fairs came to town. Admission was free, and there were several independent record sellers who had brought their wares and were prepared to haggle. This is a great environment to check the quality of the record (scratches, marks and level of dust) before parting with your money. I had £21 on me, and after spending £15 on a Bowie album I stuck to the bargain boxes and took a chance on four albums of either well-known artists or interesting covers. I can’t wait for the fair to come back!
Looking for something particular – go online!
When I first set up my Hi-Fi in 2012, I desperately wanted Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. I found it on Ebay for £11 plus postage.
However, the ultimate second-hand online music store is Discogs; part music library, part marketplace, you can find a seller for pretty much any album or single, and any version of that release (apparently West German presses are renowned for their high quality). Discogs is where I went to compile a Christmas playlist last year and find the iconic Penthouse and Pavement by Heaven 17.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Sheffield vinyl tips and remember – invest in a decent record cleaner if you’re dealing with second-hand records!