From rock to soul, dance to hip hop, if you’re ever in need of some musical retail therapy, these Leeds record shops are just the ticket.
The independent record shop has been through quite a rollercoaster ride. The rise of the CD, downloads, internet shopping and now streaming have each seemed to consign the great British record shop to the past. Well they would, if it wasn’t for the large number of people who still put their trust in these hubs of musical genius that allow generations, old and new, to find their next favourite act or discover the glories of yesteryear. So next time you’re shopping in Leeds, make a beeline for the independent record shops for an experience like no other.
Having originally opened in 1971, Jumbo Records is officially the oldest record shop in Leeds. They’ve moved around over the years, calling Queen’s Arcade, Merrion Centre and St John’s home, but they’ve now settled back into Merrion Centre, where they spent 14 years between 1974 and 1988.
If you’re a vinyl addict, Jumbo is a haven. There are huge swathes of rock, indie and pop albums to trawl through, but that’s not all they’re famed for. They cover the whole spectrum of dance, soul, jazz and soundtracks too, as well as boasting healthy 7” single and CD sections if that’s your bag. They’ve also added a dedicated live music space where bands can come in and play – and they serve coffee too.
As well as the records, they sort you out with tickets to see the music live, as a one stop shop for nearly all the gigs in the city. Jumbo’s Matt Bradshaw, explains why it’s lasted so well, “We’ll bend over backwards to help you get what you want because we want you to come back and shop with us (and because, like you, we too are fellow music lovers).”
Jumbo Records, 1-3 Merrion Centre, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8NG.
An intrinsic part of Leeds’ music scene since opening up on Woodhouse Lane in 1985, Crash Records is now a part of the fabric of The Headrow and widely considered the go to place for the latest tunes, upcoming gigs and decent service typical of an independent.
They specialise in indie, alternative and metal artists on both vinyl and CD, and you can spend a good few hours going through their racks to find just what you’re looking for, and maybe a few things you weren’t. They also sell a bunch of tickets to plenty of gigs at the city’s venues, as well as putting on the odd in-store gig and album signings.
Scott Gamble from Crash Records told us, “We offer a service we feel is needed and that we feel we do well with a personal touch. It is all to do with service. We’re keen and we have a good range of stock and provide an experience we hope people will enjoy.”
Crash Records, 35 The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PU.
While new records are all well and good, sometimes you just need a place that specialises in the best of yesteryear – and that’s where Relics Records on New Briggate come in, with plenty of original pressings of classic records.
Spread out over two floors, they’ve managed to chart the journey of popular music from the 1950s up until the present day on both CD and vinyl. It’s the collection of the latter that is the most impressive though, and will likely see you part with some hard earned cash.
They have oodles of classic rock and pop, from Elvis to Oasis and Beatles to Blur, but you should also spend some time looking through the equally impressive collections of jazz, soul, hip hop, metal and dance, meaning you’ll find something no matter your tastes. And the staff know their stuff too, so if you can’t see what you want, you’ll do well to pick their brains.
Relics Records, 53 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8JD.
An independent record shop but with a bit of a difference, Norman Records has been going in some kind of fashion since 1995. Over the past twenty years they’ve become one of the most popular online record shops – and that’s where their difference lies.
Based in Croydon House down in Holbeck, they specialise in the best, and often the most interesting music they can get their hands on, and mainly on vinyl. While, there’s no shop per se to flick through racks, they still are happy to see you come down and collect the order you’ve placed on their website, from which you’ll see the other reason why folk have come to love Norman.
That’s because the website’s record reviews are quite legendary – no beating around the bush, full of expertise and more than a few dollops of tongue-in-cheek humour, they make shopping for your next discovery a whole load more interesting.
Norman Records, Unit 20, Croydon House, Croydon Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 9RT.
Wall of Sound Records
The basement of Crash Records on The Headrow has been well used in recent years – being the home of Dragnet Records until 2015 when they decided to go online only.
Taking their place is former Huddersfield resident, Wall of Sound Records, who have stepped in with their glorious second hand musical produce. Spanning the past 60 years of music, and sometimes even longer, they’ve got classic rock, heavy metal, punk, indie, blues, reggae and soul, so if it’s classic records and discoveries of yesteryear you’re looking for, well, Wall of Sound may well throw up a few surprises.
They also have a bunch of CDs, DVDs, books and music memorabilia, if that’s your bag, and if you’re looking for a long lost find, the clever folk down there will no doubt be able to lend a hand.
Wall of Sound, Basement, 35 The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PU.
This one’s a little bit different, because Single Shot isn’t just a record store, it’s also a cafe where you grab a cappuccino along with a slew of LPs, 12”s and 7”s.
You’ll find the records at the front of the shop, all sourced second hand from private collections. Their offering spans all genres from classic rock to old school hip-hop, indie favourites and the best in metal, so there’s a little something for everyone. They also have a smattering of new releases for you to pick up too.
Once you’ve found your new favourites, you can treat yourself to a brew courtesy of Sherburn-in-Elmet’s Caffe Society, or a piece of locally-made cake, while you flick through the latest music mags. As owner Rob Tierney told us, “We sell coffee, tea and cakes, so if people want to come in, browse the vinyl, sit down and read a music magazine, while they think about what they want to buy and have a coffee while they’re doing that, they’re more than welcome.”
Single Shot, 30 Central Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DE.
Chris Coulthard has been selling records at fairs since 2003 and has previous experience at Vinyl Tap in Huddersfield, but it wasn’t until 2017 that he opened his very own shop. Noiseisforheroes Records can be found on Great George Street, and there’s a little something for everyone.
As Chris told us, “I have records from as many genres as possible, a healthy, broad selection. Today I priced up a Beyonce double album and straight underneath was a Popul Vuh album, and I know there was a Peggy Lee album not far below. There’ll be anything that is interesting to me and I hope will be interesting to someone else. I’ll buy collections of anything interesting.”
You can spend a good long while trawling through the racks here, with everything from hip-hop, soul, dance and soundtracks on the far right, to indie, grunge and punk in front of the window, and 60s, 70s and 80s classics in the middle island. If you don’t know where to start, Chris is always there to help.
Noiseisforheroes Records, 75a Great George Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 3BR.
Ian Brookes has spent the best part of a decade running around record fairs all over the UK, whether close to home at Leeds Corn Exchange or in far flung exotic places like Manchester, London and Norwich.
However, 2016 marked a huge milestone for the go-to second hand record man, as he gave up the day job to set up a permanent shop in the Leeds suburb of Armley on Tong Road. He continues to visit the record fairs, of course, but should you pop into his store from Monday to Saturday, you’ll find a treasure trove of pre-loved gems. It doesn’t matter what genre you like, as there’ll be something here for all, but he does have an envious amount of indie, rock and metal albums, 12″s and singles to ship.
And while Armley may not be your first port of call when it comes to hunting down your favourite records in Leeds, Vinyl Fixx has something else to offer the city’s musos. Brookes often comes across posters and memorabilia with originals of Oasis, Iron Maiden and U2 all having been in store recently, if you’re looking for that little something extra special – pop your head in, and who knows what you’ll come out with.
Vinyl Fixx, Tong Road, Armley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS12 1BW.
While we were particularly sad to see Dragnet depart from Crash Records’ basement, they haven’t disappeared entirely. In fact, they’ve taken the opportunity to start afresh by being a solely online second hand record shop.
And although we always prefer to visit the real thing, Dragnet have a sterling offering. From ‘60s and ‘70s rock, prog, psyche and krautrock to indie, punk, metal, soul, jazz, funk and blues, they have the whole spectrum of modern music on vinyl. So you’ll find a gem or two, particularly from their healthy range of imports that you’re unlikely to find elsewhere, while they also have a range of hard to find punk fanzines.
If you’re looking to get rid or swap some of your own collection Dragnet are more than happy to make you an offer or do some trades. Alternatively, they also put on their own record fairs from time to time, so you may be able to pay them a visit every now and again.
Dragnet Records can be found here.