In the film High Fidelity, Jack Black’s character Barry delighted in belittling visitors to his record shop. “Do we look like the kind of store that sells I Just Called to Say I Love You?” he’d demand. “Go to the mall.” Regrettably this scenario has some foundation in real-life. “Stores were built around record collectors – who tended to be men,” says Rachel Lowe, co-founder of Vinyl Revolution. “These could be a bit intimidating for those discovering music. We wanted to have a shop for everyone. From kids buying music for the first time, right up to older people who were adding to their collection.”
So, to address this imbalance she and partner Simon Parker created a space on Brighton’s Duke Street where anyone exploring music could feel comfortable. This has resulted in Vinyl Revolution welcoming a broad clientele. Families will visit together, finding a common interest in music. “We get everything,” says Parker. “From 14-year olds investigating The Smiths, students buying King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard or Tame Impala, people in their early 30s getting into vinyl for the first time because it totally missed their generation, and onto older people who are either adding to collections or replacing items.” Although new and vintage vinyl sits at the heart of what they sell, it’s more than a record shop, Alongside, is a range of unique merchandise to brighten the lives of anyone fascinated with pop and rock. From t-shirts to beach towels, mugs to art prints, and kids clothing to homeware (including a Boy George teapot).
These original and striking celebrations of music icons were all designed by Beth Fraser, a London College of Fashion graduate. “We had people buying our T-Shirts from Darwin, Australia,” says Lowe. “How do they know about us? We’ve also sent an art print with a Lemmy drinking quote to Abu Dhabi… It’s great fun.” Downstairs resides a hi-fi area, offering an award-winning range of Pro-Ject turntables, which should please any audiophile. This area has been designed to easily accommodate book launches, documentary screenings and live shows. Brighton’s White Room celebrate the launch of their new album Eight here on Thurs 7 Dec, while The Ramoanas visit in early Jan.
There’s a strong green ethic throughout the shop, to the extent of recycling unplayable vinyl into new products. Use of plastic is kept to a minimum everywhere – your purchases will come in a paper or tote bag, and the PVC display wrappers are reused. All the art is framed using a company who balance wood use with replanting. The clothing lines come from a premium Swedish company called Earth Positive, who produce 100% organic, carbon neutral items. “It’s really important to us, being environmentally friendly and ethical,” says Parker. “It does cost a bit more, but then it’s cheaper to get children in to make your t-shirts.”
Originally tested as a pop-up in Tunbridge Wells, the shop reflects changes amongst the record-buying public. Vinyl is mainstream again, not just the domain of the fanatic. This shop isn’t trying to be cool, but it is striving to offer a window on a pop legacy spanning 65 years. Statistics researched by the pair show 45% of Brighton residents felt uncomfortable asking for advice in a record store, while 25% have declined asking for a record because they felt it ‘wasn’t cool enough’.
Thus, it’s vital everyone working in the shop is upbeat, unpretentious, and loves a wide range of genres. Handy stuff if you’re nervously after a copy of The Spice Girls debut reissue (something they’ve sold plenty of this year). “We don’t mind,” says Parker. “We do have Throbbing Gristle and AC/DC, but we also have Steps. It’s quite a large spectrum.” Playing in bands for over 20 years and promoting shows, he’s brought bands like Kasabian and The Cribs to Brighton for the first time and written a book about the live music circuit. Now he wants Vinyl Revolution to offer a decent and eclectic mix of everything, form 60s and 70s soul, through to psych rock, 80s indie, Britpop and a bit of jazz. “My background is music,” he adds. “it’s all I’ve ever really known. I just love everything about it – It never bores me. Hopefully I can transfer that to other people.”
Vinyl Revolution is at 33 Duke Street, Brighton BN1 1AG
Their one day Christmas pop-up shop comes to The Forum in Tunbridge Wells on Sat 9 Dec.2017