Saturday, April 16, 2011

Why Monorail Records in Glasgow is the best record shop in the world - International Record Store Day 2011

I'm a bit of a music obsessive. I might not be as bad as the characters in the film High Fidelity but I'm not far off. I've been massively into music and buying records since the age of 10. Before I bought my own records I used to play with my parents records all the time (Paul Simon, The Beatles, Johnny Cash).

I was lucky enough to grow up in the greater Glasgow area. There were a few record shops that I went to in East Kilbride - impulse records, the village record shop, our price, HMV and Fopp (later on). I could always pick up Dead Kennedys records, Jesus and Mary Chain records and Sex Pistols CDs with little trouble.

As a bonus the public library in EK had a great music section with cool stuff from the '60s on. I was able to check out Sonic Youth, the Pixies, Love, Joy Division, the Velvet Underground, the Who and everything else.

Obviously I would go into Glasgow to find more stuff. Missing records on Oswald Street was always a favourite destination. They used to have a second hand section upstairs with new releases downstairs. I was able to pick up most of the SST back catalogue for £2.99 a record. I got my favourite Butthole Surfers album for £2 on tape. Missing was a great shop.

I started at Glasgow University in 1995 and I started going to the record shops in the west end a lot more. The record shop in John Smiths bookshop beside Hillhead Underground station was one of the best. It was run by Stephen, the main bloke in the Pastels. The really nice thing about this shop was that you could ask Stephen which Captain Beefheart record he would recommend and he would give you a good answer.

Byres Road also hosted Lost in Music, Fopp, Echo and another branch of Missing. All of these were great shops. I have spent hundreds of pounds in these shops.

I went down south for 5 years and over that time the record shops of Glasgow changed. Several shops disappeared or shrunk. Monorail opened up in 2002 with Stephen Pastel and Dep from Missing. Monorail is part of the larger Mono venue which includes a vegan restaurant/bar/live music area. It it worth having a look at the Mono webpage. Monorail have consistently been excellent. They have knowledgeable, friendly staff. The prices are good (generally better then HMV). They have a great range of alternative music. They have opening hours that fit in with a 9-5 job (Monorail is open 11-7PM).

The historical sketch above doesn't really tell you why Monorail is the best record shop in the world. I need to tell you another story to explain that.

Earlier this week I popped into Monorail to find out which records they would have in stock for Record Store Day. I specifically asked about the Bad Brains 'Pay to cum' 7" single which was being re-released on gold vinyl. The original version of this single is the holy grail of hardcore punk. Dep, who works in the shop, is a Bad Brains fan himself and I explained that they were probably the second band I ever saw live in 1993.

So I went along to Monorail at about 8:30AM today. I had been out late on Friday night making weak attempts at chatting up an attractive woman. Despite my hangover I managed to drag myself out of bed and stumble onto a bus. When I got there I was greeted by a queue of 50 people. When I made it to the shop counter I was able to get everything I wanted (see seperate post) except the Bad Brains single that was sold out. Dep seemed to be a bit disappointed that I didn't get a copy.

I met one of my pals in the shop. He was very happy with his purchases, especially a limited edition Earth lp and a reissued Neurosis LP. I was a bit sleep deprived so I made my way home. One of my cousins was up visiting from England with his wife and kids so I was entertaining them at my flat for a couple of hours. I had a quick look on ebay and sadly noted that 5 copies of 'pay to cum' were already being sold at inflated prices. I spent an hour or so proudly looking at my new records.

At 5pm I went back to Mono to see Frightened Rabbit perform a free live set.

When I arrived at Mono Dep grabbed me to tell me that he had found an extra copy of the Bad Brains 7" and put it aside for me. I couldn't believe it. He found it after a quick search behind the counter and I happily handed over my cash. I suspect that it may have been his own copy of the record but he said that he wanted me to have it. Top Bloke! i owe him several pints.

In my opinion this anecdote tells you exactly why Monorail is the best record shop in the world. They have excellent staff who know and look after their customers.

Visit Glasgow, go to Monorail and buy stuff

Monorail Music, 12 Kings Court, Glasgow, G1 5RB. 0141 552 9458 Opening hours: 11am - 7pm Monday to Saturday. Sunday 12 noon - 7pm.

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