On Record Stores, Vinyl and other Records

Today I read in the paper that Tower Records in Tokyo, Japan was opening a dedicated a vinyl-only shop inside its flagship store in Shibuya. I have been intending to do a post on record stores and vinyl for some time, and to link some of the disparate images I have on this theme. Here’s a picture I took in Osaka on my most recent to Japan in late 2015, it features a man walking past a specialist jazz record store aimed at collectors only. The shop sign on the canopy is in English, presumably aimed at a more Western aficionado:

Specialist jazz record shop in Osaka Japan
Specialist jazz record shop in Osaka Japan

The vinyl motif is also used as an entry ticket to Tokyo’s Blue Note Jazz Club:

Back in 2006 I had visited the aforementioned Tower Records and taken this photo featuring a promotional image of Donald Fagen of Steely Dan fame with Japanese text. Since then I have tried to learn to read some Japanese and with a smattering of the hiragana and katakana alphabets I can make out the words Donarado Fagen on the top left:

I also came across a record store on my most recent travels — a weekend in Valleta, Malta. This shop still maintained some of its original features; in fact the first thing I noticed was the beautiful old floor tiles, appropriately square:

I spoke to the man in the photo below who told me that the shop — D’Amato Records — had been in the family for 5 generations; it was now in his son’s hands but as it was a Saturday he’d let him have the day off!

D'Amato Record Shop, Valletta, Malta
D'Amato Record Shop, Valletta, Malta

Some pictures of New York record stores:

And a vinyl giveaway outside the In Living Stereo Audio store:

Next up are a couple of photographs I’d taken at the specialist Latin Music store Mr. Bongo Record at its then location in London’s Poland Street. I’m not sure when they date from — roughly 20 years ago. I’ve scanned the prints as they were pre-digital and haven’t found the negatives. The portraits are of Carey Lyseight and Luis Libres both of whom I knew from the salsa dance scene. I believe Luis managed the store at the time:

A photo taken at the ATM outside the Sounds That Swing (No Hit Records) record store in Camden’s Parkway. The text combined reads Johnny Cash, a pun on the famous country music icon depicted above the dispenser:

Also in the Borough of Camden, one of my local pubs — The Southampton Arms — catering to my taste. Not only do they serve pistachio nuts, thereby satisfying my penchant for Iranian snacks but they have some Cuban music in their vinyl collection. Spot the Buena Vista Social Club on the back wall:

Next up is a photo I took in my living room, a still life featuring an album cover dedicated to Italian Jazz in Cinema. I used to teach film studies and in my opinion the soundtrack is an integral part of cinema — it can ruin or make a film for me. This album includes compositions by Piero Umiliani for the great 50s crime caper I Soliti Ignoti.

My friend Karen in her living room with a copy of Your One and Only Mrs. Mills:

And a small coffee shop in San Francisco with amusing retro vinyl. They also served great banana bread on a coffee filter instead of a paper bag. I think the place is called Special Xtra, on Minna Street. This photo was taken in 2017:

At Bentigodi, a Venetian restaurant in the Cannaregio district that has old 45s and albums on the ceiling outside the ladies loo. If you’re lucky you’ll also catch the jazz band that plays there regularly:

And finally a street abstract featuring an old 78 record. It was probably made of shellac, rather than vinyl, hence it brittle constitution! I have several photographs documenting various found records on pavements, but this one is my favourite:

Originally published at Mish Aminoff.

Photographer and interdisciplinary artist living in London; photography-based blogs combining image and commentary.