Vinyl still flies in W1

Hemmed in by the big brand names on Oxford Street, Regent Street, Shaftesbury Avenue and Piccadilly Circus, the Soho area in London is an oasis representing what remains of a shifting independent community after long-term gentrification. Well-known areas around Soho include Leicester Square, Chinatown, and nearby Tin Pan Alley in Denmark Street. Then there's Soho itself, where you can find famous streets such as Carnaby Street, Berwick Street, Greek Street, Old Compton Street, Frith Street and Wardour Street. Within walking distance you can find independent cinemas, theaters, famous pubs, and numerous bars, coffee shops, and retail outlets alongside exclusive clubs and restaurants. There's plenty to see, and you never know who you might bump into.

Soho has some of the deepest music, film, theater and social history ever, although things have shifted over recent decades. Most of the original film distributors are gone, replaced with modern media companies, and many historical music venues are sadly missing (the latest being the Borderline in 2021). The 100 Club on Oxford Street and Ronnie Scott's in Frith Street are left holding the fort, along with The London Palladium and smaller café style music venues. Thankfully, some of the independent record stores that are also a part of Soho's musical history, are still around.

Soho remains a centre for second-hand vinyl, which has been flying in and out of the racks for decades, albeit in varying degrees as the market fluctuated during the rise of new music format trends. New music, and an influx of second hand records and CDs are continuously exchanged and discovered in Soho by music fans and collectors alike.

The musical and vinyl influence of Soho is enhanced by the presence of the independent radio station Soho Radio, where occasional sessions of small scale live performances are recorded directly to vinyl in one take. The vinyl connection continues with The Vinyl Factory, a large music related enterprise based in Soho which operates a full vinyl pressing plant and an independent recording label, along with audio-visual productions that are staged around the capital, or released as limited editions.

To celebrate the importance of vinyl as a format, and as a guide to the high street record store experience around Soho, ★webstar has created a resource featuring links to some of the best stores in the area, with a sample top-ten vinyl pick list from the racks of each featured store.

The diversity and discovery value of the music included underlines just how important independent record stores are, as they continue to preserve and circulate physical music formats.


Matt Sheen ★webstar MMXXI

Photography by: ★webstar November 2021
Video Playlist Curated by: James Leavey Connections


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