Let’s face it…Barcelona is an amazing city with so much to see and do…….Tapas Bars, Shopping, Galleries, Architecture, walking or just simply- people watching!
We have been lucky enough to travel again in early Spring to Barcelona, and it’s the perfect opportunity to hit those record stores. It always takes awhile to search out those hidden treats, and I can think of nothing better than exploring the backstreets. Go back to your old favourite cafes and shops, or search out some new treats.
The streets are filled with life and music, strange smells and new sights, each time you visit. Young tourists negotiate footpaths with ponderous back packs, locals weave their way to work (or the bar), and kids play on the streets with a mix of familiar and exotic languages. You will get lost, but that’s half the fun. On the way you will probably come across a tiny tapas bar full of locals…. you will be rarely disappointed. These classic tapas bars are the opposite of the tourist traps close to Las Ramblas.
I had a request from a friend in Australia for a copy of an LP, by Blue Cheer, searching for their second album ‘Outside Inside’. Quick Google search established that they were a very heavy rock band from the late 60’s. In fact, many revere them as the first proto-Metal band. So I gladly agreed to the challenge to search out this obscure gem. The great thing is that all of the best Record stores are within 20 minutes of each other, and in the central city. These areas are fine during the day, but I would be cautious after hours. The streets close to Las Ramblas and El Raval can be a bit dodgy. The shopping in these areas is diverse, and interesting. Think K Rd meets Ponsonby! Love it……everything from vintage clothing, bike rentals, cafes, musical instrument shops, sneaker specialists, etc..
Discos Impacto. Carrer dels Tallers, 61 http://www.discosimpacto.com/ This is my first visit to the store, and was pleasantly surprised. A wide range of most genre, but a good generalist store focused on Brit/US and Spanish bands. The guy was friendly and helpful. They also have a room out the back filled with a brilliant range of Soul, Dance, Hip hop etc. Big focus on Vinyl, but excellent range of CD’s. I have scored a ‘Best of Blue Cheer’, so have bought as my back-up LP.
Discos Castillo, Carrer dels Tallers, 7
In the same street is the cavernous Discos Castillo, selling everything in all formats. Well organized, with a great layout. Good range of Vinyl that contains Used and New, and I scored a couple of rare UK 80’s EP’s. No ‘Blue Cheer’ though.
Revolver Records, Carrer dels Tallers, 11 http://www.revolverrecords.es/
I’m having a great day so far, with the three stores all in close proximity. Revolver Records is very compact with a wide range of Punk, Blues, Alternative, Indie, Metal, Rock etc… Strong Vinyl selection with lots of rarities and a wide selection of CD.
Wah Wah Records, Riera Baixa 14 http://www.wah-wahsupersonic.com
Really, this has the most incredible range of records in an incredibly small space. Sub-genre, upon sub-genre…less mainstream (if you went in looking for Bruce Springsteen they would probably kick you ass out) but if your thing is
Wah Wah inside
obscure 60’s bubblegum music, or 70’s metal…..or whatever, then they probably will have it. Now after searching their extensive selection of 60’s psychedelic rock I found the elusive ‘Blue Cheer’ album. It’s a 2010 reissue, but its still a rare beast. There is so much stacked into this store you felt in danger of being squashed under a wall of LP’s. Take a list, a survival pack, GPS and go to it. The staff who work there are remarkably unhelpful…..both times I went in. Wah Wah are very serious about what they do, and full credit to developing such a specialised selection. They also reissue rarieties, and have a catalog online. If you only visit one of the stores, I have listed, then this must be the one.
Discos Edison, Riera Baixa, 10 http://www.discos-edisons.com Previously have picked up some good gems here, but it seems to have gone off. The selection has dwindled and poorly organized.
There is something fantastic going into these stores, and there is always that element of anticipation over what you may find. My Record buying, now overseas, revolves around rare pressings and luggage limitations mean I need to be careful. Well there is also the problem of hauling 10kgs of records around on holiday, and paranoid they will get cooked.
I believe we should, as serious music buyers, support these stores really wherever they are. The people who run them tend to be passionate and very knowledgeable. What’s the fun in doing all of this online? If you are lucky enough to make it to Barcelona then you should visit these stores. This is not all of the Record stores in Barcelona but all are within a nice tight area, only 20 minutes apart, at most.
** Check the Opening Hours before venturing in. Most offer limited trading hours, and usually closed Sunday. The staff tend to work their own hours. (This ain’t Gap baby!)