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Coolest Record Stores in the UK

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Record stores have come a long way since the foreboding places that inspired High Fidelity's Championship Vinyl.

As the internet, piracy and digital have squeezed them, only the very best have been left still standing, but those remaining have simply emphasised their importance as community hubs; places for music fans of all types to come together, swap tips, support local talent and purchase that rare new 7" that has just come on the market.

We've picked 16 of the coolest in the UK: why not pop in to one and discover something new?

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Banquet Records (Kingston)

Proud Kingstonian supporters - so much so that they sponsor the club's shirt - Banquet Records have gone from strength to strength over the past decade. Their reputation is such that big names regularly grace their store and legendary New Slang club night for live performances. They even rent out PA for local events. The perfect all-round 21st Century record shop.

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Probe (Liverpool)

Founded in 1971, Probe has supported the Liverpool music scene since the beginning, with Julian Cope, Pete Burns and Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Paul Rutherford all working in the shop at various points between 1977 and 1984 and the likes of Bill Drummond, Pete Wylie, Julian Cope and Ian McCulloch sampling its wares. It moved to its fourth home, Bluecoat Arts Centre on School Lane, in 2010 and shows no sign of stopping any time soon.

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Rise (Bristol)

It's no surprise that Bristol, home of the crate-digging influenced Massive Attack and Portishead (well, close) should have an excellent record store. And Rise is that store, with its main HQ in Bristol, and extra branches in Cheltenham and Worcester. There's regular instore gigs, a cafe and films and clothing available, plus a Rise Quiz. And we all know that you can't beat somewhere that hosts a quiz.

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Spillers (Cardiff)

No list would be complete without Spillers, the oldest record shop in the world, no less. It's been treating its customers to the latest sounds since 1894 and has survived a couple of moves, with the current premises in Morgan Arcade hosting their ongoing commitment to records and supporting local Cardiffian talent. Nothing less than an institution.

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Crash (Leeds)

Fully independent and one of the twin peaks of the Leeds music scene (the other being Jumbo, featured later), Crash has been going for nearly 30 years, operating as both a great record store and a ticket buying hub for the many events in the city. And, as owner Ian ably demonstrates in the photo below, there are none more committed to preserving the great record stores of our nation than the people of Crash.

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Monorail Music (Glasgow)

An indie paradise in this store, started and still co-owned by Stephen McRobbie of legendary Glasgow band The Pastels. It's intimate and packed with both character and rare 7"s, which is exactly as it should be.

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Rough Trade West (London)

You couldn't really have a record store list without including the truly iconic Rough Trade. The shop, of course, spawned the legendary record label - home to The Smiths and The Strokes amongst many others - and has seen countless famous musicians come through its doors, as well as providing a yearly, unmissable Top 100 Albums list. It expanded into East London with the opening of its expansive Brick Lane store, but we're keeping it real by including the West London branch - the area where it was founded in 1976 (albeit on nearby Kensington Park Road) and the shop that still retains that essential mystique.

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Rockaboom (Leicester)

Leicester's last remaining independent record shop and still going strong, Rockaboom has both an excellent name, and an excellent reputation for stocking great music and supporting local talent. And if Jarvis is a fan, then who are we to argue?

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Jumbo (Leeds)

Just like Crash, Jumbo offers everything that the Leeds music connoisseur could wish for. Safely ensconced in the St Johns Centre, Jumbo has been going for over 30 years, immersing itself and its customers in the latest sounds, artists and gigs: fanzines and posters abound and the staff are friendly and knowledgeable.

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Norman Records (Online)

While Norman Records is purely an online store, we feel it more than deserves its place in this list, operating exactly as an independent shop should, just via the internet and mailouts instead. And what mailouts. The many staff recommendations are flawless, and the weekly mailers, offering astonishingly detailed - and brutally honest - reviews of virtually all of the new releases, are unmissable. A true virtual friend.

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Sister Ray (London)

A Soho institution, it's been all change at Sister Ray HQ recently, with a move across the road from its old home at no. 34 to larger premises at no. 75 Berwick Street and the announcement of a new vinyl-only branch in Shoreditch to open at the end of July; both events demonstrating how the shop continues to go from strength to strength. Of course, it was featured in the background of Oasis' (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, thus preserving its place in rock history and, if this wasn't enough, Sister Ray man Phil is well worth a follow on his extremely entertaining twitter account.

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Piccadilly Records (Manchester)

Such a legendary musical city as Manchester deserves an equally legendary record store, and they have one in Piccadilly Records. No limited edition release will escape the attentions of the shop's expert staff, there's a huge range of genres and styles in stock and, if you're lucky, you might bump into a member of the city's musical royalty while you're having a browse. Like Rough Trade, their annual top 100 album list is the ultimate cheat sheet to what's been hot in the last 12 months - miss it at your peril.

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Avalanche (Edinburgh)

It is fair to say that Avalanche is currently in a state of flux; having been priced out of a permanent home by increasing rent, Avalanche has retained an online presence and experimented with pop-up stores, thus retaining its place at the heart of Edinburgh's music scene. It may get a new permanent home, it may not; either way, a record store is more than just the premises it occupies, so Avalanche looks sure to continue to support new music and records in some way. In the meantime, owner Kevin Buckle's thoughts on the future of the record industry are well worth a read on their website.

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Action (Preston)

Yet another legendary record shop, which also has hosted a label from the 80s through to the present day, with an impressive alumni including The Boo Radleys, Monkey Steals The Drum and The Fall. Dedicated staff and an unrivalled supply of limited editions and special releases make Action an essential part of the UK's record shop premier league.

Website/Facebook/Twitter

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Good Vibrations (Belfast)

Good Vibrations spawned both a label, which released Teenage Kicks by the Undertones, and a film, which told the story of both entities, the creation of legendary local music man Terri Hooley, who wanted to promote bands from Northern Ireland and bring great music to the city. Today, the shop is in its 13th different incarnation and still aiming to do the same things: we're sure someone will write the new Teenage Kicks and keep it going for a long while yet.

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HMV Oxford Street (London)

Yes, it's part of a chain, but there's no denying that HMV's return to their original flagship Oxford Street location - complete with original shop sign - is an extremely cool move. 363 Oxford Street was home to the very first HMV when it was opened in 1921 played a hand in the Beatles getting their first recording contract, and its basement was even an official air-raid shelter during the war. Having moved away in 2000, they're back where it all began now, promising to organise more instore gigs and provide a bigger all-round musical experience for music fans. There's certainly room for a record shop like this alongside the Sister Rays of this world.

Website/Facebook/Twitter

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(Images: Alastair Price/Dave Holland/Facebook/Rex)

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