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In honor of Record Store Day, we're resurfacing this great piece by Dave Adams (DJ Lil' Dave of the famed Illvibe Collective).
"I love vinyl. I love the way it sounds, the way it feels, and the way it looks. Sadly, the iPod era has delivered a serious blow to this musical format. Now that DJs can scratch and blend mp3s together using technology like Serato or Final Scratch, the landscape of the vinyl market place has drastically changed. A lot of local record store have disappeared because of this. Most notably is Armand's Record, which was the top place to buy hiphop and reggae in the city. Now it's just a place to buy sound equipment. Another huge loss was electronic music institution 611 Records, which closed its doors over a year ago. For about 15 years, this place was the hub of Philly's Techno, House, and Drum & Bass scenes.
Even with so many stores going out of business, there are still a handful of great places to find the records you need. On the top of my list is Philly mainstay Cue Records (617 S. 4th St.). It's probably the last place in the city were you can find an up-to-date collection of underground hiphop, acid jazz, trip-hop, and future soul. Their other highlight is their carefully chosen catalog of rare grooves and funk 45s. Expect to be floored by gems you'll find, but expect to pay the price for them. Another great store is AKA Music (27 N 2nd St). Their vinyl collection isn't that big but the records that they do have are some serious finds. They are best at keeping current with indie rock and electronic dance music. If you are hunting for the latest M.I.A. single or the newest Hot Chip album on wax, chances are you will find it here. When you are looking for a great selection of house music, Sound of Market (15 S. 11th St.), is the place. They have a nice selection of different styles, but they specialize in soulful house tunes by artists like Masters at Work and Blaze. Their staff consists of a bunch of seasoned DJs who have been there for years. Don't be afraid to ask questions, because they really know their stuff.
True vinyl lovers aren't all about shiny new records, our real obsession is digging up hard to find tunes in dusty dollar bins. It's like finding buried treasure. There are a few stores that have popped up in the last few years. These shops buy entire stock piles of unwanted records and make them available for collectors at low prices. West Philly's The Marvelous Records (208 S. 40th St.) has been a heavyweight in the local used records biz since they stepped on the scene a few years ago. They carry a hefty assortment of jazz, disco, rock, soul, as well as many obscure genres, like Brazilian folk. Another place to get your hands dirty is Beautiful World Syndicate. They have two locations, one in South Philly (1619 E. Passyunk Ave) and one in West Philly (4801 Pine St.), where you can find mountains of used soul, funk, and rock vinyl.
Even with the all the digital technology out their changing the way we listen to music, there is still something about the warm analog sound of vinyl records that keeps drawing us back. It’s good to know that there are businesses out here weathering the storm in order to keep vinyl alive."