Seven places to buy records in Lisbon
When the CD and the small and discrete sound systems appeared circa 1980, it was thought that vinyl would be striding towards extinction. The publishers tried to impose this hierarchy and vinyl made its way of resistance in a parallel circuit of street stores. In recent years, the mass consumption of music has converted to streaming and people store endless amounts of songs in hard drives,, boxes,, clouds and usb pens, abdicating of the cult of the object to gather more and more information for less value. It is here that a new type of record buyer joins the vinyl resistance, the hipster, to give renewed strength and a second life to vinyl. Far away from the mega stores, alternative stores seem to have been organized into a network (lisbonrecordshops.com). That's where we went, collecting impressions from seven shopkeepers who understood the subject.
LOUIE LOUIE (Escadinhas do Santo Espírito da Pedreira 3)
The Lisbon store opened in 2007. But the Louie Louie already existed in Porto. Jorge Dias was a partner in this store and also had a share in Carbono. Louie Louie is considered an alternative to megastores. Vinyl became a salvation for this kind of stores. The substantial increase in tourism in Lisbon as well. Foreigners buy more, even if in amounts that take into account the return journey. Jorge Dias distinguishes three types of customers: the ones who only buy new discs, the ones who only buy used ones, and the ones that look for a particular disc and don’t care if it is new or used. As we talked, Homogenic by Björk and the first album of Caetano Veloso played in the store. From the music released in 2018, the store recommends Thom Yorke’s soundtrack for the remake of Suspiria and the easy going surf-pop of Khruangbin (Com Todo el Mundo).
FLUR (Avenida Infante D. Henrique, Armazém B, loja 4)
Flur exists since 2001 and maintains the same address near the Lux Frágil nightclub. The store values the familiarity it has created with its customers who never traded purchasing records at Flur for online shopping. Flur also has a website that works mainly as a storefront and that, along with the weekly newsletter, is the only promotion they make. Vinyl record sales represent twice the amount of CD sales. New ones also cost roughly twice as much. The music being played in the store at that moment belonged to the album Izlamic Songs, by Muslimgauze. When choosing important albums released in 2018, Zé Moura, manager of Flur, referred the album Belzebu, by Telectu, and Taipei Disco, with exclusives by the DWART project, both from the Holuzam label, a very recent publisher owned by Flur’s three current partners.
VINIL EXPERIENCE (Rua do Loreto 65)
The place matches the description of a mezzanine: “a floor, usually with low-ceiling, located between the store or ground floor and the first floor.” In practice it is as if José João (Jota) received us in a room in his own house. The records are somewhat organized but it is certain that only the manager can locate a specific record. They are closed two days a week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays), as well as on Sundays. During the conversation, we listened to a Jimi Hendrix tribute band, The Purple Fox, and the modern psychedelic band King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. Jota also feathered his own nest when choosing a recent record that left a mark on him: it was the EP 909DemocrashDrug by Portuguese band Democrash, which is a shared edition by Raging Planet and Vinil Experience.
GLAM-O-RAMA (Rua do Viriato 12)
Glam-O-Rama was Luís Lamelas’ gateway to Lisbon. 4 years ago that became reality. A short time ago, he was able to negotiate a realistic rent value with the owner and Glam-O-Rama moved to where VGM once was. The store also promotes record presentations, autograph sessions and acoustic concerts. We talked to him as he was starting to work and the store was silent. Moments later, the instrumental surf-rock of Head Shrinkin ‘Fun by The Bomboras could be heard. Glam-O-Rama’s profits approximately the same from CD and vinyl; used CDs are gaining some ground because they are cheaper. The conversation ends with the re-edition of the album A Wind of Knives by Zygote, an important record among the many that Luís Lamelas has recently heard.
CARBONO (Rua do Telhal 6B)
Carbono was the first used record store to emerge in Portugal, in 1993. What immediately impresses those who enter Rua do Telhal’s place is its size. We can walk around at will although we are surrounded by records at each corner and in the center of the store. And there is more material to see and buy on the ground floor. According to the person in charge of Carbono, vinyl has come into fashion. Individuals who keep good editions do not want to sell them and the market is increasingly full of re-editions that do not have the same value. He also tells us that all stores normally sell more CDs than vinyl. The price is a decisive factor. The music that was heard belonged to the “bootleg” With your host Bob Dylan 2007/2008. The 2018 album that João Moreira chose for us was Knock Knock, by DJ Koze.
TABATÔ (Rua Andrade 8A)
To get in the Crew Hassan Cooperative you have to descend a few steps and then you are at Tabatô. The man responsible is Frenchman Bastien who visited Portugal in 2010, to do some work as a DJ (world music, reggae), and came back to stay. The store opened in 2015. Customers are looking for rare records, African music from the PALOP (African countries with Portuguese as their official language), and receives many people from France, Germany and the Netherlands. Tabatô closes on weekends and this may explain why Mondays and Fridays are the days of greatest affluence. When we spoke with Bastien the store was minutes away from opening and music came from upstairs, where a radio played The War on Drugs. Bastien chose for us, amongst his most recent discoveries, the albums The Rule of Fire, by Luís Cília, and the very rare maxi-single from Cape Verdean Cruz Pinto (funaná).
DISCOLECÇÃO (Calçada do Duque 53)
After staying in three other spaces of the city, the Discolecção is now at Calçada do Duque. The space was full. We listened at a good volume to The Bracknell Connection, by Stan Tracey Octet, British jazz of the 1970s. Vítor has always had exclusively vinyl, but now we can find in a noble area of Discolecção dozens of CDs that in no way diverge from the general criterion. It is increasingly difficult to find material of this quality from individuals. Vítor continues to attend the Utrecht fair, stating that it’s the biggest and most important one for this market. He relies on the displayed items, the surprise effect and the ability to bring past recollections to those who pass by and purchase. He chooses from the most recent things that surprised him, A Meditation Mass (1974) by the German group Yatha Sidra, and Your Daily Gift (1971) by the Danes Savage Rose. Both in the genre that Vítor Nunes most appreciates, classic rock and its variants.