Dirty 'Oul Town (very) rough guide to Dublin record Stores
I popped across on Ryan Air to Dublin for one night to see My family. My army of Sisters and my Brother knew I was coming but thankfully it was a surprise for D' Mammy and the Dad. If not it would have turned in to a massive production number with fridge packed with food I wouldn't get a chance to eat plus all the other trappings of a mother going into panic mode. As it turned out it was a great night with many a drink downed and for the benefit of nephews and nieces many a tall tale told.
When I got up the next day D' Mammy had done a fry up. I wasn't going to get away with out her feeding me once. After Dad insisted I go with him while walking the dog I had day to kill before flying back. What to do? Record shopping seemed the only thing.
I have not been here for few years and Dublin has changed a lot. The tram lines have made it even busier. If your going to drive around city (DON'T!!!) be aware Dublin pedestrians only use traffic lights as a sort of suggestion, no matter the color of lights if they see gap they are across road like a greyhound out of a trap. You can also use tram but the City Center is small and easily navigated on foot.
The day I was here the sun was out and it felt like mid June rather than the end of March. As a proud Irishman the musical holy trinity has always been Rory Gallager, Phil Lynott and Luke Kelly. There is a street in Temple Bar area called Rory Gallager Corner where a replica of his guitar is on wall. Unfortunate for me because of the dog walk from earlier I was on tight time scale so I had to skip a visit to that landmark (Plus Temple Bar..way to tourist trap for my likening) So I headed for Grafton Street on South Side.
A walk up this street in the sun is a lovely experience on its own with top quality buskers playing everything from rock to blues to performance art. On this particular day I spotted a guy doing a Hendrix impersonation playing solo behind head while standing on one leg, a classical guitar duo, a trad ballad singer, and of course living statues. So something for everyone My first port of call was the Phillo statue. This is situated in a side street of Grafton St. called Harry St. right beside Bruxelles which back in the day was "THE ROCK BAR" this statue doesn't really capture the swagger of Phil but it's much loved having been paid for by the fans from around the world. It is a a rite of passage for Lizzy fans to pay homage to when in the City. His bass strings have plectrums and occasionally flowers placed on it.
Next stop was (New to Me) statue of Luke Kelly. He was the first singer with Irish Folk band the Dubliners, A flame hared force of nature who could blast out the rebel songs or break your heart with a ballad. Although long gone Dublin people are immensely proud of him so I had to pay my respects. It is situated at junction of South King Street near enough to Grafton Street to walk. I don't know what I was expecting but this is now my favorite statue in a City filled with them. It captures the very essence of the man. Pure Music . It's fair to say I felt a lump in my throat.
Now I had done my pilgrimage I decided to get down to business. Record Stores.I t's good to know there is still quite a few left here so I started at one end of Grafton Street and visited for and a bit of them (More about the bit later)
First of The Sound Cellar which is situated at 47 Nassau St. right on corner Of Grafton Street. This store markets itself as the original rock basement which is true. AS long as i remember it has been owned by the legendary Tommy Tighe. If you you were not looking for it you would walk by it. As the name indicates its in a cellar, down two flights of stairs. I was flooded by memories descending down. I haven't been here in at least 15 years and it is still the same. Every available wall space in hallway covered in gig posters. It is small as stores go but packed with cd's and again vinyl. At this time of morning there was one other customer buying a lizzy album but Tommy reconsidered me straight away and big handshake and hello. I've changed a lot over years so being welcomed like prodigal son was great. It stocks blues and some country but If you are a metal head this is store for you, If harder music is your thing this is a must. It is also one of last physical outlets for concert tickets (with no Ticketmaster handling charge either) I know of . I had good rummage around and I picked up Deep Purple, Clutch and Who Live at Leeds. I said my goodbyes and with warm feeling of nostalgia moved on to next store.
Next stop was Freebird Records. Established in 1978 it has to my knowledge had 3 or 4 different locations and in late 80's had two stores at same time. One on South Side of city one on the North. It is now located at 15A Wicklow St, again of Grafton Street. It shares a space with a book store and a sign outside says the secret book and record store. Again another one you have to look for to spot. After winding your way down corridor and through book store Freebird is shoehorned in to back of building but they have made amazing use of the space. Selling both new and secondhand vinyl, cd's etc. The staff in here are music fans themselves and know lots about music you wish to chat about, and friendly as can be which is always a bonus. I had a conversation about the old stores and Friends i knew who worked there. This store was for definitive my gateway to more left field music and when I seriously started exploring 70's funk and deep soul they were my guides. I picked up a couple of second hand albums by Izzy Stradlin and Fugazi so as you can see they carry a wide variety of music genres. Freebird don't sell online so a visit is the way to go with this gem of a shop.
A quick walk out of Grafton Street and to 3 2 The Market Arcade, South Great George's Street to visit Spindizzy Records. Established in 1996 . Its by far the largest of stores I have vised this morning while still being small enough to fell cozy. It stocks across the board genres and every available space is crammed with both new and second hand vinyl. The window alone is enough to tempt you in in to discover its treasures. There was a large selection of Dance and electronic music, followed by lots of funk but they pretty much cover all bases here. The second hand section is well stocked and I picked up copies of West, Bruce & Lang and Uriah Heep - Salisbury for decent price (You can't keep an old rocker down) Also a copy of Motorhead live album Everything louder than everything else new. (I kept my eyes averted from Motorhead box set on wall to keep myself from buying it) The staff were very friendly and helpful letting me know of their online presence (Both Website and Discogs) which is only sensible way forward for physical stores. I told them I had to fly back to U.K. today they handed me tote bag to keep records safe. A very nice touch. I could have spent all day in here talking about music. A really excellent store again run by people who really care about what they do. Loved it.
Next stop was The Rage - Record, Art, Game Emporium which is located 16B Fade St, again just of Grafton Street. This is mainly a record store but as names says it sells vintage computer games as well. The ground floor has popular artist section against one wall but cellar is main area for record buyers. When I visited they were playing D.J. Shadow Organ Donor extended mix which was an immediate good start. the basement was crammed with records again lots of dance and funk and also large punk section. Stocking both second hand and new vinyl, record players, you name it. I could have spent a long time crating but I was really running out of time here. I picked up Motorhead under cover. I was very amused to see Adian Walsh record framed on wall. His name won't mean much to non Irish people but lets say he is the self proclaimed "Emperor of the Eagles" I stood at counter talking to staff about the sadly long gone borderline records and it amazing curator Derek and the music he introduced us to over the years. Alas I had to really get a swivel on now but it's fair to say this is another shop worth visiting while in Dublin.
All four shops are within walking distance of each other and all of them have something to offer .Now to the bit I mentioned earlier. I was way behind schedule (too much chatting to friendly staff) I had to get airport express bus so I walked over to North side of City and thought while I'm here I might as well pop in to tower records. It is situated on top floor of Easons store, which is along same vibe as W,.H. Smith in U.K. A book/newsagents/stationary superstore and just as soulless as that description. I made my way up escalator not knowing what to expect. I had been led to believe even though Tower Records as we knew it no longer existed this branch had kept nae and were operating as indie store. I was not impressed when i entered. It looked like it was heavily stocked with cd's and dvd's with only the tiniest space for Vinyl . I had a look out of curiosity and sad to say it could not be any blander if it tried. I Total waste of time.
I had great time in Dublin and as I said its excellent to see record stores still doing well. I won't stay away for as long the next time...I hope
The Sound Cellar:
Address: 47 Nassau Street, Dublin, Ireland D2 Phone: +353 1 677 1940
Monday - Saturday: 09:00 - 17:30 https://m.facebook.com/soundcellardublin/?locale2=en_GB
Address: 15A Wicklow St, Dublin, Ireland
Phone: +353 1 707 9955 Opening Hours: Monday- Wednesday : 11 – 18:30
Thursday: 11 – 19:30
Friday - Sunday: 11 – 18:30
Address 32 The Market Arcade, South Great George's Street, Dublin, D02 DH79
Phone: +353 1 671 1711
Monday- Wednesday : 10 – 18:30
Thursday: 10 – 19:00
Friday - Saturday: 10 – 18:30
The RAGE-Record Art Game Emporium:
Address: 16B Fade St, Dublin, D02 W180,
Phone: +353 1 677 9594
Monday - Saturday : 10.30 - 19.00
Sunday : 12 - 18.00