Visit the Wonderful Vintage Vinyl Stores Of Mumbai - Homegrown

Visit the Wonderful Vintage Vinyl Stores Of Mumbai

[On 16th-19th January, 2019, Homegrown is throwing a first-of-its-kind music festival in Mumbai designed to celebrate the city’s vast and diverse music culture. Dive deep into a wide variety of dynamic workshops, exhibitions, curated tours, panels, pop-ups, performances and parties that promise to be inclusive of all kinds of tastes and people.

There’s something for everyone, click here to find what’s perfect for you.]

Vinyl lovers are often found extolling the virtues of the ‘warm’ or ‘mahogany-rich’ sound of an old LP lazily twirling ‘round a turntable. For some, vinyl is the only way to listen to tunes, while others find it an obnoxiously nostalgic attachment to past, an old world of music desperately clung on to by granddads and handlebar-moustached hipsters. The author of this article rather likes vinyl, and yes, a bit of that appreciation is anchored in the chic or fashionable side of LPs (and EPs) and well-made turntables; however, most of the appeal lies in the practical aspect of listening to vinyl. Vinyl is a smart purchase for music lovers on a number of levels. It’s not just about looking cool – one wouldn’t and shouldn’t like The Ramones merely because they wore skinny jeans and leather jackets. Their sound complemented their image, and that’s why they worked.

Similarly, when a record player’s needle (stylus) lands upon the outer rivet of a good record the coupling of style and a heightened listening experience are joined together wonderfully as they complement each other. The sheer physicality of putting a record on becomes a magical routine for all those who’ve learned (or were born) to love it.

So before we jump into this curated list of Mumbai’s record shops, allow us to build a case for just why a record store is worth your time, and vinyl is anything but an outdated medium for music lovers.

As Patsy Cline Lover once explained, recording on vinyl is like “Throwing up a butterfly net and catching a moment in time.” When one listens to vinyl, what they are hearing is the original recording of a song, not a remastered studio version that is synthesized to hell and back – the music you are listening to is real.

Moreover, much of the music on iPods or platforms like Soundcloud are stored and broadcasted in a lossy, audio compression format. This is done so the file size of a song is small enough to be stored in a handheld device or broadcasted over the internet. LPs, on the other hand, are a lossless format when pressed, capturing the true essence of the song. The only sound that is relatively difficult to reproduce on an LP is bass, however, the signal processing, vibrations, and distortions that occur while reproducing bass on a mediocre record player add a ‘warm’ sound, which makes many music enthusiasts head over heels for vinyl.

Personally, we feel that the snap, crackle, and pop of an old record player chugging round on a Sunday morning is like getting a hug from your music; however, if you don’t like the ‘warmth’ and want more of a crisp sound, a well-pressed LP and sturdy turntable will do that for you.

The quality of the listening experience aside, frequenting record stores is a great way to get turned on to different music, spanning genres and decades. People who listen to vinyl, are generally more knowledgeable about music. That may sound like a loaded statement but the very act of buying a record is educational. Record stores are like libraries, you go in and wind up being exposed to so much material. Also, store owners are great guides, and even fellow customers looking around can offer loads of advice.

Record stores are also consortiums for music-lovers. A place where an ‘old timer’ might advise younger dudes who grew up on Greenday to check out The Stiff Little Fingers or how The Arctic Monkeys are heavily influenced by The Strokes, Johnny Cash, and the ever-mighty Queens Of The Stone Age. It’s largely a quid pro quo kinda crowd, ready to help a fellow music-lover out.

And even if you remain numb to all of the above, perhaps you’ll be swayed by the legitimate argument that buying records is a pretty decent financial decision - well, at least if you have decent taste in music. Good records uphold their value, and small-batch unreleased records go for lucrative amounts these days.

So invest in your vinyl collection at any one of these Mumbai record stores!

(Sadly good records don’t come cheap in Mumbai. If this curated list doesn’t cut it for you, you can still kick back and listen to vinyl at PORT Cafe in Lower Parel as well as Microgroove’s listening sessions.

I. Haji Ebrahim: Saifee Jubilee, Chor Bazaar

As you walk down Saifee Jubilee Street the first sign of Ebrahim’s little record store is a golden gramophone glistening outside his front door. Ebrahim doesn’t limit is wares to just records, his walls and floor space are overflowing with stacks of old radios, old speakers, record players, and strangely enough, old telephones. He is also a welcoming man who helps you navigate the heaps and heaps of English, Hindi, Telugu, and Bengali records. If a particular record catches your eye, he’s happy to play it on one of the stores many record players.

Image source: Julian Manning
Image source: Julian Manning

This a dangerously wonderful part of this little no-frills, hole-in-the-wall. You can easily spend hours chain-smoking inside the tiny shop as Ebrahim test drives a bevy of badass LPs (78s), 38s, and 45s for you. You only have to take a break when the imam starts up.

Image source: Julian Manning
Image source: Julian Manning

We highly suggest record lovers to check out this wee record shop with a formidable number of desirable records. We only caution that Ebrahim is a good bargainer, so put your game face on.

II. The Revolver Club: G-3, Fair Lands, 314 Lady Jamshedji Road, Mahim West, Mahim, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400016

“Buy real records in real shops, or I’ll come ‘round your house and scream at your mother.”

- Ian Gillan (Deep Purple)

A little bit of bias seeps into this write up, just because the guys who run this joint remind me of the guys from High Fidelity, only a little less self-deprecating. They’ve got great taste in music, a good sense of humour, and they like to fuck around. However, bias aside, these guys not only have all the essentials for anyone beginning to start their record collection, but also a bunch of eclectic shit that make going to a record store the discovering experience it’s supposed to be.

And their clientele mirrors their collection. The guys that drop by the store are normally jazz-crazed uncles or a deadhead who saw The Fat Man (Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead) play the 1978 Egyptian tour, when a lunar eclipse occurred at the sept. 16th show. Just how your friends are a good way to tell if you’re a dilhole or not, a record store’s customers are a good way to tell the quality of their wares.

II. The Revolver Club: G-3, Fair Lands, 314 Lady Jamshedji Road, Mahim West, Mahim, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400016

“Buy real records in real shops, or I’ll come round your house and scream at your mother.”

- Ian Gillan (Deep Purple)

A little bit of bias seeps into this write up, just because the guys who run this joint remind me of the dudes from High Fidelity, only a little less self-deprecating. They’ve got great taste in music, a good sense of humour, and they like to fuck around. However, bias aside, these guys not only have all the essentials for anyone beginning to start their record collection, but also a bunch of eclectic shit that make going to a record store the discovering experience it’s supposed to be.

And their clientele mirrors their collection. The guys that drop by the store are normally jazz-crazed uncles or a deadhead who saw The Fat Man (Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead) play the 1978 Egyptian tour, when a lunar eclipse occurred at the sept. 16th show. Just how your friends are a good way to tell if you’re a dill-hole or not, a record store’s customers are a good way to tell the quality of their wares.

Image source: Julian Manning
Image source: Julian Manning

The day I happened to swing by the joint 2,000 records were delivered. It was part of a shipment from a French company who sources a buttload of records for The Revolver Club, giving them an unparalleled advantage in the city. A slight drawback of the store is that the only records you’ll find are stacked on an expansive, wooden shelf in the back of the store. Although this makes the browsing experience a bit less fun all the records on the wall are quality, and you can see their entire inventory online and order records there.

Image source: Julian Manning
Image source: Julian Manning

The reason why there’s only one large shelf of records is that the rest of the store is filled with sounds systems and record players. If you’re considering getting a turntable and/or want a badass sound system, these fellows got you covered. If you live in Mumbai ‘The Revolver Club’ can set up your system, and if not they can ship around the country. So even if you’re a poser who wants to add a little fake intrigue into your life, you know the place to go to get a bitchin’ sound system for your record player.

The Revolver Club also hosts pop-up stores across the city, which are a bunch of fun. Currently their only permanent pop-up is at The Tidal Wave Bookstore located in Bandra. Even though there are only around 50 records there they have an iPad set up, so you can order any of their records or equipment in store, pay for it, and have it delivered to your home.

III. Abdul Razzak’s stall at Fort.

Abdul Razzak sells vinyls from a stall located in Fort. He has an impressive and relatively large collection of records. In March HG conducted a full feature on Abdul and his records. Click here for the article.

IV. Music Circle: V Mall, Shop No: 40,Ground Floor, Thakur Complex, Asha Nagar Road, Asha Nagar, Kandivali East, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400101

This record store on the outer circles of Mumbai is headed by Pilak Bhatt, a serious record collector who has a personal record collection exceeding one lakh. That’s what you get when you start collecting records at the age of twelve. Pilak’s two story record store boasts approximately 5,000 records, however, his inventory is as varied as it is large, offering customers choices from The Bay Area’s guitar god, Santana, to classic ghazals and qawwalis.

As a veteran music lover from the ‘70s, Pilak is a great guy to talk to about India’s once badass rock n roll scene, especially the garage bands that thrived in Bombay. The store’s selection of pre-owned records are split into four categories: Bollywood, Indian Classical, Western Classical and Western Commercial music. For serious collectors, it also boasts music Japan, China and the Middle East. Any guitar-lover needs at least one record by the genius Paco De Lucia, and you can get that here.

Image source: Mid-Day
Image source: Mid-Day

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