Sunday, 19 April 2009

Rex Records

To celebrate Record Store Day, No Ripcord ran a piece where contributors wrote about their favourite indie record stores. I wrote about Ipswich's much-loved and much-missed Rex Records...

As a teenager at the turn of the century, there were only two oases of salvation amongst the cultural abyss of Ipswich: Vagabonds Café and Rex Records. Vagabonds was a relaxed haven and a perfect meeting place and happily, Rex was opposite. In those days when iTunes, Amazon and their ilk were still yet to make their mark, a store where you could discover new music and people had conversations about the latest Sparklehorse record seemed impossibly exotic. This shop was listed in the back of Mojo and everything!

The assistants occasionally strayed onto the arrogant side of hipster cool, but their knowledge of music and their shop could only be described as encyclopaedic. Take any empty album case to the till and the guy behind the till would turn to a wall consisting of a seemingly infinite number of - to the untrained eye - identical blank cardboard CD holders and find your chosen disc almost instantly.

They’d play obscure indie releases, spoken word albums, forgotten classics, local demos, anything. They sold older albums for £6 when you couldn’t buy anything in the high street chains for under a tenner. It was the kind of place in which you could lose an afternoon poring over racks and racks of discs, the kind of place every town centre would benefit from.

Vagabonds is now named Central Canteen and is run with a soulless, military efficiency and Rex Records is now Urban Vintage and sells derivative T-shirts for around £70 a pop. Ain’t that always the way though?

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