The musical history of Birmingham is a rich one. Black Sabbath, Duran Duran, The Streets, Electronic Light Orchestra, no matter the genre, Brum have delivered on all cylinders. But, what you may not have known is that there are myriad record shops in the city that reflect such a culture; Birmingham is even home to the oldest record shop in England!
So, with Record Store Day 2023 right around the corner, and all the stores in this list sifting through the exclusive stock, ready to let it out into the hands of the lucky punters who queue outside come the morning of the 22nd; we wanted to let you in on which ones are our favourites.
Whatever your poison - reggae, techno, rock, rap? Something else entirely? There’s a record shop in Birmingham that’ll be perfect for your tastes. Without further ado, here are the best record shops in Birmingham.
Where: 99-102 Bromsgrove St, Birmingham B5 6QB
Specialises in: second-hand rarities from many genres
It only felt right to kick off the list with the oldest record shop in England. Yep, The Diskery is the oldest record shop in England. And the second oldest in the UK, behind Spillers Records in Cardiff. Established in 1952, The Diskery used to be the place to go for jazz and swing music. Now you can find just about any genre in the form of second-hand vinyl, CDs, cassette tapes and more. Even if you visit just to appreciate the history, it’ll be worth it.
Where: Hockley Social Club, 60 Hampton St, Birmingham B19 3LU
Specialises in: electronic music, but you can still find plenty of other genres
With coffee, wine, art, food and records, Café Artum has pretty much everything you need to live there. If only we could! Situated right in the city centre, Café Artum is without a doubt one of the best record shops in Birmingham, but it's also a café/wine bar with cake and art! There's an abundance of techno, house and similar genres, but also plenty of jazz, hip-hop, and more. The perfect chill-out spot, the shop is known for putting on events like live performances.
Polar Bear Records
Where: 10 York Rd, King's Heath, Birmingham B14 7RZ
Specialises in: music by local artists, mostly CDs, but they still have plenty of vinyl
Polar Bear Records is one of the most popular record shops in Birmingham. Just one quick peek at the Polar Bear Facebook group shows the sense of community and closeness the customers have with the staff. At Polar Bear, you’ll find indie, metal, prog, classic rock, avant-rock, jazz, industrial and noise, reggae and dub, world music and more, with a focus on funkier music. While a good chunk of their stock is CDs, you can still find plenty of vinyl and ask the staff to order it for you if you can't find something.
Where: 66 Dalton St, Birmingham B4 7LX
Specialises in: guitar music
After being open for decades, Swordfish has developed an impressive fanbase. Over the years, they've served some famous faces such as Dave Grohl, John Peel, Robert Plant, Primal Scream, Franz Ferdinand, Neil Diamond, and The Horrors. Hosting plenty of in-store appearances, Swordfish has welcomed the likes of Duran Duran, The Kooks, Razorblade and Lenny Kravitz. There are two reasons we’re telling you this - for one, it’s pretty cool. But it also gives you an idea of what they might have in store.
Where: 1 Bournville Ln, Stirchley, Birmingham B30 2JY
Specialises in: dance music, including drum and bass, techno etc
Emortal Records, with its bargain bins, crazy discounts and occasional free vinyl, is definitely worth checking out, especially if you like electronic genres like drum and bass, house, and techno. But if your music taste lies in the heavier genres, there are still rock and metal records to dive through. The shop is known for having a fair few records you might struggle to find elsewhere, so if you're a collector, popping in for a visit is a great shout.
Where: 110-114 Corporation St, Birmingham B4 6SX
Specialises in: indie, punk, hardcore, and metal
Somewhat of a hidden treasure in Birmingham, you can find Ignite Records amongst piercing and tattoo studios and vintage clothing outlets in the Oasis Market. It’s one of those shops that seem to have basically everything, particularly if you’re a fan of guitar music. But, as with many modern record shops, you can find plenty of other genres. And if they don’t have the record you’ve been searching for, you can always ask them to order it for you!
Where: 5 The Radleys, Birmingham B33 0QY
Specialises in: second-hand 90s and 00s hip hop and 80s classics, including rare and special edition records
When you first approach the storefront, Entertainment World might look like a retro gaming shop (because it is), but, tucked in the back corner of the sensory overload found within, is the home of lots of second-hand records, particularly old hip-hop and 80s classics, ready to make it into your collection. Despite seeming like the shop prioritises gaming, they’re constantly ordering new music, so there’s always something new on the shelves to be discovered. Whether you’re a fan of games or not, Entertainment World is definitely worth a browse, but definitely more so if you’re a gamer.
If you have a few hours to spare, why not check out these record shops in Birmingham? Even if you just want to dive in for a quick rummage. Many of them have cracking atmospheres and compelling histories. And with Record Store Day just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to get out and discover new shops!
Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.
Header image: Swordfish Records on Facebook