THE SECRET LIST
The Secret List project has now ended and this website serves as an archive of material.
About the book/ Buying the book
The Secret List – London, a guide to London’s independent record shops, was the third in a series of guide books/travelogues on the record shop capitals around the world. Previous editions include: Los Angeles (2013), Paris (2014), and Brighton (2016, written by Stephen Ellis). The London edition was published in November 2016 and is still available online and at Phonica. All other shops, including those in New York, are sold out. The book although now dated still serves as an interesting archive of record shops and London at that time..
The London edition is £10 including free postage to anywhere in the UK. The book is 96pp, 190mm x 190mm; high quality printing on heavy paper and in full colour. Each shop was anonymously reviewed at least twice and assessed for its stock, ‘finds’ and staff, and includes a travel piece for each area of London.
I started The Secret List project in 2005 with the aim of promoting and supporting record shops. At the time, records were dying out in an era where downloading was increasing, and record shops were closing. I noticed a small resistance to this, a pocket of people cherishing a physical product, something that was happening across the world albeit on a very small scale. It was a conversation with Ben South, Plastic Records, St Albans who described a teenage couple arguing over buying a 7” record, yet neither owned a record player; this set the stall for the series.
My first published article was for Shook magazine in April 2008 about finding obscure tango records in a fruit n’ veg market in Buenos Aires. I subsequently wrote online pieces for Gilles Peterson in 2010 and 2013 and Flyglobal in 2011.
The Los Angeles edition was launched at a party in the much missed CAMA ATK, Hanoi in December 2013; the ‘Paris’ edition followed with a party in the same venue in June 2014 and a second launch at Superfly Records, Paris December 2014. ‘London’ was launched at Brilliant Corners, November 2016 and The Ace Hotel, New York, April 2017. I have also conducted a number of radio interviews: John Bailey, Triple RRR (November 2015); Jim Lister, 1Brighton FM (October 2016); Gilles Peterson Worldwide FM (November 2016) and BBC 6Music (April 2019); Alan McKinnon, Back to Back FM (December 2016); and Cerys Matthews BBC 6 Music (May 2017).
Record shops and records or vinyl are now part of the lexicon, with the emergence of Record Store Day, national and international print articles on record shops and most importantly the re-emergence of record shops in the public consciousness. I hope you enjoy the website and do check out my new venture “it’s better to travel”!