The Secret List series of record shop guides and travelogues, one of the first to cast a light on both buying records and record shops, is now over. When I started the project in 2005 both records and record shops were dying. And printed books were losing popularity. I am proud of helping put records and the culture of record buying back on the public and media’s radar. When I started The Secret List there was no ‘record store day’ and you could only buy records from a few specialist shops. This has all changed. There are articles on vinyl in mainstream publications such as the Radio Times and vinyl is now stocked in supermarkets and high street shops. The Secret List has done its job, so now onto pastures new.
I wasn’t the first to write about record buying or record shops but I was the first to produce a set of Michelin-style guides to record shops and, importantly, with anonymous reviews. The series has influenced a number of websites, articles and books, to focus on record shops which is flattering.
The press release from 2016 gives further information on the books:
Previous editions include: Los Angeles (2013), Paris (2014) and Brighton (2016, written by Stephen Ellis). Each shop is anonymously visited at least twice and reviewed for its stock, service and environment.
MUSIC AND TRAVEL
The Secret List casts a wider net than just record shops, there are anecdotes, stories and experiences from travelling around the world, buying, playing and experiencing local music first hand. I’ve played long, forgotten Vietnamese funk to a Hanoi audience; classic French sixties soundtracks to Parisians; and found local ambient music in Los Angeles and big band jazz in Wellington.
The idea for the book came about in 2005 after travelling the world as a diplomat and visiting many record shops, from Los Angeles to Wellington. Observing record buyers, I could sense there would be a vinyl revival. Two full years before Record Store Day I started The Secret List – named after a record buyer’s wants list – and started writing about record shops.
The book is more than a guide book. It is written in a way to give the reader a feel for the city and its music and includes recommendations for places to visit.
On the launch day of the book at the end of November 2016 I had a two hour interview with Gilles Peterson on Worldwide FM and there were over 120 people at the launch party at Brilliant Corners.
I have written about record shops for just under ten years. My first piece, about finding obscure tango records in a fruit n’ veg market in Buenos Aires, was for Shook magazine in April 2008. I subsequently wrote online pieces for Gilles Peterson in 2010and 2013and Flyglobal in 2011.
I am a music journalist of just over twenty-five years and have worked for Blues and Soul and Shook magazines and online for BBC Music and Fly Global amongst others. My first article on record shops was for Shook magazine in April 2008, followed by an articles for Fly Global in 2009 and Gilles Peterson’s website in 2010.
The Secret List – London, a guide book/travelogue to London’s independent record shops, is available to online . The book is £10 including free postage to the UK, 96pp, 190mm x 190mm, high quality printing on heavy paper and in full colour. Each shop is anonymously reviewed at least twice and assessed for its stock, ‘finds’ and staff.
Phonica has a few copies left. All other shops, including those in New York, are sold out.
I am currently working on my new project “it’s better to travel”: a series of 20 interconnecting stories featuring 20 people from 20 countries that I have visited in the last 10 years. I also DJ across the UK promoting the project.
Thank you very much for your support for The Secret List!