St Albans music shop features in new work by record-breaking vinyl lover

Graham Jones with his new book. Picture: Graham Jones

Graham Jones with his new book. Picture: Graham Jones - Credit: Archant

A vinyl lover hopes to break records with his newest book, which features an independent music shop in St Albans.

Graham Jones published his first work, Last Shop Standing: Whatever Happened to Record Shops?, in 2009 after visiting thousands of music stores around the country.

He believes he should be in the Guinness World Records book for visiting so many record shops.

Since his first work, which documented the decline of vinyl, the situation has taken an unexpected turn and record sales have started to thrive.

His second novel, Strange Requests and Comic Tales from Record Shops, reminisces about the anecdotes he picked up in his role as co-founder of Proper Music Distribution.

The newest work highlights all 220 shops in the UK which stock new-vinyl. It is called The Vinyl Revival and the Shops That Made it Happen.

It features Empire Records on Heritage Close, which is described as an “impressive” site where you are encouraged to “sit, chill out and listen to some good music”.

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Founder Derek Watson owned comic store Chaos City in 2013 when an opportunity presented itself - St Albans’ HMV closed down and opened a gap in the market.

Empire Records is aptly named after Derek’s favourite film, a 1995 cult classic about a music chain trying to take over a small independent.

Although Derek tragically passed away in 2015, the store has flourished under his partner Marina DeSclavis and former-HMV manager Dave Burgess.

The Liverpudlian author has been selling records, tapes, and CDs for 32 years: “I think vinyl has caught the imagination of the digital generation, of people who grew up with CDs and rediscovered vinyl - and although that may drop off I think the future is fine because so many people have discovered the enjoyment of vinyl.

“Most people can remember the first record they bought but they seldom remember the first track they downloaded.

“I could get into a big argument about this but in my personal view vinyl is better. Listening to classical music might be better on download because it’s crisper, but an album catches the atmosphere better.”

Even though that is his personal opinion, Graham stressed he would never tell other people what to do.

The Vinyl Revival and the Shops That Made it Happen is the culmination of five years hard work, and Graham is about to tour around the country hosting events about the book.

He added: “The great thing is that at talks I meet people who are glad record shops are still open and to see record shops going from vanishing to thriving is heartwarming - and I like to think I had a part to play in that.”

Find out more about the talks at