We’re back with part two of our round-up of the country’s best records shops. And this time we’re going from Ghent to Namur, passing by Liège, Putte and Mechelen. From the little store Wool E, to the shiny and new Vinyl Touch. Have some cash in hand and dust off your digging skills.
Founded in 1969, Music Mania is the reference that all Belgian record stores aspire to and is often cited as the country’s quintessential record store (think London’s Rough Trade). It’s got a fine mix of a bit of everything: new indie releases, old house records, cosmic Italian disco, a bit of a Balearic influences as well as the odd hip hop classic. It’s well-laid out, well run, and the collection gets refreshed often by a dream team of well-known collectors including DJ Lorin, one of Belgium’s reputed disco collectors, and Adriaan Denoorme, the guy behind Borat76, one of the best Belgian Discogs stores around. One for the 90s history vaults: Music Mania used to have a Brussels outpost, with none other than Giles Peterson protégé and Stones Throw affiliate Lefto behind the counter.musicmaniarecords.be
Wool E Shop
This is a firm favourite among hardcore collector freaks. It’s run by a friendly guy called Dimitri, a true child of the ’80s who specialises in all things wave: new wave, dark wave, minimal wave, cold wave… though there’s more to Wool E than that. The shop is actually in the front room of a house. A pretty tiny a completely full house that is. They also sell records at gigs and festivals, both at home and abroad, so be sure to check the schedule because the shop is closed when they’re out and about flogging their wares.wool-e-shop.be
Vynilla has been based in Gent since 1981. The shop and website are run by a very knowledgable guy called Bob, and it’s a good place for buying and selling second-hand vinyl and CDs. Their website only offers a taste of his actual stock, which is really quite substantial. There’s lots of collectables and the selection is quite general, with a special emphasis on Belgian vinyl: from rock to new wave to industrial electronic, minimal, experimental, black, world, jazz…vynilla.be
This record shop on Lange Violettestraat is a bit out of the city centre. The stock is general and not too remarkable and the prices are fair. The records are a mix of everything; soul, funk, disco, punk, metal, new wave, classical, world music, hip hop, house, reggae, blues and soundtracks…. and the same goes for the clientele. New records come in on Wednesdays and they can be found in the crates at the counter, or you can check out them out on Facebook. There even are a few chairs and turntables for your chilling and listening pleasure.vinylkitchen.be
Veals & Geeks
The sister establishment to the Brussels shop of the same name, this Namur outpost was opened by owner Stanislas because he simply had to much stock and because he knew there was a need for vinyl, having worked for Music Emporium for 20 years. “Namur has no Media Markt, no FNAC, no competition,” he says. The shop’s spirit is the same as in the capital although the space is smaller. His crates mostly stock ’60s and ’70s rock, but he also has a good range of progressive and psychedelic rock, as well as a bit of rap. New and second-hand stock, and it’s vinyl only.vealsandgeeks.be
Liège’s only record shop worth mentioning, Carnaby Records in Outremeuse, is another establishment that fits the romantic ideal of ye olde record shop (a bit dirty, dark and run-down looking). It’s got an okay selection of vinyls and CDs covering lots of ’70s and ’80s rock, but also a bit of techno and everything in between. There are some nice rarities and lots of bootlegs. The two guys behind the counter are approachable experts, and the prices are not bad either.
K Records, which does most of its trade online thanks to its remote location in the little lost Flemish town of Putte, is filled with electronica: house-trance, minimal, electro, Goa, club, groove and experimental… The physical shop is in owner Kurt De Preter’s converted garage out in a field somewhere, and he’s also got a selection of DJ gear.k-records.be
The Vinyl Touch
This shiny new record shop in Mechelen’s centre is a kind of Veals & Geeks but for locals. Opened in 2012, it used to be housed in a smaller location but is now in a much bigger space in a brand new building next to the city’s cultural centre. Founder Emiel Van Geebergen is a longtime jazz, blues and soul record collector and his collection grew so big that the only option was to open a shop. His crew is made up of him, his sons and his wife and he’s got a decent stockpile of about 30,000 records with plenty of jazz, soul pop, ’60s to ’90s rock, both new and second-hand. The shop even also sells stamps for serious philatelists.thevinyltouch.be