Ash's Largely Ill-Informed and Poorly Researched Guide to Melbourne Music Stores

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Au-Go-Go Records
349 Little Bourke St
9670 0677
Tucked away in the heart of the city, Au-Go-Go has a long and diverse history in Melbourne's music scene. Not only does it operate as a general record store, it is a band management organisation and a (seemingly rapidly dwindling? or is it just my imagination?) record label. The store itself has a large and wide range, especially considering the small size of the premises. Au-Go-Go is definitely the place to go for those hard to find singles and EPs, as well as vinyl LPs and 7" and 12" vinyl singles. Upstairs at Au-Go-Go, run by the ever resourceful Dominic, contains a plethora of second hand and collectable items ranging from the throwaway cheapie to the triple figure rarity.
Au-Go-Go is also the site of many an instore, usually by label acts. Its only shortcoming is a relatively expensive price tag on most new items (however second hand prices do tend to be quite reasonable). Also, make sure to check out the wide range of t-shirts hanging up downstairs, including the most wonderful $10 t-shirt rack, as well as the free poster bin. Note: Au-Go-Go's premises are about to change!! No longer will one have to wander up the staircase to find good second hand music (oh no! where are all the bands looking for musicians going to put their ads?!?), as Au-Go-Go is apparently moving just up the road to a larger store. Stay tuned for more news on that one.

Basement Discs
24 Block Place
9654 1110
I came across this store once a long time ago, and it took me several weeks before I could find it again. A haven for blues, jazz and 60's lovers, Basement has a huge range of stuff that normally would only be found in small quantities, tucked away in the back corners of your average record store. There is an incredibly relaxed atmosphere to the store (helped considerably by the fact that it's usually very quiet!) as well as comfortable lounges placed strategically beside several listening posts. Basement also conduct many in-store performances on their permanent stage, featuring many international blues and jazz artists. Look out for the (slightly vandalised) copy of the Rolling Stone's Sticky Fingers on the way down the staircase - the one with the working zipper...

Batman Records
303 Elizabeth St & 245 Swanston St
9670 1622, 9663 2831
Situated at two convenient locations, Batman has established a quite credible reputation for providing good quality second hand compact discs and vinyl, as well as a large stock of new discs. Both stores are considerably large, and the layouts are useful and serviceable, and staff are both helpful and extremely knowledgeable about a large range of their product. Batman also have a fairly unique service (unless you have a particularly good local library) that can be an excellent tool, providing you visit the city regularly - their CD hire service. Batman have a wide range of compact discs that are available for hire on a weekly basis - the perfect way to try before you buy.

Collector's Corner
240 Swanston St
9663 3442
Collector's Corner offer a varied range of products, from new compact discs (at fairly expensive prices) to second hand vinyl. Collector's is a narrow, crowded store, so it's best to pay them a visit when they're fairly quiet (which isn't all that often!!). They specialise in second hand compact discs, and have a considerable quantity, all of above average quality. There is also a small range of books and magazines, and it is quite often possible to pick up fairly new releases at discount prices - usually on display in the front window. The area in which Collector's undoubtably excel is the rarities and collectables market. They can quite often turn up a good second hand item at comparably good prices, as well as finding excellent new, rare items.

105 Elizabeth St
9600 1488
Discurio is another specialist store, catering to a more laid back, folky, world music clientele. By and large their stock tends to be fairly pricey, however most other stores won't stock anywhere near the amount of these styles of music. The store itself is clean and inviting, and possesses a new, fresh ambience that puts to shame the oft dingy nature of many other stockists.

Gaslight Music
85 Bourke St
9650 9009, Fax- 9654 2333
A long time contender for the title of Melbourne's premier indie and alternative record store, it would take a supreme contender to knock Gaslight from its tenure at or around the top of music retail. Gaslight definitely have a foot in just about every camp, and they do it all quite well. There is a considerable selection for the vinyl devotee (unfortunately no singles on vinyl...), t-shirts are available on both the $10 rack and for normal prices (although the quick purchaser can often pick up a fairly new shirt on sale), singles and EPs, while once a Gaslight specialty have faded somewhat (they seem to have some form of obsession with Tori Amos singles and EPs, with upwards of 5 different tiles available at any one time), the video section is large and quite exhaustive (both music and other titles), there are numerous rarities, collectables and box sets that change quite often, and the occasional in-store performance and record signing is not unheard of. Aside from this, the general CD stock is wide ranging, if a little on the pricey side. It was a long high school obsession of mine in the early 90's to pour over the Gaslight rarities catalogue and see the amazing range of rare CDs, picture discs, box sets, security passes, and signed items, albeit at fairly inflated prices (just goes to show how old I'm getting...). Gaslight is the jack of all trades music retail store in Melbourne, and even if you're just window shopping you should make it a must-visit destination on your list.

Greville Records
152 Greville St
9510 3102
Would have to just about be my favourite store. If you can be bothered jumping on either the tram or train to make your way out to Prahran (and why not..? it's a great place to shop), Greville is a must. Don't go there expecting to find one thing or another, just be pleasantly surprised as the CD you've been looking for turns up there out of the blue, or a framed or block mounted poster of your favourite artist is hanging over the staircase, or an autographed ticket stub appears in the case behind the counter. Greville have the similar penchant for imports that JB-Hifi possess, as well as stocking a wide range of hard-to-find singles and EPs. A large section of the store is devoted to second hand vinyl, however this area should be treated with caution by the record shopper with even the barest modicum of good taste. There's some dodgy ones in there, folks... Of particular note is Greville's eclectic range of t-shirts, and good selection of vinyl singles and EPs. Definitely a must visit.

Goldmine Preloved CDs & Records
361 Nicholson St
Carlton Nth
9347 0882
Possibly one of the best second hand record stores in Melbourne, if you can be bothered journeying north to find it. Not a large range, but a fairly diverse range - Goldmine source most of their records from the immediate area. There are also the odd promo and 'not-for-sale' release to be found in amongst the shelves - new discs at second hand prices. The range of vinyl is something else entirely - there are crates and crates of second hand releases; not just kitsh, throwaway stuff, but genuine quality items, and a number of quite valuable records. If you're looking for a good, cheap CD or vinyl release, definitely give Goldmine a go - you may not exactly find what you're looking for, but you're certainly guaranteed to turn over a good bargain.

Hipper Records
21 Southgate City Road
South Melbourne
9690 3099
Hipper, like Batman, is also home to two stores, although this setup is a little different. Located on the second floor in the Southgate complex, the main Hipper store is only actually good if you happen to be in the area - don't make the trip unless you're bored. The range is fairly small, and the prices are below average, although the odd rarity tends to emerge in their shelves from time to time. It seems that lately, the sale of DVDs has almost overtaken their CD stock... And unfortunately, one of the two major attractions of Hipper Records has gone walkabout. The stunning, twirling display of hundreds of CDs hanging above the escalator up to the second floor was too good for words - and it would have to be the world's most productive use for a multitude of Celine Dion and Mariah Carey CDs.
The second Hipper store is only a few spots down the way, not hard to miss at all. It has the attraction of being a sub-$20 store, so value wise it's always on a winner. Unfortunately... we're talking borderline bargain-bin stuff here. If you don't mind wading through a whole lotta crap, there are a few little gems (usually from the 70s or 80s) to be found, so it's worth investing some time looking through the (unfortunately) non-alphabetically or genre sorted shelves.

Shop 18, Bourke St Mall - 283 Bourke St
Melbourne (also in Prahran & Chadstone)
9654 8535, Fax- 9654 8939
Ok, so this is a franchise store. Ok, so it's crap. Ok, so it's evil...etc... It bears mention for two reasons only - the wide range of vinyl and the great imports. While the singles market isn't adequately catered for, there is a large range of LPs available. It also pays to check out the (largely non-music) video section while you're there, and to keep an eye out for the occasional special package deal (ie, buy 'A' and get 'B' free with it) - but under no circumstances should you purchase your average CD from this store - upwards of $31 for a bog standard CD is a horrendously unacceptable price when almost all the titles there can be picked up from JB-Hifi for $7-$10 less, at least, and the remainder can certainly be found elsewhere for a slightly lesser saving.
HMV seem to be making inroads into the import market, realising that if they dig a little deeper, rather than just sell what the record companies tell them to, they can actually find some decent discs (qv, Tori Amos...). Keep your eyes open, if you can stand the instore PA playing utter crap most of the time. HMV have also been trying their hand at a few instore performances. However, unless it's a band you really, really like, avoid these like the plague. HMV could do with a lot of advice regarding in-store performances...

289 Elizabeth St
Melbourne (also at Brighton, Camberwell, Dandenong, Heidelberg, Keilor East, Nunawading, Preston & Knox).
9670 3611
This store should be known to just about everyone. It is the store for those looking for that extra dollar saving, with a damn good range to back it up with. Sure, Target and K-Mart stores are that dollar cheaper, but do they have the range? No.
The city store is usually the one to go for, rather than the suburban chains - it has the largest floorspace and the widest range, and the astute shopper can usually turn over a great find or two. The two main allures of any JB store are the very cheap prices (you stand to save an average of $5 on every CD you purchase), and their tendancy to order in quite a lot of Japanese import discs (they usually cost a few dollars more, but contain a few more songs, limited edition artwork, or both - these are the sorts of rarities that find their way upstairs at Au-Go-Go a few years later...). While you're there, you can also check out their large range of (cheap!!) hifi and stereo equipment to play those discs on.
Definitely the first place to look for new CDs.

Melbourne Music Exchange
69 Swan St
9428 3355
Located just around the corner from the Richmond train station (and just up the road from the Corner hotel - visit them just before the gig!), the Exchange is solely a repository for second hand compact discs and vinyl. While the range is nothing to write home about, the prices are quite reasonable, as can be expected from a quality second hand vendor. Look out for the collectables and rarities usually on display in the front shop window - they quite often turn up a bargain (and check out the old 45s if you would like a good laugh!!).

Missing Link Records
262 Flinders Lane
9654 5507
Only a short walk from Flinders Street station, this is usually the train travelling buyer's first port of call. Missing Link was once a specialist punk store (I think..), however over time the ranks have widened to include more contemporary alternative tastes. There is a burgeoning second hand vinyl collection, and the fledgeling second hand CD section contains a small but creditable selection of used titles. Missing Link seem to be trying to play the 'put-a-foot-in-every-camp' game, with their second hand sections, large t-shirt rack (mostly punk, so don't get your hopes up!), wide range of new alternative and indie releases, collectables and rarities, and a musician's noticeboard that is bettered only by the stairway leading to the second floor at Au-Go-Go. Prices are fairly reasonable, and their stock of singles and EPs is quite good. I dare say, however, they won't be doing much more expanding until they knock down a few walls...

Peril Underground
Basement 17-19 Elizabeth St
9614 2040, Fax- 9614 2050
Catering almost exclusively to the niche gothic market, it cannot be said that Peril lacks character or style! If the goth scene isn't your thing, give Peril a wide berth, but if it is, this is the place to go, not only for music, but for videos, books, clothing, and other accessories. Peril also have considerable access to a wide range of rarities, collectables and bootlegs (usually, but not exclusively, confined to goth titles), and are able to come through with most requests for said items. Being hidden away in a basement at the end of a tiny access lane does nothing to dampen the atmosphere of this quaint little store.

Polyester Records
387 Brunswick St
9419 5137
Not what it once was. If one could step back about 5 years in time, then venture up sunny Brunswick Street, you couldn't go past Polyester. These days, you won't make it much further than its street-mate, Sister Ray, before discounting the possibility of Polyester being as good as it could be. The range has disappeared almost completely, the t-shirts fairly old, the posters peeling from the walls, highlighting a heyday that once was. There are quite a few good posters there, unfortunately none are on sale. The only real strongpoint of Polyester would have to be the unprecedented range of new Australian vinyl - bands like Nintey-Nine and Sleepy Township have collectable vinyl numbers there that probably would never see the light of day in another retailer.
However, there is a but. But... Polyester is now under new ownership - hopefully the new owner can do better for the establishment than what was done by the last. An updated review coming soon!

Vicious Sloth Collectables
1309 High Street
9822 4992, Fax- 9824 8716
Well, what a store. Let me begin this by saying that good things certainly do come in small packages. And small packages that aren't opened as often as your regular package. Vicious Sloth had its beginnings in mail order sales, and then web sales, however they do now have a great little retail store in the inner east. The only downside to this are its limited hours - lunch to late on Thursdays and Fridays, and Ten 'til Two on Saturdays. Still, it's definitely worth going out of your way to pick up a good buy.
You certainly won't find any run of the mill records here - as their name suggests, Vicious Sloth deal only in the rare and hard to find stuff, and that's all that there is crammed into their tiny store. Vinyl, promo singles, bonus discs, box sets, for quite a wide range of artists. Not only that, but they also stock both music and non-music related collectable items, such as posters, displays, toys, etc.
It would pay before visiting the store to check out their webpage ( as their entire stock listing is online in their database. Another big plus is the knowledge of the staff, who are more than prepared to drop everything for a learned and knowledgeable chat with the customer. What they don't know about rare & collectable music isn't worth knowing.
Prices are reasonable for what Vicious Sloth sell - these things are rare after all, so don't expect to be paying JB-Hifi prices. There are many individual items packing pricetags upwards of $500. Still, on the whole a record buying experience worth taking.

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