Time Out Rio de Janeiro

Vinyl survival in the city's record stores

A few treasure troves for diggers remain

Downloads may be ruling the roost as far as today's mass music consumption is concerned, but there remains a breed of fans staying loyal to the black disc, the tangible hands-on feel, the format that made the artwork on the cover almost as important as the music within - the twelve inch.

Outlets have slowly evaporated over the last ten years, and the closing in 2010 of Copacabana's Modern Sound, voted one of the best record stores in the world by UK newspaper The Observer, after over half a century in the trade marked a sad day for the city's vinyl tribe. A few havens remain, though, and Time Out has scoured the streets for the last remaining bastions of the longplayer to show that there are clearly still reasons to be cheerful.

The reopening of Polysom in 2010, the last remaining vinyl production plant in Latin America, also displayed something of a rise in the format's fashionability. Fernanda Takai's Onde Brilhem Os Olhos Seus, Nação Zumbi's Fome de Tudo, and indie starlet Pitty's Chiaroscuro were recent releases to appear as LPs, but their collectability can make them prohibitively expensive. Repressings of Jorge Ben's classic album Africa Brasil are on sale for a hefty R$190 in some stores.

Where the format really holds its own is among the specialist vendors and collectors, like Centro's Tropicalia Discos, where shopkeepers and customers alike will converse and browse for hours, arguing the merits of their personal top five Stan Getz tracks of all time.

Bruno Alonso, owner of Tropicalia, is enthusiastic about the current market. 'We always get true collectors here. And not just of vinyl, but of the cover artwork too, even had a guy collecting the numbers of the records. Another was just after everything from the Som Livre label - its an addiction.'

Alonso began as a street vendor, before setting up the shop seven years ago with partner Marcio Henrique where today legends like Ed Motta, himself an avid vinyl fan, come to sift through the racks. There is even a signed copy of his 2002 Dwitza album proudly hanging on the wall, but they're also witnessing a new breed of kids looking around. 'There was even a twelve year old kid in here the other day looking for old Iron Maiden and Led Zeppelin records', he says.

The sheer breadth of records inside Tropicalia is pretty staggering, and building up such an archive, where hunters know they will always dig up something special, doesn't come quickly.

'We buy the vinyl in several ways," continues Alonso. "There was a radio station closing that we bought a load from, then there are those collectors who just want to quit the habit, and those who pass away and whose widow is desperate to finally get rid of the records! Have you ever been to the wake of a vinyl collector? Everybody is consoling the widow but it isn't in pity, they are after the records - they hug the widow and drop their business card in her bag!"

For the less nostalgic there are some good independent stores selling bossa, rock, hip hop and blues CDs too. Headbanger in Tijuca has a vast collection of heavy rock and has built up an excellent reputation among the older music fans. Owner Helder Gonçalves explains; "We get people who earn good money, grew up with CDs and really love that format. Younger guys simply go online." Located in a small gallery, this little musical mecca also houses shops called Scheherazade and The Darkland, full of memorabilia and t-shirts as well as a good collection of rock and metal CDs.

Those after something a little more subtle will also find plenty to keep them occupied, with bossa nova and jazz specialists like Bossa Nove e Cia also displaying their stock of thousands of books, from sheet music to biographies alongside the records and CDs. Their copy of the 1958 classic Canção do Amor Demais by Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, a benchmark in the genre, is also proudly displayed. Moraes also lends his name to another outlet in Ipanema, Toca de Vinicius, where LPs, CDs, books and memorabilia dedicated to the artform can be found, along with an incredibly well-informed owner.

All in all, Brazilian music fans should be sure to check out the following;

Plano B
Rua Francisco Muratori 2, Lapa

Tracks Gávea 
Praça Santos Dumont 140, shop B, Gávea

Tropicalia Discos
Square Olavo Bilac 28, shop 207, Centro (In front of the Flower Market)

World Music 
Rua Barata Ribeiro 370, shop 107, Copacabana

Toca do Vinicius
Rua Vinicius de Moraes 129, Ipanema

Scheherazade
Rua Conde de Bonfim 346, shop 209 (mezzanine), Praça Saens Peña, Tijuca

LO drives Motta
Rua Siqueira Campos 143, shop 94, copacabana

Headbanger
Rua Conde de Bonfim 346, shop 209 (mezzanine), Praça Saens Peña, Tijuca

Hard And Heavy
Rua Marques de Abrantes 177, shop 106 (mezzanine), Flamengo

Bossa Nova and Company
Rua Duvivier 37A, Copacabana

Cheap Ribeiro
Rua Barata Ribeiro 354, Copacabana

Boogie Ooggie

Rua da Costa Soares 10, shop 229, Saens Peña, Tijuca (21 22143364)214-3664) 2214-366

Arlequim
Praça XV de Novembro 48, shop 11C, Centro (21 2524 7242)

Words by Time Out Rio de Janeiro editors
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