Paris’Back Street Disquaires

OCD © Neil Atherton

Crackly vinyl is making a comeback… 
There’s more to music shopping than just paying for an album – it’s a lifestyle. High street record stores will never be able to buy identity or attitude. That’s why right now, second-hand CD shops and specialist boutiques are the places to hang out at. And even good old crackly vinyl is making a comeback. So where better to hunt for these authentic sounds than Paris’ back street disquaires, where knowledge, personality and individual music-lovers rule supreme. In these smaller haunts, you can rummage for records, chat with the clerk and feel the atmosphere of the music – be it opera or punk. Now’s the time to discover a new neighborhood, some new people and definitely some new music…

Paris Jazz Corner 5&7 rue de Navarre, 5e, M° Jussieu, tel: 01 43 36 78 92, Mon-Sat 11:30am to 8pm,  For jazz purists, this Left Bank institution has been a regular stop-off point for 12 years. All styles are catered for, from gypsy swing and big band to Latin jazz and fusion. LPs are arranged by artist – Archie Shepp through Zoot Sims – and are priced anywhere between 10E and 30E. There’s a surprisingly small selection of French jazz – Henri Texier Quartet’s “La Compañera” can be had for 15 E – but there’s a larger selection of CDs in the basement. There are no listening posts, but Ranaivo, the helpful clerk, will let you listen to music before you buy. Recommended listening: Miles Davis “The Complete Amsterdam Concert” (12.20E) Best-selling book: Ronald L. Morris “Le Jazz et les Gangsters” (10E, in French) Also sells: new and used books, collectors editions of Jazz Magazine and Jazz Hot, DVDs (15E)

Urban Music 22 rue Pierre Lescot, 1er, M° Châtelet les Halles, tel: 01 40 13 99 28. Tue-Sat 11am to 7:30pm, Mon noon to 7:30pm Established in 1996, Urban is Paris’ Black music specialist. Hip hop heads and R’n’B girls hang out at the counter, checking out the latest 12″ vinyl releases from the likes of Roc-a-fella Records, Def Jam and a whole host of white labels and bootlegs. A two-track slab of vinyl will set you back 8E, while you’ll have to part with 15-20E for a CD. Thanks to their distribution network and a sister store in Lille, Urban can deliver throughout France. Manager Clovis says: “Every DJ in Paris comes here, from Iam’s DJ Kheops to Pedro Winter” Also sells: tapes, record bags, needle cartridges Recommended listening: “Westside Commission” (8E)

O’CD 24 rue Pierre Lescot, 1er, M° Châtelet les Halles, tel: 01 42 33 58 50, Mon-Sat 11am to 8pm, Sun 3-7pm,  “O” stands for “Occasion” in this spacious store. And with color-coded price tags starting at 3E, this is definitely the place to pick up used CDs. The clientele is as varied as the music on offer – all of which can be listened to on one of the eight novelty-topped listening posts. Manager Fredéric says: “Our customers aren’t necessarily looking for a specific CD, but are more likely to stumble upon something different, unexpected.” Recommended listening: Archive “Original Soundtrack to Michel Vaillant” (13E) Also sells: DVDs and empty CD cases

Papageno 1 rue Marivaux, 2e, M° Richelieu-Drouot, tel: 01 42 96 56 54, Tue-Fri 1:30-7:30pm, Sat 11am to 7:30pm, Tucked away behind the Opéra Comique on the Grands Boulevards, the namesake of the birdman from Mozart’s “Magic Flute” is an oldy-worldy haven for opera lovers. Owner Fabienne took over this established boutique five years ago, and despite a dramatic change in the performances at the Comique, her preference is still for recitals and everything lyrical. There are over 4 000 vinyl albums, classified in pre- and postwar sections. Of the latter, opera diva Maria Callas exerts a heavy presence, as does American singer Marilyn Horne, whose portrait hangs above Fabienne’s desk. Visit the website for a comprehensive list of rare records and box sets, or propose your unwanted discs to sell.  Recommended listening: Rossini “Tancrede” (23E) Most popular video: Mozart “Mitridate” Opera de Lyon (31E)

Monster Melodies  9 rue des Déchargeurs, 1er, M° Châtelet, tel: 01 40 28 09 39, Mon-Sat 11am to 7pm Walking into this back street store is like entering Aladdin’s cave. Memorabilia from The Smiths and The Rolling Stones litter the cramped entrance, while Killing Joke blare from the lower level sound system. There, you can peruse 15 000 rock and metal CDs. The colored stickers announce the prices: 7-19E. Upstairs, every wall and even the ceiling is plastered with records from past and present – the theme from The Six Million Dollar Man and Jane Birkin’s “Black…White” among them. Dig your way through 100 000 pre-owned LPs to find that rare pearl. It’s there somewhere… Most hard-to-find record: Virgin Prunes ‘Heresie” (75E)Also sells: music videos (11E), posters, pins (Cure, Prince, etc.)

Sonic Machine 143 rue St-Maur, 11e, M° Parmentier, tel: 01 42 58 10 11, Mon-Sat noon to 7:30pm After relocating from the cobblestone streets of Montmartre, Sonic’s owner Polo finds himself peddling plastic on the grime-ridden rues around Oberkampf. And the punk-rock, hardcore and ska records sound way more at home here. The Dirtbombs’ “Pray for Pills” is playing on the stereo when we walk in, so the accent is clearly on punk. But with Australian groups like Radio Birdman and French outfit Cowboys From Outerspace on sale, rock’n’roll is also à la mode. Used vinyl classics by The Clash and MC5 start at 11E, while new CDs cost between 8E and 17E. Recommended listening: Neurotic Swingers “Artrats” (14E) Best punk fanzine: Barricata (2.50E)

DMC DJ Shop 2 bd Richard Lenoir, 11e, M° Bastille, tel: 01 43 38 00 00, Mon-Sat 11:30am to 7:30pm,  This Bastille address represents the French contingent of the international Disco Mix Club. The store is aimed at scratch DJs, so you may want to sign up for the DJ courses with Hitch (3-days/12 hours: 229E). If the crab and flare techniques don’t tickle your fancy, take a look at the club-kid range of clothing and accessories on the ground floor. DJ paraphernalia includes slipmats, boxes and headphones. More serious hardware (mixers, decks, amps etc.) is on display on the upper mezzanine, where you’ll also find CDs (mainly compilations) and along the wall, the 12″s. Best scratch video: DMC “Battle for World Supremacy 2002” (15E) Recommended listening: anything by Diess Cool clothes: Tees and sweats by Religion (30-80E)  For more dance music, Pro DJs should get down to nearby rue des Taillandiers (11e, M° Bastille), where there’s an influx of stores selling house, techno, electro and drum’n’bass records.