I was delighted to learn recently that with so many retail businesses closing on the high street at the minute that Head, part of a somewhat endangered species, the record shop, had just bucked the trend and reopened in the just vacated pitch that was recently occupied by Vogue.
Head reopened on the 14th of July and today was my first opportunity I had to visit the new shop and being honest I was full of trepidation, as I feared that what I had loved about the older incarnation of the shop would have been lost in the transition to a smaller site.
As I approached via the far end of Ann Street the first good sign was that the word vinyl took presidence over CD and DVD on the signage above the front door. One of the fabulous things about Head was its large selection of vinyl and the very fact that the sign above the door has the word vinyl in it made my heart beat for joy. Since Head closed just after Christmas I have not ventured much into Belfast as frankly there has been little point as HMV holds little of interest for me these days.
Stepping inside the new Head I was initially a little disappointed with the identi-kit interior, frankly this could have been HMV and there really is a distinct lack of anything visual to set this shop apart from HMV. The look of the shop is a tad cool, reserved and not very welcoming but the fact that non chart music was playing over the shops music system, as had been the case in the old days, was a welcome aspect of continuity from Head’s previous incarnation. As I scanned the racks of stock the balance seemed about the same as the previous shop, in that CD still appears to have more of a presence than DVDs and towards the back of the shop was a large long rack of vinyl: pop/rock on the right side and jazz, classical, metal and dance on the left side, plus there are other selections of vinyl placed around the store, even at the entrance; where a rack of new release vinyl is housed.
As this new location must be at least over half as small as the original pitch, the stock was somewhat reduced over what Head at Victoria Square housed but my big fear that the diversity of stock and back catalogue would not be less well developed in this new shop proved not to be the case, though I did notice a little less quirky stock among the back catalogue CDs.
One of the things I really I liked about the older shop was the amount of less well known music present in the racks and alas in this new shop, for me anyway, I was a little disappointed that there was not quite as much of that type of material as there was and what was present in the racks was a bit more mainstream than before. However in saying that I should make it very clear that Head’s stock is vastly more diverse and interesting than HMVs and as such you will find many new discoveries here, among the CDs and vinyl.
Overall while I am a little disappointed in the new shop I am in the round still delighted that Head has returned to Belfast and I am looking forward to making many purchases here over the coming years (I live in hope) and today I walked away with a long desired slice of vinyl in the form of Talk Talk’s album Spirit of Eden.
Welcome back Head Records.
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