Features

SDE Berlin Diary: Day Two

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A year on from his ‘exploits’ in New York City, SDE Editor, Paul Sinclair, is in Berlin to go record shopping and meet up with a few interesting people…

Day two was always going to be the ‘big’ day of this trip. The day which involved running around trying to see as many record shops as possible before sloping back to the hotel exhausted.

Over a coffee and croissant, early on, I tried to plan the day like a military operation to extract maximum value out of the time available, although there wasn’t much point hitting the road too early since many places weren’t open until 12pm. The tools for getting me there were the trusty underground map for the U-Bahn with names of shops scribbled on them and google maps. Once I arrived at the location and was up at street level, I’d then get out my phone and refer to google maps (where shops were ‘favourited’) to get me where I needed to go.

Space Hall

First port of call was Space Hall. This is located in Gneisenaustraße – a street in the district of Kreuzberg. It was the furtherest south but opened at 11am, so seemed a logical choice.

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spacehall

Space Hall has been going for over 20 years and is very large shop with a wide range of used an new vinyl and CDs. The A to Z section on used CDs was fairly extensive and prices weren’t bad, although probably a little bit pricey. I picked up the two-CD version of The Cardigans‘ Best Of which I’d been on the lookout for for a while – it was €19. Another purchase here was number two in The The‘s Cineola soundtracks, Moonbug. Lovely ‘book’ packaging. That was €20.

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Space Hall’s CD section at the front of the store

The CDs are at the front of the shop, with the vinyl running up a massive space to the side. Stock was right up to date, since I noticed they had a sealed vinyl copy The Man Who Fell To Earth which was released that very day.

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Space Hall has a massive area for looking at vinyl

At the back of this vinyl area was a door which led to another space, dedicated to hardcore techno vinyl. I gave this a miss. I did buy one vinyl record, because after rummaging through a few sales bins at near the counter I noticed a sealed copy of David Byrne and St Vincent‘s Love This Giant, which was only €16.

Media Markt

Next stop was Media Markt in the Alexa shopping centre in Alexander Platz. This is one of those massive electronic superstores that sells everything from hairdryers to TVs. This kind of shop would be unpromising in the UK as far as music is concerned but Media Markt has an absolutely enormous and extensive section for CDs and vinyl.

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Media Markt had the Temple Of The Dog super deluxe

They had all the new releases, including the 2CD version of  R.E.M.’s Out Of Time (no super deluxe, though) and both vinyl variants of the same title. I spotted The Human League‘s A Very British Sythnesizer Group on vinyl as well. They had plenty of box sets, including relatively obscure things like the Temple Of The Dog super deluxe edition. What’s great about this shop is that while they did do the cheap ‘stack ’em high’ CDs this is combined that with proper music fan selections. I don’t think I have EVER seen a super audio CD ‘section’ in any music shop, but lo and behold, Media Markt have one! Right next to it is a blu-ray audio section. Amazing, really.

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SACD section is a giant electronic supermarket!

The vinyl section was absolutely enormous and as well as normal records, they had a box set area which had both album and seven-inch vinyl box sets, as well as seven-inch singles (they had all of the new ABBA picture discs for €9.99).

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To give you an idea of prices I bought the Deram David Bowie deluxe edition for €6 and the deluxe edition of Queen Forever, since I’d given my copy to my mother! This was €5.90 which seemed very cheap.

Although it’s a bit of a sterile environment, I’d highly recommend checking out Media Markt for music if you’re in Berlin.

Galatic Supermarket

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After this I boosted the energy levels with a visit to Curry Wurst and then it was on to  Galatic Supermarket which is near Frankfurter Tor, four stops down the U5 line. This is a secondhand vinyl shop (no CDs) and from the outside has to be the weirdest looking record shop I’ve seen, and not in a good way.

gss_inside

It’s a fairly small record shop, which has been open for around six years, with a good selection of used vinyl. Prices are a little bit high with not much below €7 or €8 regardless of rarity. I spotted a dutch pressing of Paul McCartney‘s Figure Of Eight 12-inch which was interesting because it includes the song Loveliest Thing. This song wasn’t issued on vinyl in the UK, so I was semi-tempted, but €12 for a 12-inch single seemed a bit steep.

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In the back area at the bottom was an ’80s rock and pop section where you could pick up a Bulgarian copy of Duran Duran‘s Notorious for €7.50 and they had two copies of the Frankie Goes To Hollywood Welcome To The Pleasuredome double picture disc set (€25 each). I saw an original of Lloyd Cole and the CommotionsRattlesnakes which I nearly bought to go with my MOV reissue, but I’m fairly sure I have this at home and didn’t want to fall foul of the record obsessive’s curse of buying something you already have!

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The ‘secret’ back room at Galatic Superstore

After chatting to the guy behind the counter he told me of some ‘special room’ at the back where they keep the expensive rarities, and “would I like a look?” Er, okay! So he asked me to leave my bag behind the counter and then went to the back of the shop and deftly moved some massive bit of chipboard to one side to reveal a small area which had sections with labels like: “MSFL – Audiophile – Orig” and “Rare Nineties Pressings”. There was a big Beatles section too, as you might expect with rare Japanese and US vinyl. I also spotted a cream coloured vinyl of Neil Young‘s Harvest (€60)

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More Coming! This post will be updated with more on Friday’s events later today!

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35 responses to SDE Berlin Diary: Day Two

  1. Yani says:

    Hopefully Paul just ended that quickly as he had to take a breather and it wasn’t a scene from Pulp Fiction!

    • bert says:

      Yeah, I would not go into a back room accessed via chipboard as a stranger in a German backstreet shop that looked like that.

      • Randy M says:

        That would make a great opening for a Criminal Minds episode!!! The rabid record collector never saw what hit him….

  2. Fatoldbloke says:

    Check out my favourite store in Germany called Saturn

  3. richie says:

    Great stuff Paul, it`s like going shopping without having to do the walking!, but I`d love to be there and hope to next year. I am sure I bought The Beach Boys `Surf`s Up` & `Holland` SACD`s from Media Markt online, expensive though at about £42 each. I also have cream coloured `Harvest`, cheers, Richie.

  4. Bleddyn Williams says:

    Really enjoy your trip diaries, Paul! Keep up the good work!

  5. gwynogue says:

    More amazing and beautiful stores – I react to those pictures of large racks the way most men react to pictures of ‘other’ large racks. :) :) :) :) :)

    I sorely wish I lived near stores like this (although I think I’d give Galatic a miss TBH), but I think my wallet is glad that I don’t.

    I have heard that Media Markt often stock ‘exclusive’ editions with little extras not available in other stores.

    • OceanBlue says:

      You’re definitely right, gwynogue! The most famous exclusive edition is Rebel Heart by Madonna, which includes Autotune baby, not available elsewhere ! There’s a Media Markt edition of David Bowie Blackstar album, Meat Loaf’s Braver than we are (3 tracks), Mark Knopfler’s Tracker (1 track), Meghan Trainor’s Thank You (2 tracks) and Olly Murs’ Never Been Better (2 tracks).

  6. DaveM says:

    MFSL in a shop! Now where’s that passport application form….

  7. Daran says:

    An SACD section….. now that is something you would not see these days in the UK I’d wager even if you could find a record shop near you. Good to see so much CD stock too. A record shop should not just sell vinyl IMO.

  8. Chris Squires says:

    Are there ANY shops like this left in the UK?

    I use “Sound Knowledge” in Marlborough, but it is miniscule compared. It would be useful to have a list of decent sized shops here where it is worth more than just a 10 minute browse. Oh for the days of spending 3 hours in a Virgin megastore.

    • richie says:

      A list of decent sized shops is I good idea but I reckon a list of all shops provided by the inhabitants of this place would be a great idea. How about it Paul?

  9. Blade says:

    I hope you go to the Saturn Shop at Europaplatz. They say of themselves they have the largest stock in Vinyl an CD in all Saturn Shops in Germany. I was there and I believe ist!

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Hmm, the one in the Mall in Potsdamer Platz wasn’t very good, because I popped in there today…

      • Balde says:

        The one in the Mall of Berlin, like you Said, is not much that IS correct. The one at Europaplatz is defenetly another beast!

  10. Donal Murphy says:

    Paul, love these reports, this is fast becoming, THE definitive guide to music shopping, in one of my favourite cities, well done.

  11. Mister Stick says:

    I second the recommendation on Saturn. I’ve only been music shopping in Germany once, but the local Saturn was pretty spectacular. Like Media Markt, it is an electronics superstore, but the selection I found in Dusseldorf was remarkable.

  12. Chris Squires says:

    Did Sylvian / Japan ever record at Hansa? Obviously their first three were released through…was it Hansa Ariola? But were they recorded in Germany as well or in the UK?

    Now those three re-issues were superbly done, right down to Quiet Life being a triple.

  13. Charles K says:

    Great post, loved seeing all the pictures of the shops. I’m certain I would have caved and bought the Neil Young! ;-)

  14. daveid76 says:

    This is great. I haven’t been to Berlin since 2000 but Im going to plan a trip by rail to check some of these places, visit some brauhauses and then perhaps a spot of nacktbaden in Grunewald ;)

  15. Jay says:

    Hi Paul,
    those mega stores like Saturn and Media Markt are fine when hunting for CD’s and a good selection of new vinyl releases but if you want the real McCoy, there’s better places to go.
    You got to try Dodo Beach in Vorbergstraße, one of those lovely side streets in the district of Schöneberg. It’s not only a stone’s throw from where Bowie used to live (okay, maybe two or two and a half), it’s also Berlin’s finest record store (vinyl only) as far as I’m concerned. You wouldn’t be able to tell from the outside but it houses two big rooms of new and second hand vinyl plus a metal dungeon in the basement which is worth a visit even if you’re not a metal head.
    Also not to be missed is Record Store on Invalidenstraße (Mitte), another vinyl-only shop. Clean and comfy (like Dodo Beach) and brimful of mainly second hand albums, usually in great nick. Thorsten is a great guy with a special sense of humor. Most of his stuff is self-imported from the US where he goes record shopping on a regular basis.
    Just around the corner from Space Hall (which I consider heavily overpriced by the way) you will find Holy’s hit records (Solmsstraße). Great name for a small basement shop you could easily miss. So you’d better keep your eyes peeled as it’s a good place for second hand vinyl and scoring real bargains once in a while.
    Last but not least, a visit to Berlin is not complete if you don’t drop by Platten Pedro. He is on Tegeler Weg which is quite a bit out of the way but that shouldn’t deter you. Pedro is a one-off on many levels and his place (two rooms crammed from floor to ceiling with second hand 7″ and 12″ stuff) is one of the most amazing vinyl-only shops you’re likely to encounter these days. That’s a promise. :-)))) Check him out.
    There’s loads more (I can think of six or seven in the “Kreuzkölln” area alone) but Pedro, Dodo and Record Store are essential next time you come. Happy hunting!

  16. graham says:

    First you took Manhattan, now you take Berlin. Or has somebody already done that one??

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Haha, very good. That genuinely hadn’t occurred to me, but it’s pretty cool, so I’m glad you pointed it out :)

  17. Trash says:

    Had to laugh when I read this: “…the record obsessive’s curse of buying something you already have!”

    Have done that so many times mainly with vinyl.
    I’m actually in the process of cataloging my vinyl on Discogs to stop doing that very thing (I’ve found duplicates of at least four albums so far).

  18. Harry Williams says:

    It’s 25 years to the day ‘Achtung Baby’ came into the world… perhaps a visit to Zoo Station is in order?

  19. Laufi says:

    Thanks for this nice report, Paul!

    The “Galactic Super Market” has even another, second “secret secret room” in the very back ;-)

    You find a lot of rare stuff in this store and -compared to some other vinyl record stores- they are very friendly indeed. They even hand-out a printed map with all other record stores nearby on it! (There are about 10 around “Frankfurter Tor”)

    If you’re for vinyl, you should check out “Platten Pedro” as well! You haven’t seen THAT before!

  20. Thijman says:

    Very nice to read your “diary”, Paul ! But how did you know of all the addresses from these record stores ? I went to Berlin last year, but I only came across the Media Market, unfortunately.

  21. Julian H says:

    I wish my local Media Markt was nearly as good as this…

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