Give us the background... when and why did you decide to open a record shop?
Matt Downs (owner) had been running Lion Vibes originally as a stall outside Brixton station in the 90s. This developed into a record label, frequent trips to Jamaica to record music for his label and one of the first websites in the 90s dedicated to selling reggae records! The original focus was on the latest music coming from Jamaica on vinyl. This started to dwindle away and eventually stopped around 2011 when the last press in Jamaica closed down. From here the main focus was on buying and selling quality original press 60s and 70s Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae records. In 2015 the spot in Brixton market came up. It seemed like a natural progression to open the shop, the idea was to concentrate on the new reggae releases coming out today, which are mainly from the UK / US and Europe alongside a huge stock of reissues and original pressings.
We only sell reggae and Jamaican music from the 50s onwards, though have a small box at the front with a mixture of genres. The first thing that strikes people when walking through the door is the huge sound-system! The bass can be heard through most the market.
Our customers are a great mixture. There is a hardcore of old-timers who’ve been buying reggae records every Saturday since the 70s! We also cater to many sound-system owners and DJs from London the rest of UK and many from abroad. Customers from Europe come on these kind of reggae pilgrimages. They’ll fly over, go to 5 record shops, go to see Jah Shaka Soundsystem in the evening and fly back early the next morning! Though unfortunately, the pandemic has put an end to this, for now.
Another advantage of having a physical shop and one of our greatest pleasures is having producers big or small coming in on foot with a record they’ve pressed and are distributing around London.
Can’t remember now… we had some seriously beautiful original JA press LPs at bargain prices when we first opened, so probably one of them! The last was a new release on my own label Horus records; Cornell Campbell – Never Gonna Give Up
As someone still in my twenties my first experiences of buying records were online! Though my first experiences of going to Dubvendor / Peckings / Supertone / Blackerdread / Blackmarket Soho were very informative and much music was discovered
Drum And Bass records (Osaka, Japan) for original press.. any of the above London record shops for vibes and education!
Having 300 people turn up to an event with Chase And Status, where our cap is less than 50. An intense few hours!
Twinkle Brothers in Brockwell Park
Too hard… so I’ll give the most recent two: What Is The What – David Eggers / Thibault Ehrengardt – King Tubbys The Dub Master
Sound Business (Documentary)
- The Royals – Ghetto Man
- Donald Byrd – I’ve Longed And Searched For Your Mother
- Led Zeppelin – No Quarter (Song Remains The Same version)
- Sound Dimension – Baby Face
- Burning Spear – Down By The River
- Carlton And His Shoes – Love Me Forever
- Junior Delgado – Sons Of Slaves
- Light Of Saba – Words Of Wisdom
Toots And The Maytals
Cedric Brooks And Light Of Saba
Midnite / Akae Beka
Jah Love Muzik Soundsystem with Brigadier Jerry And Alawi
Burning Spear – Studio One Presents Burning Spear
Events Coming Up
Room In The Sky label out of South London will be doing a take over from 5pm in Lion Vibes Brixton.
Kevin Davy, the feature instrumentalist on Room In The Sky's reggae reimagining of Golden Brown will be getting his trumpet out to do a live rendition of the record!
We will also have two artists present from his Boom Shacka Lacka EP. The legendary UK reggae singer Winston Reedy will get on the microphone for his version Hopeton Lewis' Boom Shacka Lacka.. AJ Franklin of the Chosen Few who sung the harmony on the original 60s cut will be present and touching the microphone to. Signed copies on the day! Performance at around 5pm, with signing continuing until 7pm