The Book And Record Bar – South London’s Hub For Music Fanatics

By Sumit Rehal

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As part of HLN’s mission to highlight strengths of local businesses, we recently visited The Book and Record Bar, in West Norwood.

The Book and Record Bar was founded in 2013 by Michael Johnson and has already become a cultural hub for the local community in just three years. After establishing his trade in the travel industry over the last few decades, Michael made the bold decision to switch industries and set up shop despite entering a sensitive market.

The closure of record superstore, Beanos in South London marked a dark era in vinyl history but this didn’t deter the collector, who saw an opportunity arising. The record enthusiast gathered that there was a demand in vinyl records following a stint at selling his collection at Feast, a monthly Norwood market.

The resurgence in London based record collectors and cult music followings validated his decision and has seen his shopfront go from strength to strength ever since.

As we entered the store, we instantly recognised a jazz classic in Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue but as we scoped around, we saw a massive variety of genres in every corner from psychedelic rock to punk, to reggae and even rare hip hop LPs. The outer city location offered a relaxing atmosphere for us to have a chat with Michael about his journey while soul classics provided vibrant background music.

Michael shared his appreciation for album covers, particularly bright and peculiar ones that stood out from the rest. This drew up a conversation about how music listeners are deprived from the consumer experience nowadays in the digital era. The seamless process of streaming data doesn’t compare to the experience of collecting a physical product that stood out on the shelf and then hearing the needle hit the vinyl.

The Book and Record Bar serves up Volcano coffee which is also South London based, further rooting Michael’s localised goals. It’s not always all about chilling back at the bar however, with Michael taking advantages of his full alcohol licence to host regular night events.

Every first Friday of the month is “Stick It On” night, which enables enthusiasts to be the DJ by spinning their own choice of vinyls on the bar’s turntables. Every third Saturday of each month is “Soul Night”, treating partygoers to vibe out to the most authentic selection of old school and new school soul, funk, reggae and R&B.


For those that can’t make it to the store as much as they can, they host their own radio show, the West Norwood Broadcasting Company, which can be streamed online at any time. Michael has used his business experience to effectively bring the worlds of records, books, coffee and events together to create a vibrant, welcoming company.

The entrepreneur now seeks to further grow the business by returning Greater London’s revived music scene to south of the river to expand on the hub that has already been created.

Check out the Time Out award nominated bar’s Facebook to keep up to date on any upcoming events and treasures that they hold in the future.

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