Travel Report: Rock ‘n’ Roll Rescue, London.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Rescue, Camden Town, London.
One of my favourite things about Camden Town is browsing the various record shops. Back in my pre-digital nomad days I was quite the record collector. I had over a thousand albums, shelves of music books and a precious collection of programs, tickets and memorabilia from concerts over the years. Letting go of my beloved record collection was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done, but sometimes it’s a case of needs must.
Despite no longer having my own personal music empire, I’m unable to pass up the opportunity of diving into a record store. In Camden Town one of my favourites is Rock ‘n’ Roll Rescue, a music charity shop on Parkway.
Initially, it was the basket of Q Magazines outside the front door that caught my attention. I used to religiously subscribe to Q. In fact, I bought my first copy in the mid 1990s and hardly missed an issue right through to 2017. Q was an amazing publication that informed much of my record collecting and got me interested in the art of reviewing.
Those issues on sale outside Rock ‘n’ Roll Rescue were going for just 50p each! Unfortunately, the magazine folded in the summer of 2020 following a 24 year run as one of Britain’s leading music magazines.
Their demise was due to a gradual decline in sales during the digital age, in addition to the loss of advertising revenue brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Today I have a handful of landmark Q issues safely boxed up in storage. Not sure what they’re worth, but definitely more than 50p!
Rock ‘n’ Roll Rescue, Camden Town.
This is certainly not your average record store. Rather, it’s a lovingly assembled, dimly lit cave of CDs, vinyl, limited edition boxsets, gig posters, flags, stickers and retro collectibles. Kind of like the basement music den I imagined I might have one day in my dream house.
Moreover, they have quite the range of second hand guitars. And according to a sign on one of the walls, they’re always looking to buy more. They’ll take your old keyboards too. And amplifiers, speakers, effect boxes and microphone stands. Drums, leads, connectors and just about anything else you can think of.
Moreover, the entire place is wallpapered with iconic photos, newspaper clippings and magazine cut outs. Exploring, I spied an impossibly young Kate Bush, a strung-out Sid Vicious and a soloing Hendrix. A beaming Memphis era Dusty Springfield and a group shot of Kiss horsing around in front of Big Ben. Whoever your heroes are, you’ll find them here somewhere, in between all the treasures.
As cool as all this is, what makes the store really special is its dedication to local charities. Actually all the staff are volunteers, while proceeds go exclusively to all manner of London based groups.
They donate to Crossroads Women Refuge in Kentish Town and The Mayhew Animal Home in Kensal Green. They also work with Food For All, a food van company with the ability to provide 1.000 meals a day to Camden Town’s needy.
What to See and Do, Camden Town.
Make your way into the store’s back room and this is where Rock ‘n’ Roll Rescue descends into proper car boot sale chaos. In here you could quite literally stumble upon anything. That day I spotted an old NICAM Proline Video Player and a 300 watt RAMSA Power amp.
On the shelves I unearthed several Harry Potter books and a DVD boxset of Peep Show. On the floor (I nearly tripped over it) sat a box of “Really ugly, out of fashion” second hand clothes. These are the store’s words, not mine.
The most expensive thing I saw in the whole place was this signed and framed Manuel Almunia Arsenal shirt at a hot £100. He wasn’t the world’s greatest goalkeeper, but hey, I’m sure every piece has its buyer. I wonder if it’s still there.
I would wholeheartedly recommend popping your head into Rock ‘n’ Roll Rescue. Especially if you’re into rock, indie, punk and alternative music. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s well worth it just to experience the abandoned museum atmosphere.
And, if you do make a purchase, it’s reassuring to know that your money is going to a worthy cause. For more on the store, pay a visit to their website. To meet the shop’s musician owner, Knox, have a read of this cool article from Tales From the Brazier’s Grotto.
For more on my home city, why not delve through my many pieces from across London.
Or maybe search further afield with my articles from all around England.
I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.