Now that Covid restrictions have eased ALL AGES RECORDS, London’s first and only punk record shop reopens today. Pop into the store and show your support!
Firmly established in London’s alternative culture, All Ages Records has been a bastion of punk rock for nearly two decades. The independent record shop has played host to the likes of Against Me!, UK Subs, Code Orange, Spizzenergi, Acid Attack and The Ramonas, but owner Nick Collins says the place is all about the punk fans.
“When you walk into All Ages, there is a sense of culture. If you like punk rock, you will find is a sense of belonging here. I’ve plastered the walls with posters, and I’ve made it look as fucking punk rock as possible,” Nick says.
Growing up in Leeds, Nick’s own introduction to punk rock came via many nights spent at the tiny Duchess of York venue seeing bands like NOFX, The Offspring, Jesus Lizard, Victims Family, Nirvana and, particularly, TAD (“giants of the whole thing, they made the biggest noise”).
All Ages Records is just a five-minute walk from Camden Town tube station, where it lays claim to being London’s first and only punk rock specialist since opening its doors in 2003.
Before opening his now-famous store, Nick did his research. “I kept asking if there were other punk record stores and the nearest thing I could find was someone who had a record stall in Kensington Market years and years ago that was quite punk rock,” Nick says.
“But if you look at the famous shops from the time, like Rough Trade and Small Wonder Records – these were general records shops, you could buy Pink Floyd records from both of these shops. All Ages is well and truly punk.”
All Ages Records tries to cover every single kind of punk there is, offering old-style punk, hardcore, crusty and anarcho, as well as the more ‘commercial’ end of punk rock. There’s also a reggae section, acknowledging its close connection with London’s ’77 wave of punk.
The store really is an Aladin’s cave of punk because, alongside its impressive array of records, CDs and even cassette tapes, there are also punk tees, posters, flyers, tote bags and hats.
Flying punk’s flag in the face of Covid
Fittingly, the shop is also London’s only ticket stockist for Rebellion Festival. Of course, the long-running punk outing was forced to cancel last year but hopes to return to Blackpool’s Winter Gardens in August with a line-up featuring Bad Religion, Stiff Little Fingers, Circle Jerks and many more.
Rebellions weren’t the only punk plans to be upended by Covid. The global pandemic is having a “pretty terrible” impact on Nick’s DIY punk shop.
“It’s really about people from all over the world, and obviously now is a terrible time for the whole fucking situation.”
The store is reopening very soon, but Nick says he knows it will be a while before things return to normal with tourism hit by Covid border restrictions. “Who knows when am I going to get my lovely German customers or when my Aussie punks are going to start coming in again? When’s that going to happen?”
Having concentrated on the physical record shop for so long, when the UK’s first lockdown hit in March 2020 the store didn’t have much of an online presence and Nick was forced up a steep learning curve to get All Ages Records’ webstore up and running.
It’s a lifeline in these dark days for All Ages Records, which has had no help from the government or its landlords, and a great way for punks to support a key part of London’s DIY punk scene.
Now we’re only days away from lockdown easing Nicks says he can’t wait to welcome people back to the shop and all the ‘punkness’ it has to offer.
“You can look at as many cool sites online as you like, but you still don’t get a sense of the culture – that can only be a physical thing and there’s nothing like walking into a record shop.”
Please help support small, local independent punk stores like All Ages Records by purchasing from them online or in-store – because if we don’t, we will lose a rare and valuable part of our punk community!
ALL AGES RECORDS RE-OPENS TODAY – APRIL 12
Support All Ages Records Online and In-Store
Address: 27A Pratt Street, Camden Town, London, NW1 0BG Phone: 020 7267 0303
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I’m a punk rock aficionado, martial arts pupil and fair-to-middling student of the Bengali language. I’m also a journalist, writer and editor, specialising in medicine and technology.