My experience with record stores in Hungary has been pretty non-existent. Mostly because I’m never compelled to go into places that have Jonas Brothers or Guns ‘n Roses posters in the window. I may be judgmental, but you can (and should) judge a record store by its cover, and quite frankly the High School Musical soundtrack isn’t even on my radar. let alone the riffraff that might lie alongside it in a record shop with such terrible taste. For these reasons I’ve just about given up on finding any decent record store in Budapest, but after spotting Laci Bácsi's Record Shop, hope returned.

Look at this place. The exterior is perfectly painted, no blemishes or graffiti, the metal gate always hangs over the windows to stave off even the thought of a late night break-in. The outside is about as inviting as a prison and gives you an idea about the guy running the place, none other than Laci Bácsi himself.

Record collectors tend to be anal, bordering on obsessive-compulsive and Laci’s no exception. His presence is downright intimidating. Sure he might be a nice guy if you get to know him, but the tension in the air alone had me choking on and fumbling over my words upon his annoyed and disinterested inquiry if I needed any help.

Normally record stores (in the US at least) have mountains of unorganized records scattered about, falling from their sleeves and in all sorts of conditions. Not here. Every LP is perfectly baggied, priced, and in near-mint condition. There’s not a single record haphazardly out of place—an anomaly if I’ve ever seen one.

His categorization is nearly impeccable, evident in the militant organization of the store as well as in the searchability of the online catalogue. He’s got things labeled to a "T" - Czech Beat, Polish Jazz, Eastern European Progressive, the obvious vast Rock section, even a lacking Punk selection that encapsulates the predictable (Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Damned). The world music sections are the standout qualities here. His collection of 1950s French Pop is great and includes plenty Édith Piaf LPs. Leonard Cohen has a strong presence, even if the prices marked seem a bit steep. And there’s plenty of the Smiths and Morrissey for the “in-touch with your feelings” crowd.

To any foreigner, well at least myself, this place is a gem that you’d have to scour the span of the USA to find. It might be near impossible to pick up old communist-era Hungarian Avant-garde LPs anywhere else, save for maybe eBay. Even if you’re without a turntable, or aren’t even into records, just browsing through all the remarkable album art that you’re not likely to come across anywhere else is worth your time, especially if you’re looking for artistic inspiration of any sort.

Music nowadays is disposable. Downloading is killing what used to be known as record sales, but is too easy to not do it. To me vinyl is the only thing that’s going to save the music industry, so Laci should breathe easy, he’s got a good thing going. It’s just a question of whether Budapestians are catching on.

Laci Bácsi's Record Shop is located at Kertész u. 42, just across from Hummus Bar. It’s open Monday-Friday from 12:00-19:00. Official site (including map) and more info here.

Jacob P.

1 comments:

  1. stanfairbank said...

    There's another shop near Déak Tér on Paulay Ede called Rock in' Box that specializes in older stuff especially old rock n roll. Though I have to say the Hungarian definition of 'rock n roll' is pretty indiscriminate. But that could make for more interesting rummaging!

    http://www.rockinbox.net/index_en.htm  


 

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