Treasure Hunting: Charlemagne Record Exchange

Posted January 30, 2013 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

Shopping for vinyl in record shops like Birmingham’s Charlemagne usually comes with a chunkload of surprises

You never know what you’re going to find when you go crate digging at a vinyl shop.

And it is that rule of law that ultimately summons that “I-need-to-urinate” sensation in most guys. The ultimate hunt for game, that perfect jewel to add to the perfect vinyl library. While scavenging for rarities, the occasional picture disc or the latest band with a new album release on vinyl, you will stumble across that one disc that takes your breath away – or better yet, cause you to lose your breath from a sudden outburst of uncontrollable laughter.

I had one of those laughing spells in my last visit to Charlemagne Record Exchange, an attic-like record shop located on Birmingham, Ala.’s historic Southside. It’s a music haven for bohemians, containing a huge library of music from Frank Zappa to the Beatles, from Pink Floyd to the Doors. Regardless of genre preference, you’re bound to discover something worth digging into. Motown and R&B sections are positively perched deep in the back, while metal, jazz, country and DJ-friendly 12-inch box are scattered across the place. And there’s loads of 7-inch singles decorating the middle portion of the store. And if you’re hungry for more, just look underneath the tables for the endless boxes of back stock.

My last visit to Charlemagne (named after the Steely Dan jam, seriously) – while working on my latest literary assignment to find records relatively important to the Eighties  – supplied me with enough chuckles to create a blog post. It’s not everyday that you stumble across Michael Henderson dancing around in speedos, or Rufus “Funky Chicken” Thomas cranking out words of wisdom akin to John Lennon, or Wild Cherry using ass to sell records.

Can’t wait for my next visit.



Just a few snapshots taken on J Matt’s scavenger hunt at Charlemagne Records (Birmingham, Alabama).

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About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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