A generation of enthusiasts received their musical education in the record stores of Zagreb. These same people – musicians, journalists, fans – still regularly trawl the city's secondhand stores, buying and selling records and exchanging news and views.
Just as Zagreb is now known for its music bars, venues where great care is taken over the choice of sounds played (US garage? surf? C&W?), so the city contains a number of secondhand vinyl and CD stores. Here 100kn or 200kn can buy you five to ten or even more vinyl LPs, artefacts with more charm than downloads or mp3 players despite all their attractive utility.
Of course, there’s no way for us to return to the vinyl age, technology has gone too far. But if you want to relive the feeling of how so much great music was discovered, for just few kuna and a whole bunch of enthusiasm, a visit to Free Bird or Karma is for you. Stepping inside Free Bird, for instance, is like entering another world. The shop may have been expanded two years ago but vinyl albums and used CDs still spill from the shelves and cover every other inch of floor space – be careful where you tread.
In a recent phenomenon, Zagreb’s secondhand record shops are being patronised by an increasing number of schoolkids who consider LPs to be more exotic and attractive than CDs. For older shoppers, buying vinyl is like a journey back to the 1980s. Back then, the record shop Muzička naklada (‘Music Press’) on Mesnička, now a children’s clothes store, was the place to be. Outside of opening hours or when nobody was looking, kids would wait for department manager and great record collector Darko Bratinčević to produce a magic cardboard box full of imported LPs music fans would have sold our own mother to get hold of. Heated exchanges about punk, post-punk, reggae and new psychedelia ensued. It was like an academy of music appreciation, the stuff of Hornby. Something of that spirit is being kept alive in Zagreb’s secondhand record shops today, whether they sell used or new CDs or LPs.
Imported LPs were also traded at Cvjetni trg, another haunt of record collectors and vinyl dealers. Free Bird owner Tomislav Gaži also sold records at Cvjetni trg. The same applies to Geza of Dobar Zvuk. Zdenko Erceg-Archie of Karma also links to those times, and Josip Matić of Spirit of Music was manager of the first CD store of local record company Aquarius.
All are obsessive record collectors who have managed to turn their passion from an adolescent hobby into a steady job, enriching the cultural life of Zagreb in their own little way.
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