In many respects the last word in record shopping in Glasgow, Monorail has managed to buck the trend in the decline of record stores in recent years by developing a special character all of its own – discerning but not snobby, hip yet friendly, steeped in music tradition and yet always on trend. Its location does it no harm either. Situated in a railway archway inside vegan café-bar and music venue Mono, with which it enjoys a symbiotic relationship, Monorail plays its important part in giving this alternative mecca in the corner of the Merchant City a real community vibe.
Stephen McRobbie – better known as Stephen Pastel, singer with cult ‘80s Glasgow indie band The Pastels – was one of the people who founded Monorail back in 2002. You’ll still see him there most days, serving behind the counter or restocking shelves and always happy to chat and share advice and recommendations – as are all of the staff.
It’s mostly about vinyl here, both 7” and 12”. There’s loads to flick through – everything from the latest releases by local bands to indie, electronica, funk and soul, reggae and classic rock’n’roll. But crucially, they go for quality over quantity at Monorail, selecting stock eclectically but with care and integrity, and a focus on things you won’t find in other shops – imports, re-issues, rarities, box sets, that kind of thing. If you don’t own a record player, don’t feel left out – there’s a healthy stock of those new-fangled CDs to thumb through as well.