Record Paradise

Record Paradise has been keeping the vinyl fiends of Melbourne in a state of rapture since 1955. Ahead of the grand opening of their new Brunswick premises on Saturday April 20 (Record Store Day, of course), Paul Allen and Renae Maxwell discussed the joys of crate-digging, their relocation from St Kilda and former lives of second-hand vinyl.

On the face of it, the move to Brunswick was a simple matter of following the Zeitgeist, but Renae explains that it wasn’t so simple. “A few years ago we procured a lease on a warehouse in Brunswick. The dream was to open a second store [in Brunswick], but the customer base for records stores is pretty finite [in St Kilda], the demographic’s changing in terms of the sort of records that people want, and we weren’t prepared to change what we did to accommodate that. We live in Brunswick, we love the area, and we felt that the time was right.”


“It’s a cultural thing as well,” adds Paul, “Our friends, the bands, the live music scene, it’s all moved to Brunswick. We wanted to be a part of it, so it felt like the right thing to do.” The move away from St Kilda was not without some sadness, though. “We still feel connected to St Kilda,” Paul explains, “There’s been a nice resurgence recently, bands like Bittersweet Kicks, Vice Grip Pussies – we love to support Melbourne bands, and Australian underground music more generally.”


Record Paradise will have some special releases in store for Record Store Day, but it remains to be seen whether they’ll be shipped in time. “We’ve ordered some Record Store Day releases, but no-one ever knows if they’ll land in time – they’ll only be arriving in England and the US on the 18th” Paul explains, “We’re not leaving it to chance, though: we’ve been digging through the archives, and we’ll be putting out some exciting stuff, some things we’ve never stocked: some [Einstürzende] Nuebauten stuff we found last night, some rare early Beatles stuff, original pressings of [The Sex Pistols’] Pretty Vacant, [Marianne Faithfull’s] Broken English, out-of-print 7-inches, all sorts of stuff. And we’ll be doing it at retail prices, not crazy e-bay prices.”


Either way, there’s going to be a party. “Oh yeah,” Paul says, with obvious relish. “We’ve always had friends come and play [for Record Store Day], and it just gets bigger every year. Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier, will come by, Sasha and Martin [from The Morning After Girls] will stop by, Courtney Barnett, Fraser A Gorman, Denver Maxx will be DJing.


“I’m so glad Fraser agreed to play. Nothing warms up a space like someone strumming a guitar, singing to the people,” Renae adds. “We’ve got a liquor license for the day, so the Paradise Bar is back. It’s a nice, big space: all-weather too, so nothing can stop the party. We’re even getting the Taco Truck down!”


If they sound more like fans than business owners, it’s because they are. “At heart we’re crate-diggers,” Paul explains. “When you dig, you connect with the cover art, the feel of vinyl. Records have a sense of history: Sometimes you open up a second-hand record and there’s a love-letter inside. It’s the best part of running a record store: You get a record that’s full of someone’s memories and pass it on to someone new, continuing that story.


“As a second-hand dealer, we deal with deceased estates,” Renae adds, picking up the thread. “We get relatives bringing in, say, their great-aunt’s collection, and you go through the albums with them. They might remember one from their childhood, and suddenly it’s more than just a record again. They mightn’t be worth much in terms of dollar value, but they’re too precious to just turn into landfill. They give you a sense of the person. You don’t get that with MP3s.”



RECORD PARADISE opens at 15 Union Street , Brunswick on Saturday April 20 (Record Store Day). Acoustic performances, signings and merch from Deborah Conway & Willy Zygier, Fraser A Gorman, The Morning After Girls and Courtney Barnett, as well as guest DJs, lucky 7” dip and a fully licensed bar. More information at recordparadise.com.