No Hit Records is the online store for the real-life bricks and mortar Sounds That Swing Record Shop at 88 Parkway LONDON N1 7AN. If you are in the area come and visit us, we are open every day, 11am to 6pm Monday to Thursday, 12noon to 7pm Friday and Saturday and 12noon to 6pm Sunday.
Both shops are packed to the gunwales with Rock n Roll and closely related styles. We start with 20s Country and Blues and move on through all the styles those two genres created as they merged and split over the decades producing, amongst others; Country Blues, Hillbilly, Swing, Western Swing, Boogie Woogie, a little jazz, Hillbilly Bop, Rhythm ‘n’ Blues, Doo Wop, Rockabilly and the crowning glory of Rock n Roll. We carry on to cover the fall out from the rock n roll explosion Soul, Surf, British Beat, The Bakersfield Sound, 60s punk and Garage, some Psyche, on through a little of the best Glam, Bubblegum, 70s Punk. We also support the recordings of current bands who continue in these genres.
The shop is run by a couple of life long record/music nerds who love this stuff. Really the main criteria for what we sell is do we like it? I want to be able to truthfully say “yep, that is a great record” if someone holds up any record in the shop and asks what it this like. OK, given personal taste and all that there is some stuff I love more than others but it all has its charms.
We are selling more and more vinyl, particularly 45s (the little ones) but we also sell CDs and even 78s. The music is more important than the medium. (Just have to note the plural of vinyl when talking about records is vinyl.)
Finally please join our mailing list. We will not bombard you with sales pitches but we will try and keep you up to date with interesting news.
Sounds That Swing
As you first walk into Sounds That Swing you are greeted by a Gorilla mannequin wearing a No Hit Records t-shirt and nerd glasses. Strange and oddball LP covers are displayed high up on the walls. Shelves are packed with quirky horror and Halloween figures. There is a cardboard Liberace figure standing next to a 60s Frankenstein model, standing next to a pink plastic watering can standing next to a tin 50s spaceship toy.
In-between the displays of brand new releases are original autographed promo pictures of obscure 50s Rockabilly and country singers. Pretty much everywhere you look there is an array of weird and wonderful sights. Even the ‘hole in the wall’ cash machine outside the shop has a large painting of Johnny Cash above it.
A little bit if history
Barney Koumis, owned label No Hit Records and Charlene Coleman, owned Bedrock Records. Barney was looking for new premises and Charlene believed that a record shop would be a natural progression and pushed for the two of them to open one together running the labels, distribution and a new retail side of the business under one roof. A long closed Greek restaurant at the top of Inverness Street, just across the road from playwright Alan Bennett’s house, was found and with Neil Scott as manager Sounds That Swing was opened.
One door closes, another opens…
The shop opened in Camden Town in the Summer of 1995 just as the iconic Rock On Records (just around the corner, next to Camden Town Tube Station) was sadly about to close its doors. Rock On had always been a favourite shop of Barney, Charlene and Neil’s and they based Sounds That Swing on the same model as Rock On, stocking records that suited their taste, ranging from 1920s Country Blues, through 1950s Rockabilly & Rock’N’Roll to 1960s Garage Punk & Surf, rounding out with 1970s Punk Rock. From brand new genre releases and reissues to rare original pressings.
The shop slowly built up a loyal customer base, so much in fact that the No Hit Records label gradually took a back seat to the retail side of the business. As time went by, it was clear that the tiny ‘shack’ in Inverness Street was just too small so the hunt started for bigger premises. June 2009 saw the new, improved, larger Sounds That Swing open up on Parkway, just a couple of doors down from the legendary Dublin Castle pub and music venue.
In early 2016 Barney decided he wanted to move on, offering the shop to long-time shop manager Neil and employee Martin Heaphy. Neil and Martin are both dedicated record collectors and obviously have no savings so with a cash loan from their more responsible wives, they bought the shop in early March of that year. Since then the boys have knuckled down and really built up the stock in the shop while still sticking to the original ethos of only stocking records that they like. They always felt that the shop should have a friendly and welcoming environment where folks can stop by, have a chat and a cup of tea without any snobbery or getting the hard sell.
Sounds That Swing has always had its fair share of celebrity customers, Robert Plant often pops in when he’s in town and Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie drops by to pick up Garage Punk & Rockabilly 45s as well as doing two TV interviews in the store, one with his friend, Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh. Paul Weller stops by occasionally and Jude Law and Daniel Craig have also been spotted flicking through the racks. Comedians Mark Lamarr & Stewart Lee are regulars and Billy Bragg recently filmed a video promo for his ‘Roots, Radicals and Rockers’ book in the store.
A quirky record shop like Sounds That Swing can’t help but attract some quirky customers like for example X-Factor failure Dave Elvis, who regularly stops by dressed in his 70s Elvis white jumpsuit or gold lame suit to sing to bemused customers and rant about how Simon Cowell doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Then there’s Steven & Steven, a pair of Steves who have been almost daily regulars for the last 12 years without actually buying a record yet. They once pulled out an LP by black vocal group The Platters and asked Neil if it was the Beatles and then on another occasion pulled out an LP by menacing instrumental guitar god Link Wray and asked if it was Perry Como!
There are many more, all with their own nicknames like Nice Keith, Mr Mint and Smelly (er best not say). Everybody is welcome at Sounds That Swing, although Mr Cowell might want to keep one eye on the door in case Dave Elvis is in the area.