Imperial Music record shop was established around the end of 1996. Since then, I have built up the majority of my music collection with purchases (both good and bad) from Imperial. For me, it arrived at a time when Bristol was crying out for a decent, centrally-located record shop. OK, so there is Replay and numerous other more specialist places as well as the standard HMV and Virgin Megastore but none of these shops deliver the service that one gets at Imperial. The first concern for a good record shop is what it actually stocks. Imperial makes a special effort to cater for most tastes. Within its racks, you will find most types of dance music, Hip-hop, Soul, Jazz, Funk, Reggae, World, Indie plus various other styles. Although mostly on CD, there are also racks for vinyl (LPs and 12 inches), focusing mainly on Hip-hop, Soul, Funk etc. as opposed to Drum'n'Bass/Techno. Each style is clearly categorised in easy-to-sift- through racks. If you have difficulty making a decision with all this choice, they are keen to offer a listening service. One clear advantage Imperial has over many other record shops is that the stock turnover is high and new music is introduced every week. This minimises the annoyance of returning every week having to pick through the same old dusty CDs hoping to find something fresh. All new music may be advertised previous to arrival, arrives on its day of release, is placed in its own section and moved out after a few weeks if necessary. The service at Imperial is amicable and laid-back although not to the extent that they just don't care. Staff seem willing to help out, no matter how bizarre the request. Although you might earn respect from them for choosing the latest turntablism compilation, they will have no qualms about advising you as to what drum'n'bass album to buy for your grandson. Of course, we must remember the prices. Well, prices can be quite high. CDs do go up to around £15.9
9 although they will usually be cheaper than big chain-stores. A well considered second-hand section including both CDs and vinyl is handy for cheaper purchases. The best price beater Imperial has to offer is its mid-price campaign. In this, it offers classic must-have CDs that everybody loves ("Protection", "Superfly", "What's Going On?" etc.) for around £6.99. This is great for buying those CDs which you have heard a hundred times but don't actually own! Basically, Imperial is the epitome of good music shops. In the past four years, I have never doubted its excellence at all - except on the occasions when nothing worth buying was released that week. Now give me my loyalty card!