Soul Brother Records initially began selling at record fairs and operating as a mail order retailer, selling new and used vinyl from its headquarters in Putney, Southwest London, in 1991. A few years later, it opened up its world-renowned store on Keswick Road, selling a wide selection of music—mainly Jazz, Soul and Funk—to the public. Soul Brother, as per its namesake, errs towards the soulful spectrum of music, with a broad catalogue of Rare Groove, Disco, Modern and Northern Soul, Classic Jazz, Jazz Funk and Rhythm and Blues—among other genres—spilling over from its bustling racks into the shop floor.
Soul Brother has always plumbed the soulful and jazz-tinged depths of music, with owner Laurence Prangell regularly sourcing records directly from America during Soul Brother’s infancy. His travels took him to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York and Washington D.C—securing collections with an archaeological precision and focus belying that of a true music lover. As Soul Brother grew, steps were taken to initiate an in-house label, through which rare and often unattainable music could be reissued and distributed from the UK. Soul Brother compiled artist-specific anthologies and compilations, focusing on the extended works of a particular artist, genre of music or relevant musical movement or scene. The Soul Brother catalogue is over 200 records strong, comprised of a diversity of genres and formats. Moreover, Soul Brother also has a trove of original and reissued Blue Note records, with a particular section of the shop devoted to the label and its releases.
Soul Brother isn’t just a local mainstay. It is frequented by a largely international clientele; well known throughout certain musical circles for its Soul and Jazz centric stock and dusty rarities, Soul Brother has become an institution within the UK Soul scene, tirelessly working to preserve the cultural legacy of Soul music and the fruits of its offshoots. This has been further solidified with strong partnerships with specific labels and artists, who often when touring the UK visit Soul Brother as a port-of-call, meeting and consorting with their wider fan base. Well-known and regular guests include Randy Muller, Lonnie Liston Smith, Carmen Lundy and Jarrod Lawson.
Staunchly independent and proud of its London roots, Soul Brother has cultivated a loyal clientele of music lovers over the years that share the shops raison d’être - to actively seek out and enjoy high-quality Jazz and Soul. Owner Laurence Prangell suggests that the shop looks to influence its regular customers, learning their likes, dislikes and general musical taste in order to accurately introduce them to relevant releases and, above all, good music. “The ethos of the shop is that we try to understand our customers likes and dislikes (…) we recommend things that they may not be aware of for them to broaden their musical horizons and grow their collections”.
Although Soul Brother specialises in Jazz and Soul, other genres are covered, including reggae, blues, world music, electronic and classic rock, making the racks as accessible for the average punter as the well-seasoned crate digger. It has a large online presence and has been keeping up with a relatively high demand during Covid-19. The shop reopened fully on the 22nd of June, and is open 6 days a week—Monday to Saturday from 11:00 until 18:00—to fetter all kinds of musical appetites. With a collection of 30,000 records in the shop with countless more in storage, there ought to be something in the shop to tickle your musical fancy. You’ll be sure to get a warm welcome upon entrance, with either Laurence, Simon or Will eager to help you find some great music for your listening pleasure.