My parents used to have this huge console record player/radio that was the centre piece of our living room for years. I remember how we could stack 5 or 6 vinyl albums on the centre post and they would drop automatically, one at a time – the precursor to the 5 disc CD player.
My first record purchase was a 45 of the DeFranco family’s song: Heartbeat, it’s a Love Beat. Check out this youtube video – oh my those collars. When I listened to it again this morning (the video, not the 45, long since gone, probably donated to a thrift shop) I was intrigued by the interplay between minor and major keys; it’s actually still a pretty catchy pop tune.
This mini-film – The Record Store Day – shows what this day looks like in the U.K. (15 minutes long, totally worth it.) Many people think that the revival of vinyl is just a nostalgia thing supported by boomers or hipsters but I don’t think this is true. Watch this film and you’ll see that people of all ages are interviewed and most of them are young. One of the musicians interviewed expressed something that I think hits on why vinyl – and CDs – will not die. It’s that tactile piece – flicking through a record stack, holding the album in your hands, the artwork on the cover, the photos and liner-notes of CDs – for me, it’s that physical touch of the art that makes it so much better than its digital partner. (It’s the same reason I read paper books – e-readers will never cut it for me.) I also love what the young man from The Strypes pointed out: on vinyl, you pretty much have to listen to the songs in the order that the artist intended. There’s no fast-forward, no skipping songs. I think that digital has made both artists and consumers forget that an album is a work of art as a whole, a unique piece that give you both an auditory and a visual experience.
My son is a die-hard vinyl collector. Most of his stuff comes from thrift shops and used record stores but many of his favourite musicians are releasing their albums on vinyl and so he’ll have all versions of their music: vinyl, CD and digital. We bought him a turntable for Christmas that allows him to download the vinyl to digital.
The problem/opportunity with thrift shops is that you really, really have to dig through the Roger Whittacker, Barbara Streisand, Nana Mouskouri albums to find the real treasures. Aaron’s found some great Beatles, Elton John, Abba, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Beach Boys… you can see his eclectic taste. He’s also got vinyl from his favourite modern artists like Fleet Foxes and You Say Party.
One of the coolest vinyl pieces he’s found is this Jethro Tull release that looks like a newspaper. This just doesn’t translate into digital.
So, it’s Record Store Day – go find a record store, preferably a used one, or a thrift shop and let your inner nerd go wild. You never know what you’ll find.
What was your first music purchase – and what form was it? wax? vinyl? cassette? 8-track? CD? digital?