Some 25 years ago my first son was born to be joined a couple of years later by the second. Who knew that two small people could take up so much space? Despite moving to a larger house to accommodate everyone and everything we quickly ran out of space and realised something had to go. Having considered which of the two boys should be released I was told that wasn’t an option so the axe fell upon my large collection of vinyl!
Looking back now I regret getting rid of pretty much all my collection gathered since picking up a copy of Mud Rock Vol 2 in 1975. However, then it really did make sense. Vinyl was dying, I had most of my records on the much more compact discs and we really did need the space. Oxfam was the winner that day.
Wind forward 20 odd years and vinyl decides to make a come back. By this point I need reading glasses and can no longer read the tiny print on a CD sleeve so the thought of something much larger suddenly appeals! My original Dual CS 505-2 has long given up the ghost so I invest in a cheap new deck and start hitting the charity shops and end up with a load of tatty vinyl.
Another three years pass and the replacement deck also expires so I upgrade once again, this time to an Audio Technica AT-LP5. This presents a different set of problems in that, compared to the last deck, it is huge and heavy and putting on or taking off a record requires a dexterity that I no longer possess. So now we also need to find a new resting place for this deck, a search that is ongoing.
At the same time I was surprised to find that collection now numbers 150 records and has outgrown the space that was allocated to it taking me neatly back to the position I was in 20 years ago!
All this is leading me to re-evaluate my purchasing decisions in order to inject a little quality into the collection and so I am trying to adhere to the following “guidelines”. I will only buy a record if it is:
- a limited edition in some way (so numbered, signed, coloured vinyl etc)
- 180g vinyl (amazed at how flimsy 140g feels now)
- new (not cheap secondhand unless it is…)
- a classic collectable (which, of course, covers a multitude of sins)
- accompanied by a download card
I appreciate that this gives me a huge amount of wiggle room (I’m not that stupid) but if I do try to keep fairly closely to that I might be able to build a collection that is worth having and playing.
The good news is that both the boys have left home so now I can turn both their old rooms into record storage!
In what is now rapidly becoming a tradition I was up at 05:45 and in the centre of Reading by 06:15 to join the back of the queue for Record Store Day 2017.
When the list was first published earlier this year I looked down it and found that little on it moved me. I did wonder whether to skip it completely this year but in the end it’s actually a fun thing to do – stand out in the cold for two and a half hours fretting that the one thing you really want on your list will have already gone!
What I really wanted this year was the new release by The The, limited to only 2000 copies UK-wide I did wonder whether by the time I reached the head of the queue it would be gone. That presented no problems as it turned out and I even managed to snap up the shops only copy of The Buggles “Video killed the radio star” a 12″ picture disc.
This is the 10th year of Record Store Day and when it was first started it was to help local, independent record stores. With the resurgence of vinyl one wonders if that is still necessary and whether the record companies see this as an opportunity to make a quick buck.
The prices for these releases can be eye watering. The The The single is an excellent but one sided 7″ coming in at £10. While the 12″ double Marillion album on gold coloured vinyl was better value at just over double that. My total spend this year was £63 but the guy in front of me spent £380…
This year Record Store Day coincided with the Are you listening? music festival held in town. By the time this started I was beginning to run out of steam (I’m not as young as I once was) and so I didn’t do as much as I did last year.
I saw Big Zero once again and I really like their quirky ways but being on at 2pm was way too early for their kind of music. I also enjoyed the Amazons in conversation with some Radio 1 DJ (Unless it is Tony Blackburn I have no idea on modern R1 DJs) so much so that I have had their “Black Magic” on repeat almost since then.
Looking at the dates for next years festival and record store day it is unlikely that I will be able to attend either as that is when we’ll likely be on holiday which is a great shame as both are great fun.
Anyone that has been paying attention will have noticed that I am back into vinyl in a big way – mainly because I like having a physical product and also the print on a record sleeve is large enough for me to be able to read without glasses!
However, I am trying to be a little more discerning about what I buy now rather than simply plundering the local charity shops for dog eared copies of what I already have (although I do that too!). And with vinyls resurgence there is now so much new music being released on that format that it is increasingly possible to add new items regularly.
To illustrate that very point I have all of the following on pre-order, all of which are on “heavy-weight” vinyl and quite a few are also signed too:
Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool – 17th June 2016
Peter Gabriel – So, Up, Us – 15th July 2016 – half speed, limited edition, remasters
Dodgy – What Are We Fighting For – 2nd September 2016 – Signed Deluxe
The Divine Comedy – Foreverland – 2nd September 2016 – Signed
Marillion – Fuck Everyone and Run – 23rd September 2016 – Signed
There does seem to be a gap in August though but the La’s reissue would fill that nicely!
So I have been getting back into vinyl in a big way. No, not like that, but vinyl records of the round black variety.
I am trying to limit the amount I spend on records by only purchasing brand new releases and particularly if they are limited releases, special vinyl or signed. This isn’t working out too well for me as everyone seems to be jumping on the vinyl bandwagon at the moment releasing limited releases on special vinyl that are signed!
There are still some releases that are no longer available or I would like to collect so I am always on the lookout for them. When I saw that Reading was holding the largest record fair in the UK I had to check it out.
I haven’t been to a record fair for probably about 20 years or more but they haven’t changed in any way in the intervening years other than now holding a smattering of CDs too. It was pretty well attended showing that there are a lot of people still wanting a drop of the black stuff!
I think in the end I must have made three complete circuits of the stalls looking for something that took my fancy but came away with empty handed. The issue was that for the most part nothing was in any order so if you were looking for something specific, which I was, you would have had to be pretty lucky to stumble upon what you were looking for. I did come close to a signed copy of the latest Steve Hackett but couldn’t bring myself to part with the required £35.
So the visit to the record fair was an interesting trip down memory lane taking me back to my youth but I don’t think I will bother going again as I stand a much better chance of sourcing what I want to eBay.
So a while back I went to my local record shop for Record Store Day and bought some hideously expensive vinyl on which I had nothing to play it. Wind forward a month or so and I got fed up of looking at the boxed set and wondering what it would be like to hear the needle hit the groove so I went onto eBay and bought a second hand deck.
Gone are the days where I have heaps of room for lots of audio equipment so the two requirements were that the deck was to have a small footprint and that it needed to have a built-in pre-amp so that it could plug directly into my powered speakers. I quickly found on eBay a Aiwa PX-855 which ticked both boxes and was only £30 so reasonably priced too.
It arrived and I was keen to get it set-up and running but I was immediately blocked when I discovered that the deck had hard wired phono plugs for output and the speaker was expecting a 3.5mm jack. So the next purchase was a lead to correct that. And finally we were up and running…
I would love to say that I was immediately blown away by the sound, the richness of the timbre and the warmth of the bass but it wasn’t to be. It was more of an experience though and I am really into experiences.
There is something ritualistic about vinyl and, of course, I’m not getting any younger and it is a strong reminder of my youth. Compared to CDs an album is massive and at least it exists as something you can hold, unlike MP3’s or Spotify. You can really appreciate the artwork and I can read the lyrics!
There is also something extremely satisfying to listen to something impure with all those bumps, crackles and scratches.
So I find myself scouring all the local charity shops in the hope that I might find some gems amongst the Cliff and the Shadows and The Bachelors. So far I have managed to find quite a few Genesis records and I am writing this to my favourite: Selling England by the Pound. Perfect!
I doubt that I will ever get back to the level of records that I once had but I hope to have a small collection of favourites and spend a happy evening carefully pulling out the black disk from it’s sleeve, feeling the resistance as the static holds it in place and then delicately placing it on the turntable and hearing the needle drop into the groove with a satisfying click.