Last week’s Record Store Day was the most successful so far. Self-confessed vinyl junkie @sammyjonespress takes a look at the changing fortunes of the humble record...
Ever since I can remember I have loved vinyl.
It is a passion that has grown with me - a chirpy little ditty by those cutesy pigs Pinky & Perky was my first (I should state that I was a toddler at the time), but was nowhere near as important as my first Slayer picture disc as a teen with a penchant for the heavy side.
Many a day was spent rushing to the upper floor of Our Price to look at latest batch of wonderful picture discs, gate-fold editions and coloured vinyls on the shelves. Not to mention all the unnecessary (but utterly essential) ‘freebies’ that came with the latest releases.
They special issues would be lined up on a rack above the counter, and all seemed to whisper ‘buy me’.
And buy them we did, as much as our finances would allow.
Many have survived numerous house moves and years neatly racked up and are still with me today.
Downloaders might get the songs, but they don’t get the full package - the information, the pictures, the feel and smell of vinyl and the smug satisfaction you get when you search high and low for a rarity, and eventually return home triumphant.
Which is why the annual Record Store Day is so important.
Over the past few years, the number of artists and stores coming together to celebrate their special culture has risen, and interest in this, the sixth annual event, surpassed all those that came before.
David Bowie, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Biffy Clyro, Paul Weller, Kate Bush and Pulp were among the 450+ special releases this year.
Despite a frankly appalling track record of stores stocking vinyl here in Milton Keynes (A random sprinkling of random releases in the sole music trader does not a happy vinyl junkie make), Northampton made up for our shortcomings with Spun Out and Underground Vinyl getting stuck in to the day.
The queue at Spun Out began at 5.30am, and by the time the doors opened at 9am, a flurry of decidedly chilly but eager vinyl fans flooded the small store, all hoping to bag our most desired.
It’s a frantic affair trying to get your mitts on that most hallowed of releases, that ‘must-have’, before someone beats you to it.
Bank balances plummet in the face of so much great stuff, but the feeling of solidarity with fellow music fiends is a buzz to savour.
Without small independent stores like Spun Out, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to indulge our passions and the humble record would be turning not on a turntable, but probably in its grave.
“The financial outlay and physical effort involved always makes myself and my partner Dawn really nervous in the run up to Record Store Day,” Chris Kent, manager at Spun Out, told us.
“We always have to hope we sell enough to break even and that it will boost publicity.
“But, thanks to the amazing support, we have had a good financial reward for our efforts and had visitors coming from as far afield as Peterborough and Leicester!” he told us post-event.
“The importance of Record Store Day to independent stores like us cannot be stressed enough, as most are struggling in the face of growth from the digital culture,but we still need to invest constantly in fresh stock to keep on top of new music needed to keep our customers happy - especially in cases like ours when we cover all styles of music.”
Record Store Day is more than just shopping for a record, it is an event, with everyone - artists, stores and buyers working toward the same goal: to safeguard the unique sector.
“The high level of great touches such as picture discs, coloured vinyl and shaped discs that the Record Store Day releases have, shows the love for these items the artists involved have and their care for their collecting public,” Chris added.
“Once through the door, Record Store Day customers realise that shopping in places like ours is not a run-of-the-mill experience - attention to customer service is foremost and comradeship with workers and fellow customers like that is very hard to find on the High Street these days.”
The download is never going away, of course, but so long as record stores survive to fight another day, it will always come second place to the vinyl thrill for me.
You keep your computer clicks and I’ll keep my Record Store Day purchases: A brilliant bunny picture disc courtesy of Chas n Dave, a colossal triple vinyl box set by Cream, live at the Albert Hall and a marvellous Mad Season double elpee.
A physical release will always win over a computerised one for me.
> Spun Out Records are located on Gold Street, Northampton.
Call 01604 230064.