I remember in my youth, going to HMV and buying tape cassettes with just a few songs, then came CD albums and I was exposed to a whole new world of possibilities. Then the mp3 revolution began. When the first iPod came out in 2001, music in its physical form was in trouble. CDs began their slow descent, music stores started to be replaced on the high street with phone stores and coffee shops.
In 2005 I started a podcast on MySpace from my bedroom. I scoured the only social network at the time, much loved by musicians and unsigned bands, for music to broadcast to my (three) loyal listeners.
As with most fashions, the vinyl resurgence is as cyclical as the records being played by the generation that weren’t born when they lost favour the last time.
One of the attractions of the rediscovery is a combination of bringing new life to the albums you’d forgotten and searching through the reams of albums from years passed, full of sung stories and tunes you didn’t know you’d heard along the way.
So, where do I start? I’ve got my turntable, which is a a gorgeous retro green Gadhouse ‘Brad’ record player. It’s small enough for the cosiest of nooks and has a Bluetooth feature which allows it to be the speakers for your phone’s music collection.
It was quite tthrilling to turn the dial to On, set the record speed, and pull the lever to bring the needle’s arm down on to the softly spinning vinyl. Then the music played on my first ever record. But what else should I play?
I headed down to my local record shop, luckily I live near Main Street in Vancouver, BC where the music-fans, hipsters, and loyal local-business supporters have kept Neptoon Records open since 1981.
Flicking through the shelves and shelves of albums from artists I’d never heard of, as well as lots of newer ones I recognized, I noticed a Johnny Cash record. As a boy, growing up in the English countryside, I’d never heard of him until I went to study in Kansas City, Missouri where country music was a thriving musical force. From there, I was introduced to late night infomercials about CD collections from the Grand Ole Oprey, featuring classic performances by Mr. Cash and company.
My first purchase was Out Among The Stars, an album that was released in 2015, compiled by John Carter Cash, Johnny’s son.
Next, I was looking was looking for one of my favourite ever albums, The Seldom Seen Kid, by Sheffield, UK band, Elbow. When I asked the clerk if they had any records from the band, she looked at my like I’d offender her mother and replied “the red guy from Sesame Street?”. I assured her that I wasn’t blaspheming in her store, but she still seemed wary of me so I went back to flicking through some boxes on the floor.
Streaming music may be seen as insulting to the music, the wonderful world of Spotify has given me instant access to singers and genres at which I would have previously only glanced.
Oscar Peterson has become a go-to on rainy days and late night drives, thanks to the Bluetooth in my car. The Canadian Jazz pianist appeared in an auto-aggregated ‘Coffee Table Jazz’ playlist on Spotify and swept me up into a love for the genre. My next record and last for this visit was Oscar Peterson Plays the Cole Porter Song Book, released in 1959.
Having rediscovered my love for holding an album and really listening to a full record, and ditching my old habit of treating songs like disposable moment fillers and gym motivators, I’m sure I’ll be writing again about new music, and what I find in the depths of my local record store.
Disclaimer: The lovely people at Gadhouse gave me the Brad turntable, but the records, opinions, photos, stories, and love for music are all mine. So there.