Friday, April 20, 2012

Record Store Day!!!

Record Store Day Breathes More Life into Vinyl

It’s coming round to the third Saturday in April again. This year Record Store Day falls on 21 April and it is time to get your boots on, get out and support independent record stores by attending some local events and treating yourself to some of the very special vinyl that is being released to mark the occasion.

Dusty and musty

The first Record Store Day was held in 2008 and was set up to celebrate the unique culture of record stores. You remember flicking through 12”s and albums in their plastic protector sleeves and slotted into wooden boxes in stores. You remember tracking down a proper treasure and hugging it close. It’s the hunt, the shiny smooth black look, the artwork on the sleeves and the very slight crackle of vinyl that make it loved worldwide.

CD shopping just ain’t the same. For a start, the sound when you flick through them in the racks is jarring. Sure, buying music online can also nourish your collection but there is nothing wholesome about the experience. Wandering into dusty shops that smell musty from decades of vinyl production and are hosted by an eccentric or cranky assistant with awesome knowledge is the true experience. That is what is being celebrated.

Metallica kicked off the first Record Store Day in San Francisco five years ago. Iggy Pop is this year’s ambassador. Then and now, activities include special appearances and performances, cook-outs, body painting, meet and greets with artists, parades, DJs appearances and so on. You can identify your local store and what is happening there using the Record Store Day website. There is also an app that provides the same information about what’s on where, gives product information and provides news and views from Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Special releases

The 400+ special releases for the occasion span the decades, nod to all categories of music and include new collaborations. Classical releases are being introduced to the mix for the first time this year. By far the majority of releases are on vinyl, but there are some CD releases too and a cassette! Some new releases are designated ‘Record Store Day First’ and participating stores will be playing them though they will not be available for purchase for another 4-6 weeks. Some are being released limited edition and only being sold on Record Store Day in participating stores.

Featuring among the day’s collection are: a red vinyl reissue of Little Richard’s classic album Here’s Little Richard; a 7” with two versions of Otis Redding’s Respect, one by him and a version by Aretha on the flipside; a 7” picture disc of Bowie’s Starman; a white vinyl LP of the Breakfast Club soundtrack; Afrikaa Bambaataa performing a cover of MC5’s Kick Out the Jams, a red and black swirly 7” of Hand Springs by the White Stripes and the new album Tasilli by desert Tuaregs Tiniwaren. That’s just the tip of a very colourful and exciting iceberg and the range is so wide that as well as treating yourself you can stock up on some excellent and very special gifts.

If downloads, Amazon boxes and Parcel Force delivery vans are the way you like to receive your music, then fine. Amazon won’t be coming to the Record Store Day party though. Qualifying stores are quite tightly defined by organizers, who sum it up by saying, “we’re dealing with real, live, physical, indie record stores—not online retailers or corporate behemoths.” Fans in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK have also set up Record Store Days and will be holding events on the same day.

It goes without saying that the digitalization of music has been a major factor in the demise of the vinyl industry and that it still represents a very small portion of music sales. What has to be shouted very loudly though is that vinyl sales saw a massive 40 per cent increase in the UK in 2011, making it the best year for vinyl in the last six years. In the US there was also a rise with a 20 per cent increase in the number of units sold. Record Store Day claims a role in this success. May we wish it more for 2012—Imogen Reed
Double gatefold 7" on while vinyl

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