I’ve never participated in any of the previous Record Store Day extravaganzas until today but the promise of a limited edition pressing of ‘The Guitar World According To Frank Zappa’ got me out of my bed this morning and driving the 40 minute journey to my nearest participating store. I was fortunate in that I was able to purchase the sole copy of this disc that the store had been allocated. I couldn’t believe the price of it. £44.99! For many years, this album, only previously released on cassette as a freebie with a magazine, was something of a holy grail for collectors of all this Zappa. It is of course, far too much money to pay for a single album but I had got out of bed, made the drive and I had the only in stock copy ion my hand. It’s was too much to resist.
I don’t play my vinyl very often these days, maybe only a dozen sides every year but lowering the stylus on my return really opened my ears. The difference in sound quality between my streaming system and vinyl was huge and I resolved immediately to play my vinyl more. I guess that this is one of the aims of Record Store Day.
I love the sound of vinyl and until this morning, had forgotten just how good my LP12/Armageddon/ARO/Troika really was. The Troika has of course, been rebuilt. The work was undertaken by Expert Stylus Company and a fine job they made of it for reasonable cost.
I have to admit that seeing others participants in Record Store Day brought a smile to my face. There was one guy in the store with his AC/DC T-shirt, washed and ironed for the occasion, thumbing through the albums on offer. He was armed with a tablet containing a database of his existing collection. He was then looking up albums from today’s RSD to glean further information before deciding whether to purchase. He asked me if I was going to buy a copy of ‘Saucerful of Secrets’. I replied that I wasn’t as I still had my original mono copy that I bought in 1968. With this statement, I immediately attained god-like status in his eyes. I told him that it had probably only been played half a dozen times and while I still listen to the album, I now stream it or play the CD from the ‘Discovery’ box set.
RSD2019 seemed like fun and it is good to know that vinyl is alive, well and still sounding great!
I did consider making a similar timed trip to the nearest paticipating store, but will admit to being put off by the price of the vinyl. A couple of the items I may have been interested in are available on Amazon for a good £5 less.
I have rediscovered vinyl lately. I had amassed a good few albums over the last 15 years, but for a number of reasons, I never bothered to play them much: it was easier to choose CD or a digital download when a listening session called. Then a sea change took place. Whilst the likes of hi-res on Tidal are quite good, and put many of my ripped CDs to shame, I found there is something about spinning the black stuff that has a magic.
In recent weeks I have bought a bunch of stuff from Kraftwerk, Pink Floyd and Mark Knopfler, all in vinyl, so I am in the market for it.
Perhaps RSD has missed the point slightly by assuming folks will pay whatever is demanded. Had the day been about attracting more people to music shops than making money, I could have been persuaded.
RSD is of course a marketing gimmick set up When the vinyl revival was in its infancy to boost sales and interest unfortunately now there is so much over priced dross amongst the real quality releases that RSD is a bit of a mine field.
I have an excellent Kind of Blue mono reissue but also a terrible Cassandra Wison/Billie Halliday 10” that sounds terrible.
So buyer beware I’m afraid.
The Delines - Colfax. Long unavailable on vinyl, a limited edition pressing on neon orange vinyl. £19
Pink Floyd - A Saucerful of Secrets. Special edition from the original mono master tapes. £20
Simple Minds - Grafitti Soul / Searching For The Lost Boys. A double LP, Graffiti Soul is the regular Simple Minds album, Searching For The Lost Boys is an album of cover versions. Pressed on blue and yellow vinyl. £27
My local shop had loads of RSD vinyl left this afternoon and all of three people queued up to inspect it which was great. I bought a picture disk version of Rush’s Hemispheres to go with all my other copies of Hemispheres. Was irritated to see it on sale on E-bay later for over twice what I paid for it.
RSD is a lot more than a gimmick. It wholly distorts the the reality distortion field around vinyl and turntables. Indeed many indie shops simply could not survive without the hubbub of RSD. I find it elitist; more than a little smug and an absolute pain on the arse if I want to just go but some music on the day in question.
I had to put loads os stuff in storage a few years ago including my Linn/Naim setup.
I got an Atom/Nova as a temporary system in 2017 - primarily as I wanted a nice streamer for the family lounge, but also as many of my separates were distributed across various storage rooms or poorly accessible. For a long time I could not use my LP12 as I’d misplaced the platter (where on earth is my old LP12 box???), but what a revelation listening to vinyl was again via the Nova. Many newer albums I’d bought on Qobuz/CD were considerably more enjoyable on the LP12.
I have purchased after RSD before, but yesterday there were two releases I particularly wanted. One I had requested, the other I hoped for.
The one I requested was Elton John, Live From Moscow and it was available at £27.50 and I got it. The second was Yazoo, Reconnected. The store I went to didn’t have it, but in a trip to Frome in the afternoon I managed to get it at £32…my wife was a bit surprised at the price (understatement). The EJ was also there at £32!!!
I am listening to the EJ as I type and it’s a great double album (the Yazoo is also a double), however my enjoyment is tempered by the clicks and pops on a fresh out the wrapper purchase. I had a similar experience with some earlier RSD purchases.
Some of my now 40+ year old vinyl is pop free, despite having been played to death…I wonder if there is something in the quality control or the vinyl used that makes them more susceptable to noise in this day and age.
Other than that, very pleased with my purchases…just need to do some more saving to buy some more next year…
I don’t think it’s anything to do with RSD specifically but labels/artists/outlets seem to be onto a quick buvk with vinyl reissues or new pressings.
I bought a new pressing of a recently disbanded group the other day - scratches all over it and loads of surface noise/pops/clicks - infuriating on quieter intros/outros and between tracks.
Another album I got had such a tight inner sleeve, non-lined that I could hear the album scratching as I removed it - loads of fine surface scratches - I think it was a quiet David Sylvian album - fortunately few clicks or pops to be heard on playing.
A Kacey Musgraves album was packaged well, looked and sounded immaculate.
Kate Bush reissues - some in lined sleeves, some not - no consistency.
All in all it’s very random and quite offputting when playing £20+ for vinyl in most places now.
Absolutely not. The products appeal to those for whom ownership is more important than enjoyment and the concept hides the fact that most of the shops involved are absolutely appalling the other 51 weeks of the year. Most record sales are old catalogue and RSD reinforces that and fetishises stores which are generally struggling because of a commitment to product that most people don’t want and customer service beyond embarrassing.
As a child; a teenager and then a young man I use to love a number of fantastic record shops. They had the product. They had the atmosphere. They had a knowledge and a commitment. Modern independent record shops are niche at best and niche for a reason.
Local to me we have Piccadilly records. I used to go into the original shop on Brown Street having travelled up from North Wales for the day to shop. The big HMV was better. The staff were friendlier. The music they played enticed you in and they had a great selection of boxed sets; Japanese imports and so on. Meanwhile on Brown Street. The lighting was poor. In the midst of great UK music eras they played next to nothing of interest. The staff were only interested in their mates; mixing with those on the local music scene and so on. Customers? Screw them.
Now in Oldham Street they’re pretty much the same. It would be hard to find a less friendly place. On RSD they usually get a DJ or local artist in just to make you even more uncomfortable after you’ve queued down the street and round the corner. Thus it’s discuss day when you’re treated to everything which put indie stores out of business in the first place. It’s beyond ludicrous. They’ve got me to the point where I absolutely prefer Amazon.
Sorry Mike, your description of Piccadilly Records is not the Piccadilly Records I know and love.
I have been going to Piccadilly Records since their earliest days (late 1970’s) when the shop was in Piccadilly Plaza, most of my Joy Division and Strange Fruit (Peel Sessions) records must have come from there and I am still buying records from them now. My last visit and purchase was 4 weeks ago, when after browsing my favourite racks (including the wonderful ‘weird sh*t’ section) I had, as usual, far too many records in my hands so put most of them back. While paying I had chat with the ever friendly member of staff (he was also a fan of Oneohtrix Point Never and Ensemble Economique), discussed some up and coming releases and reminisced about the much missed ATP gigs and festivals.
The lighting in the shop is spot on, the music they play is right for me and loud too, the staff are always friendly, knowledgeable and helpful, I can’t see whats not to like.
Contrast this with HMV. Lighting so bright it would make an M&S manager blink, shop music too quiet and too bland. Worse still finding something I actually want to buy in the over stuffed racking is a serious challenge. Hats off to the staff though, they too are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.
I have never bought a record from Amazon.
Long live Piccadilly Records and all the like minded independent shops.
I got a Project cleaner last year and it’s pretty good, though I need to get into the habit of using it before a first play - it’s still a bit of a faff though and I’m sorely tempted to get something like an Audio Desk cleaner to make thing simpler and save my back bending down to use the Project.
Maybe you need to step away and take a look at how it’s done elsewhere then. The lighting is appalling. Better down one end of the shop than the other. I’ve a VI and the reflections are appalling. There’s now whole genres of music not available on vinyl which they won’t stock on CD even though those CDs still sell. I loved being told last week “we don’t really sell that genre any more”! A staggering thing for any indie shop to say.
“I suppose we could order it in”.
In the meantime I bought it on Amazon.
Their “ever-friendly” members of staff ignore most customers in favour of exactly the sorts of chat you describe. I’ve lost count of watching people walk in; browse; want to ask a question and end up walking out never to return. Piccadilly sell to the same people again and again but barely attract new custom for exactly that reason.
Personally I’m not interested in any music shop which plays what’s right for me. I want to hear something new wholly outside my comfort zone. PR haven’t done that in decades now. They like their niche and their clique and by george they’ll be sticking to it.
“Loud” is actually one of the things which puts people off such shops. One of many reasons people stopped using HMV. They’ve dropped the music level now and then some. Sadly too little too late.
The late, great Decoy was a magnificent example of how to do it right. Two floors playing wholly different music on great systems. Loud enough to listen. Not loud enough to put you off or prevent you entering. All conversations were disturb-able and people queuing were offered a coffee and a chance to join in rather than frozen out. Better still I could go in every week and hear something they’d discovered rather than a reviewer or a distributor.
I started a conversation on Twitter about 3 years ago about the most miserable unfriendly record shop staff you’d come across. PR won by a distance.
The main record shop in Brighton is in the North Lanes can’t remember the name but it’s so over priced I’ve never purchased anything from there.
Also ANY record store that stocks and sells anything on the DOL label is ripping off its customers and so undeserving of my hard earned.
The sad thing is that many people buy this dross because of the hype surrounding vinyl when they would be better buying the CD DOL used to cut these records from.
I’ve nothing against these shops making a living or against young people buying and enjoying records but please some quality control wouldn’t go amiss.