Saturday, 22 April 2017

Record Store Day, and the fetishisation of vinyl

A bit of my record collection.
Husband's guitar, my Gene Vincent LP
It’s Record Store Day today. “What’s Record Store Day” asked Husband when I mentioned it.

My first answer was “Where have you been for the last ten years?” My second answer was: “It used to be about people who liked music but now it’s about people who like money.”

It’s supposed to be about supporting independent record shops (not “stores”, thank you, we’re British) but it’s become about queuing up to buy special vinyl releases – not because they’re special but because they are “collectors’ items” (and as the cliché has it, putting them straight onto eBay).

OK, I collect records – but I collect them because I want to listen to them, not because of what they might be worth. I’ve been trawling second-hand shops for years, looking for interesting items or things to fill the gaps in my record collection. But it’s getting harder, because other people are getting in on the act.

Who would have thought when I wrote six years ago that young people didn’t appreciate the superior qualities of vinyl that today I’d be complaining because, well, young people appreciate the superior qualities of vinyl.

Young people keep stealing our stuff. Hipsters have taken over many of the things that once meant something, and turned them into a lifestyle. And now they are taking our vinyl as well. As the NME says, it’s become “the latest poser accessory”.

It’s why vinyl has become advertising shorthand for young and hip, and fetishised by marketers. It’s why The Works is selling 1950s rock’n’roll records “remastered for vinyl”. It’s why WH Smith are selling Beatles albums as a part-work. And it’s why it’s getting harder to buy old vinyl records without paying over the odds.

On a recent day out, I spotted a second-hand shop and made for the record section. I’d just seen a Mott the Hoople album for thirty quid, and voiced my disgust, when a young man in skinny jeans, a parka and a bad haircut starting telling us how much he had paid for various LPs. As if it was a good thing.

So when he got to the £60 Johnny Thunders album, I told him I’d seen Johnny Thunders live. For 75p. Then he tried to tell me about random post-punk bands that he thought were good, and each time I was: "I'll raise you." When he asked me if I'd heard of Jesus & Mary Chain I got bored and gave up.

A friend of mine calls them “musicplainers”. But what that young man doesn’t realise is that I've forgotten more about music than he will ever know.

And what some people don’t realise is that when the Record Store Day people talk about celebrating the “unique culture” of record shops, this is what they actually mean


  1. In my local shop in Stuttgart yesterday and it was 10 times busier than normal which is good however after looking through the rsd stuff was more delighted to leave with 2 altered images albums and a depeche mode coloured vinyl 12 inch all for less than one rsd release.

  2. And you will play them, not stick them on the wall!