I was listening to Chris Evans in the car this morning and there was much talk of vinyl records. Apparently this Saturday is Record Store Day (www.recordstoreday.co.uk) which will celebrate all the independent record stores in the UK – I’ve no idea how many of these stores still exist but there are over 200 participating in the inaugural RSD (UK) this weekend which is a bit of a surprise in the age of the iPod. Anyway, the whole topic took me into a total school run reverie as I went down memory lane thinking about my own vinyl history. I can very clearly remember my first ever 7” single at the age of 10 years old – it was ‘To Be or Not to Be’ BA Robertson (Scottish chap – big nose, bigger hair) which I forced my older brother to go and buy for me. He was, to put it mildly, not very keen to be seen buying such an uncool tune but I think I threw a massive strop and he must have relented for the sake of a quiet life.
As I got older and had pocket money burning a hole in my purse I progressed to buying my own records. I grew up in the seaside town of Littlehampton where our local independent store was called Nova Records; there was nothing better than diving in there on a Saturday morning and choosing which chart 7” to take home. Even better if the Lyrics were featured in the latest issue Smash Hits magazine. Albums were more pricey and generally put on the birthday and Christmas wish list – the joy of ripping off the wrapping paper to find your longed for double LP with fantastic photos and artwork and maybe even a special foldy out bit if you were really lucky.
I took my record collection with me when I left home and carted it around with me as I moved from flat to flat and job to job, it was a bit like a comfort blanket – a musical timeline of my life. Then, when we were all the grip of CD fever and vinyl was suddenly passé, I had a de-cluttering fit and chucked the whole lot away. Everything. Grease, Blondie, Echo and the Bunnymen, Duran Duran, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Cult, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, The Smiths, INXS, The Thompson Twins, Elvis Costello…the eclectic list goes on and on. I didn’t even try to sell them or give them away – they just went on the tip. I know that Je should regret rien but Je REALLY regrets doing that.
Now it seems like we are almost coming full circle. The teen’s best friend got a record player for her birthday and they all marvel at the total coolness of buying a vinyl disc and making sound come out by spinning it under a needle. At the moment they are buying records online but I think I might have to take them an actual store so that they can experience the sensation of flipping through the stacks themselves rather than just touching a button to buy. Maybe I’ll start all over again with my own collection, possibly without B.A. Robertson this time. Can you remember the first record you ever bought?