A couple of weeks ago I got my turntable and old amp out and starting playing some records (yes real vinyl). Some stuff I hadn’t listened to for years – Fragile by Yes, Indian Summer – Al Stewart Live, and an old Australian compilation Trax to name just a few. It was like opening a time capsule.
I have hundreds of records spanning from my first purchase of Abbey Road to my last made just a couple of weeks ago Accoustic by Joni Mitchell. It used to be a ritual starting in the late sixties going into the local record store and seeing what was new, listening to a track or two in store and making a purchase (sometimes more than one).
As a near teenager my visits were confined to a store at Jetty Road where the local owner would greet me knowing that I’d be buying something most weeks. In those days it was generally 45s – Barry Ryan’s Eloise, Tommy Roe’s Dizzy and Where do you go to my Lovely, the truly haunting hit of Peter Sarstedt.
As I went through High School my record store became a teacher at my school who was a DJ on weekends. He introduced me and my fellow students to so much new and not so new music. Our record store was the gymnasium office. It was there that I first heard Macarthur Park, Richard Harris’s 1968 hit that through my school friends and others made a brief comeback on the local charts. More importantly it was through my local Record Store (at School) that I discovered my favourite record of all time Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen.
During my later High School years, along with a school friend, I briefly dabbled with my own record store as I got into importing records. It went really well using the local school network until we made an order so large that the local post office told us we would need to pay customs duty on the purchases!
Through my university years I frequented stores in Adelaide at every opportunity. The now closed Muses was my favourite right up until it closed only a couple of years ago. My visits were like a religious experience. There was also Verandah Music where it was possible to buy imports and bootleg concert albums (for a short time!). It became an obsession, so much so that my girlfriend of the time bet me I couldn’t go two months without buying a record. I managed to last out and celebrated winning the bet by buying Jessi Coulter’s Diamond in the Rough.
Once I started full-time work I was able to visit a record store with real purchasing power. It was heaven. New records on almost every lunchtime. Overtime my record store visits changed from buying vinyl to CDs. Nowhere near as much fun but I have hundreds and hundreds of CDs so my obsession with visiting the local Record (CD) Store continued a pace.
I remember my first trip to the USA and spending a couple of hours in a Record (CD) store in San Fransisco and then in Oxford Street in London, but perhaps the most fun was declining an offer of an afternoon tour of Singapore to spend three hours at the HMV Store!
As time has passed its become sad to see the Record and CD shops close or the space they once occupied be filled with videos and computer games. I guess it is not surprising as even though I love going and shopping in store I’ve also succumbed to streaming music – Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music.
That said as much as CDs and streaming are convenient, there is no substitute for a visit to a Record Store and thumbing through the rows of records. Perhaps a discovery or an unusual or controversial cover (Roxy Music’s Country Life) – these were all highlights of a time past.
So on Record Store Day 2016 there is nothing more to be said than – “I’m off to the Record Store”!
Note: Picture source Record Store Day