12 months ago my brother gave me a record player and it changed how I listen to music at home. It was a shot in the arm, really. The encouragement to start picking up lost and forgotten albums as well as the ‘classics’ that I’d maybe ignored (like, say, Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard). The concept of listening to records wasn’t new to me, but I’d made a decision years ago to avoid them as it could only lead to obsession for a guy like me. Believe me, becoming a collector was the last thing I needed! However, my interest in records returned in late 2012 following an evening of music at my brother’s house, and, after a few months of consideration, I decided I was gonna get my own.
As it happened, my brother’s better half had got him a new record player, so he offered me his old Gemini. All it needed was a stylus and a pre-amp, which my wife bought me for my Birthday. So there I was finding a place for my record player and my new record, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots – a gift from my brother to kick off my collection. Over the last 12 months that collection has grown to just shy of 100. It is sorta outlandish when I think about it; how on Earth did I obtain that many records in 12 months! That said, aside from the odd splurge, I haven’t actually spent a great deal. I dare say there’s a couple of less than impressive albums in there, but I honestly dig the majority of them. I know them all pretty well, but some more than others.
Friends have also given me albums that they think I’ll dig. Introducing me to music I would probably never have looked at, never mind considered buying (Lone Justice or The Inkspots). Like I say, I’ve taken the time to listen to albums that people have recommended over the years and even picked a few up because they weren’t really that much of a gamble (50p for Billy Joel’s An Innocent Man!). In all honestly, most of the records I’ve managed to pick up cheap and there’s probably about a dozen folks had passed onto me. So, as well as discovering artists and albums for the first time on vinyl (Hugh E. Porter & His Gospel Singers, anyone?), I’ve been somewhat taken aback by a dozen or so albums that I thought I knew really well. The most recent of those being Led Zeppelin’s IV, Pearl Jam’s Vs. and Neil Young’s Harvest. In fact, those three being the focus of a recent discussion, or dissection, with a good friend of mine who also heard these albums differently.
I’ve also been pretty enthusiastic about buying music in a store for the first time in a while. ‘Crate digging’. You can’t do that online. No, sir. I’ve identified my favourite record store; which just so happens that it’s a place that I used to visit when I was a teenager. Back then I was buying CDs. We all were. My friends and I reaching past the records to the racks. Now I’m looking through the records. He knows what I’m looking for, too. My routine of searching the middle lot first in pursuit of ZZ Top, Rolling Stones or Spirit. We chat about what I’ve picked out, what he’s got in … and that’s pretty swell … something I’d missed over years as independent record stores began to close. While it’s purely a second hand store, I can’t say I mind – I’ll buy my new records online and visit the Record Fayre to see what’s there.
So yeah, that’s the last 12 months. While I’m no expert and there’ll be many better qualified to provide a ‘technical analysis’, for me it’s all about the music … and that’s where I’m hooked. No matter what it is, it’s warm and I can get lost in all the grooves.