In rotation: 12/9/19

UK | HMV faces the music in Christmas crunch test: Since Doug Putman rescued UK music retailer HMV in February, he has thrown himself wholeheartedly into running a transatlantic retail empire. The Canadian businessman has found himself jetting back and forth between his Ontario-based Sunrise Records chain and his newer acquisition. On average, he spends one week a month in the UK. “I must do about 500,000 air miles a year,” he says. Now he faces his latest challenge, the all-important Christmas period. “That’s crunch time,” he says. “All the hard work you do for 10 months of the year, that period is when you see it come to fruition and you see how good a job you did.” A lot is riding on the chain’s performance over the festive season. HMV has twice fallen into administration, in 2013 and 2018, and Mr Putman acknowledges that many people didn’t expect his relaunch to last six months.

Washington, DC | Dropping the Needle: The Resurgence of Vinyl. An Odyssey Through DC Record Shops. …The way a record is made is one of those ordinary miracles that one is simply accustomed to. Mixed sound is played into a record cutting lathe where the sound waves move a needle head, cutting grooves into a thin lacquer disc. The depth of the grooves represents the shape of the sound-wave. Then the lacquer copy is used to make a stamper, a perfect negative image of the record made of metal with ridges instead of grooves. The stamper is loaded into a hydraulic press, pushed into soft vinyl, and that becomes the record. From there the record’s needle rests on the ridges and the needle’s movement shakes a magnet inside a coil of wire which induces a fluctuating electric current. The current travels to a speaker, which converts electrical signals into kinetic movement, in turn creating the music.

Saskatoon, CA | The Vinyl Diner changes hands, but keeps its spirit: “There just has to always be a record store on Broadway,” McKay said with a laugh. “How could there not be?” Past the poster-plastered stairwell there’s a record spinning in the corner; people sifting through row upon row of wax; a couple chatting with the owner. But the Vinyl Diner has always felt like a sanctuary for audiophiles, a place where the only noise is the stuff you want to hear. Stewart “Stu” Cousins has run this shop for 24 years, after his wife convinced him to quit a Toronto advertising gig to open a record shop in Saskatoon close to her family. “We came here in winter because my wife didn’t want to pull the wool over my eyes,” Cousins said with a laugh. “It was freezing. December, -15. I got the real Saskatoon.” Since 1996, Cousins has built the Vinyl Diner into a Saskatoon institution — and now, he’s ready to pass the torch to good hands.

Des Moines, IA | The Return of Vinyl: …Steve “Ratt” Ratcliff, owner of “Ratt’s Underground Rock Shop,” located in Merle Hay Mall, has owned his store for 10 years. Ratcliff is not only here for the comeback, but he lived through the era of punk rock, which he claims has the fans who kept vinyl alive all these years. He’s been listening to records since he was a young boy, so he never knew a life without them. Ratcliff’s store consists of vintage goods, with the exception of a few newer patches and local band CDs. He has vintage clothing, CDs, cassettes, 8-tracks, posters, autographs, buttons, and most importantly a huge selection of vintage vinyl records. Not having newly-pressed records is important to Ratcliff because original pressings “have the best sound, an authentic sound. New vinyl doesn’t have that original sound.” Because remastered versions of old records and modern records are pressed using digital audio, the sound isn’t quite the same as the original pressings.

Bideford, UK | End of an era as Sounds Interesting closes after 21 years: Brian and Susie Ottway, who run Sounds Interesting, started their music business in 1998. It’s the end of an era for a couple who have managed a popular Bideford shop for more than two decades. Brian and Susie Ottway, who run Sounds Interesting, started their music business in 1998 initially trading at festivals and markets in Wiltshire and Somerset. The business rapidly grew, and the first town centre premises for Sounds Interesting opened in Trowbridge in 2000. The growth continued resulting in two further changes of premises in Trowbridge to larger units culminating in a shopping centre location and five employees. Brian said: “It was at this point that we felt that the business had lost a lot of its original appeal to us, primarily the one on one relationships that they we built with fellow music lovers over the years was just not the same in a larger operation. “As we had become ‘empty nesters’ we decided to relocate to Devon and downsize to return the business to a more personal level.”

South Wales, UK | Celebrating Small Business: Newport’s side streets are a bustling hive of independent business: Newport boasts many independent stores nestled away in side streets throughout the city. Charles Street, just off Commercial Street in the city centre, has drawn music fans for years. Diverse Vinyl is sister company of Diverse Music, one of the last remaining independent music stores in South Wales. Its LP mail order department was set up in around April of 1995. This was before the record renaissance, when most new releases were CD-only. They weathered the storm and, with vinyl enjoying a comeback, the store looks stronger than ever. As the tide turned, it became apparent that Diverse was one of the only places in South Wales to buy new releases. Many places had stopped stocking vinyl due to the fall in demand. With events such as Record Store Day growing in popularity, stores like Diverse lead the way in making sure music aficionados have a place they can trust to stock the latest releases.

Headingley, UK | Thieves steal Premier League referee’s framed FA Cup Final shirt from his Leeds record store: Thieves have stolen a prized FA Cup Final shirt worn by Premier League referee Jonathan Moss from the vinyl store he owns in Headingley. They struck when Mr Moss’s wife Julie had her back turned to change a record in the store on Otley Road. Mr Moss, a big fan of indie music, opened The Vinyl Whistle in summer of this year. Originally from Sunderland, the 49-year-old lives in Horsforth and went to university in Leeds. Mr Moss said it had been a busy afternoon in the shop. Another staff member left shortly after 4.30pm and his wife was left alone in the store. A man and a woman in their late forties to early fifties lifted the frame off the wall, while the other held the door. It contained the shirt he wore for the 2015 FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Aston Villa, as well as the match programme and a commemorative coin. “My wife is extremely upset,” he said.

St John’s Wood, UK | Abbey Road’s 2019 Xmas Guide to Vinyl: Find the perfect record for the music-lover in your life this Christmas and choose from our incredible selection of vinyl and CDs. The Beatles’ Abbey Road: Top of our list for this year’s pick is the anniversary reissue of The Beatles’ Abbey Road, which celebrated its 50th birthday in August this year. This record has been released on a variety of formats, including deluxe, super deluxe and picture disc vinyl, as well as standard LP and CD formats. Our pick of the bunch is the Limited Edition Super Deluxe Edition on vinyl, which contains three 180-gram LP’s, amongst a ton of demo’s and outtakes all packaged in a faithfully replicated sleeve inside a lift off lid box to house. New Releases: New releases this year also include the soundtrack to the film adaptation of Downton Abbey scored by Scottish composer John Lunn at Abbey Road Studios; Ringo Starr’s brand new album What’s My Name, also available on exclusive blue-coloured vinyl; and INXS’s legendary 1991 headline show at Wembley Stadium, Live Baby Live, presented in full Dolby Atmos, created by Giles Martin and Sam Okell.

This new turntable is shaped like Saturn: With a cartridge that looks like an orbiting moon. Designer Elham Mirzapour has created turntable inspired by Saturn, its rings and its moons, reports Yanko Design. Drawing on her love of astronomy, Mirzapour’s deck features a white spherical speaker in its centre, designed to represent the planet, with an upper hemisphere that can be removed to place a record on its base. It also features an orange, spherical cartridge head shell designed to represent Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. The movement of the stylus mirrors Titan moon’s rotation around the planet, while the rotation of the record is intended to mimic that of Saturn’s rings.

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