Josh Carruthers: Alongside the obvious HMV, I used to love going to Bradley’s Records in Halifax, West Yorkshire growing up. I remember when I was 16 I plucked up enough courage and asked the owner if they would consider selling my band at the time’s debut EP. To my amazement they said yes and took a handful of CDs off me—I thought I’d won the lottery!
Freddie Edwards: I personally love Banquet Records in Kingston Upon Thames. They’ve grown over the years into much more than just a record store, constantly finding cool new bands to play intimate in-store gigs. I grew up nearby and can honestly say that they added huge amounts to the local music scene.
Part of the reason I love Banquet is that it’s not too big, you don’t have to walk for miles or ask countless shop assistants to find the genre you’re looking for. The selection of music they have is always really well-chosen and normally supportive of upcoming talent which is great.
JC: I would have to disagree, I love getting lost and losing all sense of time in the huge city centre record stores.
“Vinyl Vinyl Vinyl. The allure of vinyl for me and the reason why my collection of vintage vinyl is growing is trichotomous.”
“The first alluring element is the distinctive warmth and depth in the sound. It’s welcoming and special in today’s world of digital music, which in my opinion has a bit of shallowness when compared with analog. The second alluring aspect of vinyl for me comes from the albums in my collection. The one that started it all is Dionne Warwick’s collaboration with Barry Manilow which includes “Who, What, Where, When, Why” and “Deja Vu.”
This $0.50 find at Zia Records in Tucson, was a starting point for me. I must have looked through hundreds of bins looking for something to relate to and here stood out a cherished childhood memory of my mother playing Dionne on family trips to Mexico. I rushed to the counter and eagerly paid the unbelievable price of $0.50. I took the album home and played it a few times all the while singing every lyric.
“Growing up with parents who played vinyl records throughout the day had a profound effect on me.”
“Some argue that vinyl sounds better and while I’m not sure what’s true or not, I tend to enjoy the sound of vinyl a little more. Maybe it’s a nostalgic quality that reminds me of childhood or maybe it’s just overall ‘warmth’ in tone. I have really no idea.
I will say that one day, I’d really love to record a live country album straight to vinyl. I think it would be a magical feeling being in the studio and watching the whole process of a record being carved.
“We weren’t the cool kids in high school. No prom kings, no quarterbacks, no raging weekend parties. When Charlie Robertson got his license and shortly after his late ’70s Buick Regal with Knight Rider lights, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves in the space between Friday’s last bell and Monday morning’s homeroom. Driving to drive was a better option than cartoons, so we just cruised a.m. New Jersey and went from yard sale to yard sale.”
“This was the time to be doing it. It was 1994 and no one could foresee a resurgence in the popularity of LPs, so we were there buying peoples’ memories on the cheap. I recall one yard sale where I got a bunch of Black Sabbath and Sly and the Family Stone records for a quarter from a guy who could have been me with the addition of 25 years, the weight of time and reality on his shoulders, under his eyes.
I had to ask him why he was parting with his vinyl. Barely audible beneath the screams of his children ricocheting off the walls of his suburban New Jersey home, he said, “Time will change a man.” The frailty of his sentence was the only birth control I ever needed and the dawn of an addiction and loyalty to my vinyl.
“The first memories of vinyl for me were my mothers records – Frank Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me to the Moon,’ and the ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ and Nat King Cole’s ‘Unforgettable,’ ‘Mona Lisa,’ and ‘Nature Boy.’”
“These magic round heavy plastic discs had the ability to transport one’s imagination and emotions to many different places. I would spend a lot of time playing them on that turntable—they seemed to produce imaginary pictures and sound that danced on the air. Her collection soon grew—to include the early Elvis and Stan Freeberg singing “Heartbreak Hotel,” Johnny Ray, Ray Charles, and Frankie Laine—to name a few.
Time passed and I got to the stage of ‘Well, it’s time to buy my own records.” The one, the catalyst that sent me spiraling into wanting a career in music, was the Rolling Stones first album with songs like ‘I’m a King Bee,’ ‘Can I get a Witness,’ ‘Mona,’ etc.
“My first experience with vinyl took place in 1983 on the night Michael Jackson was to release his newest music video ‘Thriller’ around the world. There was a big sleep-over planned within the neighborhood and I remember the living room flooded with kids and parents and friends awaiting the moment. In the meantime they played the Jackson 5 single ‘ABC.'”
“I was attracted to the record player and the small 7 inch piece of vinyl that spun fast around and made the room light up. That little piece of circular plastic made people speak up, made people mingle, and dance and jelled us together while we waited…
The video smashed and changed everyone in the room in an instant. Visions of Jackson as the zombie werewolf twirled in our heads while we slept. But that one Jackson 5 ‘ABC’ record seemed to be where all of this came from. All of this magic came from that tiny session, forever trapped on plastic, for the people.
“I can’t remember life without vinyl. It never happened, from the early days of playing Robin Hood on an HMV multicoloured 45, to digging out Spike Jones and Tennessee Ernie Ford 78s in my parents’ record collection, to having some of the Thunderbirds’ EPs on the Century 21 label.”
“My first foray into owning a record must have been when I was about 4 years old and a trip to the record store next to Burnt Oak station was in order. I remember there was a section of EPs in the shop, probably around 1966—I wanted to get ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport’ by Rolf Harris, a favourite of mine at that time. I had no idea how old the record was and it was deleted by then, so I had to plum for something else. Having seen The Monkees TV show, I chose ‘I’m A Believer’ backed with ‘I’m Not Your Stepping Stone,’ a fantastic twin spin.
There was no going back. Jumble sales were a great source of 45s: I remember finding ‘Rock A Hula Baby’ by Elvis, ‘Pink Shoelaces’ by Dodie Stevens, ‘Ruby Ann’ by Marty Robbins. Around this time I took a string of 45s from the jumble sale down to the record stall in Burnt Oak Market. The bloke was very generous and gave me a small fortune for the 30 or so 45s; there must have been something good in there. I didn’t quite understand at the time that some were rarer and more desirable than others.
“My earliest vinyl memories are of me sitting on the floor with my dad’s open trumpet case, an apple crate full of records, and a turntable in the corner of our family sitting room. I was 7.”
“I must have spent hours there, days, who knows how long, and I’m almost certain I wreaked havoc on my parents record collection. Imagine a seven-year old, discovering records, mishandling them, and trying to set the needle somewhere close to the beginning of a song. I was apparently determined, and eventually figured it out. What were my parents thinking? Were they even nearby? Did they know or care about what I was doing to their record collection?
I was in heaven. Listening to music became my great escape. I remember putting the trumpet mouth piece to my lips and blowing to see if I could match any of the tones I was hearing from the great spinning disk. I was mostly unsuccessful with the mouthpiece, but I stayed on and listened intently to the songs. I still remember some of them to this day. Songs like “Big Bad Bill is Sweet William Now” from the Ry Cooder album Jazz. Songs like, “It’s In His Kiss” by Kate Taylor. I remember albums by greats Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald.
“I think the earliest memory I can recall as far as records go is probably my mom’s copy of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. In my mind it was just always there.”
“When I re-discovered the album as a classic rock obsessed adolescent, I realized that I knew almost every song, even though it had been many years between then and my very early years as a toddler dancing around the living room of our trailer. There were others of course, my folks had boxes of records around, but that one has always stood out.
I’d like to think that it had something to do with the vinyl itself. The way a record breathes when it’s played; the way it connects organically with the human brain in a way that digital media can never do… It literally made an imprint, the same way the analog imprint is made into the wax.
“Having grown up in the Seventies and Eighties, vinyl dominated all my formative discovery years of music.”
“The first record I bought with my own pocket money was at a school car boot sale when I was about 8. It was The Eternal Fire of Jimi Hendrix. I don’t believe I knew exactly who Hendrix was at the time, and while I have vivid memories of purchasing it, I have no memories of ever listening to that record. I perhaps was only trying to impress my brother.
See back then, vinyl was an absolute right of passage. You were judged by what you had and one would strike up endless unnecessary conversations just to include what records you had in your collection. Or even more telling, that you knew someone who had a certain record. “Well my brother has the “Forest” 12” by The Cure…try and top that mate!” Perhaps that first purchase was my way of throwing down the gauntlet and letting him know that I too was going to have some vinyl, even some vinyl by artists he didn’t have….quite yet.
I was very fortunate to have this particular brother. He was six years older and absolutely music potty. He still is. The Beatles, Bowie, Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd, T-Rex, The Small Faces, The Kinks, Ramones, The Cure, The Sex Pistols, The Stranglers, and The Clash (to name just a few) were on constant rotation in my first 12 years. I remember how we would sit on the carpet listen to vinyl poring over the artwork and sleeves.