“When I was very small, two of my greatest obsessions were the piano and the stereo. I’d pound away, and then when I was tired of that, I’d go over to the volume knob on the stereo and turn it ALL THE WAY UP. Then I’d stand and scream until someone came and turned it down. Sound has always affected me in a very physical way. Many sounds have distinct physical textures.”
“The record I remember most from those years is the Charlie Brown Christmas album. It got so much play (and probably so much handling by my grimy little fingers) that we eventually had to throw it out.
In university, one of my best friends bought a turntable at a garage sale. She was also given a complimentary Al Jarreau record. At first, we liked it mostly because we thought the front cover picture was adorable (a smirking Al in a red t-shirt—swoon!) Later, we realized that it worked musically at all three speeds—and it was the only record we listened to for several months, changing up the speed depending on our mood.
“Vinyl brings me back to my ’80s childhood. It’s visceral—from the dusty smell of an old record jacket, to how it feels to set it on the turntable, and of course the sound! The needle, the static…the fullness of the music. The “oh sh!t, change the record!” moment of panic before the needle drops off.”
“I grew up on Beatles records from my Mom and Iron Butterfly from my Dad. I inherited a diverse collection of records from them. Motown, rock, folk. My favorites are Jefferson Airplane, George Harrison, Simon & Garfunkel, The Supremes, The Beach Boys, and the Hair soundtrack. Every Christmas we listened to Mitch Miller and the Gang’s sing along record.
As a teenager in Calumet City, IL we had Hegewisch Records—the “cool” place for music and music culture. My friends and I would go there on the record release days of our favorite bands. At the time, cassette tapes and CDs were more prevalent than vinyl… but the artwork never held up. When I think of iconic album covers, I think specifically of the vinyl versions such as the Breakfast in America cover by Supertramp and the Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. The visuals are so instant and clear in my mind.
“The early vinyl albums I remember that were crucial to me were Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles! Live! It’s a live performance at the Sunshine Festival in Hawaii in 1972. The tracks on the A side just seemed to blend into each other as one big massive percussive jam session.”
“I remember it had these incredible organ sounds, with Santana’s guitar piercing through now and again. Also the constant noise, whistles from the audience interrupted now and again by Buddy Miles vocals, and screams created a real sense of excitement. The B side was a 25 minute track with a great title called “Free Form Funkafide Filth.” The central layout was a photograph of the huge audience at the festival with crudely cutout photographs pasted on top of the various sections of both bands. It gave the impression of a massive monster band. I was also impressed by the sheer figure of Buddy Miles and his wonderful hairstyle.
There’s a Riot Goin’ On by Sly and the Family Stone was an important album for me, mainly because of two tracks “Familly Affair” and “Spaced Cowboy.” The sound was so fresh and new to me. The original front cover was pretty radical I realise now. It was a red, white, and black American flag with suns in place of the stars.
“My father was a music lover of various tastes and was the kind of dad who would sing his favorite songs and do awkward dances in the kitchen, especially when my friends were over.”
“He would play the music from his record player and as a 10-year-old I did not like that machine, since it caused the awkward dancing! BUT, once I heard Simon & Garfunkel playing, it changed me. I would play their record over and over and I’d take it to my room and listen to my favorite songs “Cecilia” and “Sound of Silence.”
When we release our debut album in early 2017, we will be pressing up a limited amount on vinyl, in addition to releasing it online and on CD. We would love nothing more than to have music lovers discover our songs through the vinyl community, the same way I found my favorite artists as a young music lover.”
—Maria Jane Smith
“When I was a kid, growing up in Chicago, I discovered the vinyl music library at the Old Town School of Folk Music.”
“This was my first real introduction to vinyl. I would go down on the weekends, sit in their 1980s library chairs, check out record after record, and listen for hours. Nothing compares to the feeling of hearing new styles of music for the first time. I was listening to delta blues, folk, and R&B—and on vinyl, the medium it was intended for.
I can recall vividly the tactile feeling of removing the precious object from its case, placing it on the turntable, dropping the needle onto its surface, then watching it spin as the sound saturated my ears with its thick and vibrant melodies. Something about this experience is extremely personal and—at times—religious.
“Where to start with vinyl? I think I should start with my love of music.”
“I’ve always loved music since I can remember. Growing up, I can recall filling my brick of an iPod up with complete discographies of bands I love, immersing myself completely, going so far as to sneak one headphone in my ear during class (what a rebel). I remember going into Borders (they’ve gone out of business and are now Barnes & Noble) and picking up imported British magazines like NME and Mojo.
I got into many British indie bands in high school this way, some bands no one in my school had ever heard of like The Libertines, The Cribs, The Rakes, Kaiser Chiefs (at the time they were just starting out), The Long Blondes, Clor, Tom Vek, Black Wire, Art Brut, etc. Not only was I infatuated with this music, but I also enjoyed having a specific taste that was different from my peers, something I could have for myself, I guess. (I was pretty taken aback when I graduated and moved to New York City—there were more people there who shared my taste in music).
I can’t remember which Christmas it was, but it must have been around the time I was getting into all these British indie bands. I wandered onto this website called eil.com where I discovered a rich profusion of vinyl from bands that I was into! To my dad’s surprise, my Christmas list that year consisted of only vinyl with a number to call eil, since he didn’t know how to use the internet. I had also asked my mom for a record player—divorced parents means two Christmases and coinciding presents. I would eventually acquire a mixer and save up enough money for another record player so I could teach myself how to DJ in my room.
“When I was born my mom and I lived with my aunt and my cousin. We didn’t have much, so our record player got a ton of play.”
“Some of my earliest memories are of the albums we listened to. I remember my cousin playing Neil Young for me, and us rocking out at the ripe ages of 1 and 3. I remember singing along to REO Speedwagon’s “Take It On The Run” over and over, running around the house. We sang along to the soundtrack of the animated film Pete’s Dragon and Peter Paul and Mary’s Peter Paul and Mommy. These memories are certainly some of my oldest and happiest. This is a huge part of my love for the record. And though I listened to them in my teens and 20s, it wasn’t till recently that I really fell in love with them again.
I bought a portable player about ten years ago and started collecting vinyl. My mother-in-law gave us a bunch of their old records, including some that my wife used to sing along to as a wee one. When we were home with our baby boy shortly after his birth, we started to play them for him. I remember one day in particular when he was a little under the weather and upset. I took him over to the record player and put on Ravel’s Bolero. After initially being a little scared, he stared at the player for the whole piece and at the end reached for the record and asked for more.
“For me, vinyl is memories of growing up and discovering music.”
“My mum had a pretty big eclectic record collection that she’d picked up over the years. But at the time I was just getting into music and we didn’t have a record player, so the records just sat there under the TV for years. And I’d look at them, flip through them. I couldn’t imagine what any of the music on them sounded like, but I loved the sleeves. They had a real personality. Compared to the shiny plastic jewel box CDs I saw in the shops, vinyl seemed much more like works of art.
I loved looking at the graphics the bands had chosen and trying to imagine what their sound was like. My favourites were the Moody Blues albums with the smoky, creepy artwork, and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. I badgered my mum to get a record player so I could listen to them all. Turns out I wasn’t so fussed with some of them then! But I really fell for others. She had these big Wharfedale speakers and I can still remember the first time I heard Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” through them… Those days really set me off on a path to finding more music, and then to start making my own.”
“I always loved going to Amoeba or Rasputin Records growing up in the Bay Area or going to little mom and pop shops and going through the used vinyl and 7″ sections looking for music I liked or cool covers—I love vinyl art!”
“I would decorate my walls in my teens with them and still have everything from Jefferson Airplane, Tom Petty, and Joan Jett, to rare Nirvana, Beach Boys, and Hall & Oates record covers. To me, vinyl record art is as meaningful and valuable as the music itself, or just general paintings or art.
That’s probably what inspired my new Vanessa Silberman EP—the physical CDs look and feel like a vinyl record, have a rice paper sleeve and an insert like an actual vinyl record. I also custom drew the art for each CD per a fan’s requests. It gives me an opportunity to connect with them and ask them what their favorite things are.
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.