In rotation: 6/29/21

Oxford, UK | Hunting old vinyl records in Oxford – the best spots: Ramblers have been enjoying walks throughout the lockdowns so I decided to join them and get some exercise while pursuing my favourite hobby – hunting old vinyl. There has been a resurgence in sales of vinyl records in recent years so on Saturday I decided to see what I could find, while taking in some of the sights of Oxford city centre at the same time. My first stop was Gloucester Green market off George Street where second-hand record dealers can sometimes be found. The market – now running four days a week from Wednesday to Friday – is a hidden gem, combining street food stalls with second-hand clothes, antiques, bric-a-brac and old records. My luck was in as London-based Mick Melbourne was at his stall selling albums and 45s. Mick told me footfall in the market has been picking up in recent weeks after lockdown restrictions continued to ease. I picked out three singles for a fiver by Lindisfarne, Nick Lowe and the Icicle Works before walking the short distance to Riverman Records in Walton Street.

Grand Rapids, MI | Records make comeback as people buy at Grand Rapids record show: Dealers and collectors from all over the Midwest took a trip back in time on Saturday. “You know, it’s just a good time for people to talk about music and get some new music to put on their turntable,” said Jeremy Bonfiglio of South Bend, Indiana. American Legion Post 179 hosted the Grand Rapids Record & CD Show. There were all different sizes from 45s and 33s to 78s. The music covered all genres as records are now making a resurgence. Especially among the younger crowd. “They kinda grew up not having any real physical media it was always streaming,” Bonfiglio said. “They didn’t have anything they could hold in their hands. So, I think part of the resurgence is it’s tactile. It’s something they can hold in their hands, the mechanics of putting it on the turntable, dropping the needle.” Bonfiglio says collecting is becoming more and more popular.

AL | Remember When: The days of Don’s Record Shop: In the 1930s and 1940s, my mother and her friends bought many a 78 record from the O. C. Wood Amusement Company at their storefront on South Cotton Street. In addition to their records, Mr. Wood also sold juke boxes and popcorn machines to restaurants and bars. After he retired or “slowed down,” his daughter Mildred who married Donald Cook (in the electrical business) operated The Record Shop who had moved to East Three Notch on the Prestwood block. Adjacent to Finley Jewelry, The Taylor Shop, Benson and Co., and Star Cleaners, it was a narrow building but also deep. Some say that the space may have been at one time an alleyway. In 1962 Don Parsons bought the business and changed the name slightly to Don’s Record Shop. In addition to the 45 rpm records and 33 rpm albums, he also offered for sale guitars, strings, and picks. Mono records were sold for $3.98 and stereo ones for $4.98.

Austin, TX | New Roky Erickson Tribute Books A Waterloo Records Release Party: Black Angels, Eve Monsees, Charlie Sexton, and more sign vinyl July 18. In 1990, Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye reintroduced the world to Texan psych pioneer Roky Erickson with an extensive tribute album including contributions from the Butthole Surfers, R.E.M., the Jesus & Mary Chain, Doug Sahm, and ZZ Top. Three decades later, it remains an essential document of the rock & roll pioneer’s vast influence. Produced by longtime Erickson fan, booster, and friend Bill Bentley, then a senior publicist at Warner Bros. Records, the collection of covers manifested with the intention of raising money for its struggling subject by exposing his music to a wider audience. In fact, it proved a turn-around event evidenced by the ensuing late-career triumphs of Erickson, who died May 31, 2019. Now, Bentley’s captained a second Erickson tribute, an all-new songbook brimming with modern interpretations of the 13th Floor Elevators frontman.

Lorde adds another death blow to the compact disc: When the SKUs appeared for Lorde’s Solar Power album, her first record in four years, something was missing. There was a number for a digital download, another for something called a “Music Box” (more on that in a minute), and a vinyl version. There was no mention of a compact disc edition of the album. And for good reason: There won’t be one. Lorde (well, her label, if we’re honest) is positioning the absence of a CD for Solar Power as an eco-friendly move, a way to distribute music in a more plastic-free way. While fans pining something physical to purchase can always buy the high-margin vinyl, they’ll also be offered the Music Box edition, a cardboard box containing handwritten notes, exclusive photos, extra visual content (whatever that means), and a download code for a high-quality digital (lossless? almost certainly) version of the record.

How I inadvertently became a vinyl nerd: …It’s hypnotic to set a record on the platter, watch it spin and witness the needle transforming its grooves into sound. Playing a record also reminded me of my childhood, when I would spend hours in my bedroom listening to cassette tapes and CDs, and reading the liner notes. I got lost in the music in a way that random playlists on Spotify can’t quite replicate. I looked around for higher-quality turntables, but the only ones I could find at the time were far outside my price range. I was also reluctant to spend more money on extra equipment like amplifiers, preamps and speakers. Plus I wasn’t entirely convinced that my non-audiophile ears would be able to tell the difference between vinyl and digital. It didn’t seem worth it. But as time went by, I secretly longed for one. I know it sounds shallow, but to me turntables just look cool. Additionally, vinyl has undergone a resurgence and it’s not uncommon these days for artists to release special edition LPs with album artwork and bonus tracks that aren’t available elsewhere. Call me pretentious, but the idea of owning something tangible, something beautiful, that also supports an artist I love, really appeals to me.

Explore James Baldwin’s record collection in this new mix: With music by Aretha Franklin, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Frank Sinatra, and Nina Simone, as well as interview clips with Baldwin in Paris. Writer and activist James Baldwin’s record collection is explored in a new two-hour NTS mix. The set includes music taken from Baldwin’s personal record collection, featuring tracks by artists including Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, The Supremes, Curtis Mayfield, Ray Charles, Bessie Smith, and more. The mix also weaves through extracts from Terence Dixon’s 1970 documentary Meeting the Man: James Baldwin in Paris. It was originally created to coincide with Juneteenth, the day slavery officially ended in America. Listen to Mubi Presents: Juneteenth W/ James Baldwin’s Record Collection in full above, and check out the tracklist in full on NTS’ website.

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