So Saturday was Record Store Day. I bought my first single back in 1986 (The Housemartins’ ‘Caravan Of Love’ in case you’re interested), I dreamt for years of working in a record store (and did indeed work in several, a decade or so ago), and have collected vinyl for many years. Browsing through new or second-hand vinyl is one of my favourite pastimes. I even ran a label for a few years.
So was I up at the crack of dawn on the weekend to queue for ages to spend huge wads of cash on limited releases for myself and/or to flog on ebay? No. I wasn’t. I didn’t even go in a record shop today. Not even for live bands.
Don’t get me wrong – I love the fact that vinyl’s been experiencing a resurgence, not that I ever stopped buying it. I think record shops should be supported, the format sustained. But the excess of records produced for this one day, that in many cases I suspect people wouldn’t want to buy 364 days of the year, available overpriced, and then punted for ridiculous sums online within hours…forget it.
There are, of course, Record Store Day specials I have bought in the past. Last year I bought Woman’s Hour’s fantastic cover of Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’ on 12″ and it was great. I still play the thing a whole year later! But as been posted elsewhere, the aim of supporting the remaining record shops seems to have become an opportunity for the public to be fleeced.
I don’t have a problem with records being re-issued on vinyl. If it’s the format you like, and the original is more money than you have, then why not? The other day I looked online to see how much an original copy of Pink Floyd’s 1967 debut Piper At The Gates Of Dawn would be. Answer: over £100. I’m a public sector worker with a kid to bring up. That isn’t going to happen. But a repressing would suit just fine.
It can also be an opportunity for records to be pressed on vinyl that weren’t originally available on the format. Last year’s releases included Biffy Clyro’s Puzzle and the White Stripes’ Get Behind Me Satan. I already had all the other White Stripes albums on vinyl – but with a cost of £30 +…again, forget it. Why were these records not made available anyway?
And here’s the thing. There’s not a lot of pressing plants left, so why just press up stuff for one day? I buy vinyl throughout the year. An increasing number of people do. But if bands want to support record shops then there’s no point doing it for just one day. They need to be doing stuff throughout the year. And maybe encouraging people to buy direct from shops rather than from their own websites or massive online retailers.
Above all, I looked at the list this year and there was nothing I really wanted. Yes, I rather like the Primal Scream cover of S Express’ ‘Mantra For A State Of Mind’ below. I get only pressing a limited number – it’s not economic sense to press a huge amount that won’t sell. But for just one day a year? How into your vinyl are you really(a BBC report said only half the people who buy records actually play them these days)? And how much do you really care about supporting shops?