Since Record Store Day was established over a decade ago, the vinyl resurgence amongst music fans has shown no sign of waning. With vinyl now being the fastest growing physical way of listening to music, it’s unsurprising to hear that this year’s RSD features over 500 releases. I headed to Diverse Vinyl in Newport to experience RSD for myself, and to find out which records fans were hoping to pick up this year.
With such a huge number of releases across an eclectic range of artists, there really is something for everyone, from the mainstream to the obscure. This year’s most prominent records include Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ on picture disc and Peter Gabriel’s Rated PG, as well as eight helpings of The Fall on offer just over a year since frontman Mark E Smith’s passing.
Featuring The Mighty Boosh as this year’s ambassadors (complete with an offering of their radio series on a 3 disc set), RSD has gone all-out for film and TV with official soundtracks from indie classics like Lost in Translation, The Crow and Breaking Bad, and major blockbusters with no less than three Transformers films.
Obscure releases this year include Dali in Venice, featuring an interview with the Spanish surrealist recorded in 1961, music from the motion picture South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut, and the insufferable earworm that is Pinkfong’s ‘Baby Shark’ (I admit I was intrigued to find out if Diverse would shift any copies of the latter). I arrived outside the store at 8.00am to find an already impressive queue trailing up Newport’s Charles Street, and found a buzz of anticipation and lively conversation among the eager punters, most of whom were happy to chat and tell me which records they were hoping to get their hands on:
Hoping to buy: Queen ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, Blossoms Cool Like You and any of the three Rolling Stones releases.
Hoping to buy: Mighty Boosh The Complete Radio Series, and any of the three David Bowie releases.
Hoping to buy: Idles MEAT EP/META EP, The Wedding Present ‘Davni Chasy’.
L-R: Mike, Steve, Steve, Darren
Hoping to buy: Mike- Otis Redding Just Do It One More Time! And Bingo Hand Job Live At The Borderline 1991. Steve – Olafur Arnalds Re:member & String Quartets. Steve – Idles MEAT EP/META EP, Prefab Sprout Steve McQueen (acoustic). Darren – Bingo Hand Job Live At The Borderline 1991, and Soccer Mommy For Young Hearts.
Although some of the more serious collectors at the front were not too keen to talk to me, I was able to ascertain that customer number one in the queue had in fact been queuing since 4:20am, and given the unexpectedly chilly start to the day I can almost understand the frosty reception I was given from those who were eventually first through the door at 9.00am.
Opening time came, and a crackle of excitement rippled up the hill as the door finally opened and the first of the hardy souls were admitted. Inside, customers crowded around the highly anticipated releases in an orderly manner, but the vibe was very much ‘grab and go’, as Diverse’s (and Goldie Lookin’ Chain member) Graham held back the tide with a strict one-in-one-out operation on the door.
I caught up with Diverse Vinyl’s owner, Matt, for a quick Q & A at the end of a very busy morning:
How long does it take you to prepare for RSD?
Realistically, the whole process of RSD takes about two months. When the list of releases is announced we can start to gauge interest from customers. This is really useful. We can’t take firm orders or keep stuff for people so this is the nearest we can get. I’ve got a lovely colour coded spreadsheet with names by stuff. If 10 people want something, you know you can safely order 15. It’s difficult as we’re mostly ordering for people that don’t come to the shop week in week out. The distributors all have different dates when they need figures back, but I try to get them all done at once, probably early March. The stock used to show up a few days before the event which was a nightmare if anything was missing or damaged. That’s changed now, we had the vast majority of stock at least a week in advance. So yeah, two months overall, but in fits and starts.
What’s been one of the most sought after releases this year amongst customers?
The usual ones really, Bowie, Dylan, Van Morrison plus Idles and the Doctor Who releases.
What’s unexpectedly been popular?
The Lost In Translation soundtrack was a weird one. We only ordered one; I could’ve sold about 10! Totally took me by surprise.
What is the most bizarre release you’ve stocked this year?
There are a few odd ones, mostly picture discs which we try to stay away from at any other time of the year! It’s got to be the Baby Shark one though, hasn’t it?
Outside of RSD, is vinyl a trend that’s still rising amongst music fans? Do you think that this will continue?
Vinyl sales overall seem to still be increasing but it’s still a tiny proportion of all music sales. I think people buy records for different reasons. We have a lot of customers with wildly expensive hi-fi equipment who buy it for the sound quality, we have people who like the artwork and I guess some people buy it because it’s cool right now. We’ve just got to hope that the current younger audience keeps buying the format!
Critics of Record Store Day have claimed that it creates a short-lived clamour based on gimmicks and novelties. However, I left Diverse Vinyl feeling overwhelmingly positive. I experienced genuine excitement and affection for the most physical of music formats, which can only be a good thing. Imagining the satisfaction of the contributing artists knowing that fans across the country are queuing along the street on a cold morning to get their actual hands on their artwork reassured me that music is still more than the weightless world of streaming services and video platforms. As for gimmicks and novelties, nobody would admit to having snapped up a copy of Baby Shark; interesting, as according to Matt, “I think we sold two of them!”