The vinyl countdown

Record Store Day 2012 is almost upon us. Just like last year, there’s a lot of publicity about how people love vinyl more than ever – the smell of it, our visceral connection with the object’s shape, packaging, design and even warmth of sound. This can only come from listening to music in its full audiophile format, apparently. To a certain degree I concur, a digital download really can’t offer the same satisfaction of owning a real object that has been manufactured and distributed in its own lovingly crafted sleeve that can be pored over and analysed while your music of choice fills the room.

As a young(er) man I was an avid collector of vinyl records, starting with seven inch singles and gladly welcoming the twelve inch format with its extra capacity for aural and visual creative adventure. I mourn its loss, there have been plenty of records I have bought PURELY for the design of the sleeve and it was my teen dream to be a record sleeve designer like my heroes, Neville Brody, Peter Saville, Malcolm Garrett and the late, great iconoclastic designer David Band – for whom I’ve made a tribute website. Alas it wasn’t to be, I ended up primarily designing for a more worthy cause but still look back at this era with nostalgic fondness and sincerely welcome the idea of Record Store Day.

Regrettably, the idea and reality of Record Store Day are two very different things for me though. I tried to pick up a few special things last year to support the cause and also get some nice rarities along the way. Just like the old days, I got to the record shop as it was opening, full of enthusiastic verve and a feel good feeling that I was ‘doing my part’. Then I remembered where it all went wrong in the past – the service. When I download a song I don’t have to put up with the bearded bellicose, casting judgement. I enquired about various records and was met with a mumbly, dismissive shake of the head and instantly felt like I was in a scene from ‘High Fidelity’.

I’m not going to bother this year. It’s a great idea but without suppliers that care as much as the consumers it’s just not going to work and the format will remain a niche, maybe that’s the ideal anyway? Popular never really was cool.

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