In Praise of Vinyl

I’ll be the first to admit, before I started at community radio, I did not truly appreciate the record. But I have come to love vinyl over the last three years. Now, because I host a talk show, it is lamentable that I don’t get to play a lot of 33s or 45s. Nevertheless, i always find myself gazing at the artwork if nothing else. Far better than anything you will find on compressed mp3s. Today was Record Store Day, and in Vancouver, as well as countless other music hubs, that is a big deal.

Unlike award shows such as the Junos or Grammys, which reward the musician and the music industry, Record Store Day honours music in its purest form: the raw sound of vinyl. Talking with several musicians and record store owners store, we asked what makes Record store Day special. The general consensus was that it brought attention to bands that might not otherwise get noticed and it gives a sense of community. In addition, the record store itself is something sacred. Unlike mega-outlets like HMV, that didn’t know how to adapt to changing industry, record stores always have back catalogues, decent prices, and the employees and owners always have an amazing knowledge of obscure, underground artists.

I also find that the music-lovers who shop at record stores tend to be more knowledgeable and have a greater overall appreciation than just your average teenager looking to get their hands on the latest Bieber, Gaga or Carly Rae. The music industry is ever-changing, and the big-box CD stores, much like the traditional video store (Blockbuster anyone) is slowly dying off. iTunes has contributed to that. But we can’t fault them. They helped the industry if anything. The record store will never die, People want to have the physical record in their hands rather than just a digital download of mp3s. (Did I mention how shitty mp3s sound compared to vinyl). Also, older albums and artists are readily available and reasonably priced. (I came across a Billy Bragg punk album, which I am going back and spend the seven dollars it costs and buy it).

Here in Vancouver, the celebration is always a rockin good time. Bands galore. This year, the big draw was Nardwuar and the Evaporators. There was barely any breathing room inside Neptoon Records. So many great bands took the “stage” today. Even musicians who weren’t playing stopped by for a chat (such as Colleen Rennison of No Sinner). So on this day, buy a record, celebrate the record store, and just love and appreciate pure music.


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