Friday 4 January 2013

Reasons to Be Cheerful. 6.

Retroprogressives will rejoice at the news that, for the sixth year running, sales of supposedly obsolescent vinyl records have risen (though shellac, alas, remains static). At the same time, the market in 'physical CDs' continues to decline sharply, along with sales of video games (whatever they are), and generalist record shops seem doomed to total extinction, with only a few specialist outlets thriving - often riding the resurgent vinyl wave.
It's easy to succumb to false nostalgia when looking back at those golden days when every town had at least one record shop, its racks groaning with desirable vinyl. The fact is that, outside the big cities and university towns, most record shops were dreadful, your chances of finding anything that wasn't in the 'charts' was slim, the Classical section was little more than an afterthought, and you'd almost certainly have to put in an order and wait weeks to get anything worth having. I remember being obliged to put in a special order for Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, for heaven's sake! Most of the coolest music was only available on import, and could only be found in those rare gems of record shops that we now recall  precisely because they were so rare and so good to find.
Mainstream record shops deserved to fail, and the only surprise about it was that it took so long. We now have the internet, enabling us to buy at the touch of a button the kind of things we'd once have had to spend years tracking down and would probably never find. And the range available is simply staggering. Who needs record shops - except of course for the tactile joy of handling vinyl?


  1. You've just inspired me to buy a record player. They seem very reasonable. My record collection (remember them?) has been shut up in the attic for, oh, at least since the late-20th century. But no more...

  2. I would go further Nige. Why press the 'buy' button when there is an almost-free juke-box available at, to use your phrase, 'the touch of a button'? I have a workable knowledge of both the classical and popular musical repertoire. I write about it every couple of weeks, as you know, on the super, soaraway Dabbler. Before posting for today, I needed to check the timings for a piece by Einojuhani Rautavaara 'Cantus Arcticus' for which I did not have a CD. Two clicks on Spotify got me to the piece - but also gave me instant access to a mass of other Rautavaara works, some unknown to me. I agree that mainstream behemoths deserve to fail, but the likes of Spotify, Napster and dozens of other on-demand streams, surely sound the death-knell for 'stuff you can hold in your hand'? Why 'own' anything?

  3. You've made me very cheerful - I found your image of a Goldcrest - please may I have permission to use it in a little photo montage I'm creating - will of course give credit. Now must go back to your archive and read the stone genitals entry!

  4. Ah the stone genitals... Yes feel free to use the goldcrest, Jennifer - I can't remember where I found it in the first place...
    Good point about Spotify etc, Mahlerman!

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