Your Turntable’s Not Dead: Record Store Day 2013
Here’s an article I wrote in April for International Record Store Day, an event I can very easily get behind.
Eight years ago, while I was at the height of my White Stripes fandom, I discovered an early EP of theirs called ‘A Party of Special Things to Do.’ The EP, which due to the rare nature of early White Stripes material was obtained through means I don’t think I’m allowed to advocate, contained three covers of songs by Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band. I enjoyed the EP and proceeded to check out the work of Beefheart and co. If it was good enough for Jack White it was good enough for me.
I picked up a copy of Trout Mask Replica, considered by many critics to be Beefheart’s masterpiece, and listened to it.
It confused the hell out of me.
I decided to give it another go, as it took too much effort to find to just give up after one listen. Lo and behold, I started to get it. It quickly became one of my favourite albums and gave me the confidence to expand my taste in music, allowing me to build the eclectic music library I’m so proud of today.
After seven years of filling iPods to the brim with downloaded music and the occasional CD, I received a vinyl record for my birthday. It was a copy of Trout Mask Replica. I instantly took a shine to it, despite previously having little interest in vinyl or even owning a record player. I spent some time just looking at the record: inspecting each of the 12 inch discs, reading the obtuse, colourful lyrics printed on the inside of the gatefold, staring at the man with the fish head on the cover. I bought myself a cheap turntable, sat down, and listened to the record.
I couldn’t remember the last time I sat down specifically to listen to an album. I listened to albums all the time, sure, but I would be doing so while driving, studying, socialising, or some other activity. But this time, I just sat on the floor and listened.
It felt, not to sound too much like a music snob, more pure. It wasn’t just the quality of the sound, or the quality of the album, but the way I focussed while I was listening. It’s safe to say I became a vinyl fan that day.
This is why I implore everyone to go to their local record store and support Record Store Day on April 20th.
Conceived by independent record store employee Chris Brown in 2007, Record Store Day sees fans, artists and independent music stores come together to celebrate the record and all the joy it brings. The day has quickly become a major part of the music calendar, with over 400 records being released for the occasion last year by bands covering the entire gamut of the music spectrum, from ABBA to The Flaming Lips, from Katy Perry to Metallica.
Each Record Store Day has an official ambassador, and this year it is Jack White. Owner of vinyl-heavy record label Third Man Records and its associated record store (slogan: ‘Your turntable’s not dead’), White is more qualified to spruik vinyls than most. White has always favoured records, releasing his early material with The White Stripes exclusively on vinyl (hence its rare nature). In a press release announcing his title as this year’s ambassador, White said:
‘As Record Store Day Ambassador of 2013 I’m proud to help in any way I can to invigorate whoever will listen with the idea that there is beauty and romance in the act of visiting a record shop and getting turned on to something new that could change the way they look at the world, other people, art, and ultimately, themselves.’
So, when April 20th comes around, visit your local independent music store, and perhaps try something different. Steer away from the top 40, stray from your preferred genres, and you just might wind up broadening your horizons. I recommend Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band’s Trout Mask Replica.