A vinyl throw of the dice – HMV puts wax in the racks again

The first rumours crept out on Twitter. Nobody was quite sure how it had happened, but photographic evidence was quick to follow and the non-believers were soon silenced. The amorphous entity that is HMV 2.0, part bargain-basement, pile-it-high-sell-it-low merchants trying to fill space, part all-new, keen-to-listen music retailer of the people, is pushing vinyl back into its stores. There were those of us who had been saying this was necessary for some time, but the resolute and agonisingly slow death rattle of the last couple of years was utterly unshakeable in its monocular idiocy. Ever since that first middle class, Sunday supplement article on a vinyl revival arrived, and in the glibly recycled light of the subsequent 15,000 that followed, it has been pretty obvious to people who actually pay for music that HMV was missing a trick here.

But it wasn’t just an ignorance of vinyl that had cost them, so much as an ignorance of music full stop. Forget your big cities for a second. Where HMV matters most is the small towns where indie retail creaked and fell over or retreated to obscurity. Those towns need an outlet for music, because Tesco sure as hell aren’t going to be stocking the new Jon Hopkins or John Grant albums. And it was those stores where new music was drying up. Release dates would come and go, but it was no longer the case that you could wander in on that first day of sale and grab a copy of something unlikely to trouble the Top 40. Stock was ordered centrally, the needs of the customer were increasingly forgotten and the sense of urgency, the sense of excitement, the thrill of the new disappeared.

Saved from a grizzly, drawn out funeral, bedecked with florescent pink clearance stickers and the enormous Store Closing signs made trendy by Woolworths, HMV is now being steered by restructuring specialists Hilco. Quite what their long term plan for the business is remains unclear, but in the short term the emphasis seems to be on home entertainment of the conventional kind: music and film. The technology sections have been marked down and cleared out, the odd pairs of Beats aside. Bargain CDs are piled here, there and everywhere and they even managed to host a ‘Clearance’ recently, despite appearing short of stock only weeks beforehand. Prices seem sensible, new music seems to be something of a priority once again and, as we established earlier, the wax is back in the racks.

HMV vinyl

But, before you get out the bunting that you save for such occasions, it’s perhaps worth addressing Hilco directly. Yes, plenty of music fans are now buying vinyl and, yes, the labels seem to have cottoned onto the classic price bump strategy for disenfranchising their most loyal supporters. There’s money to be made in them there grooves. However, the nature of being a vinyl purchaser in recent years has necessitated the finding of a regular supplier. A dealer, if you will, who can always be relied upon to give the hit you need. The fact that a lot of the new vinyl hitting the shelves in HMV is reasonably priced is a definite step in the right direction, but it’s early days for their own little vinyl revival and simply shoving any old records out in the racks just ain’t gonna cut it with those who seek out special editions, want coloured first pressings or simply expect to buy this week’s big releases as LPs. The current approach seems to be to send each store a copy or two of the big new titles, along with a few racks worth of catalogue stuff. AC/DC, The Beatles, Snow Patrol, the Manics and The Doors have all put in a showing in the Bath branch, but there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. The current vinyl strategy seems akin to how Debenhams put those three racks of CDs by the counter and claim they’re ‘doing music’ now.

I’m genuinely pleased to see the nation’s last high street music retailer embracing the format I hold so dear, but if they seriously expect vinyl to work for them just by them stocking some vinyl, then they may still be just as clueless as the execs who dreamt up fashion section ‘The Studio’ or pinned a whole Christmas on iPads that nobody could get hold of. Let the music lovers on the shopfloors take control. Speak to the nation’s more successful indies and get some sincere advice. Take some risks with new releases to prompt a few impulse purchases. Because one copy of the Queens Of The Stone Age album which you sell at 9:45 on the Monday does not make you a vinyl retailer and, until someone can pop in during the week and pick up a couple of new release LPs with ease, the waxy creatures of habit won’t be jumping ship.

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Turntable Tales – Or Why I Love Vinyl

The last few weeks have been a curious process of learning not how to walk again but how to walk properly. I’d developed a perfunctory, flat-footed semblance of ambulation which allowed me to shuffle from A to B without too much of an ungainly wonk and minor discomfort in my recently rearranged ankle. When I went for some physio, it took them all of thirty seconds to explain what I was doing wrong and how I could get it right. The first day I went out without crutches was euphoric, despite cobbled streets keeping me at a shuffle and the headbutting of a light in the coffee shop as I focused solely on my foot and forgot about the remainder of my body. In the time since that day, each one has been better than the last and, this week in particular, I’ve been visiting some of my preferred haunts. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that they largely specialise in the retail of vinyl records. 

When I couldn’t walk, shuffle or even attain any kind of vertical presence, it wasn’t just record shopping but also vinyl listening which went out of the window. Unable to browse the racks, retrieve the discs, dust off the records and cue up the turntable, the sizeable Expedit, crammed with all sorts of wonderful albums, would taunt me from the back of the living room. Wireless streaming of iTunes and Spotify filled the gap as best it could, but it was no substitute for the ritual which is at the heart of my enjoyment of music. This afternoon, as I listened to ‘Ceremony‘ from a recently acquired original copy of ‘Substance‘, it struck me just how much I love the actual sound of vinyl as a medium for transmitting music. Yes, I’ve said before that my return to the turntable was down to the chronically awful mastering of CDs which reached its peak in the mid-Noughties, but it’s not really that which I’m talking about here.

The sound of nascent New Order was floating out across the room, lodging itself in my head in the way I find vinyl so often does. It didn’t burst out at me so much as share the same space. I’ll pay the price of the odd bit of crackle to hear some Bert Jansch breathing between the speakers or Moby Grape pushing to the edges of the room. CD sound is still, largely anyway, pretty good, but it’s not the same. As Echo & The Bunnymen‘s ‘Lips Like Sugar‘ was playing from the ‘Crystal Days‘ boxset earlier, the sound was rich, bold and full but I could tell it wasn’t vinyl. It sounded professional and it sounded good, but it didn’t set off the same process in my brain that vinyl does. I’m willing to accept that this might, in some way at least, be due to personal experience rather than scientifically provable discrepancies between one method of playback and another. And any such emotional attachment goes back a very long way.

I hadn’t asked for it and I can’t remember where it had come from. It looked second hand and was almost certainly the sort of thing which destroyed everything it came into contact with. It was my first record player and it was given to me at the age of six, so the wall full of vinyl behind me as I type this is all my dad’s fault. It’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. It had a stacker as part of the spindle so you could line up five discs at once which would drop down automatically, one by one, as each finished. It made an awful noise, as vinyl crashed onto vinyl, but it was a fascinating and tactile experience for someone so young. This having happened in 1988, my first acquisitions included Kylie Minogue and Jive Bunny‘s many sterling megamix releases. They all came from the remaindered and ex-jukebox 7″ racks in BeWise in Newport, where such classic tracks could be added to your collection for 69p, if you didn’t fancy poorly made beige jumpers or shiny Eighties ties. I’d buy things that caught my eye, generally picking up one a week and having a fairly terrible strike rate. I have a vague memory of owning a Van Morrison and Cliff Richard duet and vague is probably the best way to keep it.

Since relocating last summer, I’m now blessed with having both an excellent independent record store and a wonderful second hand vinyl shop nearby. Thumbing the racks is one of life’s little pleasures, made all the more pleasurable by the knowledge that new stuff is getting added frequently and that, by and large, it’s all pretty decent. In many ways, the same palpable thrills that I got from swinging the rickety rack in Newport round in the late Eighties are present as I hunch over boxes of previously cherished records. Music by Emmylou Harris, Islet, Harry Nilsson, Gonjasufi, The Louvin Brothers, Michael Chapman, First Aid Kit, The Lovely Eggs, Mark Lanegan, Loudon Wainwright III and a number of others has entered this house on vinyl since the turn of the year. The combination of new and old is all part of the enjoyment, the purchasing of second vinyl rather more pleasant than rummaging through racks of scuffed, faded or cracked used CDs.

But let’s get back to that New Order record. I turned to the good lady at that point and commented that there’s something about the sound of a (well made) vinyl record which allows the sound to get inside your head. Nick Coleman, in his fantastic if terrifying account of losing the emotions surrounding music through hearing loss ‘The Train In The Night, talks of how he always associated what he listened to with architecture, the soundstage representing some sort of palpable 3D presence before him. I know what he means, and while a well-mastered CD can still be a pleasure to listen to, it’s often just there in front of you: an aural tart flaunting its wares. But, with so much of my vinyl collection, the music hovers above, around and inside me. New Order demonstrate this particularly well thanks to the nimble digits of Peter Hook producing basslines which pulse gently at my temples.

Listening to vinyl can be a frustrating experience at times, whether it’s the stubborn crackle worn into a record by equipment presumably rather similar to that which I received aged six or the dreaded and permanent blight of a skip. Tackling static isn’t always as easy as I’d like and off-centre pressings and warping can also present their own problems but they’re all things I’m willing to put up with for the emotional reward, the indescribable tingle, the very personal euphoria that a great song on a good pressing can provoke.

Why is vinyl’s popularity increasing? There are plenty of theories surrounding the need for a tactile involvement with music, the increased availability of new titles and the usual audiophile arguments, but I’d wager some of the rose-tinted, sentimental, misty-eyed waftiness I’ve detailed above has its part to play too. I’m sure I’d have found vinyl one way or another if it hadn’t been ingrained in me when I was young, but I remain incredibly glad that I was given that disc-destroying behemoth, instead of any number of gifts which might be bestowed upon a child only just starting to understand the world. I will forever remain both a fan and propagandist for vinyl, mainly because I hope that I’m not the only one who gets that familiar buzz from lowering the stylus into run-in groove and cranking up the volume. And then there’s the rhythmic and repetitive crackle of the runout groove, a firmly analogue reminder that there’s currently no music playing. And we can’t have that, can we?

Turntable Tales: Curiosity – Hang On In There Baby

I seem to find myself talking more and more about vinyl these days, either with visitors to the house or as part of music discussions on Twitter. When this site first began, it was called ‘Vinyl Junkies‘ on the basis that my enthusiasm for the format had recently returned. Despite the name change, the passion has remained and intensified and so it seems only right to focus on the superior format a little more on here. And so begins Turntable Tales, for which I will pluck titles from the shelves of several Ikea Expedits and pass comment, be it memories from the release or purchase of the item or a more conventional review of the music and sound quality. This first one is wilfully uncool, but kind of captures the point of this perfectly.

Curiosity Sleeve

Having previously been known as Curiosity Killed The Cat, this was an attempt at a Nineties rebirth with a tweak of the sound and a clearout of three words. I had absolutely no idea about their past other than the little box which appeared on screen during The Chart Show to tell me the information which I have already imparted. I thought it was great, drawn in by a cracking chorus and neat pop-soul production. Having been a top three hit for Johnny Bristol back in the Seventies, it repeated the trick for a band seeking to re-establish themselves in a different decade to that which had initially brought them success. Amusingly, I’ve just found out that Gary Barlow covered it for his debut solo album, and we all know how well that turned out.

The 7″ pictured above came from the Woolies singles bargain bin in Chepstow, way back in 1992. The massive singles wall used to have slots for CD singles, tapes and sevens, even as you sensed the now-deceased high street chain trying to push out the old format. The increasingly high turnover of the chart in that decade, as the trend for entering at Number One took off having hitherto been a tricky feat to manage, meant that the amount of stuff hitting the reductions bin picked up wonderfully. It was a game of chicken, all about holding your nerve. If you were feeling cavalier with your limited pennies than 49p might be your entry point, after a brief period at 99p if it had been retailing at full price, but I was always to be found holding out for the 10p markdown. The moment of triumph when you realised your wait had not been in vain was magical, as a good few would have escaped at the earlier stages. However, as I recall, I would spoil all of my good work by then buying several 10p titles of variable quality and then ending up with less bang for my buck than I thought. ‘Good Vibrations‘ by Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch, anyone? And it skipped. Although that meant there was technically less of it, so not all bad.

Curiosity Disc

Curiosity’s delightful ‘Hang On In There Baby‘ was one of my 10p triumphs and, rather annoyingly, it’s one of only a few of my early singles I’ve still got. Even more disturbingly, this is very nearly 20 years old – how can anything from the Nineties be twenty years old? There’s a little crackle as the stylus settles in the groove, but otherwise it still sounds as endearing today as it did back then. I played the b-side, ‘Meaning Of Dreaming’, earlier as I had no memory of it. It is, predictably, gloopy swing-pop schlock of that era and interminably shite. Oddly enough, Curiosity’s rebirth didn’t make it past the rusks stage in the end.

 

A voyage of disc-overy. And the come down.

Last month, I reflected on the early years of my CD collection and how, as a latecomer in small town Wales, I took a little while to get up to speed. I left the story at the early days of university life, grabbing music from every direction and pouring my student loan away at a genuinely terrifying rate.

fopp

Things didn’t improve massively in the immediate months thereafter. By Christmas of the first term, I realised that the food budget probably should have been the priority ahead of the musical free for all. Still, I had a massive pile of CDs to show for it and several weeks to do even less than I had been for the term I’d just completed. A few weeks of parentally sourced food had me back to relative normality and the obsession was well and truly underway. I would never fly quite so perilously close to financial ruin again but, in the same way that I was already figuring out what percentages I needed across my course to get what I wanted, I had taken the time to deduce exactly how far I could push it. The early noughties represented the boom time of the remaindered CD. We’d all spent most of the nineties being robbed blind with prices starting at £12.99, often heading on upwards, and it was time for a change. Shops like the original incarnation of Fopp and the slightly ugly imitation, Music Zone, tapped into this market and took off. We were buying any old shite because it was £3. Ok, so that may not have been you precisely, but enough people were that these shops began to expand across the country. The first Fopp I ever encountered was in Nottingham, one of the most successful stores and, as a result, still open today under HMV ownership. It was genuinely overwhelming. Here was all of that music I’d read about, heard about and had played to me over recent years. And priced at £5 or less. I rarely left without a bag full and the sheer novelty of inflating your record collection without deflating your bank account massively was an addictive thrill which never wore off. Their genius positioning of piles of truly unwanted albums at £2 and £3 all along the front of the tills ensured that you ended up purchasing all kinds of stuff as a result of impulsive grabs whilst waiting to be served. Occasionally this was successful – Neil Finn solo albums, Ron Sexsmith, Pulp – but more often than not it was foolish decision.

selectaclosed

Not that such logic ever stopped me, you understand. Indeed, the success of these shops encouraged many indie stores to develop their cheapo back catalogue sections in order to compete and the end result was yet more low price music upon which I could binge wilfully. The dear departed Selectadisc did a fine job of locking horns with Fopp and, after a couple of years of taking it on at its own game, appeared to be emerging victorious, offering better stock at even better prices and, for some time, the lure of Fopp was diminished. My time in Selectadisc resulted in a reignited affection for vinyl, the lure of their upstairs department of wax too tempting to resist. And so, to a room barely big enough for me, let alone any actual stuff, was added a cheap turntable from Argos and I was back up and running. Vinyl purchases were few and far between, mainly as a result of cost, and my love for the 5” disc was sustained. This was, at least in part, down to its convenience, used as it was to soundtrack frequent bus and train journeys, along with the fact that I could easily transport my current favourites with me wherever I was planning on being each weekend. I wasn’t yet an audio geek and the loudness wars hadn’t really got going. It was a handy, increasingly cheap format. What was there to dislike? It was destined to be the invincible format, no?

25966-hi-napster

No indeed. Just prior to university, one of the last big releases of my school days was ‘Know Your Enemy’, the Manics album where they temporarily lost it and started loitering about in Cuba and making sweary, so-bad-it’s-good disco songs like ‘Miss Europa Disco Dancer’. As it turned out, it wasn’t worth all the excitement, but it provided me with my first taste of how internet piracy would be a thorn in the side of the bloated music industry. News was circulating amongst what was still a relatively nascent internet community about tracks from the new Manics record being ‘out there’. And so, there I was installing this thing called Napster to try and figure out what was going on. Next thing I know, Sony have had loads of users banned for sharing these leaked tracks and the ‘us and them’ approach becomes reality. From that moment on, I figured that the record companies had no idea what to do about this new opportunity to acquire music without paying or, to sum it up more succinctly, steal stuff. In retrospect, at the risk of sounding a little holier than thou (but fuck it, it’s Sunday), I’m quite glad we had the slowest dial-up connection in the world being run through one of the slowest computers in the world at home, because I never really saw what the fuss was about back then. Now, I don’t have a blemish free record, and I did briefly flirt with SoulSeek but I’ve never really seen the point of downloading day and night in order to have so much music you couldn’t actually listen to most of it even if you wanted to. I don’t get a thrill from a digital file, I don’t enjoy unzipping folders or making massive computer based playlists. It just doesn’t do much for me, despite my music geekery.

However, my mildly pretentious dislike didn’t count for much in a world let off the leash with broadband and a spindle of CD-Rs for company. Cliché though it sounds, I lost count of the number of times I overheard people in record shops saying, “Oh, don’t bother buying it, I’ll download and burn it for you.” There are those who want to say there’s more to the demise of record shops than downloading and, to a certain extent, they’re right. But I refuse to believe that a little box in the corner of people’s rooms, pumping out as much ‘free’ music as they could get their hands on didn’t fundamentally alter the way many thought about the value of music. Add in the bloated gluttony of the supermarkets as they tried to hoover up any remaining areas of possible money making that they didn’t already have under one roof and the increasing prominence of magazine and newspaper freebies and music was no longer something you saved each week for. You didn’t have to wait for Saturday, in fact your barely had to wait at all if you had decent enough bandwidth. I watched as the record shops in Leeds started to suffer, I saw stores around the East Midlands looking truly unwell before taking their final breaths.

fopp closed sign

My habits were changing by now. Forced onto the internet by decreasing local options, I was now lured in by the ‘cheap’ new releases that could be bought via places like CD WOW! and Play.com as a result of their geographical locations. And so yet more CDs ended up piling up in every corner of the room. While I never fell for the charms of downloading more music than I could even dream of,  I think it would be fair to say that I had my own, far more expensive, version of that disease. I’m a little ashamed to admit that, for a little while, I think I gloried in the acquisition a little more than the listening. It was just so easy, so tempting and so exciting. Double CD reissues, limited edition digipacks, bonus tracks and bonus discs all kept me coming back for more. And then, ALL of the independent record shops anywhere near me closed. And it ended. The constant flow of ludicrously cheap, and often simply ludicrous, bargains dried up overnight and I was suddenly confronted with the strange experience of my own critical faculties sharpening up in front of me. CDs sounded like shite, looked like shite and were increasingly associated with a time of overindulgence. I’ve written before about the compression and loudness of modern records, apparently in order to make things sound good on iPods and in cars, and how it frequently results in vulgar sounding records and a complete lack of sonic excitement, but it was the final straw.

It was only a couple of years ago when things started to shift and only within the last twelve months that I’ve actively been reducing the number of CDs I buy quite drastically. I’m very much a vinyl man now. So much new music is now back to being released on the format that it’s far less of a problem to find things than it was only two or three years ago. Pressing quality is often excellent, even if prices are a little on the steep side at times. What was the precise breaking point? Last year, I returned from a holiday with a sturdy ‘bag for life’ from one of the nation’s supermarkets, full of CDs. An entire row of spine-up titles ran along the bottom of the bag, from end to end, with further bits and bobs stacked on top which had been picked up at various record shops I’d sought out across a week. Yes, most of them had been cheap but what was the point now? How many had I wanted beforehand? How many were impulse purchases? How many were simply because I could? How many was I still playing by the time I reached the end of 2009 and was rummaging through the racks? The answer, as I suspect you’ve already guessed, was not all that many. The return of vinyl to my affections, which began to gather pace around five years ago but truly took of in the last eighteen months, has reinvigorated my listening and returned me to fully appreciating the album as an experience, an intentional collection of songs in a particular order. It’s reignited my desire to seek out record shops wherever I am and to support independent retailers as often as I can. It’s put me in touch with music sellers as enthusiastic and passionate about the things I listen to as I am. And it feels very good indeed.

My CD first experience

They were well meaning, even if they fell rather wide of the mark. My parents presented me with my first CD player, some eleven years after the fuss had begun and a good three or four after most households had succumbed. As part of a hi-fi system that also allowed tape-to-tape dubbing and had a mini-turntable atop that always played things ever so slightly too fast, it represented a new dawn and a crucial moment in the construction of my record collection. How did they fall wide of the mark? I was presented with a selection of reduced CD singles from Woolies with which to christen the beast and, as a result, the first sounds to emanate from this groundbreaking device were The Original’s ‘I Luv U Baby’ and PJ & Duncan’s ‘Stuck On U’. Still, at least they were finally being played off a CD. Additional birthday funds were quickly sought out and a hasty retreat was beaten towards the doors of the aforementioned local Woolies, from which I emerged soon after with a copy of Pulp’s ‘Different Class’, feeling rather happier about the prospects for the new CD player.

PJ & Dunc

It’s strange to trace back fifteen years of rabid musical purchases to that day. The moment when it got serious, even if it wouldn’t be until the arrival of the first instalment of my student loan for things to get truly messy. I’d spent so long being told that CDs were the only way to listen to music, so long oggling the cases in local record shops and so long pestering the family to finally give in to modern technology, that the very act of playing a CD was a reverential experience, savoured from the prising open of the case and the liberating of the disc from within, to the ejecting of the tray ready to receive the hallowed item. Though probably not if playing PJ & Duncan’s ‘Stuck On U’. Early purchases were infrequent and agonised over at great length, resulting in strategic spending plans in order to ensure that, for example, both Manic Street Preachers releases for ‘A Design For Life’ could be purchased in the week of release. Sleeves were pored over, just as I previously had with vinyl and after a while the lustre surrounding the format du jour (I would have put the French for ‘the format of some years previous that I’d just caught up with’ but don’t know the translation) wore off a little as it simply became the way I listened to music now.

ADFL 1 and 2As labels the length and breadth of the country queued up to convince me to spend £2.99 per version, I was utterly convinced that multi-formatting was a wondrous thing providing access to a previously unknown wealth of splendour. Looking back, there are slightly too many ‘Chemical Brothers remixes’ and ‘Radio Edits’ for my liking across many of those vintage indie singles but at the time it was truly exciting. As such, my CD habit only expanded. Slowly but surely, the shelves filled and I gradually began to realise that the prices I had to pay for records in my small Welsh town weren’t all that cheap. Occasional visits to Cardiff for gigs along with accidentally on purpose becoming separated at lunchtime from the group when on a school trip provided opportunities to explore enormous record shops with exotic names like ‘HMV’ and ‘Virgin Megastore’, where some titles were actually…gasp…reduced. Flicking back now through magazines from the late Nineties, it’s hard to believe all those Woolies adverts pointed out how new releases would be ‘only £12.99’ in store. £13. For a CD! However, back then, I had two options. The aforementioned Pick & Mix retailer and my local indie store, Dominion Records. Neither were what you called cheap, but it was all I really knew. Our Price in Newport fared little better although I still vividly remember the day I found ‘The Holy Bible’ in there reduced to £5.99 and thought all my Christmases had come at once. Then I played it. I was still a little bit too young to understand at that point, I think. Plus, I couldn’t really play it loud in case my parents heard the lyrics. So thoughtful. So timid. Anyway, that particular bargain was the sole delight in years of wandering around Our Price during its death throes and so I remained blinkered when it came to the potential to seek out bargains and I was unprepared for what was soon to come.

Give a child too many brightly coloured sweets and they may never calm down. Have seven pints of Guinness and half a dozen flavoured vodkas for your first night drinking and wait for the carnage to ensue. Present a Welsh lad in his late teens with a student loan, a city full of record shops and no sense of perspective and wait for the food budget to evaporate. The autumn of 2001 will forever remain one of my happiest music buying periods. I, incorrectly as it turned out, believed I was in a position to hoover up CDs, left, right and centre, without any consequences. The HMV sale deliberately timed to coincide with the issuing of the first loan started the damage, only for numerous second hand shops to truly render me a consumer of 18p a tub fluorescent ‘spread’ from Morrisons on bread that cost even less. It was then I finally got to grips with what has become one of my all-time favourite albums: Teenage Fanclub’s ‘Songs From Northern Britain’, which was only £4.99. Elvis Costello’s back catalogue was suddenly available to me in its entirety, and at a very reasonable price, and finally those early Eighties R.E.M. albums were to be mine. It was glorious. There was more wonderful music than I ever imagined I could own and then it got to the end of November, when I read my balance sheet and struggled to keep my balance.

It was the first time that the record collection truly demonstrated its hold over me. The first of many times, it must be said. As I attempt to thin down the shelves, sift out the mediocrity and further cement the reliance on beautiful vinyl pressings, I’ll be detailing a decade or so spent overdosing on 5” discs of delights and recalling the moments when I probably should have exercised my right to say “no” to a special offer or seven. I’ll consider how the love affair peaked and what caused its eventual decline, how vinyl gradually usurped it in my affections, what the mp3 meant for my music consumption and ponder what a wall full of CDs means in 2010. There’s every risk it’ll be self-indulgent, but feel free to chip in at any point and broaden the story.

More soon.