Finally they emerge after years of hibernation in a cold place on the other side of the planet. The weight of expectation is matched only by that of the boxes. No visible damage – so far so good.
They appear to have survived floods and transportation and the advent of CDs and digital downloads by a need to literally hold onto something real. Something to display that was usually harder to find than a couple of taps and a download. A sensation to carry in your head and under your arm after the banter of the buying and selling process.
As I select my favourites with the glee and wonderment of a kid at Christmas, I begin travelling through time. Sitting in my room with mates from school, playing Bad Company whilst thumbing through porno mags yet marvelling at the good manners of a guy who has the respect to hold a vinyl LP correctly; ensuring there is minimal dust on the needle to limit the characteristic crackle.
I am 18 years old and unbeknown to me, I am having a life experience that will one day cease to exist for most of us. I have a summer job in a record shop before going off to university. Sure, we’ll always have summers and universities but right now we have Blondie and Big Country and Bowie and the Beatles White album re released in coloured vinyl. We have 12-inch singles and an association with something that makes us feel alive. A sense of identity and a nice LP sized cloth bag to put our discounted purchases in and to show to people without headphones on the bus home.
The needle bumps at the end of side 1 of Dark Side of the Moon as I hurtle back to the present day where old factories bombed in the war with pictures of King George on the wall, press records in an industry that employs people but that doesn’t really exist.
I download music using my credit card and hope that I’ve paid the money to the people who actually have the rights to sell it. No banter even if they don’t.
In the good old days you’d scramble the cash together out of any and every pocket. Some foreign coins and chewing gum and a knowing smile from the pretty girl behind the counter who forgives your haplessness because liking a band enough that no one has heard of to spend your beer and cigarette money on makes you pure.
Vinyl is a substance never to be worn or sat on, except in exceptional retro circumstances. Like by my daughter along with an old Doors tee shirt of mine. She’s not into their music yet, but she does live on love street so it wont be long before the needle moves a couple of grooves; hissing and scratching and awakening something real. Gen Vinyl 2 perhaps?
I have a beard and I’m slightly middle aged and I’m partial to art and craft beer. Below the surface though I’m still that teenager and if there were a band called The Kinaesthetics I’d have all their albums.
© Ash Cheyne 2017