Silent Music: The Renaissance of Vinyl
From personal experience it has become harder and harder to buy great vinyl albums at a reasonable price. You need to get up pretty early when going hunting in order to pick up anything of note. Instead racks in stores dealing in used vinyl are increasingly becoming filled with albums of obscure 1980s power balladeers, country crooners, or the greatest hits of Black Lace.
The competitive second-hand market is not the only shift in the vinyl market though. Indeed, vinyl records are no longer the preserve of the (almost) middle-aged, bearded, and ever so slightly musically-snobbish man. The fetishism of finding a first pressing of Dylan’s ‘Blonde on Blonde’ in mono with nine photos inside the gatefold sleeve (look it up) has been replaced by younger fans buying new albums by current artists on vinyl.
Sales have soared in the last year, up 61.8% on 2014. Remarkably, in the first three months of this year alone 640,000 vinyl records have been purchased by fans. Great news for a music industry that has been in decline for the last decade.
David Bowie’s latest album ‘Blackstar’ has been the biggest selling vinyl album of 2016 (apparently everyone loved Bowie, they just decided to wait until he died before telling anyone). Whilst sales for Adele on vinyl have also been huge – but, even with the superior sound that comes with the format, I doubt I could listen to ‘25’ for any more than 25 seconds before the record was frisbeed back to HMV - or even Tesco who are now stocking vinyl in some of the stores.
"apparently everyone loved Bowie, they just decided to wait until he died before telling anyone"
The only saving grace for many fans of Adele may be that 48% of people buying vinyl (Adele’s or otherwise), had still not listened to it a month later, with 7% not even owning a record player!
So why the rush for vinyl? It seems that whilst having access to unlimited music 24 hours a day is, generally, a good thing, there’s also a yearning for something a little more tangible and less transient in our modern lives. A vinyl record gives you exactly that. Even if you’re not going to play it – as many appear not to – a great record is still a thing of beauty.
Here are the Moon’s top five vinyl picks, new and old, from Scottish artists (listening is optional, but we’d recommend it):
'The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter' - The Incredible String Band
Released in 1968, the third album by Scottish, psychedelic act the Incredible String Band is a favourite with musicians, influencing Led Zeppelin among others. Original pressings can be picked up for less than £40. If you want a brand spanking new copy on heavyweight vinyl, however, then the Sundazed label have reissued the record, priced at about half of the original.
'Raintown' - Deacon Blue
Debut album from the 80s hit-makers. Admittedly many may think the Glasgow band appeals more to their mum’s taste, but with ‘Dignity’ and ‘Chocolate Girl’ this album is a pop classic. Reissued in 2013, but an original can be picked up for well under £5 from most second-hand vinyl dealers.
'From Scotland with Love' - King Creosote
Fife musician Kenny Anderson’s 2014 album is truly sublime. Created as the soundtrack to a documentary film made entirely from Scottish archival footage provided by the National Library of Scotland and Scottish Screen Archive, and in association with BBC Scotland and Creative Scotland, the film features no other sound than Anderson’s music; but what else do you need?
'A Walk Across the Rooftops' - The Blue Nile
Those who know music, know the Blue Nile. Released in 1984 on Linn Records, this debut album is a thing of beauty. Painstakingly crafted songs, with fantastic lyrics. Picking up an original pressing is difficult, even the recent reissues have become scarce. If you come across a copy, don’t hesitate, just buy it!
'Screamadelica' - Primal Scream
Inspired by the house music scene of the late-eighties and early-nineties, the third album from ‘the Scream’ would mark their commercial breakthrough. Includes ‘Movin’ on Up’, ‘Loaded’, and ‘Come Together’, along with the band’s inspired cover of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators’ ‘Slip Inside This House’. Original albums in good condition can be rare – probably due to rough treatment following drunken nights out – but the album has been reissued and expanded numerous times, most recently last year.
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