Here at the Naked City, we are old enough to remember when record shops stocked only vinyl – long before CDs, iTunes and the onslaught of digital technology. We also witnessed the so called ‘death of vinyl’ and now in 2015, we are chuffed to see its cheeky rebirth.
Not that vinyl pressings have ever gone too far away. When compact discs were first introduced in the 80s, it was widely predicted analogue platters would fade into obscurity. Whilst they all but disappeared from most record shops, collectors and music buffs still sought them out and cherished their warm original sound (not to mention the great cover art). In the late 80s and 90s, twelve inch vinyl enjoyed a worldwide revival through a flourishing DJ culture with crate digging, mixing, scratching and the hands on action of a pair of Technics turntables.
However, record shops themselves have become an endangered species in recent years as downloading from the internet becomes the excepted norm. The city and suburbs were once awash with them from the large HMV style chains through to the thriving import outlets. The latter were an essential part of the local music scene, peaking in the 80s and 90s with shops like Phantom, Waterfront, Utopia, Red Eye and Birdland.
The noughties saw many of these shops disappear, although some have managed to defiantly survive, relying on a dedicated patronage of long time buyers. Surprisingly in more recent years, largely thanks to a rekindling of interest in vinyl, new shops like Mojo in Sydney’s CBD have appeared, stocking almost an exclusively analogue product. Likewise, shops such as Radio Free Alice and Listen Up in Darlinghurst, Egg in Newtown, the Record Crate in Glebe and Revolve in Erskineville have crate loads of both new and second hand sides – yes we are talking big, tactile twelve inch albums.
Whilst we will never see a return to the golden era of the indie retailers, where punters and musos would often hang for hours and live bands rip it up with insane in-stores, it’s gratifying to know that the old style record shop is still alive, albeit a bit more sedate and catering to a more select group of music hounds. It may well be an anachronism in the iTunes age, but in a way it’s a slap in the face for those technophiles hellbent on turning us all into digital zombies.
This coming Saturday 18th is Australian Record Shop Day, a combined initiative of indie record shops across the country. It’s a chance for you to hang at your favourite shop, wallow over the latest box vinyl set and dig the crates for that piece of rare lost gold. Sure beats downloading some piece of nasty compressed crap on the internet!
THE HIT LIST: Keyboard whiz Bridie King has assembled an all star combo including Pat Powell and Steve Garry on vocals, Chris Perry bass, Finn Ryan drums and Junio Karo-Karo on saxophones for a rocking date at Miss Peaches in Newtown this Thursday 16 April. If you dig your R’n’B and blues, up-tempo and funky, this is the gig for you.