Shaking Off The Dust Jacket: Vinyl’s Welcome Return

George Somers /
Aug 24, 2016 / Opinion

As much as I treasure my delicately selected iTunes Library, and my ever-growing toppling tower of CDs, sometimes I simply ponder whether life would be easier if my adored music collection was entirely made from black plastic Frisbees. Witnessing the unanticipated stark resurrection of vinyl over the last decade, I’m clearly not alone. With a record-breaking 1.3 million vinyl albums sold in 2014 – the Official Charts Company cashing in by creating the Official Vinyl Charts – every music fanatic and their dog are questioning how this rock ‘n’ roll rebirth has thrived. Whether a genuine resurgence in nostalgic love from the public or simply an indie fad for the hipster community, tmrw are glad to be welcoming back an old friend in open arms.

Whenever you rekindle a neglected friendship, reuniting after years apart and lists of chat-worthy news suddenly spewing into an uncontrollable catch up session, you notice differences. Since the last time you saw them, they’ve dyed their hair, gotten a tattoo, perhaps they dress differently. Sitting down for a coffee with the record industry is no different. They’ve sadly grown out of the naïve teenage angst you used to adore from them, soulful songstress Adele now the best-selling vinyl artist of 2015, compared to the Swedish glory of Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’ thirty years earlier. The infectiously suave leather jackets Mr Vinyl wore in his youth, carrying samples of David Bowie, Johnny Marr and Bob Dylan faithfully under his arm, have been replaced with the ironed shirts of mundane adulthood, the aforementioned rock ‘n’ roll gods replaced with Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and James Bay stored on his iPhone.

DSC_8060Sheeran, Bay and Chris Martin’s marmite ensemble of moaning forty-somethings all appear on the rankings of official top forty best-selling vinyl records of last year, and with Tesco announcing their plans to stock the beloved black symbols of counter culture in national stores, we can only despair over how this phenomenon simply stopped being cool. It feels terrifyingly close to when a parents announce that “I was young and funky once too, you know”, or the equally horrific “I’m hip and down with the kids”. However, there really is no need to despair. Vinyl has changed, but he still has a hint of his old ways and fondly recounts the memories of his glory days. Sure, Taylor ‘write-me-a-pop-song-in-five-minutes’ Swift may have sold over 80,000 copies of her album ‘1989’, but politically-staunch Morrissey classic ‘The Queen Is Dead’ remained nineteenth in the vinyl charts at the start of the new year, three decades after its release.

Despite an aged face and a melancholy tone, Mr Vinyl still has some life left in him, and the true unequivocal joy of his style, substance and sound lies in your parents. Yes, your parents. Sifting through the attic, furiously attempting to discover the aloof Christmas tree hiding somewhere in the rubble of the loft, I stumble across a tattered box labelled ‘Summer Never Ends’. With a shimmy and a snap, I open it, to reveal my housewife mother’s collection of LPs, dust gracing the corners as I lift them out individually. Despite my ignorance, my mother was once a reckless young woman, making her way in the world with flamboyance and flare, even if she was at that moment washing dishes with offensively yellow rubber gloves downstairs. Flicking through the 12-inch treasures together, I find each single delicately entwined with a memory, and the surprise that despite twenty years of traumatic Abba-fuelled Cornish holiday car journeys, she had superb musical taste back in the day.

Indeed, Mr Vinyl has grown up, got a job, is probably married and finds himself slowly paying off his mortgage, but the tingle of nostalgia you find from hearing what he’s been up to in the years you’ve been separated has made each cheesy change and cringe-worthy fact worth the effort to rekindle this romance.

Words by George Somers

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