Rumour has it that Paul McCartney- a man who had ridden on Concord, stayed at the world’s best hotels and tried every drug under the sun- once said “there’s nothing more glamorous to me than a record store”. When you think about it, it’s hard to disagree. With rows of history and memories laid out like an overflowing treasure chest, there is something inexplicably absorbing and enticing about record stores. Vinyls are not just “pretty discs of plastic that our parents played with” as Loyle Carner so eloquently describes records as, but remind us of people, places and events.
On the week leading up to Record Store Day this weekend, members of the Our Sound team remember the first records that they ever bought, and indeed the memories that accompany the crackle of that first album they ever took home. So dust down the record, carefully lower the needle and join us on a trip down memory lane.
The earliest record I can remember taking hold of, listening to and enjoying was actually bought by my father when I was a small child. The release date was June 1984, however that would have made me six years old at the time, so I am thinking that the album was actually bought a couple of years after that. This is the days of vinyl. My dad returning from Woolworths with this shiny, vibrant, large square packet in his hands. The family record player, in the living room, almost in situ just for this moment. The needle on the record. My dad turning the volume up. Him looking at the sleeve. A sleeve that to me, at that time, seemed iconic. A sleeve that remains iconic. The rear of a man wearing faded denim jeans with a red hanky drifting from the right pocket. White T-shirt. The background is set as the red, white and blue of the USA. I had never heard anything like that before. The raw emotion in the singer's voice, the power of rock n roll. A song about the Vietnam war. A song about Dancing In The Dark.
I inherited the album in future years- the house had moved on to cassettes, the family record player taking pride and place in my bedroom. I remember marvelling at the sleeve notes inside the cover - lyrics printed out that I could follow along to while listening to the songs. The track listing starred with a pen at the songs my dad liked.
The record could have been anything I suppose. It just so happens to be a great album. What is most important is the memory shared with my dad, the mutual feeling of excitement. Music brings people together and sometimes even in ways that are a little different. My dad likely doesn’t remember the above but I do and that’s all that matters really.
Whenever I hear a Bruce Springsteen song, or see a story about him in the media, it always, always takes me back to that moment all those years ago and for that I am forever grateful.
Kev Malton, Our Sound Music Editor
I spent my first year as a record player owner scouring my parents’ extensive collection, sneaking whatever peaked my interest into my room (until they would eventually realise and swiftly take them back). Technically my own first record was the 40th anniversary edition of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Physical Graffiti’, gifted to me by my dad after he was terrified I’d nick his first press. But, the first vinyl I ever bought myself was a first press of The Velvet Underground’s ‘V.U.’ compilation album, found on eBay for an unreasonably cheap price.
Originally when I purchased it, ‘Foggy Notion’ was one of my favourite Velvet Underground tracks, but each song is so different, a combination of each of their albums - the entire record is now probably my favourite of theirs, next to the band’s classic debut of course.
Alyce Ruby, Our Sound Music Staff Writer
Like Alyce, my first vinyl experiences were my dad’s old pop records from the 1980s, including very early editions of “Now That’s What I Call Music”. Aged 15, in that stage where I thought any music with a synth instead of a guitar was blasphemous, I could have thought of plenty more words to describe the music on those compilation albums. Funnily enough, as I have mellowed through my teenage years, some of those 80s synth-pop tracks are regulars on my Spotify playlists.
However, MY first record was “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not” by the Arctic Monkeys. The album had been released 12 years before I bought it, but still held pride of place in the small West London record store. I knew my parents would quiver when they saw me bringing home a record sleeve depicting a man with tight-cropped hair and a cigarette in his mouth. But they couldn’t stop me. As they had done thirty years ago, the first record that you buy is a way of crafting out your own identity and style. I remember vividly returning to my friend’s house to watch the World Cup, where young French right-back Benjamin Pavard sends a scorching volley into the Argentinian net to send the South American side crashing out, all whilst I cradled my new vinyl baby as tightly and as safely as I could.
Whilst I may have purchased around 15 records since, “Whatever People Say I Am” always seems to be near the top of my Tupperware box next to my dad’s old record player. Whenever I gently ease the needle down and adjust the volume and hear the startling guitar intro of opener “The View From The Afternoon”, I think of a 14 year-old me (in my first Fred Perry polo and new pair of Adidas trainers) crafting my own identity. And that Benjamin Pavard volley- what a strike.
Tom Farmer, Staff Writer, Our Sound Music