Vinyl Countdown

Vinyl Countdown


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'You hold in your hand a miracle. A book about a passion, and the hipsters, oddballs and old heads who share it, written by one of their number, albeit a ludicrously erudite one’ - Danny Kelly A revival of interest in vinyl music has taken place in recent years – but for many of those from the ‘baby boomer’ generation, it never went away. Graham Sharpe’s vinyl love affair began in the 1960s and since then he has amassed over 3000 LPs and spent countless hours visiting record shops worldwide along with record fairs, car boot sales, online and real life auctions. Vinyl Countdown follows his journey to over a hundred shops across the globe - from New York to New Zealand, Walsall to Warsaw, Oslo to Ozstralia, (old) Jersey to New Jersey - and describes the many characters he has encountered and the adventures he accrued along the way. Vinyl Countdown seeks to reawaken the often dormant desire which first promoted the gathering of records, and to confirm the belief of those who still indulge in it, that they happily belong to, and should celebrate the undervalued, misunderstood significant group of music-obsessed vinylholics, who always want – need – to buy… just one more record. A mesmerising blend of memoir, travel, music and social history, Vinyl Countdown will appeal to anyone who vividly recalls the first LP they bought and any music fan who derives pleasure from the capacity that records have for transporting you back in time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780857303141
Publisher: Oldcastle Books
Publication date: 07/01/2020
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Graham Sharpe has been involved in the betting industry for over 30 years and has written over 20 books with a gambling theme. He's collected vinyl for over 50 years. Danny Kelly is a music journalist and former editor of NME.

Read an Excerpt

                  by Danny Kelly (music fan, former editor of NME and Q, helpless vinyl junkie)

You hold in your hand a miracle. What other word can you use to describe a book, published two decades into the twenty-first century, about the myriad delights of vinyl records?
     If, just ten years ago, you’d said that vinyl would now even still exist – never mind be the subject of widespread conversation, adoration and learned tomes – men armed with tranquiliser darts would’ve lurked outside your house, questioning your cognitive health.
     All of which goes to show just what a long, strange trip the whole world of vinyl has been on.
     For four decades, from the invention of the Microgroove some seventy years ago, to the coming of CDs, the plastic record (LP, single, album, 45, disc, platter, long player, shellac, EP and 100 other variants) ruled the musical roost. Records sold in uncountable numbers, became fetish objects; radiograms, stereograms, Dansettes and stereo systems competed with televisions to be the centre of household attention. Every home had records and the means to play them.
     Discs became identifiers, cultural name-tags. When I was at school in the 1970s, the LP you carried under your arm – Deep Purple, Curtis Mayfield, David Bowie, King Crimson or Nick Drake – spoke of which tribe you belonged to, and broadcast a loud message of how exactly you saw your teenage self.
     Records were important. Records were loved.
     Then, with bewildering suddenness, it seemed over. Compact discs were the shiny harbingers of a new world of apparently perfect sound, less cumbersome playback gear and, for those with lots of music, fewer fears of catastrophic spinal damage.
     Vinyl became old hat, a hissy, popping reminder of post-war austerity, the three-day week and greasy-haired youths in bellbottoms.
     People threw whole collections into skips; charity shops were swamped with Leo Sayer, ELO and Paul Young; people like me who clung on to their precious plastic were mocked in the street by local urchins, dismissed as geeks and freaks. The reign of vinyl ended, consigned to the dustbin of memory and the creaking, dusty shelves of a few diehards.
     But somehow – mysteriously, incredibly – it didn’t quite die. Though record shops went bust and the gates of pressing plants
were padlocked, records refused to completely depart the stage. Hip hop artists, recognising that the imperfect vinyl sound was human and warm, sampled it into their otherwise flawless digital robo-sounds. Advertising agencies used records and record players to convey an authenticity and tactility increasingly lacking from modern i-life. And music folk – fans and artists alike – began to ache for a connection with their beloved sounds that amounted to something more than a faceless file arriving in your download box. A whole technology that had been left behind was suddenly once again front and centre, gloriously ubiquitous, and hilariously hip.
     I honestly can’t think of a historical precedent.
     The enduring, often opaque wonders of records, record labels, record players, record shops, record cases, record shelves and
record collecting do need chronicling, explaining, enjoying and celebrating. And who better to do it than a man who certainly never made the schoolboy error of offloading his Tamla Motown A-labels on to the local branch of Oxfam?
     I first met Graham Sharpe when he invited me to become a judge on the William Hill Sports Book of the Year, the important literary award he’d developed with his great friend, the late John Gaustad. At first, if I’m honest, I thought he was just a sharp(!)- dressed man who worked for a bookmaker. My illusions were quickly shattered. It turned out that, sure, Graham was a smiling advocate for horse racing and betting, but also harboured oceandeep passion for football, Luton Town, great writing of every kind and a host of other enthusiasms that most definitely included the universes of records and record collecting.
     By the time I discovered that he had bought at auction the leopard-skin-design jacket of the late Screaming Lord Sutch, I knew for certain that this was a man with whom I could do business.
     In the intervening quarter of a century, Graham and I have become firm friends. In between a full-time job and a busy career as an author – I talk about writing books, he gets on and does it – he continued, and still does in semi-retirement, to buy, collect, treasure and talk about music on physical, grooved, formats. His understanding of the quirks and foibles of collectors – a mixture of possessiveness, weird gallery curation, completism, lonely latenight filing and hopeless addiction – means that I can talk to him about my own out-of-control hoarding without fear of being embarrassed or judged.
     Indeed, when I recently revealed to him that I was wasting my life savings on renovating a vast old rustic cowhouse to shelter my sprawling array of vinyl (sub-categories include Poetry 45s, Unlistenable Modern Classical, and Advertising flexi-discs) he just beamed broadly. ‘Can’t wait to see it,’ he said.
     You hold in your hand a miracle. A book about a passion, and the hipsters, oddballs and old heads who share it, written by one of their number, albeit a ludicrously erudite one. I’ve no doubt that once read, it will take its place on those groaning shelves, proudly sandwiched between the gatefold sleeves, coloured vinyls, lead-heavy box sets and multiple copies of ‘Forever Changes’.
     It deserves to.
Summer 2019

                                               IN WHICH THE AUTHOR ADMITS TO VINYL
                                                 ADDICTION AND EXPLAINS HOW IT HAS
                                                            IMPACTED ON HIS LIFE

‘Vinyl’s making a comeback, isn’t it?’
     The man in the record section of the charity shop was making friendly conversation as he spotted me looking through the discs. I looked up and regarded him, perhaps a little too sternly, before responding, perhaps a little too aggressively:

‘It never went away.’

I believe that anyone who owns two or more records is selfevidently a record collector.
     Whenever you add another one to however many you already have you are enhancing that collection.
     I have thousands of the things, and despite the incomprehension of my Mum who, when asked to make my Christmas present an LP one year, replied, ‘Why? You’ve got records already’, I continue to add to the total regularly.
     This book deals with every aspect of record collecting I could think of. How it’s done, when it’s done, where it’s done, why it’s done, who does it and how one goes about it.
     Read this book – with its tales of countless hours spent in 100s of record shops worldwide, at record fairs, car boot sales, online and real-life auctions, romances consummated in vinyl, fruitless searches for elusive records, selling, buying, exchanging, coveting, losing, loving, hoarding, hating, finding, wanting, demanding records – and you may just begin to comprehend the emotions involved in a lifelong vinyl love affair.
     If you used to be a collector but believe you aren’t one now, think again. Get the record player out of the loft, gently caress the dust off the first disc to come to hand, and give it a spin. You’ll wonder why you ever stopped doing it. If you don’t, you’ve lost forever what would once have been one of your simplest, but greatest, pleasures – playing favourite records.
     If you, your grandparents, Mum, Dad, brother, sister, aunty, uncle, friends, or workmates have ever shown an interest in, and/ or collected, records, 33 and 45 rpm circular (usually, not always) vinyl discs, this book – my vinylography, although the publishing poohbahs wouldn’t let me call it that! – should prove a real treat for you or them.
     Records have a greater capacity than Doctor Who’s Tardis for transporting you back in time. Even someone as ‘woke’ and on trend as the highly influential writer for The Times Caitlin Moran acknowledged as much when, in April 2019, she explained how records encapsulate ‘everything you were before’ and should therefore be revisited and revered, otherwise ‘you’re selling out
the only person who has believed in you… : you.’
     This book seeks to reawaken the often dormant desire which first promoted the gathering of records, and to confirm the belief of those who still indulge in it, that they happily belong to, and should celebrate the undervalued, misunderstood, significant group of music-obsessed vinylholics, who always want – need – to buy… just one more record.

Table of Contents

Foreword 11
Introduction 15
1. I Count My Blessings 17
2. I Reveal How This Book Was Born 25
3. Jack White Denied Vinyl Was Dead 29
4. Vinyl Escapes from the Grave 37
5. I Fear a Nightmare Dream 41
6. I’m Shaky All Over 46
7. I’m a Record Lover 48
8. I Ask How Much Mint Matters 53
9. I’m Out of Condition 59
10. I Tull You About Jethro 63
11. I’m Stoned 67
12. I Discover Psychedelia & Acid Rock… Man! 73
13. I Celebrate My Anniversary Alone 80
14. I Regret Selling My Vinyl Soul for Filthy Lucre 83
15. I Feel Sutch Melancholy 89
16. I Take on a Haunted Look 93
17. I Express My Disdain for Record Store Day 104
18. We Go Kiwi 111
19. Oz Is Wizard 118
20. I’m Hungary for Vinyl 120
21. I Recall Concrete Memories of Local Gigs 126
22. I Act Post Haste 131
23. I Decide Fairs Are Fair 139
24. I Punctuate Hendrix with Grammatical Grumbling 144
25. Addicts, Compulsives and Hoarders Appear 150
26. Mark My Words, I Consider Pathological Collecting 158
27. I Try to Come Clean 164
28. I Sniff Out Julian’s Problem 170
29. I Fail to Score 174
Vinyl Countdown master.indd 9 27/09/2019 12:53
30. I Doubt a Bowie Blotch 181
31. The Show Mustn’t Go On 185
32. I Wonder What Comes First – Disc or Gig? 189
33. I Back a Real Winner 192
34. I Bet on My Future Career 196
35. Music Is My First Love 204
36. I Snap – Amen to That! 208
37. I Reveal Vinyl Suicide Techniques 215
38. I Enjoy a Pierless Experience 219
39. I’m Love-Ing It! 222
40. I Stand Julian Up 227
41. I Ask: Could CDs Become the ‘New’ Vinyl? 234
42. I Pose a Question of Moral Judgement 240
43. I Compliment Compilations 244
44. I Channel the Hunt for Record Shops 249
45. I’m Listing to One Side 259
46. I Wonder How to Make Money by Selling Vinyl 263
47. I Contemplate Devastating Loss 275
48. A Loss Is Dealt With, By George! 280
49. I’m Floating an Idea… 283
50. I Come Across Fake News 287
51. I Get Bladdered 290
52. I’m Beatling Along 297
53. An Anorexic Mannequin Is Proudly Regarded 301
54. I Date Julian 303
55. A Friend’s Pleas Don’t Please Me 307
56. I Realise – I’m ‘Record Guy’ 312
57. Vinyl Peeves Appear 315
58. ‘Mountain Boy’ Is Reborn 318
59. I Remember Bruce Langsman 322
60. There Are Deaths in the Vinyl Family 331
61. I Fear Record Shop Rage 335
62. I Wonder Wat’s Going On 340
63. I Sign Off 343
64. … And Vinyly 347
Epilogue 350
Bibliography 351

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