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Special report: The wonder of Record Store Day in Brighton
Music shops in Brighton and Hove will be joining others across the country in appreciation of vinyl sound today.
Record Store Day is a nationwide campaign being held for the seventh year which encourages independent record stores to come together and celebrate the art of music.
Four stores in Brighton will be taking part today and will open their doors to unleash a wave of exclusive records available only from participating independent record shops – featuring artists such as Bruce Springsteen, pictured below, David Bowie, Elbow, Paul Weller and Damon Albarn.
In Brighton, Resident Music, One Stop Records, Cult Hero and Rarekind Records will all be taking part and selling a selection of the 600 exclusive releases being made available as part of Record Store Day.
Staff at Resident Music in Kensington Gardens, North Laine, expect a repeat of last year, which saw queues lined up around the block of fans eager to get their hands on the new records.
Natasha Youngs, who co-owns the shop with Derry Watkins, said: “From what we gather from customers, the queue will be as big if not bigger than it was last year – lots of people are excited.”
The store opens its doors at 7am but fans are expected to be queuing from the early hours – last year some enthusiasts camped out overnight to make sure they got their hands on the limited edition vinyls.
When they first opened, Resident did not even stock vinyls, instead specialising in CDs – but demand for the format has been increasing year on year and the store recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Ms Youngs said: “Now we have to add another two metres of shelves for vinyl every six months to meet demand.”
Nationwide vinyl sales have been on the upswing, with UK vinyl sales at the highest level in a decade last year.
In 2013 vinyl record sales grew 101% and the first two months of 2014 have seen further dramatic growth with sales up over 80% year on year.
Also last year 12% of all vinyl sold in theUKwere Record Store Day products, showing the event helped to fuel the growth in popularity of the retro format.
Ms Youngs said: “There are a lot of things that have made people want to start buying vinyl again.
“The sound itself is very intimate and it is more ‘real’ than listening to music on CD or on download.
“There is also the whole ritual that goes with it when you listen to a vinyl.
People want that and it is not just nostalgia.”
She added there is now a generation being raised without any physical connection to their music – and the vinyl revival is being fuelled by young people wanting to have a physical product attached to the sound.
Record Store Day UK co-ordinator Spencer Hickman said “When I held the first Record Store Day in the UK seven years ago I never dreamt that the event would grow so huge.
“From having five shops take part in the first year with no products – to today where we have 240 shops and over 600 exclusive releases.
“It is testament to their enduring quality – the people who work in them, the customers that shop in them and the amazing music to which that they have introduced generations of people.”
Record Store Day is administered by the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).
Paul Quirk, ERA chairman, said: “Record Store Day continues to grow with more retailers taking part each year.
“It is a reflection of people’s love for music and vinyl that make this day so successful.
“The growth in the number of stores taking part is testament to its popularity with the music buying public of all ages.
“Again there seems to be something for everyone whether it is the limited edition vinyl on album, 12in or 7in single or the live performances at various stores which all add up to a really tremendous experience on the day.”
While the popularity of records has risen and fallen, in Brighton there has been one constant fighting for their corner.
The famous shop The Record Album, near Brighton Station, has been in the hands of 84-yearold George Ginn for more than 50 years.
He took over the store in 1962 and not a single CD has ever been rung up on his till – as he refuses to stock anything other than vinyl.
When asked about what is bringing people back to vinyl, Mr Ginn mused: “Where do I start.”
He said people are moving away from “harsh and unnatural”
digital sound, back to analogue to discover the “joy” of going through the ritual of sitting back and listening to a record.
He said: “You take it out of its packaging and put it on to play and hear the gorgeous sound of the needle hitting the groove.
“You can then sit back, settle down and feast your eyes on the fantastic artwork and read the back of the sleeve.”
He added: “It is the packaging as well, they are artefacts like good books – they look fantastic when sat on the shelf.”
Just as his stock hasn’t changed, his till hasn’t either – having used the antique ever since it open.
Mr Ginn joked it is similar to Arkwright’s till in Open All Hours, always snapping shut and saying that he has to be careful not to trap his fingers.
This year Record Store Day is sponsored by the charity War Child.
The charity works to support and protect children living and working on the streets, those exploited by child labour and the victims of kidnapping.
Spencer Hickman, Record Store Day UK co-ordinator, said: “We are honoured to be supporting War Child by producing this amazing record.
“This special release does not carry a price tag, but we would encourage anyone who is lucky enough to get their hands on it to make a donation to War Child as a thank you to help them continue to make a difference.”
War Child is currently working in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Uganda and Syria.
Jim Benner of War Child said: “We proud and excited to be the charity partner for Record Store Day UK which will enable us to carry out vital work with young people in war zones while also engaging music fans.
“XFM, Proper and DMS have made it possible for John Kennedy to compile a fantastic album which has all the hallmarks of becoming a collector’s item.
“We hope that fans will show their support for their local independent record shop and War Child by making a donation on the day.”
While vinyl records have traditionally been the exclusive foray of more obscure music fans, this year Record Store Day is hoping to help pop fans get in on the fun as well.
Record Store Day will feature a number of exclusive records from pop artists including boy band One Direction.
Natasha Young from Resident Records said: “We have had people coming in wanting to buy Lady Gaga on vinyl so the market is there – the story has changed.
“People like the exclusivity of it and they like to have something physical in their hands.”
She added: “It does not seem to have any of age divide – there is something for everyone.
“Part of the experience with buying vinyl is the community feel when you come and buy it.
“No one comes in and just buys one record – they talk to people there and end up getting recommendations from the other people in the store and from the person behind the till.
“Record stores are becoming hubs for the community again.”
Kylie Minogue, pictured, will also release an exclusive new track Golden Boy on a 7in and Katy B will be re-releasing her number one album Little Red.
Record Store Day UK co-ordinator Spencer Hickman said: “The whole idea behind Record Store Day is try and attract new and different customers into the world of independent record shops.
“This year’s stellar line up of titles should hopefully do that and with big pop releases from bands like One Direction, we’ll hopefully introduce the next generation of record buys to vinyl.”
In celebration of Record Store Day, artists will be performing to entertain the eager fans waiting to collect their exclusives.
Resident Record’s will be hosting street performing singer Space Lady to provide the soundtrack to fans while they queue from 8am.
Rarekind Records, in Trafalgar Street, have teamed up with High Focus Records to have a special in-store performance from Edward Scissortongue – who will be closing the day with a performance at 6.30pm.
Advance copies of the artist’s upcoming EP Thereamin will also be on sale on the day.
Brighton’s own The Soft Walls will also be performing at Flashback Records in London at part of the festivities.
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