DEPENDING on your age, vinyl records are back in fashion or never went out of fashion in the first place, either way, their popularity in Swindon on Saturday cannot be doubted.
Record Store Day, an international celebration of the independent music sector, has been running for seven years in the USA and UK, with Swindon’s own Red House Records getting in on the act for the first time this weekend.
Located inside Farringdon Road’s Holmes Music store, the record store has been open since May of last year, when it launched in line with the upsurge of interest in vinyl records.
Owner Paul Holmes, who has worked at the family-run business since 1979, said: “We had always been looking at doing something specifically with records and then we heard about the return of vinyl.
“It’s been building up for quite a few years now. When HMV shut in the town centre we knew that was the best time to do something, because there was nowhere else in town to buy them.
“There are still a lot of people who would assume they stopped making vinyl years ago and they’re quite surprised when I say it’s a brand new release.
“Other people never stopped buying them. There is a complete mixture of people interested in vinyl now.
“The age ranges are vast, teenagers are getting into vinyl, adults born into the CD age are getting into it, and then there are those who used to buy lots of vinyl when they were young.”
In the 1980s, when vinyl was being mass produced by record companies the quality tailed off, with wobbly plastic creations which were easily scratched.
However, new releases are now made to a much higher quality, not only in the physical structure of the vinyl, but in sound quality too, according to Paul.
“It’s much more of an event, if you have got an album by your favourite artist and have something to show for it, rather than just a download, it’s much more special,” he said.
“Having the artwork on a big display with all the sleeves and lyrics, makes buying music more of an event.”
The biggest advantage of Record Store Day for Paul and his team, was the increase in customers. Many of those interested in the celebration had never known of this small corner of Swindon which sells records, until finding it on the official website.
Kevin Bowles, 55, of Windsor Road, who bought his first vinyl in 1973, said: “Bringing more people into the store on a day like this keeps the vinyl industry going and reminds companies there is a market for that type of product.
“It’s better than a CD. There is more of a warmth in vinyl records. You can sense it.”
Augusto Pomponi, 59, of Old Town, owns approximately 2,000 vinyl records. He said: “It’s a collectors’ thing. Once you start buying them, you can’t stop, which is why I carried on.
“It beats owning music digitally. I have all the music I want, on the shelf and ready to go whenever I want.”