“ONE of the earliest was The Beatles - Please Please Me,” said Eric Stott.
“A Four Tops single and The Beatles’ White Album,” said Derek Butler.
“My first single was I Feel Love by Donna Summer,” said Ian Leighton.
“I got it free by saving Flake wrappers. The first album was Never Mind the Bo****ks by the Sex Pistols.”
You have to wonder whether future music lovers will remninisce warmly about their first MP3 downloads, or even remember the titles.
Eric and Derek run a record shop in the tented market called Blood on the Tracks, specialising in new and used vinyl but also selling CDs.
It’s named in honour of a hallowed Bob Dylan album. Ian runs a vinyl-only shop about 10 paces away called IDL Records.
They deal in rock, blues, punk, jazz, electronica, metal, brand new slabs of vinyl by up-and-coming acts, sought-after classics of 50 or more years ago, box sets, soundtracks, experimental weirdness, acid-drenched psychedelia, coloured vinyl, picture discs, special editions and even the odd – very odd – album of sound effects.
In the yards of shelf space between Abba and ZZ Top, multi-platinum blockbusters nestle next to fine but forgotten works by acts who only managed a few hours in a studio before real life caught up with them.
Eric, Derek and Ian are currently Swindon’s only specialist suppliers of new and used vinyl, and with HMV in administration they might soon be our only suppliers of any kind of music on disc.
“We have people here of all ages,” said Eric, 64.
“We have students in and we get people in late middle age.
“Some are reliving their teenage years and some have sold collections in the past and want to start again.
“There are people coming to the music for the first time. ‘My dad had that’ – that’s a common one.”
Eric, a former Royal Mail worker, started Blood on the Tracks with friend and fellow Old Town resident Derek six months ago.
Derek, 60, was a barber before starting to deal in records at the end of the 1980s.
Ian, 46, who lives near the town centre, opened his shop in April last year.
An electrician by profession, he’s been selling records for more than a decade, and IDL is the fulfilment of a longstanding ambition.
The two shops are all but on each other’s doorsteps, but the owners turn that to their advantage by sending potential customers to one another. The strategy is working.
“We’re doing very well,” said Derek.
“I was surprised – I was apprehensive because it’s a quiet market generally, but people come in.
“It’s friendly and the atmosphere is good.”
In recent years sales of new vinyl, whether new albums and singles or reissued classics, have been increasing.
None of the three dealers is surprised by this.
“A record is an actual physical thing,” said Ian.
“You have got something physical, as opposed to an MP3 which is in the ether.
“You’ve got something for your money.”
Eric added: “I think vinyl offers better reproduction – the sound is warmer.
“There were three young people here just now, New College students.
“I was playing a couple of vinyls for them and they said the music sounded better than it did on CD.”