Vinyl Fan-tasy

Whether it’s on in the background to make remote working less lonely, playing in the car as a soundtrack to a road trip, or a pleasant way to spend downtime, we all love music, right?

I grew up listening to whatever my parents were playing, my dad would play Irish rebel music, the Woolfe Tones and the Dubliners, while my mum would play everything from Queen to The Jackson 5, The Bee Gees to Diana Ross, Lionel Richie and a hodgepodge of Motown, and to this day I value the opportunity to be exposed to such a variety of music.

My tastes branched out from there, sometimes questionably. The first album I ever purchased was Hanson’s ‘Middle of Nowhere’, whilst the first CD single I purchased was Eminem’s ‘Guilty Conscience’. My taste doesn’t make much sense to me either, but I like what I like.

When Tracy and I met, music became central to our relationship, there was hardly a weekend where we didn’t see a live band. Together we’d see Paolo Nutini, The View, The Courteeners, The Fratellis, The Stereophonics, The Pipettes, The Dropkick Murphys, Luva Anna, The Holloways, Kiss, One Night Only, Air Traffic, The Law, The Pigeon Detectives, The Kooks, The Killers, Parka, Sinderins (also known as Anderson, McGinty, Webster, Ward and Fisher) and countless other bands both new and upcoming at gigs and festivals, and it was amazing.

Each of these bands have at least one song that takes me back to those beautiful days, when our 20’s seemed to last forever, life was simpler, I was more physically able and had more hair. We had CDs for almost every one of these bands, even burning our own by ripping tracks from Myspace when the singles weren’t out (man I’m old).

Then streaming became more and more prevalent, leading to us no longer buying CDs for the bands we loved. With ready access to songs, there was no need to go anywhere to get out music, we no longer spent twenty minutes trying to decide which of two albums we wanted, we effectively had all the music in the world.

As time went on, I’d stream music daily but I noticed that I was often listening to the same songs over and over, the one thing about streaming is that makes music disposable. Don’t like that song ten seconds in? Skip it.

If you skip enough tracks you’ll land on something you know you like, which in turn makes you less likely to explore new genres. On top of that, I missed having something tangible, seeing cover art and even reading the inlay booklets – Spotify just can’t replicate that.

In Christmas of 2021, Tracy gave me a record player, mostly because I’m a ‘pain in the arse’ to shop for. It was genuinely the best thing she could have bought me. I developed a new hobby, as well as a great appreciation for the music I’d once taken for granted.

I started to build a collection by going to charity shops, and a local antique shop run by a good friend. My collection started with some Shirley Bassey, and some Motown, and I rediscovered Doctor Hook, a band I love more than I can say.

You might know them for songs like Sylvia’s Mother or When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman but they’re much more than one-hit wonders. Their songs are often humorous, at times emotional and more often than not, beautiful.

From there I’ve collected albums by Barry Manilow, Dolly Parton, Roxy Music. Starland Vocal Band, Pat Benetar and Fleetwood Mac. NF and Regina Spektor. even today I picked up a Dropkick Murphy’s Record, alongside the Ronettes and Amy Winehouse.

I feel like this is becoming a list of records I have, but I mean this to show the variety of music I enjoy and hopefully remind you of artists you once loved that you haven’t thought of in some time.

I love this new hobby, it’s great going out to record fairs and stores, discovering music that’s new to you or revisiting music you used to listen to. It can be expensive if you only buy brand-new records, but if you go to the right places and don’t mind giving your purchases a wee clean, it’s relatively inexpensive.

If you’re thinking of buying a record player, I hope this inspires you to do so. You’ll find that vinyl is a lot more engaging than iTunes or Spotify. I don’t tend to skip tracks anymore, I listen to albums end to end and value what the musicians of the world have given us. Music is beautiful, and we could always use more beauty in the world.

You can find a playlist below with songs from each of the artists mentioned in this blog, feel free to have a listen and share with me the artists and songs you feel the world should take more note of.

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