Music, discographies, and our choices

Many of you know I have an expensive love affair with collecting both Lego and vinyl LPs. These are often at odds with daily, family life, and I’m not always able to indulge much. At least, that’s what I tell myself after the portman has delivered yet another LP.

I have catalogued my collection on the Discogs website, added new variants to the database where they’re missing and have been the first to add new releases, thus growing the global catalogue.

Vinyl is having a resurgence – whether it’s new music being offered on multiple physical and digital platforms and formats, or ‘old’ releases being reissued in new packaging on on new formats, vinyl and cassettes are having their cake and eating it. As are collectors like me.:

“Vinyl record sales in 2021 were the highest they’ve been in 30 years … According to new figures from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), more than five million vinyl records were sold this year (2021), an 8 per cent increase on 2020. It marks the 14th year in a row that the format has increased sales, with vinyl records making up 23 per cent of all albums sold this year.”
Vinyl record sales in 2021 at highest level for 30 years. Will Richards

Colin Marshall, in his article ‘The Case for Listening to Complete Discographies’, digs (excuse the pun) into the ‘strategy’ of listening to an artist or band’s full discography from their first release, and going through their whole catalogue. In order. From start to finish.

“Technology has reduced the formerly expensive and inconvenient task of listening through the discographies of such artists, however prolific they may be, to a matter of will and commitment—qualities now in short supply, though perhaps only somewhat less abundant than they were before the onrush of the sixties.” Colin Marshall

I do this too, but only for a couple of bands, I’ve always followed. Considering I bought my first LP at the age of about 12 or 13 (that’s quite a LONG time ago now), there are a few bands where there are enough albums to take up quite a lot of time. And enjoyment. And memories.

Music makes me calmer and happier, and the simple act of holding the physical object, admiring the detail and effort that’s gone into the often complex or artistic cover art, is something you can’t get with a small JPEG on your phone screen.

I enjoy the crackle of the disc playing. I do not enjoy jumping or scratched discs. I like flicking through the discs to decide what to listen to next.

And it’s not just ‘people of a certain (older) age’ buying the physical format music either;

“while you might think it’s nostalgic Boomers or Gen Xers behind the renaissance of records, in fact surveys show it’s millennial consumers driving the rising trend in vinyl sales.” Steven John

I tell you what, though. The internet is making it much easier to find out about new releases, and limited edition (coloured, double-disc, picture-disc, etc) copies. This was the panacea of my youth; finding a coloured or picture-disc edition in the vinyl bin in my local Our Price or HMV, usually on release day (if you knew when that was), and being the first to find it (more often then not, there would be one example per store). Most of my latest and newest additions are limited edition versions, coloured discs with runs of between 50-300. Nice.

It’s also making ‘working at home’ more fun. Instead of listening to Spotify on headphones in the office, blocking out the noise of the busy working environment, I can play an album in full, without headphones, and have the turntable spinning the disc next to me.

Crackles and everything.

Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash