Chatting to several Record Store owners in the lead up to this year’s ‘International Record Store Day’ there was a sense the hype has well-and-truly overpowered the original idea. The releases were patchy, the prices exorbitant (and margins reduced); there was a sense of store owners being blackmailed via RSD propaganda into ordering LPs of dubious interest while not even knowing which albums would finally arrive.
So no surprise there was remarkably little excitement evident behind the counter. Who could blame them? The small businesses the day was invented to celebrate have become cogs in yet another corporate wheel. Suckering collectors and mad music obsessives with ‘limited editions’ and ‘exclusive RSD releases’… Wasn’t it about your local purveyor of vinyl? Oh, and the music?
Like all successful marketing strategies, RSD has developed a life of its own. Collectors ask each other, ‘Where are you starting?’ or ‘How many stores are you aiming for?’ as they discuss their vinyl obstacle race around the city. A sense of excitement used to be the dominant feeling; now it was more like steely-eyed determination. ‘I’m going to get that Prince LP on purple vinyl even if it kills me… or someone else’. This isn’t about celebrating records and the little stores that sell them, it’s about artificially manufacturing collectables and manipulating demand. As the hype mounts I find myself leaning away in some sort of counterbalance move.
Not that I’m immune to the dream of the ultimate score. Lots of stores stockpile a few juicy albums to beef up RSD interest, a strategy that does tend to get the old fantasy-find juices flowing. But this, too, has its down side as I discovered two years ago when I almost disappeared under a scrum of rabid record hunters bursting through the Quality Records…Plus doors as they were opened at nine o’clock sharp on RSD Saturday. Why was I inside? Same reason as this Saturday just past. Mel, the affable owner of the shop, always does something a bit different on RSD, and he and son Max invited me to be ‘in-store DJ’ for a few hours. The staff dressed up, a live musician played some tasty jazz guitar and I span some tracks. All-in-all it was much closer to the festival atmosphere one imagines should attend the event.
So despite almost being flattened by the initial wave of desperadoes last time, I promptly agreed to a return gig and started planning a playlist for the day. I even created some voice-overs which I mixed into a bespoke CD-R to play when I was taking a break. Silly, but fun.
When the day came, it was pretty crazy at the beginning, but soon settled down into a pleasant flow of customers who seemed —after initial astonishment at being engaged by staff dressed as Elvis and a live radio show— to appreciate the carnival atmosphere Mel and Co had created. And just like 2014, Nick Freer again provided an afternoon set of beautifully played jazz guitar, bringing smiles to everyone’s faces.
Of course I didn’t plunder the ‘specials’ bins in advance of the doors opening. I’m much too ethical for that and am deeply offended that the possibility could even be countenanced. Actually, it took longer to get my equipment assembled and working than expected —I blame the roady— and so the vultures, sorry, collectors, got a good head start. Still, I managed to grab a couple of things, of which the George Harrison was the most interesting.
One of the elements Max and Mel wanted to include was a quiz. Given that most shoppers were pretty focussed on the task in hand —grabbing RSD ‘goodies’ or trawling the specials— I figured that any quiz would have to be passive. Recalling that Vinyl Connection chums had enjoyed the two album cover quizzes posted here, I decided on that format. Having prepared an answer sheet, I printed off two A3 copies of the quiz and placed them on the walls at Quality, using my mic-ed up DJ status to spruik the competition. Mel did his part by putting up a generous Gift Voucher as prize, adding a small frisson of excitement.
Now, if I know my readership at all, I reckon by the time some of you have read this sentence you’ll have identified at least half of the albums in the above image and started composing a comment requesting a better photo.
So let’s do this properly. Fanfare please.
The Vinyl Connection / Quality Records…Plus
2016 RSD Album Cover Quiz
Below are 12 CD album covers sitting on top of an LP.
Name all thirteen artists and albums.
Of course this is not really a competition, so let’s simply report our scores (Unassisted and ‘After research’ if you wish) in the Comments section, with each respondent adding JUST ONE or TWO answers.
There is no reward other than the joy of participation.
Than-yoo verr’ much.