The thrill of unearthing a rare LP at the back of a tiny
record store… the unmistakeable sound of the needle hitting the groove… the
sense of warmth and familiarity only playing your favourite vinyl can bring –
it’s no wonder record sales continue to soar annually. And each year in April,
an entire event is dedicated to this musical medium – when Record Store Day is
celebrated in independent outlets around the world.
Back in 2008, Record Store Day was established in America to
celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store. Since then, it’s
grown in size and popularity every year – and now, thousands of fans, artists
and curious minds descend on vinyl treasure troves across the globe. According
to the Official Charts Company, sales hit a new high during the 2018 edition –
with 60,000 albums changing hands in the UK, and more than 700,000 in the USA. But
what is it about this day in particular that draws the crowds?
Although the prospect of being surrounded by like-minded record lovers is enough to encourage some people to make the trip to an independent store, for many, it’s the lure of limited edition releases that proves to be the most tempting. Over the years, some of the world’s biggest artists have issued special records exclusively for the event – like David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and Madonna – and this year is no different. Out of the 500 available releases, top picks include Aretha Franklin’s Atlantic Singles vinyl box set; a re-release of Bob Dylan’s Blood on The Tracks, which is often considered to be his best work; and the Complete Radio Series of The Mighty Boosh – with the comedic duo acting as the UK ambassadors for Record Store Day.
In our own tribute to the event, we’ve decided to share some of our favourite vinyl facts – covering everything from hidden messages to colossal collections.
A record-breaking collection:
In the suburbs of São Paulo, Brazilian Zero Freitas is building the ultimate resting place for the golden age of vinyl, with a hoard that stands at six million and counting.
Occupying an entire city block, Amoeba Music on Los Angeles’ Sunset Boulevard comfortably holds the title of the world’s biggest independent record store – and features a mind-boggling array of music old and new. Other notable stores include Ontario’s Soundscapes, the Diskunion Club in Tokyo, and London’s beloved Rough Trade East.
Out of this world:
Perhaps the most famous records in the universe are the two copies of the Golden Record that were placed aboard the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft in 1977. They feature musical selections from different eras and spoken greetings in 55 languages. Today, Voyager is nearly 12-billion miles away from Earth.
Music’s hidden meanings:
Conspiracy theorists often find ‘secret’ lyrics by playing records backwards – the results of which often prove to be controversial. A famous example is Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, which supposedly changes the lyrics “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow”, into “Oh here’s to my sweet Satan” when reversed. Another popular theory is that the backmasked version of The Beatles’ Revolution 9 lends proof to the rumour that Paul McCartney died in 1966 – featuring the words “turn me on, dead man”.
Whether you’re a die-hard vinyl fan or just starting to build a collection, click here to see how you can get involved in this year’s Record Store Day on April 13th – and play your part in preserving this important musical tradition.