There is always an excitement that runs through my bones whenever I go to a record shop. Naturally, I really like music. Secondly there is something about owning a touchable media as compared to music bought online as digital download. Years ago, my parents used to own a record player. It was a Japanese made Akai, which my dad bought as a packaged unit upon returning from his tour of duty in Vietnam during the Vieatnam War. It was a big cumbersome thing to haul back then as it consisted of a pair of massive speakers which you can put together and form as a one cubic meter block, it had a very rugged turntable, an amplifier, a tuner, and a reel-to-reel player that was reminiscent of old 1960’s and 1970’s FBI films. When I was growing up in Manila, we used to listen to loads of vinyl records and we had some brilliant collection of both Filipino and foreign artists from Pilita Corales to Rico J Puno and from Nat "King" Cole to Sinatra. I really enjoyed my dad’s old turntable and I loved listening to Jackson 5 on it when I was little. Daddy would play it on weekends when he was at home especially on Sundays just after Mama and him had just arrived from mass. I would kneel down the floor and would remove his shoes for him. It was a sign of respect to my dad which similar to removing his coat for him. Definitely, listening to music became a part of our weekend rituals as a family except there was no watching TV nor listening to music when we had lunch. We talked to each other as a family instead. I think it was some time in early ‘80s that eventually my family decided to embrace cassette tapes as they were easier to store and very much compact. I remember the first cassette tapes we had, they were TDK C-60s and eventually got outnumbered by BASF LH-90s. Anyways, the brilliant turntable fell apart and died eventually and the remaining vinyl records were used as coasters and massive ninja throwing stars or flying saucers / frisbees. I am not so proud to state this, but in my younger days as a child, I broke and smashed a lot of them. Some of the records managed to survive my childhood but they were poorly kept and eventually were chucked in the bin until there was no more trace of the original collection we once had.
In September 2015, I bought a turntable. It is an Austrian ‘Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC’ for AU$529 which I bought for my self as a birthday present. Its my first turntable and I plan to keep it for a very long time. People can go overly crazy with turntables but I have managed to just choose one that I really like and within my level of budget. It has won awards due to it's design, value and good quality as well as being easy to maintain and modify. A piece of brilliance, plain and simple and I would recommend it as it was recommended to me by my brilliant mate Craig who is a Radio DJ at RTR FM. It is red and it looks hot and plays the music that I like. I bought a preamp for about AU$60 and connected to a 10Watt Roland DM10 powered speakers which I acquired for more than 8 years running now. The whole rig was such a simple setup and very much does the job of filling my space with analog soundwaves which makes playing vinyl record so damn worth it. It sounds warm and absolutely way better than Compact Discs or downloaded tunes.
My first awesome vinyl record was bought on the 23rd of August 2015. One of my best mates, Marty, and I went to Rosemount Hotel that particular Sunday afternoon to see what a vinyl fare was all about. I bought the 1968 soundtrack of the film “The Graduate” and on the cover was a young Dustin Hoffman depicted as staring at a woman’s sexy calf and they were both in the bathroom. But the best catch for me on that day was Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Land in mint condition originally pressed in 1968. Ever since then, my collection to date has now grown to just under 250 vinyl records and I am in the process of cataloging all of them just for reason of personal sanity.
So where did this journey lead me to?
... Well, aside from learning more about the music genre that I like, I have discovered so many brilliant artists and musicians I've never heard of since Adam. Not only that, it tickled my curiousity and so I started reading about the artists’ history and life which is far more interesting and more involved than just listening to their music. There is a story to every song created, and that I firmly believe.
My collection grew by visiting existing collectors, dealers and shops situated near where I live. The first established vinyl shop I went to visit was my local vinyl shop in Maylands, Perth WA. A gentleman named Stewart or “Stewy” runs it and I made friends with him. His place is called Plastic Passion located at 8th Avenue near the Maylands train station and it has been around for about 30 years. As of the time of this writing though, I think he is going to lose the physical shop but will still continue to sell online.
The second place I went to was a shop at Mount Hawthorne, Perth. Its a beautiful bookshop, which has loads of brand new vinyl records. I have been there a couple of times before and eventually I met one of the business partners there, a gentleman named Scott and his wife Monica. The place is called “Diabolik Books and Records”.
The third shop I went to was “Rhubarb Records” in North Perth and I bought three brand-spanking new reissued LPs of Kraftwerk there before I met the owner, a gentleman named Dylan. It is a small place with a small collection of second-hand vinyl.
The fourth shop I went to was a café called “Satchmo” which was named after Louis Armstrong’s nickname. It is located in Rosemount and owned by a gentleman named Nathan. They serve brilliant cakes and awesome coffee and they have a few second-hand vinyl records on sale. It strikes me as a nice place for an afternoon date if ever the intention is to grab a quick quirky cuppa before heading to Hyde Park for a romantic walk and sweet silent snogs. Yeah, definitely I’d do it!
The fifth shop I went to and often frequented is probably the oldest record shop in Perth. It is called “Dada” and it has good collection of second-hand vinyl as well as a multitude of brand new vinyl. The place has two levels, an older gentleman named Rob manages the ground level and downstairs is the Hip Hop section and is run by a gentleman named Chris.
I bought some vinyl at place in Northbridge, Perth called “Noise Pollution”. This was the sixth shop I went to and though I did not get to know the owner, the staff member seems friendly and they do have a fine collection of second-hand records. It is a must to visit if you are in the area.
The seventh shop and the most exciting vinyl record shop I have been to was a place called “Micro Grooves” and is owned by a gentleman named Bret. I am always excited to see Bret because he is so well informed when it comes to Funk, Disco, Soul and Gospel. I have learnt the he went to the US and bought crazy amount of vinyl records which he shipped into Australia. Regardless, Bret is a down-to-earth fellow and with him, it is like having a personal ‘selector’ who can decipher my musical taste and vinyl adventures which then adds value to my experience visiting his place. It is located in Dianella and the shop is his massive personal collection housed in his awesome garage. I love this place!
I have been to “78 Records” in Perth Mall but it seems sterile. This shop is number eight on my list and I can’t help compare it with the rest of the record shops I have been to. They have brand new records there but less compared to the “Diabolik” and if you are in Perth Mall, I would suggest “Dada” because it is just a walking distance and the collection is probably ten times bigger.
Bret who owns Micro Grooves is a close friend of Chris who works in the Hip Hop section of Dada. I have seen Chris way before I have seen him in Dada because he is a DJ at my local, The Flying Scotsman in Mount Lawley, Perth where I usually go for Sunday Sesh Pint and Pizza.
From time to time I still buy from Amazon.com, Discogs.com as well as eBay.com.
So why go vinyl records?....... First, may I be excused in saying this - No, I am not a hipster. Secondly, I am not an audiophile so I cannot explain it technically. All I know is that the sound wave is better pronounced. I felt it listening through Nat “King” Coles’ classic song ‘When I Fall In Love’ in pure perfect and sweet analog sound.
And the question should not be “Why?” but rather a curios and eccentric “Why NOT?”.