Vinyl destination – Features – Music – The Independent
It is a Saturday afternoon in west London, and five pounds has purchased entry into the Olympia record fair. The untrained eye sees perhaps as many as 200 stalls, each groaning under the weight of an awful lot of old vinyl and CDs, and in front of which gather men and they are mostly men in winter coats on the prowl for a stone-cold, ultra-rare collectable. When they fail in locating one – and they mostly do, stone-cold, ultra-rare collectables being hard to come by – they invariably settle for an obscure bargain in the hope that one day it too shall attain collectable status.
The atmosphere here is palpably different to the kind you’d find in HMV. Where HMV’s vacuumed aisles thrum with relaxed browsers, this dusty hall is alive with antennas twitching, a blokey community, certainly, but a competitive one, too, each hoping to outfox the other, with every stallholder not just grateful, but desperate, for the custom.
Their touching patronage aside, the record fair is nevertheless a shadow of its former self this far into the 21st century. One stallholder tells me of the golden age of the 1980s, “when queues snaked around the block to get in”. Today, there is no queue, and that’s because we live in curiously emancipated times: why pay for music when we can either stream it or download it onto our computers for free?
Strange Random Vinyl Quote:
“I know this was obviously before your time but, way back when, recordings were done on these things called vinyl records. We, in the industry, use to call these recordings ’45’s’.” – Don Schossow
- Sales of vinyl albums rise as CDs slump (telegraph.co.uk)
- Vinyl Records Are Cool Again (chicagotalks.org)
- 35 Modernized Vinyl Players – From Wall-Mounted Turntables to Retro Vinyl Revivals (TrendHunter.com) (trendhunter.com)
- More images from the Golden Age of HMV, Oxford St (dangerousminds.net)
- Playing with routers, vinyl and music concrete (hackaday.com)
- How to make a vinyl record (telegraph.co.uk)
- BBC Radio 6 Music goes vinyl-only on New Year’s Day (guardian.co.uk)
- Music shoppers scoop up ‘old-school’ CDs before downtown HMV store closes (theprovince.com)