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Building the Perfect Record collection
So, you want to start spinning records, eh? Maybe you've already picked up a few treasures that are the envy of your friends, and now you want to get serious about building that collection into something more glorious. Well you've come the right place for that. Time to get yourself initiated.
Buying Records is an Investment in yourself
Truth is, there's no right or wrong way to collect records. Any dolt could tell you that. But given the fact that you're likely to spend time and money on this hobby, we feel you should take your first record pretty seriously. Think about it, one thing that'll define your whole experience in a huge way is the first record you loved. It's the same as your first car, your first gaming console, your first baseball bat.
The smell, the feeling, the artwork on the cover and the way it first sounds when the needle first touched down on it's glorious vinyl surface. It'll pretty much define your relationship with vinyl altogether.
Maybe you'll go to an indie music festival, end up having the best time you can humanly remember, and really wanted to remember that night for the rest of your life, because it brought out everything in yourself that meant something. They might be selling vinyls at the door or gate if it's an outdoor event and you'll just know you have to buy one of those gems to relive that single moment in time.
Or say you were big into The Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" and want to keep that memory alive every now and then. Your musical interests might go back even further in time to the the Beat Generation, even if you're young. And let's face it, Charlie Parker will never lose his relevance. Some like to slip on a record which tells a story. A literal story, involving a poet like Jack Kerouac reading "On the Road". Then of course, there's the whole pull factor of limited editions.
Limited editions rule
If you're into limited edition records where, for instance only a couple of thousand have been pressed, then you're the perfect candidate for starting a record collection. That can be an expensive route in the short term but you'll have two good reasons to hang on to them for the long term. And in the days of ebay and second hand record stores, it's possible to find something worth holding onto.
Either way, you should give some thought to the direction of your collection. Each piece represents the genre of music you're in love with. The art of the collection has a lot to do with the art on the cover. Nothing beats a full collection of beatles albums, and when things get a little hard in life, there's always Jack White or Nirvana, best listened to on vinyl of course. There's no question about it.
Some Templates for Beginners
Of course there are many different tastes and any kind of advice that limits you to a particular genre would be defying the whole point of this article. That said, there are a couple staples in each genre if you need to find some direction for your collection: What pop collection would be complete without Michael Jackson's Thriller, Prince's Purple Rain, or the already mentioned Beatles' Abbey Road?
Rock n Roll, Indie and Folk have their mainstays too, not least of course is Nirvana's Nevermind, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon, David Bowies' The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust or Bob Dylan's Blonde On Blonde.
For modern fans, there have been more than a few high points of modern listening. Take Daft Punk's Homework or MGMT's Congratulation. The great thing about these albums is that they're feel like they should have been released on vinyl to begin with. And that takes us to one of the important points of vinyl collection: Building a world of essential classics of our times is for some of us at the heart of it all.
The Joy of Obscurity
The trouble with lists and advice columns on collecting vinyl in general is that they're often so darn prescriptive. So moving steadily on from these generalized pointers, let's get onto one of the more exciting aspects of vinyl is collecting.
Deciding on which pieces to collect is hugely personal, rather like building up a composite artwork. And that's the point of many indie shops around the world which have sprung up to cater to the very particular itch that many vinyl owners have developed: To find and curate unique music that many people have never even experienced, or will have a hope of ever owning. Indie bands as far away as Edinburgh, or as close as Portland have a special space in that market, with independent shops – both online and physically - holding vinyls that cater to a new level of customer.
Many of these are specially pressed vinyls made specifically for the task of pleasing those among us who have moved beyond the basic stereotypes of music. Music is after all a personal experience, and there's much to be said about keeping a collection that expresses the unique facets of your personality.
Some Points to Ponder on
Record collecting, whichever way you look at it is an art form. But since it's more than anything an expression of your love for music, the best place to start is with the stuff you can't live without. Your record player is one of those things. After all, music will never be remembered quite the same as a collection of digital information. Record collecting is about the joy of living, and it's one sure way to warm up your apartment or give put a musical spell over your room that your future great grandchildren will probably still dig. Like a collector of any art, you'll have your own way of going about things, and as long as it adds joy to your life, you'll know you're doing things properly.