Robert’s column

Robert’s column

Barron: Vinyl records making a comeback

Remember the days when getting a new record was an event?

When I was young (or younger), I owned hundreds of vinyl records of many of the bands I really liked at the time.

I was not alone in this.

Most of my friends also collected records, and each had hundreds, if not thousands, of them that were kept in crates that milk companies would transport their milk in.

These crates were perfectly sized to hold records, and I’ve often wondered if the companies would have made them in that size if they knew how many of them would eventually be used for that purpose.

Getting a new record was an event, and I would read over the large jacket that would usually have a lot of information about the band, the words of the songs, posters, and all kinds of pictures of the members doing fun things for hours on end.

Sometimes, the band would do something different on a record to pique the curiosity and imaginations of their mostly young fans, like when Led Zeppelin added some lyrics on its fourth album that could only be heard by playing the record backwards.

We would sit around the turntable and spin the record backwards until we heard the lyrics, and then congratulate ourselves in breaking the case.

We considered it a big deal, and we would talk about it for months, if not years, afterwards.

Once the record entered your collection, it became a permanent addition as there would never be any consideration of selling it, or any other of the records in the collection, no matter how poor you might be at certain times.

I was proud of my collection; I felt that my taste in music said a lot about who I was at the time, and I would sit for hours late into the night with a pair of headphones on while I analyzed the songs, their words and the instruments that were played.

Sometimes, my earphone cord would slip out of the stereo and my family would be treated to the Rolling Stones’ ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ playing at almost full volume at 2 a.m.

I was not very popular when that happened, and I would have to deal with a lot of snarky comments from my many siblings and parents at the breakfast table the next morning.

I always assumed that I would have that record collection for the rest of my life, and would pass it on to my favourite kid on my deathbed.

When I had the record collection, it was the most valuable thing I owned, and I envisioned one of my children being overwhelmed with joy and satisfaction that he/she should be recognized for such a high honour.

But that didn’t happen.

I moved a lot when I was in university so my record collection was stored at my parent’s house until I found a more permanent and safe home for it, but then I moved to Toronto and my parents moved somewhere else and, over time, I lost track of the collection and I haven’t seen it since.

On top of that, the age of CDs began and vinyl records, which had ruled the music industry for many decades, seemed to vanish overnight.

A lot of time has passed since I last saw my collection, but the memories came flooding back in a torrent when I visited the new Full Bug Records on Jubilee Street in Duncan.

The smell and feel of the store was exactly what I remembered from the 1970s and 1980s when vinyl records still ruled supreme.

Records were piled high in Full Bug Records and customers were flipping through them with that intense stare I used to get in those stores.

Owner Matt Hewlett is a retired restaurateur from Vancouver who decided to get out of the big city and fulfill his dream of opening a record store.

He told me that the vinyl record industry was making a comeback, in part because of all the reasons I listed in this column for enjoying my records.

Hewlett said he’s witnessing the resurgence first hand at his store, and noted that his increasing customer base covers a wide range of ages, from 15 to 70.

He made me nostalgic for my lost records from long ago. Does anyone have any milk crates to spare?

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