Jayne Dawson: Vinyl revival is gathering pace - like a broken record

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You know me, I love a bit of nostalgia. Nothing warms my little 1970s heart more.

I’ve taken to doing things I never could have imagined - like taking my parents’ ornaments. Only the other day I swiped a lovely wooden stag from my father. It was there my whole childhood and is, I’m pretty sure, carved from some rare wood whose import is now prohibited. I’ve seen others just like it on the telly and thought I’d better have it before my sister had the same thought.

So there you have it. I’m a sucker for the nice bits of the past - not the whole reality you understand, nothing would induce me to go back there should it become possible - but there is no denying that there were certain elements of the 1950s to the 1970s that were really very cool.

Not the recorded music delivery system of the time though. Those things then called LPs and singles - now known as vinyl - were not cool at all. They were a right pain.

I say this as a word of caution to all those youngsters who are now enthusing about vinyl, who are rushing off to buy turntables and berating their parents and grandparents for throwing away their record collection.

The sale of vinyl is gathering pace, there is little that is more prized at the moment than a turntable and an original David Bowie LP.

But honestly, guys, it isn’t worth the hassle.

We who have been there love digital music, we can’t believe our luck that it actually exists. It’s so easy, it’s so hassle-free, it’s freedom in a little plastic box. We adore it, we never want to look an LP in the face again.

Let me tell you about LPs. First, there were only ever two tracks you liked on them. You paid for the full twelve but then you spent your time hovering over the record player, leaping to grab the needle arm when your favourite track had finished, and move it onto your next favourite track.

And let me tell you what happened when you performed that manoeuvre: you scratched your record. In the heat of the moment, you would drop that needle arm too heavily, or your mate would jog your arm, or that person you hadn’t even invited to your party would choose that moment to fall over and, one way or another, your record would be left with a scratch on it the width and depth of the Grand Canyon.

Then you would have to hover over your record player permanently, ready to jog the needle every time it got stuck in that Grand Canyon and played the same word over and over until your head exploded.

On top of that, your record player needle would wear out and that was bad because needles, let me explain, were in general fragile and needy things. They were forever gathering dust and having to be blown on to clean them, or falling off, or breaking into bits - a bit like your records.

As for singles, in theory they could be placed on record players in stacks to stop a person having to reload every three minutes. In practice, those records never dropped down one at a time, they would just fall onto the turntable how they pleased: sometimes one at a time, sometimes three at a time. Depends how the machinery felt. Basically, a record player needed constant tending, it was like another child in the house.

If that isn’t enough - a final warning. No-one has a complete record collection because records had to be lent out to your friends and, like books, they rarely came back. In fact, records are the reason no-one in the 1970s ever kept a friend - the falling out was always over a borrowed disc.

So, truly, you don’t want to go back. Keep it digital, keep it virtual and invisible and remote and impersonal. Keep your music trapped in a tiny bit of plastic. Show it who is boss - trust me, it’s for the best.

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Alexandra Shulman. PIC: PA

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