RECORD STORE DAY 2012: A Vinyl extravaganza at Bristol’s best independent record store RISE

Record store day 2012 finally arrived in the early hours of yesterday 21st April.  I chose Rise Records, one of the finest record stores in the UK and the best independent record store in Bristol as my vinyl heaven location.

I nipped into RISE on Friday afternoon to see how preparations were going, the staff seemed a little rushed off their feet! With over 400 titles to put out onto the floor and prepare for what they hoped would be hoards of eager shoppers, they had their work cut out.

Each year the event has been going, it has become more popular with more releases and more interest.  Vinyl sales went up by over 40% last year and a welcome niche market has opened up for the musical connoisseur and a lifeline for “real” independent record shops.  Times are hard, and Record Store Day is a welcome silver lining to the dark clouds of economic gloom for record dealers around the world.

Last year I began queuing at 6:10am for the 8am lift off. By the time the shop opened there was a queue several hundred meters long. This time I was told that people were intending to start queuing at 4am!  So with heavy eyelids I set my alarm for 4am and got to the queue for around 4:30am.

It is essential to be in the first 20 in the queue as people are let in 20 at a time.  I was number 8!  This year I managed to even persuade my partner to join the fun!  Ironically I was standing next to the same people as last year as the geek music chat began!

Time passed quickly as the excitement built and the darkness fell away.  Automatic lights came on in the shop to reveal the hundreds of limited edition titles on display, and then by 7am the staff arrived to prepare for the rush.

It was incredibly well organised as they passed out lists to the first 20 people to pick their items strictly to Record Store Day rules – first come first serve.  This prevents any initial over exuberance and “elbowing” tactics for the ultra rare items.  Last year there was nearly a fight over a Dr Who single!

8 o’clock came and we were allowed in, our piles of records waiting for us.  We browsed in ore at the wealth of vinyl on offer to be tempted with yet more purchases.  It is hard to resist!

Some ask, “what is the point of vinyl?”, usually asked with their mp3 in their pocket full of pirated music that they have neither paid for or on the most part ever listened to.

I love music, all kinds and on all formats.  Everything has its place.  Mp3 players are amazing and very convenient; CD’s are excellent quality these days and are also convenient (the original CD’s in the 80’s and early 90’s were simply awful quality); and Vinyl are a different listening experience, superb quality and playing albums the way there were intended to be listened to, with artwork and an emotional experience.

The Vinyl experience is different and more attentive and more emotional.  When record companies began trying to force the death of vinyl in a re-issuing frenzy on CD of back catalogue items in a “bring them in and pile them high” attitude as a cash cow, the emotional aspect of buying records began to be broken.  The start of the death nail for recorded music.

This year many of the items available for record store day are of high quality and much sought after, along with some titles that are the inevitable cash in.  Record store day is more than just getting your hands on some lovely limited vinyl though, it is an event.  RISE had bands on all day and DJ sets, Record store day beer (very good!) as well as special offers and a few give away’s.  With   physical sales of music declining and difficult economic times generally this day has become very important in the record store retail calender.

The highlight for me was seeing Duke Spirit play live at 3pm.  They were superb and I can’t wait to listen to their live album I bought.

My vinyl highlights were The Kinks re-issues; Lee Scratch Perry 3 x 10″ box set; David Bowie Starman pic disc; Refused “The shape of punk to come”; Blood Music 7″; Keith Howard 12″;  Gorillaz 10″, Edwyn Collins tape box and Velvet Underground Loaded on pink Vinyl!

I’m still counting the cost however, as inevitably over enthusiasm got the better of me! Not to worry, it’s only once a year!

A great day for independent music shops – great music, great live music, great beer and a great day.  Thanks RISE for an excellent day!

Roll on next year . . . . .

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