Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Record Store Day 2012


I, and a few others I've managed to sneak a peaking of interrogating towards, speak of the third Saturday of every April day as some audiophile's celebratory equivalent to Christmas Day. While we may not be in the decorative mood on this day, nor find even the need to dress ourselves in a limited palette of reds and whites shouting 'HO HO!' in a low-bass elderly voice, there's no denying Record Store Day, the official day for everything vinyl and vinyl-related, brings about the same joyous giddiness that December 25th creates. April 21st was this year's marking of the day, and as per usual, record shops and artists alike around the World united in a basking of a musical extravaganza. And we, the fans; the listeners, the consumers, the critics and yes, the obsessors, were there to join them.

No doubt the scenes were the same, albeit barbecues and mass gatherings of cook-outs differing in size and quantity. This year we had an intriguing deliverance of RSD-exclusive releases from bands such as The Flaming Lips, Arcade Fire & Arctic Monkeys to name a few worthwhile highlights. No doubt you and I had claimed territory to these limited-copy exclusives in the days approaching, each day tantalizingly closer than the previous. And while I'm also guessing you managed to pick out a fair few releases, both targeted and not targeted, am I right in thinking there was maybe just that one record that had either ran out, been claimed by some early-bird who could not wait until the afternoon, or simply just wasn't there in general? For me, I can't say I know the feeling...but believe me, I know the feeling of retreating to online markets and retail stores, both your jaw and the sinking in your stomach dropping as you find that one release, a price-tag two, three...maybe five times the amount it was originally promoted as for Record Store Day.


And this is where the joy and positivity of the day tarnishes, descending into criticism...not so much of its own accord, but of the resulting aftermath that follows. 'Flipping', as it's been coined, is the process - or rather, decision - of buying a record with the intent of immediately selling it on at, at the very least in most scenarios, more than double its original price. While Record Store Day does indeed attract the most passionate and most committed of music listeners, in equal measure, it also reels in the type who may or may not be that all interested in the content, but whatever they say, aim to get a quick buck or pile of profit from others' interests and passion. While this isn't illegal or criminal in as general a sense you can make it, it does at the very least, conjure a foul stench over a day that aims to please and promote. There is no rule or written law to say you can't do such a thing, but adding many factors into this - moral and socioeconomic alike - I can't help but feel that even something as simple and light-hearted as music, and the enjoyment that comes with it, comes out the worst in this intentional casualty. Call me quick to jump to conclusions, but you can't deny there is a trail of frustration and rolling of the eyes whenever you see a £10 7" or limited 12" being sold for £50 (or more) on your nation's eBay directory or Amazon market.

Fortunately, I'm the type who's not entirely focused on the collecting side of LPs and records (at least, not yet)...and while I did come home from a long-day of trawling and traveling with a big satisfactory grin on my face, my priorities lay not on the materialistic consuming of products, but on the very simple nature of enjoying myself and...excuse the cliche...feeling truly a part of something much bigger. And I have only my local record store to thank for that. Prepare for an almighty name-drop ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. I present to you, the last surviving and still standing independent record shop in the entirety of Teesside, Sound It Out Records.

Some of you may recognize that organization of words from the title of the documentary of the same name, some of you will instead look at those four words as you would with any other combination of English syllables and think: '...nope, no idea'. But there's no denying from a personal perspective, this is a place I hold treasured deep in that confined list of places you know you can go to and come out with a smile, empty-handed or full-handed alike. Sound It Out, based in the town of Stockton-on-Tees, may not be the biggest and spacious collective of music, memorabilia and apparel, but in such a semantic as 'music', its immediate aura of expertise, variety and witty banter, is not to be sniffed at. No, it's the classy dusty-wood smell that'll be sniffed when you pass through Sound's door. And it's one of the greatest smells mankind has ever laid claim to. Glorious.


Yes, Sound It Out's RSD was a fantastic unveiling of local talent and local community. Some of the shop's fixtures may have been removed to accommodate for the coming huddle of bodies, but even that didn't stop from people finding comfort even beneath the grey and gloom of Britain's typical spring-time weather. From what I witnessed, it was nothing that prevented focus from remaining squarely on the enjoyment factor of the day. The store remained tight and active and the sales remained high and full in activity - even if I hadn't shown up, I'm confident this store would have still had a great day. But regardless of the statistics and actual end-numbers, I'm confident the day was a great success.

So here we stand - away from the individualism of specific stores and trawling of the day's left-overs and unwanted - it's already mid-week and the turntable here in my abode has already had its fair amount of usage already. As for the Saturday that was, it was my first official RSD that I actually took notice of and it's safe to say it's cemented its place as both a mandatory and an essential part of my music year. 2013 may produce new products and, quite possibly, new means to promote and express them, but as I look back and conclude this year's celebration, it's safe to say that the raw, untainted side of its enjoyment and its intrigue will always remain and will never change. And for that, I will always be grateful.
~Jordan

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