Saturday, April 16, 2011

Record Store Day

Today was Record Store Day.  This began in 2008 as a way to rally music stores around their product (er... music).  It is also an excuse for special, limited edition records to be issued by bands and labels looking to drum up interest in their flagging product.  In 2008 a handful of special releases were issued.  In 2011 there are over 100.  To paraphrase a certain midget, that gum you like has come back in style.  Records are back in a big way.  The truth is, they never went away.  But now they're back in force.  Vinyl had its best year since 1991.  Almost 3 million units sold, and that doesn't include 45's.  Why has this happened?  Why was Johnny's mobbed today like it hasn't been in years, if not ever?

Let's talk about the record at the top of the page.  You're wondering - is it one of this year's participants?  No, it's not.  This is a 1981 record by an Australian band called the Discounts.  As far as anyone knows this is the only thing they ever did.  The cover makes the point that "selling records in your shop will have a dramatic impact on sales".  This was clearly intended in a joking manner in 1981.  But by 2006 it probably seemed like sage advice.  If stores actually try to sell records to the public, they may buy them!  That's not really the beginning and end of the story.  Technology had to evolve enough to kill (or at least mildly maim) the compact disc.  The advent of music downloads made it feasible to create a vinyl package, insert a coupon for a download of the music, and sell the whole thing - for way more than a CD ever would cost anyhow!

This record is an entrant in Johan Kugelberg's top 100 D.I.Y. record list.  It's pretty spectacular stuff and I won't try to rephrase the Kugelberg description, "sub-sub-sub Blockheads DIY stumble".  There some inspired, carefully thought out lyrics : 

  "they make records in dark places, they make new ones every day"
  "you want a record - I've got a record"

When the guy runs out of things to say he just says "records records records".  For all the Record Store Days that happen, it's not likely that the Discounts will participate.  They said their piece in 1981.  But I'm not a jaded fool, if a 15 year old kid is walking out of Johnny's holding a copy of the reissued Bad Brains' "Pay To Cum" 45, something has gone right.  Here's a youtube link to the Discounts one and only moment.  Go buy some records.