Records defy the vinyl countdown

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They thought it had lost its groove. But now it looks like vinyl is enjoying a massive surge in popularity, some 30 years after warnings began over its terminal decline.

Steve Mathie, who has been selling vintage records from his shop Spin-it Records inside Hull’s Trinity Market for nearly 20 years, took delivery of his first shipment of new vinyl last week, the first independent record shop in Hull to do so since the city’s famous Sidney Scarborough’s record shop closed.

Albums by the likes of Amy Winehouse and Noel Gallagher are flying off the shelves as parents dust down record players which have been lingering in the attic for years. It seems that while downloads may be quick and easy, nothing quite beats the thrill of holding a heavy piece of vinyl.

According to the latest statistics from the Official Charts Company, vinyl album sales are up 40 per cent year-on-year and are on course to pass 300,000 units by the end of the year for the first time since 2005.

Mr Mathie said: “Record shops have been closing very fast over the last ten years. To keep up with the times like most shops we had to make changes. Firstly, we started selling on the internet in 1994 and stopped selling CDs 12 year ago to become a vinyl-only shop. Last year we moved forward again by starting to stock the new breed of record players that also have MP3 playback.

“Now we are selling new LPs on vinyl by all the top names. Five years ago the average age of our customers was about 42, now it is about 24.

“In 1982 the big news was that CDs would kill off vinyl but 29 years later vinyl together with downloads looks set to be killing off CDs.”

He added: “The younger generation are coming on board more and more. I think it is the tangibility of it, it’s something you can talk about and discuss. If you had a friend round and you had a new LP they’d ask where you got it from – they’d never do that about a CD. You can have a thousand CDs stacked up at home and 50 LPs and aesthetically the LPs look better.”

Phil Hudson was in the shop yesterday to buy his 17-year-old son Jake the latest album from American pop punk band Blink-182 for Christmas. Jake said: “I like the sound much better and you don’t get the pictures and the descriptions on CDs.”

Ryan Mathie, 16, who was helping his uncle out, is the proud owner of a 35-year-old Pioneer record player.

He counts 60s singer-songwriter Del Shannon, along with the likes of Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and Howling Wolf, as among his favourites and considers working in the shop a musical education. He said: “You can’t get the sound from a CD that you can get from vinyl.”

Scott Gamble, who works in Crash Records in The Headrow, in Leeds, said: “Even the popular stuff like Lady Gaga sells really well on vinyl.

“It’s definitely moving in that direction from the depth of the mid-90s where very little stuff was getting pressed. Mid-90s bands like Oasis, Pulp and Blur, their stuff is very hard to get on vinyl. Even though thousands, millions, were pressed on CD, you only had 2,000 or 3,000 on LPs.

“(Youngsters) are wanting a mixture, from the classics like the Beatles and Rolling Stones, to Metallica, which is a big vinyl band.”

Is it the end for CDs? The answer is not entirely. Scott said: “I would almost compare CDs to tapes in a sense it has its place and people will hold onto it but I think downloads have replaced them as a way of listening to music on the move. It seems kids have embraced vinyl as something to keep and hold and listen to.”

Vinyl fan John Horseman is among the die-hards who never stopped buying LPs: “As well as the music you are buying a piece of art, something that’s collectable, unlike CDs which are clinical and characterless. I’ve owned the majority of mine for 30 or 40 years and they are good as they were when I first bought them, unlike CDs which are usually ruined after a couple of years, as the slightest mark makes them unplayable.”