Adam Gillison, Jumbo Records, Leeds
More Specials - The Specials
Favourite albums of all time are always a difficult thing to isolate, as inevitably they are always subject to context: fashion, culture, politics of the time - or just the mood that you are in. More Specials is, of course, subject to context too, but it partially evades this because it was an album out-of-context even when it was released in 1980.
At the height of the popularity of the ska craze, the Specials effectively created an album of psychedelic muzak, liberally dotted with reggae, soul and rock’n’roll along the way. It was an impossibly weird album at the time, and still feels quite alien today.
Of course, this means little without the songs, but the Specials were absolutely at the top of their game - tracks like Do Nothing, Stereotype, Man At C&A and Hey Little Rich Girl capture the viciousness of the era like nothing else.
And then there’s the band - a huge band of giant musical personalities that could have worked against each other (who knows? maybe they did), but formed one of the great music gangs.
The era-defining Ghost Town was the curtain call for this lineup, but More Specials was the record which paved the way.
Paul Lowman, The Inkwell, York
Endtroducing - DJ Shadow
The cover of Endtroducing is a photo of two guys digging for vinyl in a record shop. It’s fitting. Endtroducing is a record about records, a collage of painstakingly arranged beats, melodies and snippets of spoken word sampled from hundreds of vinyl records.
It gets called trip-hop, or instrumental hip-hop, but for the most part it seems to closer in sound and spirit to a progressive rock album, albeit one with the greatest drums of all time.
The album changed my life because it sent me on a quest to find all these incredible, obscure records Shadow had sampled and as I did so I began to realise how eclectic and democratic the source material for Endtroducing was.
Endtroducing helped me understand that the key to finding great records is keeping an open mind. It legitimised for me the idea of digging for records being an artform in itself. There’s not a day goes by when this record, with the record shop on the cover, doesn’t inform decisions made in mine.
When I turned 30 I was doing a team leader type role in an office, and had actually started to not totally hate it – and that terrified me. I quit my job, spent the next few months planning exactly what I wanted The Inkwell to be.
Back in 2011, when I spoke about opening a record shop, most people just thought I was crazy. Nobody was talking about a ‘vinyl revival’ – the format was on its knees.
Nowadays the vinyl landscape has undergone such an astonishing revolution that career advisors in schools are probably recommending opening a record shop to teenagers.
It’s difficult now, in a world where some supermarkets sell vinyl, to overstate how uncommercial, and niche our business plan was when we opened. I’m proud that we took a chance on vinyl, and pleased our instincts about its longevity have been proven right.
Sid Jones, Muse Music, Hebden Bridge
Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd
This is the album that has given me most pleasure from when I first heard it as a teenager right up to today. Of all Pink Floyd’s records this is the one I probably return to the most.
It’s very emotional and also very structured in an architectural way. It’s interesting that some of the band members were architecture students and it shows in the music. It’s like walking into a cathedral at the beginning of the album, you open the doors and the space opens up.
It’s two or three minutes before the first song actually starts and it sets the theme, like a classical music or a jazz record, from the beginning and returns to it at the end, and in between there’s a lot of interesting improvisation.
Some people might find it too cerebral but it has musical depth and light and shade, and after all these years it still gives me great pleasure whenever I listen to it.
Paul Jackson, Earworm Records, York
Lazer Guided Melodies - Spiritualized
Lazer Guided Melodies by the English ‘space rock’ band Spiritualized is from the early 90s and part of the shoegazer and space rock genres. I think it came out in about 1991, I was 16 at the time, we’d just started going to gigs and this was one of those records we used to play all the time, we always played it when we got back in.
Vinyl has a real appeal because it’s something you can hold, we get all sorts of people in here, from school kids to older people and one of the most rewarding things is selling something right off the turntable, something we’ve been playing in the shop.
It’s about ownership. CDs kind of had it but there’s so much more going on with a 12-inch, such as the artwork, the analogue sound, it’s a talking point, something you can actually show to your friends, whereas, you’d never all just sit round looking at a filename on a screen.
Eddie Parkinson, Vinyl Eddie, York
Unknown Pleasures - Joy Division
It was a groundbreaking album which came out when I was still at school. It was a revelation for me. It released my musical aspirations. It freed me from everything that was boring. I was like ‘What’s this, what’s this?’
The lead singer, Ian Curtis, had epilepsy and I also have it - the album is from the 1980s but I only came to it in the late 90s but some of the lyrics really spoke to me. It’s an album I could listen to all day.
After that, it would be Definitely Maybe by Oasis and Okay Computer by Radiohead, which is genius.
A lot of people think vinyl never went away. Some even say vinyl will be the death of downloads. Certainly, it’s In a way, it’s like antique furniture, it’s classical, iconic, it’s not something you can replicate with a download.
Ian De-Whytell, Crash Records, Leeds
The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars - David Bowie
Back in the summer of 1972, the 14 year old me, like so many others at the time had been captivated by the appearance of David Bowie on Top Of The Pops when he performed Starman. I had amassed a small collection of 7” singles by then, but decided that the time was right for my first album purchase and this would be it.
When I got home from the record shop I followed the “to be played at maximum volume” instructions which were printed on the sleeve, but my Mum very quickly made me turn it down.
I still get a thrill all these years later when I hear the drum beat that signals the start of Five Years and find it impossible not to want to hear the album all the way through until the end of Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide which is the last track on Side two.
Ever since then I have had an obsession with music which has led me in all sorts of directions, but The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars was without doubt the start of my musical journey and still sounds great now.
The vinyl revival
Record Store Day was started in the United States in 2007 to celebrate the culture of independently-owned record stores. Since then it has steadily grown and this year over 250 music labels are set to release limited edition records on Saturday.
It has coincided with a vinyl revival - with people of all ages once again buying old-fashioned LPs. Sales are up this year by more than 60 per cent and are set to reach levels not seen since the late 1980s.
Not only this, but music streaming sites are helping to drive sales of vinyl. According to an ICM Poll, half of consumers say they have listened to an album online before buying a vinyl copy, with seven per cent of those surveyed admitting they don’t even own a turntable.