Another brick in the digital wall
Vinyl Records are back, and how! Vinyl sales grew by double digits last year, moving nearly 10 million units in 2018.
Vinyl in the U.S. accounted for an estimated 9.7 million album sales in 2018, says an annual music consumption report from BuzzAngle [www.buzzanglemusic.com/wp-content/uploads/BuzzAngle-Music-2018-US-Report-Industry.pdf]. That is approximately 12% up from 8.6 million in 2017. Vinyl album sales accounted for 13.7% of all physical sales, up from 10% in 2017, and 8% in 2016. Rock albums led the genres in vinyl sales, making up 42% of the 9.7 million units. Sales have continued to rise since the 2010s, with around 2.8 million sold in 2010.
In 2014, artiste Jack White sold 40,000 units of his second solo release, ‘Lazaretto’, on vinyl. The sales of the record beat the largest sales in a single week on vinyl since 1991. The sales record was previously held by ‘Vitalogy’ by Pearl Jam, which sold 34,000 copies in one week in 1994, with the band being appointed as this year’s Record Store Day Ambassadors.
April 13 marks the eleventh annual celebration of Record Store Day, an event celebrated across the world, where over 400 special, limited edition vinyl discs are being released this year. India is chipping in too, with news flowing in that Mumbai, New Delhi, and Bangalore are joining the “record” bandwagon.
Mumbai-based The Revolver Club, an outlet where you can buy everything from vinyls to turntables, and Pilakbhai Bhatt’s The Music Circle are both making available special offers of their respective wares on that day, with some of the offers being extended onto the following day too. Adagio, also based in Mumbai, which has been doing its bit in supporting vinyl through weekly listening sessions, alternating between outlets in Bandra and in Chembur, is lending its support too by organising special events to support Record Store Day.
Meanwhile, Mumbai’s Corona Gardens (located in Bandra) will turn into a one-stop shop for vinyl enthusiasts with the sale being dubbed as ‘The Vinyl Pop Up’. Hosted by Sony Music, the sale offers over 2,000 vinyl limited edition and exclusive Record Store Day releases. Further, no event like this would ever be complete without live performances, and so it is with Sony Music ensuring the presence of indie singers such as Nikhil D’Souza, Mali, Tejas Menon, Aarifa, and Ramya Pothuri.
In all this, one misses Rhythm House, the iconic retail outlet based in Mumbai, which downed its shutters on February 29, 2016. The day prior to that, a Sunday that still remain vivid in my mind, was an opportunity of reliving nostalgia as patrons and musicians alike frequented the outlet in hordes, culminating in an impromptu afternoon jam session that had musicians performing classic rock and rock ‘n’ roll supported by Rhythm House owner Mehmood Curmally in conjunction with vocalist Mihir Joshi, and Indian classical music supported by percussionist Anuradha Pal, with a crescendo of sorts being achieved with a specially composed track by flautist Rajeev Raja, appropriately titled ‘Rhythm House Blues’, which spoke of: “The music never died at this Rhythm House in town / You know it ain’t over as the shutters come down.”
However, there is an ongoing movement initiated by Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra to purchase the Kala Ghoda-located outlet, currently owned by tainted diamond merchant Nirav Modi, who had bought it from previous owners Curmallys. In March last year, Mahindra proposed – through twitter – that a crowd-funded proposal be initiated for the acquisition and restoration of Rhythm House and have it converted into a live performance venue. While this suggestion has found several takers, there is still a due process of law that needs completion before Mahindra and like-minded supporters receive an opportunity of attempting to purchase the property but, one thing is certain, the initiative has begun!
At the same time, one also reminisces some of the other outlets that have bitten the digital dust such as Planet M, and Music World.
Officially founded in 2007, ‘Record Store Day’ celebrates the once popular brick-and-mortar stores that still exist, supported not only by consumers but, more importantly, artistes themselves as they embark on releasing products exclusively on this memorable day, as well as making special appearances, holding live gigs at pubs/clubs, and initiating meet-and-greets with fans. Some of the notable, and exclusive releases this year include –
Eric Clapton – One More Car One More Rider (3 12-inch LPs). For the occasion, Warner Music releases Eric Clapton’s platinum-certified eighth live album ‘One More Car One More Rider’ on three 12-inch vinyls in a triple gatefold board jacket. This classic live collection features recordings captured during a 2001 two-night stand at The Staples Center in Los Angeles. Pressed on clear vinyl, it is limited to 3,000 units.
Prince – The Versace Experience (available on cassette). Bucking the Record Store Day trend by being re-issued on cassette (there also exists a Cassette Store Day), an original copy of Prince’s ‘The Versace Experience’ on tape is the most expensive item ever sold on collecting site Discogs, going for a staggering £3,075 in 2016. The one-off release – which includes edits and remixes of tracks from Prince’s ‘Gold Experience’ album – was originally given away as gifts to guests at Versace’s Paris Fashion Week show in the summer of 1995.
Bingo Hand Job (REM) – Live At The Borderline 1991 (2 LPs). This double LP is actually a rare recording of one-time college rock band REM performing under a pseudonym [Bingo Hand Job] for a secret show at London’s Borderline Club. While the band never toured in support of its multimillion-selling album ‘Out Of Time’, these two shows (the second night is the one etched onto disc here) did take place in the same week in which the original album was released.
Other delectable collectibles include Bob Dylan’s ‘Blood On The Tracks – Original New York Test Pressing’, a reproduction of the influential original which has been bootlegged, but has never been officially released before; Elvis Presley’s ‘Live At The International Hotel, Las Vegas, NV August 23, 1969’; and Janis Joplin and Sly & The Family Stone‘s Woodstock performances.
Then there is Pink Floyd‘s second album, ‘A Saucerful Of Secrets’, which has been remastered from the 1968 original’s mono mix and is released as a limited edition with a reproduction of the album’s original sleeve; the Dennis Wilson 7″ single of “Holy Man” that has the original by Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys on one side, and a rendition on the other by Foo Fighters‘ Taylor Hawkins with assistance from Queen‘s Brian May and Roger Taylor; and rounded off by Billy Joel‘s Live At Carnegie Hall 1977.
If you have not done so already, be sure to mark April 13 on your calendar. That is the date for this year’s ‘Record Store Day’, the annual event that celebrates the once rare to find, but still existing vinyl records.