Second-hand Vinyl delights (and tips)

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I mentioned a while ago that we acquired a record player for Christmas. My husband and I have a collection of vinyl LPs and singles that we have a) inherited from our parents and b) bought when we were teenagers in the eighties and early nineties. Although we had come close(ish) a couple of times to getting rid of the vinyl we could never bring ourselves to do it. Every January we hold an 80s/90s party and one of the features is a wall display of record covers. This is such a great conversation topic as guests reminisce about their first albums and favourite bands from back in the day….

Our new record player is fairly small and basic, although in typical 21st century style it has a docking station for an ipod. But once we’d put that first record on it was like being transported back to our childhood and teenage years. There are many things I had forgotten about record players:

– they collect a lot of dust(!)

– the initial ‘scratchy’ sound you get when the needle is first placed on the record

– the skill it takes to carefully place the needle at the beginning of a new track

We have so little space in our cottage that the record collection is stored on a shelf above the door.

We have so little space in our cottage that the record collection is stored on a shelf above the door.

Once we’d exhausted our existing collection of vinyl we started to scour charity shops to see if we could pick up any more. The topic of second-hand records is an interesting one as some shops have begun to pick up on the resurgence in the demand for it. Vinyl sales are at their highest level for 15 years and most savvy recording artists now issue their albums in this format as well (Arctic Monkeys’ ‘AM’ album was the highest selling viny album of last year).

This leaves charity shops either picking up on the trend and starting to make a feature of their vinyl donations, while others don’t stock them at all or consign them to the ‘bargain bucket’. On a recent trip to a local town I spotted singles on sale for 49p in one shop, while in another they were selling Lou Reed’s ‘Transformer’ LP for ยฃ7.

With some careful shopping it is possible to pick up some good vinyl bargains:

1) As mentioned above not every charity shop sells records. From personal experience I know that the following do stock them: Oxfam (check out their specialist Books and Music stores, plus online store), Scope, Blue Cross and British Red Cross, PDSA, Cancer Research

2) You will have to search through a lot of Barry Manilow, Jim Reeves and those awful 1970s ‘Top of the Pops’ collections to find some gems.

3) Most important of all: do check the record for scratches and marks as we have been caught out.

4) Be flexible. You may not find that Beatles album you’re looking for, priced at ยฃ1.99. But you could be reacquainted with a favourite from your teenage years, learn to appreciate an old classic or try something just because the cover looks good.

Over the past few months we have slowly accumulated new (to us) vinyl:

I had this on casette and played it over and over. 25 years later I'm singing along to it again!

I had this on casette and played it over and over. 25 years later I’m singing along to it again!

Not my first choice but my girls love dancing to and singing along (where appropriate!)

Not my first choice but my girls love dancing to and singing along (where appropriate!)

A classic picked up at the school jumble sale for 50p!

A classic picked up at the school jumble sale for 50p!

One of the joys of owning a record player once more is introducing our girls to it. Once we’d explained the LPs weren’t ‘giant CDS’ they loved the fact that you could put a record onto the machine and start to play it. They’ve been intrigued by the artwork (I’d forgotten that was such an important part of owning vinyl) and we’ve been able to play them music that their parents – and even grandparents – used to dance to. We now regularly have some ‘record player’ time in the evening!

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