It takes a certain type of person to be a record collector. It is someone who loves music, but wants more from it, to feel it, to touch it, and full immerse themselves in the experience. In our new feature, Vinyl Tales, we will be meeting the people behind some of the best record collections out there.
This month we caught up with one of our customers, Derek Howie from Aberdeen in North-East Scotland. Music has been with Derek, and has helped in every facet of his life, creating some very good times and providing an escape during some very bad times! It has also seen him try make it professionally as musician and former D.J. Now it’s just purely pleasure as avid music collector and a blogger on a new venture, Audioidua
Firstly, when did you start collecting records, and why?
I suppose the first time I realised I was an actual collector was when I bought the 7”, 12” remix and C.D. single of the same release in 1992; Therapy? – Teethgrinder. Up until then I thought I just bought stuff I liked.
What was the first record you bought, and is there a story behind it?
Iron Maiden’s The Number Of The Beast on picture disc. It was in the local groceries shop, I believe the owners were emigrating and their son was selling his rock/metal collection, I was 10 or 11 years old and didn’t know much about any of the other stuff in the box of records but I had heard of Iron Maiden and got my Mum who worked there to pay the £4 for it. I naively traded it to triple my own collection to 2 Iron Maiden cassettes and a Meatloaf L.P. I think the guy who I traded it to knew more about it than I did, but I got another one 15 years later so it’s all good in the end!
What is the most you have ever paid for a record, and how did you acquire it?
I traded £300 of my own collection for a £150 record, does that count?
It was for Aphex Twin’s Drukqs quadruple L.P. I has seen it behind the counter of my local record shop and couldn’t stop thinking about it, 10 days later I spoke to the owner who said she’d accept a trade, so I gathered up my most valuable stuff and presented it to her. Later I got seller remorse from trading some of my collection, so much so that I’ve almost managed to find replacements of it all.
What would you consider to be the most cherished item in your collection? (not necessarily most valuable)
Well, that’s a hard one as they’re all cherished, however if I had to pick one more than any of the others it would probably 1991 double-vinyl pressing of The Stone Roses by The Stone Roses [ORE 502 ZLP], it plays at 45rpm and is the best sounding of the 10 different pressings I own of that album, I cherish it so much I’ve actually got 2 copies.
What do you find is most appropriate way to store the collection?
Those M.D.F. unit/cubes seem the best way as you can start with a single cube and built as you go, I bought my unit 15 years ago. Originally it was a DJ work space for my 3 Technics SL1210s and Allen & Heath mixer, but those days are long gone and it’s now used to house my stereo and the ever-expanding collection of records, CDs and tapes.
What are you still looking for to complete your collection? Do you have a ‘holy grail’ record you just have to track down?
It’s not a case of finding them, the Internet has put everything within our grasp, it’s being able to afford it. I’m a massive Richard D.James fan, better known as Aphex Twin and I’d dearly love to own a complete set of 12”s from his AFX’s Analord series and the binder, but a full-set in great condition are in the £500-£600 bracket.
What advice would you give to those just starting to build their collections?
It’s so easy to see a picture of a ‘wall of vinyl’ in these sorts of articles and think I want that, but do it slowly and buy ‘little and often’, if you go and purchase 5 or 6 albums in one go you’ll never get to appreciate them all. That way each record will mean something to you and decades later you’ll still be telling the tales of the day you bought… I know this from my DJ-ing days when I would buy 10 to 15 12” singles to find that I’d only used 3 or 4, and then repeated the process!
What do you see for the future of vinyl? Do you think it will continue to grow following the resurgence of the last few years?
We all know vinyl never really went anywhere, but I think the resurgence will continue to grow for a few more years yet. If the ‘majors’ really get behind it like Sony Japan have, with their commitment to a brand new pressing plant, then it could be very a long-term thing indeed, or it could die-a-death when the next ‘big thing’ is launched!
Finally, do you think music really sounds better on vinyl?
This is usually the biggest debate/argument going, isn’t it? I suppose it depends on your system, a £40 turntable with built in speakers isn’t going to compete with a separate turntable/amplifier/speaker set-up, and my set-up isn’t going to come anywhere near a system with £10000 invested in it.
My simple layman’s opinion is that acoustic instruments sound better on vinyl and electronic instruments will perform better on the digital medium, to me that’s just common-sense. As simplistic as it is, my approach doesn’t consider such things as digital-mastering or any of the other shenanigans that happen when making and recording music.
Some people are so protective of vinyl, I recently published an article titled “The C.D. Is Better Than The Vinyl”. Comments like “Vinyl is superior”, “No vinyl, every time” and “No sound like vinyl” were posted before they had even read the piece because it was actually about the functionality rather than sound quality. My point been material like D.J. sets, electronic ambient, classical, and the live concert albums would surely benefit from the continuity of an unbroken 70-minute window.
Many thanks to Derek for taking part. If you would like to tell your Vinyl Tales, please email Glen.Bushell@eil.com with a brief description of your collection and why yours should be featured.
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