Vinyl Tales: Meeting the people behind the record collections

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, Thomas Kerr from East London. He has a wide range of music throughout nearly 5000 records in his possession, and around half of it is hip hop from 1979 -2000. He also had a good amount of funk, garage rock, rave, and is on a never ending quest for breakbeats.

Firstly, when did you start collecting records, and why?

I first started collecting in the early 80s, The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five blew my mind, the Streetsounds Electro compilations followed… I was obsessed with the emerging hip hop culture.

What was the first record you bought, and is there a story behind it?

The first record I bought was Thin Lizzy’s Johnny The Fox LP from WH Smiths. Years later I discovered that it has an absolute classic breakbeat on it!

What is the most you have ever paid for a record, and how did you acquire it?

I spent £80 on a reissue of San Francisco’s Shiver LP, an amazing lo-fi biker psych-rock record from ’72. I resorted to Discogs having never seen a copy in a shop. Worth every penny.

What would you consider to be the most cherished item in your collection? (not necessarily most valuable)

That’s a very tough question – it’s either my first pressing of Hendrix’s Are You Experienced? or my dad’s old 45 of The Wanderer by Dion and the Belmonts, for nostalgia reasons.

What do you find is most appropriate way to store the collection?

Because I do home DJ sets with my vinyl I store them in open-fronted cubes, with the records open at the front for speedy access. This probably has people cringing about mistreatment, but my records are tools to be used, not museum pieces.

What are you still looking for to complete your collection? Do you have a ‘holy grail’ record you just have to track down?

There are LOADS of records I’m still desperate for – in terms of a ‘grail’ record I’d say Stitch by Stitch by Ron B and and Step 2 Crew. Unfortunately it changes hands for £1000+ so that basically ain’t happening anytime soon.

What advice would you give to those just starting to build their collections?

I’d start by getting the cheaper, more readily available records (usually the most well-known classics) in your chosen genres so you have as wide a variety to listen to as possible, that way you won’t get bored. You can fill in the gaps later.

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?

I think the current fad will die down and sales will plateau – vinyl in supermarkets, for example, will not be around forever. But the core base will remain and remain strong. That’s my feeling.

Finally, do you think music really sounds better on vinyl?

I honestly don’t know. I love the physical artifacts and the ritual of playing records , but I live on a busy London street, not in a soundproof studio. The finer nuances of sound quality get somewhat drowned out by the relentless police sirens!

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