Brett Milano’s Vinyl Junkies: Adventures in Record Collecting is one of my all-time favorite music books. To be honest, it’s not really all that much about music itself, but about the sub-culture of obsessive vinyl collectors. Milano journeys into the depth of the vinyl junkie world, meeting all sorts along the way and mostly asking them ‘Why?’ Why do they devote so much time and effort to tracking down little known releases and obscure bands on a format that’s barely used anymore? What are they looking for? I really don’t want to ruin any of the fun for you, but he meets some really fantastic characters along the way and has some wonderful stories to share.
Really, I think this adventure could be enjoyed by anyone who collects – whether it’s baseball cards, teapots, stamps, or comic books. Yes, there are stories and oddities that belong to vinyl sub-culture alone, but collectors in general are an odd sort (myself included) and I think any collector can relate to the excitement and obsession of hunting down new additions.
I’ll admit it – I’m a recovering vinyl junkie myself. I don’t have the space right now to set up my turntable and crazy Frankenstein sound system (basically a collection of bits and pieces), so I don’t bother with vinyl so much anymore. I still love it though, and still get a lusty feeling when I see those racks of beautiful 7″ singles in the record store. I’m sure I’ll start collecting again when I do get the use of my turntable back. Why? Well, mainly the b-sides, of course. Who doesn’t love the idea of a new song by a band they adore? B-sides are where some really great stuff happens. Not always, of course, sometimes a b-side is just a song that wasn’t good enough to go be the a-side. But every once in a while, your geekery will be rewarded by great covers, experiments that worked out much better than you’d think, or unusual and unexpected collaborations. It’s far easier to track down these songs digitally than it was even a few years ago, even legally through music providers like emusic and iTunes. This is a good thing, but it’s still not the same. For me, with no place to buy vinyl nearby, I’d get to anticipate the arrival of those square envelopes with potential treasures inside. Plus, vinyl is pretty, it gives you those delicious pops and crackles, and the ritual of putting on a record is just so much more enjoyable than double-clicking an mp3.
Here’s one of my favorite vinyl b-sides, found on The Strokes’ 2004 “Reptilia” 7″ single. Most people list it as ‘The Strokes ft. Regina Spektor’, but it’s actually credited as ‘Regina Spektor and The Strokes’ on the sleeve. Sleeves – you don’t get those with mp3s, either.
Regina Spektor and The Strokes – Modern Girls And Old Fashion Men