White vinyl. Limited edition of 300 copies. Ultra-vinyl. Picture disc. All wonderful. All valuable (well, sometimes. That Bon Jovi picture disc might just be past it’s sell by date – and you’ll never shift those Gary Glitter and Rolf Harris records now). And they all tend to be very expensive too. Some are nearly as pricey as a top-of-the-range Starbucks coffee.
What, goes the cry, about those of us who don’t have £18 to splash on a Coldplay 7″ picture disc with free comic book?* Such was the discussion I had with a friend of mine the other day.
Chris ** is a huge music fan, but has yet to leap wholeheartedly into the world of vinyl, citing a number of petty complaints, the most ludicrous being that he doesn’t own a record player. I have questioned him on this, and he has raised a couple of minor issues that, he claims, hinder his efforts in building himself the perfect record collection. The most recent conversation went something like this:
Chris: “I don’t have a record player”.
Me: “Buy one”.
Chris: “I have a toddler. He’ll bump into my record player and scratch the records”.
Me: “Don’t put the record player on the floor”.
Chris “I don’t have room for loads of records”.
Me: “A mere detail. Just move house.”
He’ll see sense eventually, I think.
Then the conversation took a more serious turn. Because Chris is a *big* music fan.
Chris: “The other problem is that I know what I’m like. I’ll be a kid in a sweet shop. It might bankrupt me. I have little self control when it comes to buying CDs as it is. It’s only going to get worse with vinyl.”
It’s a fair point. He buys CDs like Imelda Marcos bought shoes and Elvis bought peanut butter filled hamburgers. And it got me thinking. Any fool can buy an impressive record collection, given enough ready cash and an eBay account. But is it possible to build a great record collection on a budget?
That evening I was browsing the pages of Amazon and saw the new box set reissue of Oasis’ “What’s The Story Morning Glory”. It contains the album on CD and vinyl, a 7″ of demos, a 12″ replica single some (essential) cigarette papers, a cassette, a book and a download code for outtakes, and can be yours for the rather princely sum of £116.99. So much for building a record collection on a shoestring.
But does record collecting have to be such a cash drain? Must we decide between putting shoes on our children’s feet and that new Bowie picture disc? (The kids’ feet are toughening nicely, but you do get some odd looks from the other parents at the school gates).
What if you didn’t buy that Oasis box set, but tried to buy some other records instead? What could you buy – for the same or less money – instead?
Scenario A: You’re the proud owner of the Oasis box set. For ten minutes you hold it, examining the contents and the blurry cover taken in Berwick St. You examine the cassette and realise you no longer own a cassette player. Then you put the box (with “luxury magnetic closing mechanism”) in your bookcase or on a shelf. You look at it again. Then you sigh, feel a little wistful, and sit in a chair, alone with your thoughts.
Scenario B: You spend the money on ten, twenty or even thirty second-hand records, all life affirming classics from a list of “Best Albums of all Time” or some personal favourites. You invite your friends over for drinks, play the records in the background, have a little party and get mashed. Wake up with hangover next morning.
It may not be for everyone, but I’m more of a “Scenario B” kinda guy.
So I’m up for a challenge. I’m not going to buy that Oasis box set. I’m going to see what else I can get instead, and at the end, we’ll see whether I made the right decision. I believe economists call it Opportunity Cost.
But that isn’t all. My idea of a great record collection won’t be the same as everybody else’s. And a challenge can be more fun if there’s an element of competition involved (but let’s keep it friendly, eh?) What if more people got involved? It would be great if you (yes, you) had a go too. Think you can do better? You’re probably right. Please come and show me how it’s done.
Maybe we’ll compare notes at the end and get people to vote for the best one. You don’t even have to spend the money. Why not see what *could, in theory* be bought instead? Build up a wish list on Amazon or Discogs…
So here’s the deal:
For the next month, I shall be trawling through record emporiums, charity shops and record fairs trying to buy the best record collection that £116.99 can buy, to present to Chris, and to set him on his way.*** I’ll be sharing my adventures, if that’s the right word, and taking a more detailed look at some of the more interesting finds.
I also asked a few regular visitors of Every Record Tells A Story if they wanted to have a go also, and we’ll be seeing what they come up with.
And finally, I’d love it if you got involved too. If you’re a boot-fair aficionado, crate digger, charity shop trawler, record fair rustler, eBay sniper or Discogs Demon, why not take a look around and see what £116.99 could buy?
Please join us, and share your story. I’ll link to every one.
You can get in touch via email (address on the “About” page) or leave a comment below.
On with the challenge!
* Judging by how many of these RSD “gems” have been left unsold, I think that’ll be most of us, then.
** We’ll call him Chris, because that’s his name, but he’s a different Chris to my other friend called Chris. None of this matters, but I thought I’d mention it. For the avoidance of doubt, you can be a friend of mine and not be called Chris, but if your name is Chris it does save on paperwork.
*** It’s a lot of cash, but I figure he’ll buy me a drink or two in return