Tracking down vinyl and building the ultimate collection
Local DJ Jason Morton has 4,000 to 5,000 records in his collection. It’s loaded with ’70s and ’80s material, particularly peppered with Brit-pop, and yet one piece of vinyl still escapes him. It’s a record by Edmonton’s own Mary Saxton, a soul singer from the ’60s which Morton calls his ‘Holy Grail.’
Record Store Day (RSD) is Apr. 22 and stores around the world have spent weeks amping up up for the occassion. Most will feature sales on inventory, refreshments, giveaways and even live performances, but the biggest draw for phonophiles are the RSD-exclusive vinyl releases. Some are reissues of old, classic music while other releases are limited runs of new music that will definitely be fodder for collectors. Stores may only receive a handful of these popular releases, which prompts early-morning lineups and other strategies to make sure the gems are secured.
While this doesn’t help Morton’s search for the elusive Saxton album, he does have a wish list, which includes a box set of 7″ singles from The Ramones’ early days.
“Their earlier pop songs are really hard to find [on vinyl],” says Morton, who spins records professionally as Champ City DJs with his partner Ryan Rathjen. “DJing vinyl takes years to acquire a song you want to put in your set. As opposed to digital DJs who can download stuff.”
When Champ City DJs aren’t pumping out vinyl hits ahead of Oilers’ games at Rogers Place, Morton helps Freecloud Records’ owner Rich Liukko keep the shelves stocked at the long-standing, brick-and-mortar store just north of downtown.
“A lot of people are collecting right now,” says Liukko. “One of the things we’re getting massive requests for is Aqua’s “Barbie.”
It’s just one example of a band releasing popular music in a rare medium that will drive collectors to extreme measures to secure.
Vinyl fans agree collecting and discovering are part of the drive, and the never-ending hunt culminates on this special day every spring.
Record Store Day was initially spawned 10 years ago to specifically support independent record stores and celebrate the unique phonophile culture.
Liukko is obviously a cheerleader for both and believes one of the many qualities of records that people are attracted to is their practicality.
“If you collect hockey cards or beanie babies, you are likely putting them in a binder or on a shelf. Records you can play. You can enjoy them,” says Liukko.
Jason Troock, manager of Blackbyrd Myoozik, says RSD is also a way to champion the physical act of visiting a store and shopping in-person as opposed to the online experience.
Of the many benefits, including a tactile and immersive experience, Troock adds that only a physical store offers, “passionate and knowledgeable staff and the idea of discovering something you haven’t heard of before.”