Vinyl Heaven is a Place on Earth
The weekend of March 11-12 saw the debut of a new record fair at Hackney Flea Market, one brimming with the works of beloved classic artists in vinyl form. Our reporter Atina Dimitrova visited the event to find out why this aged disc format is making such a psychadelic comeback…
On Sunday March 12, a new record fair at the Hackney Flea Market teleported all of its visitors to a vintage vinyl heaven.
Here customers were given the chance to enthusiastically dig into record boxes to find their favourite albums from the ‘60s and 70s, with their quest for hidden treasures accompanied by the whimsical rhythm of The Beatles’ Love Me Do.
Spanning over 50 tables, the fair played host to indie record labels, collector dealers and local vinyl lovers, thereby offering a wide variety of records.
Everyone seemed more than content on the day to stop streaming music for about seven hours and celebrate the timeless masterpieces of the likes of Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix on traditional vinyls.
Paul Mawdesley, a huge rock fan who sells records, said: “I have no interest whatsoever in digital sound. People buying records and flipping them on Ebay take the fun out of this art.”
Noting the presence of many people in their twenties at the fair, Paul added: “It seems that events like this are no longer just for 40-year-old male music lovers. I would be suspicious if the youngsters didn’t check the vinyl for scratches, though. The records shouldn’t be artefacts. You need to know how to appreciate the music.”
Listening to rock and jazz while enjoying bites of brownies, some visitors also turned over the pages of alternative culture books and underground press publications, while others gazed at music posters portraying Bob Marley or David Bowie, but all of them seemed very eager to engage in conversations with other art lovers about their favourite records.
Erik Steaggles, who’s been a collector of rock, funk and reggae music since the age of six, said: “Record buying is about being selective. Lots of people who do it are quite eccentric. It’s good to see people with the same interests as yours.”
“This is a massive habit. It is not about business, though. This niche market is about the art and good vibes. Most importantly, we should know how to take care of the records. Treat the vinyls as a work of art.”
Observing the enthusiasm of the people who queue at his stall, Erik’s colleague Stuart Haigh added : “This is for real collectors. These are the people I want to meet and have fun with.”
Based on our time at the venue, it’s clear that regardless of your specific preferences, the fair offered a great number of opportunities for entertainment . People talk to hi-fi equipment specialists, play some unique records and even use the on-site vinyl cleaning service.
One of the lesser-known attractions, however, was a stall dedicated to the Hitchin-based charity shop Humanitas, who help poverty-stricken families in developing countries.
While greeting more and more artistic avids Humanitas representative Paul Wade said: “The music industry has always been driven by commercialism, but events like this are for real art lovers. Ed Sheeran might occupy all top 20 positions in the charts, but streaming doesn’t count in places like this.”
As testament to this statement, Lisa Busby, who sells independent artists’ music, thinks musical art can and should be allowed to continue developing in unexpected ways. “We should support unsigned artists without considering if they distribute their music on vinyls, CDs, floppy disks and or even USBs,” she said.
While the much-discussed notion of vinyl making a full-fledged resurgence may still seem like a utopic vision to many right now, most of the sellers we spoke to were only too keen to stress the huge sense of nostalgia visitors seemed to collectively gain from the fair. Both traditional record shops lovers and online forums enthusiasts looked through the vintage LPs’ boxes with delight, and in most cases the unconventional medium didn’t even matter.
It would seem that there’s still a market for ’60s and ’70s classics like Love Me Do even in 2017, then – so long as they’re played on vinyl, of course.