Digital downloads may have consigned many vinyl records to the dustbin, but LPs are climbing back up the charts.

Play it by ear: 7 reasons to listen to vinyl

  1. You’ll discover new and exciting music. In the process of searching for records to buy, you will almost certainly come across wonderful music and artists you have never listened to before
  2. You’ll become more discerning. The time and effort it takes to put on a record tends to concentrate the mind. You’ll stop listening to things you aren’t really that interested in
  3. You’ll get more from the music you listen to. You have to stay in one place to listen to an LP and, because there are fewer distractions (you won’t be driving, jogging or doing anything else), you’ll be able to focus on it
  4. Vinyl sounds much, much better. Nothing else can produce the warm, rich sound of an LP
  5. It’s much more fun to buy vinyl. Record shops can be sociable and entertaining places to visit. The old ones are steeped in history. The new ones often include cafes and bookshops
  6. Vinyl is an investment. Cassette tapes, CDs, MP3s and other digital recordings are worth nothing or almost nothing. A record, on the other hand, can be a very astute purchase.
    The only copy of the double album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin by the Wu-Tang Clan (no, I had never heard of them, either; they’re a popular music group) made $2 million (£1.5 million) at auction and there are rare albums that are now worth four-and five-figure sums
  7. Album covers are works of art. Liner notes are educational. When you buy an LP, you’re investing in a tangible piece of music history

The beat goes on: Britain’s top record shops

Spillers Records, Cardiff
First opened in 1894, Spillers is the world’s oldest record shop. It first sold phonographs, wax phonograph cylinders and shellac phonograph discs, but now concentrates on independent music from a wide range of genres
(www.spillersrecords.co.uk)

Harold Moores Records, Soho, London W1
One of the best sources of new and second- hand classical music and jazz vinyl in London and—perhaps—the UK
(www.hmrecords.co.uk)

Rough Trade East, Brick Lane, London E1
One of the biggest and most successful record shops in the UK, with a coffee shop, exhibition space and live venue
(www.roughtrade.com)

Banquet Records, Kingston upon Thames
Surrey’s largest record shop rose like a phoenix from the ashes of the Beggars Banquet shops. It also has its own record label
(www.banquetrecords.com)


Best film reference to vinyl

From: Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Damone (explaining his ‘five-point plan’ for dating to a friend): ‘When it comes down to making out, whenever possible, put on side one of Led Zeppelin IV’


Best television reference to vinyl

From Father Ted

Father Dougal: ‘Ted, could you pass me my record collection?’

Father Ted: ‘Okay, here it is. [Ted passes Dougal a single record]. Oh, and Dougal, you need more than one record for a collection. What you have is a record’