My earliest memories are of vinyl records, spindle adapters and the curiosity of stacking 45rpm singles on the player – a precursor of the Spotify queue. Those memories found a contemporary purpose within our branding here at Orbit, and the renaissance of this unique medium has been a joy to behold over the last decade or so. This resurgence has gone hand in hand with a new crop of record stores, celebrated by Record Store Day since 2008. Sadly, this year’s event has been postponed by another 5-letter v-word, virus. We can still celebrate it at home though – dance around and you can self-oscillate!
So, why do vinyl records matter so much? They sound more warm and natural, as the artist intended. It’s a multi-sensory experience – flipping the record, reading the liner notes, sniffing the gatefold sleeve (maybe that last one is just me) and reading the words scratched into the Dead Wax. We watch movies start to finish, theatre works through its acts and scenes, but music has become pick and mix, skip and jump. An album on vinyl demands that you sit and listen, from start to finish. It offers levels of holistic satisfaction not easily available elsewhere.
However, please don’t take my word for it. Instead, I heartily recommend you invest in ‘Why Vinyl Matters’ by Jennifer Otter Bickerdike. Jennifer is also presently writing a book about Christa Pӓffgen (better known as Nico). Christa was born in Cologne and descended from the family that founded the finest Kӧlsch brewery in town. That’s why we named our Kӧlsch after her.
‘These Days’ from her album ‘Chelsea Girl’ features on our RSD Ghosts playlist.
As ever, there are many records being released specially for RSD, despite it being ‘furloughed’. You can find the list online, but three in particular stole my attention. The first is by Status Quo.
For those of you still here, let me explain. I loved the Quo in the early 70s. Long before they became the karaoke act many of you will now recognise. In 1970 they released a little known album called ‘Ma Kelly’s Greasy Spoon’. The cover art shows a picture of the lady herself, fag in mouth, cuppa to hand. This new release features the original album, but on fried egg vinyl. Surely a must-have for any full-English loving vinyl collector. ‘(April), spring, summer and Wednesdays’ features on our playlist.
My second choice is of course from 4AD, the label founded by Ivo Watts-Russell in 1980, which redefined what labels were all about. He meticulously curated not just the bands and the music, but also the ethos and the artwork. The latter was the passion of his first-ever employee, Vaughan Oliver, who sadly passed recently, but we shall always treasure the memories of working with him at Orbit on his Pixies album art retrospective and drinking Hey IPA with Frank Black. I have chosen the Pale Saints’ release of their singles collection ‘Mrs Dolphin’. I loved this band back in the day and felt they really personified the 4AD sound and spirit of the time. ‘Sight of You’ graces our compilation.
My final choice is The Big Moon, RSD2020 Ambassadors. These guys have released two great records to date (‘Your Light’ from their new album features here) and are one of the very best live acts I’ve seen in quite a while.
If you’re still paying attention at the back, you will have noticed that we have so far name-checked three of our core beers. I’m going to complete the set by mentioning another track on the playlist, ‘First Day on a New Planet’, by Urusei Yatsura (Peel Session). These guys were a joyful, lush, low-fi band from Glasgow back in the 90s – really highly recommended to fans of that genre. So many great songs I could have chosen, but I hope you enjoy this one.
To complete our eclectic playlist I’ve chosen a few more tracks that I discovered through the medium of vinyl and which, in one way or another, made a significant impact in my life. For many years now I have only bought vinyl records and feel that every true music fan should have a collection – at least of their most favourite albums. These strange times of lockdown could not be a better opportunity to discover music through the medium that has served us so well for a century. It’s not just how it sounds, it’s how it feels. Happy Record Store Day everyone!
Robert (formerly known as Orbit)
Founder of Orbit Beers