Why vinyl records have become so popular in Norfolk
16:34 29 October 2014
Classic albums are making a comeback amid surging vinyl sales, according to one of the region’s last independent record shops.
LEWKS Top 10 LP’s
1. Jake Bugg - Shangri La
2. Led Zeppelin - II
3. Ed Sheeran - X
4. Beatles - Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
5. Pink Floyd - The Division Bell
6. Roger Daltrey and Wilko Johnson - Going Back Home
7. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours
8. Pink Floyd - The Wall
9. Arctic Monkeys - AM
10. Beatles - The Beatles (The White Album)
Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Led Zeppelin II and Pink Floyd’s The Wall are all going great guns according to Laurence Welham, who opened LEWKS in Downham Market 40 years ago, when all three acts were enjoying their heyday.
Not so long ago, every town had a music store like it. Now LEWKS, which Mr Welham runs with his daughter Danielle, is one just 269 surviving independents. But is the tide starting to turn?
“Record companies have released far more new product on vinyl in the last 18 months as well as reissues of classic albums from earlier decades,” said Mr Welham.
“This has meant there is more demand not just from the over fifties age profile but also those in their early twenties.”
Mr Welham said that music fans are opting for vinyl because of the better sound quality.
He explained: “With vinyl, great care is taken when pressing it so you get a better frequency response so the sound is better. So with LPs you get the complete package of great music pressed on high quality vinyl with the added bonus of the impressive artwork of LPs.”
• “A gramophone record or vinyl record, commonly known as “a record”, is an analog sound storage medium in the form of a flat polyvinyl chloride (previously shellac) disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove,” according to wikipedia.
• The technology dates back to 1877, when Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, which recorded sound on a wax cylinder and could play it back.
• The first album is believed to be a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, which came out on four discs in 1909. The name originally derived from the book of cardboard sleeves needed to store records.
• Records were available in different sizes, which needed to be played at different speeds. In 1931 RCA Victor launched the 30cm, 33.5RPM disc which was the forerunner of the modern LP.
• It was followed in the late 1940s by the 7” 45RPM ‘single’.
• Through the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, the single became the bedrock of the music industry. Not even generations of teenagers taping the charts in their bedrooms could dent sales.
• Singles promoted artists’ albums, some of which also sold in their millions. Every town had a record shop or two.
• In the 1990s, the first cloud appeared on vinyl’s horizon with the invention of the CD or compact disc. While a different format, music fans still owned a physical disc - albeit a smaller, more durable one which was supposed to provide better sound quality.
•In the early noughties, the death knell of analogue was sounded, when music made the transition to online. iTunes, Spotify and the like have become the main marketplace for music.
• But here and there, the likes of LEWKS live on. And vinyl has clawed its way back from the edge and carved a dusty, scratchy niche back in our affections.