The news that Tesco has decided to stock the new Iron Maiden album in vinyl sent me on a trip down memory lane.
It’s been years since I thought about my record collection, nine years to be exact, that’s when I decided to sell my beloved vinyl. Looking back now I realise what an idiot I was.
I was expecting my first baby and wanted to clear out all my clutter to make way for the new arrival.
I got rid of my record player years ago when CDs became popular so I no longer listened to my records. I sold my entire collection of over 300 records for the meagre sum of £30.
Sales of vinyl records have been in decline for years, however, last year, sales grew to 1.3 million, the highest annual total since 1995. It seems a vinyl revival has been sparked.
My love of records began back in 1976 when I bought my first single with my pocket money. I was still at primary school. The record was Can’t Get By Without You by the Real Thing.
I think it cost around 60 pence and it still ranks as one of my favourite songs of all time. I can still see myself singing along with it into my hairbrush in my mind’s eye.
When I was growing up my life seemed to revolve around my record collection. Most weekends my teenage friends and I made the expedition into Belfast city centre, pocket money in hand, ready to acquire our latest piece of vinyl.
Caroline Music and Golden Discs were our shops of choice. I also loved a tiny record shop in Glengormley called The Music Box.
When Christmas and birthdays came around my requested gift was always an LP. I was mad about The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles, and was also a huge fan of The Undertones and Blondie.
When I got the house to myself I would play these records at full volume, singing at the top of my voice and feeling well and truly alive. I loved music and constantly added to my record collection at every opportunity.
I remember the excitement and ritual of acquiring a new album. I would read everything from the cover to the lyrics, messages and acknowledgements written on the inner sleeve.
I practically hyperventilated with joy if it was a double album that opened up like a book, giving me even more to study.
Every album cover became as familiar as an old friend. I spent so much time studying them that every detail of the album sleeves were entrenched in my mind.
Each song seemed to bring back a memory of a specific time.
Sunday Girl by Blondie always reminds me of my 13-year-old self awkwardly dancing with a boy at the Inst disco.
Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight takes me back to 1981 when I had my first slow dance with my first love (24 years later I married him!).
Even the art work on the albums was sometimes so amazing that I would put the sleeve covers on my walls.
Dr Hook’s Sometimes You Win cover decorated my bedroom for years, along with Meat Loaf’s Dead Ringer LP and Jim Steinman’s Bad for Good album, which I think is my favourite album cover ever. I liked to imagine the gorgeous, young couple on the cover was my boyfriend and I.
I treated my vinyl with reference, carefully taking them out of their sleeves to play them and holding the edges between the palms of my hands so as not to leave prints on my beloved vinyl.
Each record was like a little diary from my life. I had cried, laughed, loved, planned, dreamed and matured with those songs playing in the background.
I seemed to spend my entire teenage years ensconced in my room, listening to my records whilst being hormonally moody, wishing I was grown-up and thinking adults just didn’t understand me. A friend of my mother’s once asked her if I ever came downstairs.
It’s nice to know that the love affair with records has been revived. There was something about listening to a tangible piece of vinyl that seemed much more satisfying than playing an invisible tune from cyberspace.
I’ll never forget the excitement of bringing a new record home, placing the needle on it and hearing that familiar crackling sound before the music burst into life. Happy days!