When I read about vinyl being “collectable”, I always agree. I know this because I bought my first records before I had anything to play them on.
It started out with 7″ singles, back when “singles” were a physical thing that you bought and not something you could add to your phone at the touch of a button. (These days I get to do it with a fingerprint, making it feel even less real.) There was a time when your favourite bands released new songs on different formats with different b-sides, and the only way you could hear them was to buy them all. Now, Spotify is teeming with unreleased tracks and if I see one more mention of an “impact date” on a press release I will scream.
It’s now 13 years since I bought my first record (because it was pressed on green glitter). I own two record players, and I probably buy half my music on vinyl. There are a few reasons why it’s my music format of choice. Where streaming and downloading have become the norm, vinyl has become a proper premium package and I love owning something that my favourites have put a lot of thought into the presentation of. I genuinely prefer the way it sounds, unless dust gets in the grooves of course; and I love the ritual that comes with sliding an album from its sleeve, lining up the needle, and listening to its songs in the order that was intended.
The real beauty of vinyl, though, is that it is a format that endures. While countless CD collections have been consigned to the garbage bags of history (or at least the childhood bedrooms we are yet to clear), the sheer size of a record means it’s not so much of a disposable object. And so old pressings end up in record shops and at car boot sales – or being turned into clocks – so it’s not hard to imagine that I will one day own a copy of Tapestry by Carole King; or Joni Mitchell’s Blue; or the complete works of Bruce Springsteen.
It’s also given my favourite local nostalgists at The Retro Store an intriguing idea for a gift.
With their mystery vinyl boxes, The Retro Store aims to offer something a little different for both vinyl enthusiasts and those looking to discover new (old) music. If you don’t have the time – or the inclination – to spend hours rummaging through record bins looking for that elusively intriguing cover, just give Peter and the team an idea of your likes, dislikes and favourite genres and they will hand-pick a mystery selection of vinyl for shipping directly to your door.
Boxes can be ordered individually or as part of a monthly subscription, giving you the chance to really build up a collection. And The Retro Store isn’t limited to vinyl: you can also choose from a mystery box of cassette tapes, comics or their best-selling box of console games. If you need a record player, they also have that covered – along with a regularly revolving selection of other gifts for nostalgic souls.
You might remember how I was eyeing up a mystery vinyl box around my birthday, so when Peter offered to send me one for review I had my specifications ready to go. I share it here in the forlorn hope that it will cut the number of irrelevant review pitches I receive on a daily basis:
Springsteen (yes, that’s a genre!) and almost all things by women. Girl-bands, soul, college rock, indie. I don’t really do disco, heavy metal, dance or mournful men from the 70s/80s with bigger ballads and bigger hair…
And how did that translate? Joan Armatrading’s 1976 self-titled album, Elton John’s 1974 Greatest Hits and London Town, the 1978 album by Wings. Which I’d score as two out of three would-definitely-listens, although the Wings album benefits from not actually containing the contemporaneously-recorded “Mull of Kintyre”.
The Retro Store’s mystery vinyl boxes normally go for £18 with free UK shipping, which is less than I’ve just paid for my pre-order of The National’s new album and I bet that won’t come with a giant fold-out black and white poster of Paul and Linda McCartney. I honestly cannot sing the praises of this as a gift idea enough, which is fine, as I don’t have to: The Retro Store have kindly offered to send a box to a Last Year’s Girl reader, although you’re welcome to opt for a cassette tapes, comics or games box instead.
To enter, just fill out the Rafflecopter widget below. UK entrants only this time, please. Good luck!
– UK entrants only
– One winner will be chosen at random via the Rafflecopter widget above
– Entrants under 18 must seek parental permission before entering
– Once drawn, the winner will be contacted via the email provided and have 28 days to respond. We reserve the right to draw another winner if a response is not received within this time period
– All entries will be moderated and duplicate, false or incomplete entries will be deleted
– The giveaway will run from 25.8.17 to 1.9.17
This post contains PR samples, but all views are my own and unbiased.