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Our Crack Tongue & Groove

prefabcomment.jpg The perils of streaming

Record Store Day is back this April, and once some of us will be ruing the decision to bin our record players.

We all delight in the parlour game: What Was The First Album You Ever Bought. It’s not because people love getting nostalgic, but the fact it gives everyone the chance to get creative on a truly industrial scale. Nothing beats hearing a friend airily proclaim, “It was either the Velvet Underground’s first album or Kraftwerk’s underrated ‘Electric Café’,” when you know for a fact it was The Vengaboys’ ‘Up & Down’ they were proudly clutching when they skipped out of Woolies back in the 1990s. 

I’ve more or less exhausted that game, however. These days I’m more likely to ask: What was the last album you bought? (It’s my go-to question when I’m chatting with someone of relatively recent acquaintance and have run out of things to say. I know what you’re thinking: As the King of Chat, Graham Norton hasn’t got much to worry about.)

My query however, has taken on a whole new layer of meaning over the last couple of years. The remixed version of the self same question is built around the same words but now contains an unspoken “ever”. It’s all down to online listening, of course.

Music streaming has become the ultimate format killer and chances are a lot of people have already purchased the last album they ever will.I bought The xx’s ‘I See You’ on CD back in 2017 and I’m certain it’s the last physical format of any release I will ever buy. EVER! I can go further back. The last single I bought was Madonna’s ‘Hung Up’ in 2005. There will be no more.

But I’ve never been a format junkie. Indeed, I consider vinyl to be the real ale of recorded sound. I’m about as interested in the “experience” of putting a needle on a record as I am in finding out where the hops for Thwaite’s Peculiar Leghumper (ABV 5.6%) have come from.

Streaming however, is far from perfect as I’m now finding to my cost. It wasn’t until I sold all my albums that I realised that one of my favourites, De La Soul’s ‘Three Feet High and Rising’, is unavailable on Spotify (something to do with copyright on the plethora of samples they’ve used). And I’ve just found out that another favourite, Prefab Sprout’s ‘Steve McQueen’, is being released as a special acoustic version on 180g vinyl, just in time for Record Store Day. I’m tempted to get a copy and let friends come round to stare longingly at the sleeve, wondering what on earth it could possibly sound like. 

Record Store Day is on Saturday 13 April