I saw an article on Slate which was about how the thrill of collecting rare items has been ruined by the Internet. As a formerly avid vinyl record collector (of Duran Duran records), I must agree…I had actually written about this subject in 2007 at another blog and I thought I’d share it here as well.
I love the smell of vinyl in the morning….if you know where that quote could be found, you are a Duranie or former Duranie.
I was one of those Duranies who collected everything. Vinyl, cd’s, books, magazines, stickers, hats, headbands, stickers, posters, photos, pins, etc. As much as I enjoyed collecting those things, nothing topped a great vinyl find. I would scour record stores, record shows, Goldmine magazine, fanzines, thrift stores, everything I could think of.
The Internet has ruined this experience, of course. Nowadays if you want a rare song, you can probably find an mp3 online if you look long enough and in the right places. Back in the day, I remember I looked for certain records for YEARS. After a while, I would pretty much give up on the idea of actually finding the record I wanted, but I always found something else I wasn’t even looking for.
There were some great record stores in Phoenix — Trax in Wax, Rockaway Records, Stinkweeds, East Side Records. A few of them had my name and number, and would call me when they got new Duran Duran items in, but 99% of the time I already had it. Sad but true, kids!
I remember my greatest find. I walked into Rockaway Records one day on my monthly tour of my haunts, hoping to find something new. Usually, I came up empty-handed but I always checked the Duran Duran bin anyway. Hiding in there was probably the rarest item I had ever found — The “Stars and Planets: Planet Earth Remix”. Yes, twelve full inches of aural pleasure, awaiting my record needle’s gentle touch. Oh, sure, I already had the Planet Earth 12″ Remix on four other formats. This actually wasn’t about the MUSIC. It was about the COVER ART. And it was only TEN DOLLARS. I had seen it in Goldmine for $100. I calmly bought the record, and then cried in my car because I was so happy.
Duran Duran really knew how to make money. They’d issue their vinyl with different cover art, and fans would be willing to kill their own mothers to get the really hard to find stuff. Plus, fans like me would have to get the white vinyl, clear vinyl, colored vinyl…it was the same song but different vinyl or different art. And you didn’t just want to get the American versions, you’d want the British, Japanese, Australian, etc. The Japanese got the best stuff, but if you wanted to be sure you retained its value, you had to keep the obi strip. In fact, I wouldn’t buy items from Japan without the obi strip.
If you had a copy of “Rio”, that wasn’t enough. You had to have the one from Capitol Records, and the original release on Harvest Records. If you had the first Duran Duran album, that wasn’t enough. You had to have the British original release with the original cover art, and the track “To the Shore”, which was later replaced by “Is There Something I Should Know?”
My greatest thrill was when I would get the Record Runner catalog. Record Runner was located in NYC, but they knew their bread was buttered by selling to Duranies to whom vinyl was crack. They advertised in Star Hits, and all the fanzines. In those pre-Internet days, you had to shop by catalog, but even then I considered that to be “cheating”. It was much more meaningful to find the record in person. Of course, now, Record Runner has a website with pages of Duran Duran related items.
Did I mention I went bankrupt by charging up all my credit cards buying rare Duran Duran crap and following them on tour? It wasn’t a HABIT, it was a LIFESTYLE.
Duranies, being very competitive by nature, had to show off their stuff. It became a “bigger dick contest” of sorts. One of the fanzines egged it on by having a feature in which fans sent in pictures of their collection. It was called “Mine’s Bigger!” I’m not making this up, as Dave Barry says.
Another form of competition was getting a band member to sign your super rare find. Even more impressive would be if the band member waxed nostalgic about said item, and/or asked to keep it. I should have given John Taylor my Aston Villa tour program. It would mean more to him now than it does to me, but at the time I didn’t know my future as a bitter ex-Duranie. I pissed Nick Rhodes off once by asking him to autograph “Capitol Gold Cuts”, which he signed Nick Rhodes, FORMERLY of Capitol Records. Sorry, didn’t mean to harsh your mellow, dude! (Note to readers: Do not ever call Nick Rhodes “dude”. I am quite positive he will hate it.)
This doesn’t make sense to anyone in the digital age. Packaging has become something no one cares about, it’s just a tiny picture in your iTunes window. I realize I sound like an old fogey, but it was just so much fun finding a rare item. The modern music fan gets a similar thrill when they download a leak but it’s just not the same. You can’t hold an mp3 in your hands, admire it, and add it to your prized collection. It’s just another set of 0’s and 1’s for your computer to house.
Sometimes the vinyl would have “easter eggs”, like etchings on the inner groove. Duran Duran’s “My Own Way” 12″ said Shake that doitie groove thang, the UK “Planet Earth” 12″ said Duranies Rock On, and the “Skin Trade” 12″ said I love the smell of vinyl in the morning. It felt so special to find these secret messages.
Well, I hope you have all enjoyed my walk down Memory Lane. (That reminds me, is Memory Lane Records still in business?) I had a lot of fun searching for rare finds, but those days are over. I have now given my collection of vinyl to a friend who enjoys it more than I did. I just kept it hidden in a box, and never really listened to it after a while. Although now that I think about it, I kind of wish I had kept the “Stars and Planets” record.