It takes a certain type of person to be a record collector. It is someone who loves music, but wants more from it, to feel it, to touch it, and full immerse themselves in the experience. In our new feature, Vinyl Tales, we will be meeting the people behind some of the best record collections out there.
This month we caught up with one of our customers, Wayne Roux from South Africa. Wayne works in the audio-visual and entertainment field. He has been collecting vinyl since he was young, and has always been mad about records. Wayne’s preference has always been for rock, pop, folk and blues, although in the past few years has started listening to a lot more classical and jazz too. His collection totals approximately 9500 records.
Firstly, when did you start collecting records, and why?
Music was always playing in our home. I was a young boy in primary school and the first television broadcasts in South Africa only started in 1976 so we listened to a lot of radio, and of course records. I was always fascinated by records and the fact that sound could actually come from those pieces of plastic. By the time I was in high school I had built up a fair collection with pocket money, but I was inspired by a friend’s father who had a huge collection and we used to listen to all his music. Although we did not really appreciate his classical music and jazz (I mean, who listens to that when you are 16?), the sheer scale and scope of his collection was truly amazing, and the whole ritual of playing records, from sleeve to turntable and back onto the rack, was riveting. I recall vowing to myself at the time that I would also one day have a wall-to-wall collection.
What was the first record you bought, and is there a story behind it?
My first record was by a local teenybopper band called Rabbitt (the title was Boys will be boys) that was hugely popular and two of their members became successful internationally, namely Trevor Rabin (Yes) and Duncan Faure (Bay City Rollers). Rabbitt concerts also had their fair share of teenage girls throwing their panties onto stage. I always thought they could have made it big on the international stage, but too many things were stacked against them. I suppose the reason why I collect South African music (a collection within a collection) also stems in part from this exposure, plus a love for our culture, and how they have been influenced by global trends on the pop and rock scene.
What is the most you have ever paid for a record, and how did you acquire it?
The most I paid for a record was for Strawbs – Strawberry Music Sampler No. 1, and I got it from eil.com! I paid roughly 800 Pounds, but it was worth it – I had been looking for that one for years and years as I am a huge Strawbs fan. I knew that they don’t come around often, so I just had to make a plan to get it. It’s a strange phenomenon that I have told many people about – that elusive record eventually comes your way when you least expect it, you just need to be ready when it comes. I often feel we are too worried about getting scarce releases, I have really learned to be patient. Of course, with companies like eil.com there is just one thing that makes life difficult and that is temptation. However, your stock is always exemplary and your service is second to none.
What would you consider to be the most cherished item in your collection?
It isn’t the most valuable by any stretch of the imagination, but it would have to be Martin Stephenson & The Daintees – Gladsome, Humor and Blue. It is simply a faultless album in all respects. “Item” is a bit misleading as I have quite a few copies to be fair, and multiple releases too. In my humble opinion it should be in all record collections. But this question is really difficult to answer as everybody knows that we all have too many records to chose from, and I am certain we could all give more than one.
What do you find is most appropriate way to store the collection?
Records can only be stored properly in one way, and that is upright without leaning to one side. There are many storage solutions that make this possible. I really cringe when I see records haphazardly thrown on the floor and out of their sleeves. Records certainly need more care and attention but they don’t damage themselves, people do.
What are you still looking for to complete your collection? Do you have a ‘holy grail’ record you just have to track down?
There always is, and when you get that one there will be yet another one. I have three, and all three are South African, or feature some link. The first is Gary Player who released an album called Gary Player Sings. The second one is Elvis and Janis (released as Janis & Elvis), the 10″ South African release of 1956, and then finally the Durban based punk band Wild Youth 7″ single, Wot about me? This last one has been re-issued but originals are impossible to find, especially with the original sleeve. Oh, well, as I said, one day.
What advice would you give to those just starting to build their collections?
Buy the things you enjoy, and will listen to. There is no such thing as buying to impress. If you own a good quality turntable it really does become viable to buy pre-owned records in good condition and you can build up a collection in a short period of time without spending a fortune. Good quality turntables will not emphasize noise, if anything they will get the utmost from the grooves and reward you with really good quality sound. Also, build up a relationship with a good and reputable dealer or supplier who will give you updates and industry news and make recommendations and know what genres and things turn you on, and also keep you in mind for special releases or collectibles, and wants lists arrivals. Finally, sign up to the websites of bands or artists that you like for updates. Very often vinyl releases are not always around for ages, and there is little point in kicking yourself afterwards when the vinyl is gone. It has become a bit easier nowadays with re-releases, but you can’t always count on the re-issue to come around.
What do you see for the future of vinyl? Do you think it will continue to grow following the resurgence of the last few years?
There are some naysayers who believe that vinyl is only a flash in the pan and will not last. However, we are seeing a very different picture in the hi-fi world, with new models coming out as regards turntables, new cartridges and also amplifiers fitted with phono inputs again. The only thing that may be stumbling block in my view is pricing on vinyl, which really should be cheaper than what is sometimes asked. But there is no doubt that with new vinyl presses being put into service vinyl will become much more accessible and freely available. We tend to forget that the download market has not done record companies too many favours, because downloaders only buy what they want, and not entire albums. They would much rather sell vinyl where the entire album is sold, and not just select singular tracks. Providing quality control is maintained and standards don’t deteriorate vinyl listeners and collectors are in for a wild ride and to my mind the best is yet to come. Finally, if HD Vinyl ever becomes a practical reality there will definitely be an improvement in detail and sound quality, whilst still being fully compatible with existing turntables and styli.
Finally, do you think music really sounds better on vinyl?
In my personal view there is absolutely no doubt at all that vinyl sounds better on vinyl than let’s say CD, or digital music files. Sound quality has nothing to do with convenience, and the true palpable and tactile sound of vinyl is just pure magic. Through the years I have made a point of getting both CD and vinyl copies of roughly forty titles and we compare them often and play them both on a very good CD and turntable in the same system. I still yet have to find somebody that actually prefers the CD version over the vinyl version. Some are closer than others, but generally the vinyl always wins.
Many thanks to Wayne for taking part. If you would like to tell your Vinyl Tales, please email Glen.Bushell@eil.com with a brief description of your collection and why yours should be featured.
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