I’m a Record Collector Without a Turntable.

According to an article I read some time ago, one fifth of people who own vinyl records do not have a turntable on which to play them. I imagined they must be people who had moved on to CDs or even to streaming music. But then I thought of all those who were selling their vinyl records filling the racks in my local record emporium. They didn’t need to own a turntable any more. And what about the people who just packed their old vinyl away in boxes and put them in the attic or wherever people store unwanted and unloved stuff?

Then I had an eureka moment. Hey, wait a minute! I don’t have a turntable — or a stereo — any more. My Transcriptor deck is with my daughter, who doesn’t listen to vinyl records and my amplifier is with my son-in-law, who, like me, doesn’t have a turntable.

J.A. Mitchell Transcriptor turntable. A thing of beauty.

My turntable was passed on in 2012. But I still collect records — preferably vinyl records. I collect them for the cover art. I’ve always had a love of nicely designed covers and followed the careers of record cover designers. Hipgnosis, Roger Dean, Peter Saville, Vaughan Oliver, John Berg, Jan van Hammersfeld, Eve Babitz, Rob Jones and others. Late in my “career” I discovered Alex Steinweiss, Jim Flora and Martin Stone Martin. But I always new about Andy Warhol, Peter Blake, Roy Lichtenstein and Richard Hamilton and Klaus Voormann. Then there was Damien Hirst followed by Banksy and, most recently, David Shrigley.

So now I have limited my collecting to specific artists: Banksy, Peter Blake, Damien Hirst, David Shrigley, Klaus Voormann and Andy Warhol. I have been quite lucky in getting hold of many of the early and rarer covers by these artists soon after the records were released, or, in the case of Andy Warhol and Banksy, early enough to be able to find them cheaply.

I follow many on social media and via mailing lists, so I hopefully don’t miss any new releases by my favoured designers. I also try not to fall for other merchandice (prints, posters, tee shirts) by these artists, but sometimes feel they complete a collection. For example, the poster for Drake’s 2021 Certified Lover Boy album, so far only released digitally with no vinyl or CD format. The cover was designed by Damien Hirst and I managed to pull a couple of posters off hoardings near where I live.

A side effect of limiting my collecting to specific artists is that I am no longer tempted to buy beautiful covers by other designers. I find that there are so many lovely covers that could tempt me but I try to resist temptation so that I can continue to find (and finance) covers by those I do collect.

The Drake poster.

I should mention that I have always catalogued my records, CDs and cassettes on sites like pop.nu and rateyourmusic.com so I have complete lists oc my collections. And I can still listen to the music via streaming, so I really don’t miss my turntable. And, I have all the covers of the records, CDs and cassettes to hold and admire while I listen.

6 thoughts on “I’m a Record Collector Without a Turntable.”

  1. Surprised you don’t have your catalogue on Discogs. I’ve got all my vinyl on there but putting the CDs on is slow-going. Too depressing to see most are valued at only a couple of bucks.

    1. Thanks for going to the trouble of checking my Warhol list on RYM. I have lent my Warhol collection to a couple of exhibitions but otherwise I prefer not to expose them to light, so they stay in a cupboard.
      I wouldn’t play my original Prestige Story of Moondog either. But there is a CD or one of the reissues that are quite cheap.

  2. Argh. I made the mistake of hanging them in a sunroom for a while. I noticed some changes within a year, so they got moved. And I purchased replacements for ones like the pale-faced Liza Minnelli. They are all in an area now that doesn’t get much light. And I even got art glass cut to fit the record frames. But, hanging them in a grid suit the artwork well.

    We travelled from Toronto to Detroit in 2014 to see the Cranbrook exhibit. Were you involved with that? Seeing that collection helped justify continuing to collect.

    Also, the recent AGO Warhol exhibit here had a handful of albums on display. It’s always fun to see the same art on one’s own walls hanging in a museum.

    1. The Warhol on Vinyl exhibition was cursted by my friend Frank Edwards — a founder member of the Warhol Cover Collectors Club. My collection was most recently shown at Moderna Museet Malmö in 2019.
      If you live in Toronto, perhaps you saw the Warhol Live! show in Montreal in 2008?
      I have the CD and pins from the AGO exhibition and the show’s press kit with the Superstars, Deaths & Disasters book.

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