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.
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.
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.