To celebrate Record Store Day today we asked three writers for their vinyl word
Una Brankin: Until I was old enough to make my way to Caroline Music in Belfast’s Ann Street, the old wooden-framed record player at home only ever had my dad’s Johnny Cash albums, or mum’s classical music, on the turntable.
It ended up in the bedroom I shared with my younger sisters, on top of the dressing table, and we’d play various hit singles on it — endlessly — and dance around the beds.
I remember a neighbour passing by the window during one of those boogying sessions once; I darted under the bed, mortified, while Boney M’s Brown Girl In The Ring blasted out.
The spending of our pocket money was heavily influenced by Top Of The Pops. We could only afford singles initially — Abba’s string of hits in the mid to late-70s featured prominently — and we had to wait until birthdays, or Christmas, for a much-coveted album.
I remember splashing out once and buying two singles in one day: Army Dreamers by Kate Bush and Hell’s Bells by AC/DC, only to find they had extra large holes in the middle and required a plastic disc thing to play them.
My first LP was the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever in 1977. Mum loved John Travolta and, without realising it was slightly raunchy and full of expletives, she brought me to see the film at the New Vic cinema on Great Victoria Street, with a neighbour and her daughter. (We were agog at the-then dishy Travolta canoodling in the back of a car).
After the thrill of seeing those iconic dance scenes on the big screen, I wanted to get the album as soon as possible, but somehow ended up with a cassette tape of it, which I played non-stop on my Panasonic ghetto blaster, until Grease came out the following year.
Just about everyone I knew bought a copy of that brilliant soundtrack in 1978. I’ll never forget the excitement of buying the LP with my hard-earned pocket money and poring over the artwork and the lyrics. Buying a titchy CD never came close.
Vinyl was a very precious commodity to me back then, a thing of beauty to be handled with care. The needle on the turntable had to be de-fluffed after each play and woe betide my sisters if they dared touch my fledgling collection.
I couldn’t trust them not to scratch my prized possessions, so I hid them any time I was leaving the house. They’d invariably find them and, of course, they ended up scratched to bits.
The youngest of my sisters, Angela, recalls my next purchase from Caroline Music vividly. It was Bat Out Of Hell and she claims I played it all day, every day. I was indeed a big fan of Meat Loaf and was so enchanted by that exciting record that I saved up to buy another one by his collaborator and songwriter, Jim Steinman - an inferior offering, unfortunately.
Meat was ultimately overtaken by Bruce Springsteen, notably The River. Playing that album non-stop on Saturdays took the drudgery out of the list of chores I had to do to earn the pocket money to go out and buy more records and concert tickets. I still have my stub from The Boss's blistering 1985 gig in Slane, bought from - where else - Caroline Music.
I never lingered in record shops, however; I'd be too impatient to get home and play whatever I'd bought to death, but to this day, my husband would spend an entire afternoon browsing in them.
That big, red-fronted CeX store draws him in every time we pass it in Lisburn, or Newry, and he emerges hours later with an armful of second hand CDs.
As a student, he could never pass Good Vibrations when it was on Botanic Avenue without going in and hoking and apparently spent much of his youth in Carlin Records in Newry. He still has LPs he bought there 30 years ago and refuses to part with them.
Mine gathered dust on top of my wardrobe at home for years before being consigned to the attic with my schoolbooks.
No contest which of the two got the most attention.