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Cool Beans

A Guide to Vinyl

MP3. MP4. C3PO. UB40. I’ve never really understood all these music file acronyms. For me it’s always been about the wax. Now I know what you’re thinking - hot candle wax poured all over my body by a bloke called Keith dressed only in a towel, a fez and a smile. Well, you’re wrong (although Keith does feature substantially in next month’s column). I am of course talking about good old fashioned record vinyl wax. But the majority of you kids probably have no idea of the rules, etiquette and way of life that surrounds vinyl records. Once more, have no fear, because Advice Arnold is here, and he brings tips. 1. Firstly, when purchasing vinyl don't be taken for a ride. The quickest way to test whether a record is damaged is to hold it up to the light. If there are gaps or 'grooves' in it then the product is damaged beyond repair and the shop owner is trying to swindle you. 2. Be open to recommendations from the shop owner. He's knows what you like better than you do based on your clothes and hairstyle alone. Bottom line: never - never - buy stuff you'll actually listen to. You're missing the point. 3. Don't let anyone tell you digital is better than analogue. When's the last time you and some friends got a few beers in and listened to some crappy old prog rock mp3s you inherited from your uncle? Exactly. 4. When listening to a song on the shop headphones, make sure you sing out loud to fully test the record you’re thinking of purchasing. By doing this you will also stir up some interest from big record company talent scouts. 5. There are a number of ways to pay for new records. Penny farthings, potatoes, pictures of Noel Edmonds and traveller’s cheques are all acceptable currency in the record collecting word. 6. Many people like vinyl because of the big artwork, but you might find 12 inches is too small for you, so don't be shy to ask if they've got any bigger ones. 7. If you get home and realise you’ve purchased a record that you didn’t want, don’t worry. There are a plethora of different uses for vinyl - plate mats, frisbees, samurai weaponry, wobble boards, car alloys, toilet seats, etc. 8. To preserve your vinyl in mint condition, make sure you wash each separate record in a mixture of vinegar, engine oil, hand wash and warm lager every 35 minutes. 9. Contrary to popular belief, sandpaper is good for records. Try a sheet of super-coarse to really break in that £95 limited edition re-issue boxset. 10. Why are you wasting your time with 1940s technology anyway? Get yourself a 19th century cylinder phonograph unless you want to be the laughing stock of all your muso mates. 11. It’s important to remember that you’re not a true record collector until you own at least 6 Black Lace records (N.B. it doesn’t count if it’s 6 copies of ‘Agadoo’). 12. Finally, be extremely wary when attending ‘vinyl lovers’ nights. I went to one recently and after spending 30 minutes tied up in rubber leather being whipped by a bloke called Keith (that’s where we met, in fact), I realised that I wouldn’t be going home with any rare Pink Floyd LPs. )

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