Hitting all the Right Notes

This month we welcome Rob Palmer, lover of vinyl and owner of Roan Records in Teddington, to the TW family. In his first column, Rob gives us an insight into the rise, fall and rise of vinyl and how Roan Records came to be…

The idea for Roan Records began in 1980 with a young man who wanted to open a record store and, after 40 years of un-careful planning and not even thinking about it for several of these years, it has now appeared out of the mist and has settled in a corner of Teddington.

Throughout these 40 years, the young man in question grew a year older every year and his love for music grew exponentially and weaved its course through a multitude of genres. A plethora of vinyl was crossing the threshold of his abode, each one a unique piece of art; every word of every sleeve consumed in great wonder. The ritual of placing the disc on the turntable and gently placing a needle down in order to extract the riches hidden within the grooves. Four songs and twenty minutes later, repeating the ritual while turning the record over.

Then in 1982… disaster! The young man walked into a record store with a new section labelled CDs…There were only six titles, including Dire Straits ‘Brothers in Arms’ (everyone’s first CD purchase).  From this moment vinyl began a downward trend in popularity, eventually clinging to life with a few specialist releases. Turntables were being relinquished and the music industry cashed in on the popular sport of replacing all of your vinyl titles onto the CD format. We are all familiar with the anecdotal tales of those people who contemplate the rueful decision to ‘chuck out’ their old vinyl collections.

In 2008 the launch of Spotify went some way to endorsing the decision made by some to reject the idea of owning a physical product, which required a fair amount of storage space, and replace it with a small piece of thin air. As we are all well aware, ‘thin air’ is very easy to store on a planet with an atmosphere. You only require oxygen, argon, water vapor and carbon dioxide to provide an infinite storage solution for all of your downloads. 

Efficient it may be but where’s the authenticity of ownership?

Ten years ago, vinyl – from its retirement home in deepest Eastbourne – suggested a comeback. Over this time, it has slowly crept back into our lives and is once again a legitimate and relevant format (and one that is also being embraced by those too young to have met vinyl during its previously unrivalled glory years).  

Over the last decade, the sale of the vinyl format has increased year-on-year and now most releases are available on vinyl. That young man, who has during his lifetime witnessed the demise and return of vinyl, finally realised his dream ambition in the guise of Roan Records.

Come in and say hi! Enjoy the coffee and imbibe the allure and charm of all things vinyl.

Rob Palmer is the owner of Roan Records, 12 Church Road, Teddington TW11 8PB.


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