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Paul aka A Pop Fan's Dream: A Vinyl Journey


Today, we're talking with a record collector A Pop Fan's Dream whose passion started in 1981 with a single vinyl purchase and has grown into a vast, genre-spanning collection. We'll explore what drives this passion for vinyl, the unique appeal of record stores, how to preserve record quality, and future collection goals.

Paul, could you share your journey into collecting records? What drives your passion for vinyl, and how do you balance nostalgia with the pursuit of unique pressings and masterings?

Back in December 1981 my music collection numbered zero items aside from taped tapes. I went to Sinnotts in Waterford to buy the 7″ of the Human League’s Don’t You Want Me. It was sold out with the next delivery not due for two days. I was desperate to spend my couple of pounds so started looking at their “reduced to clear” bin. There were some 12″s in amongst them, so ended up buying The Sound Of The Crowd 12″ for 99p. No way back.

My first 7” came early in 1982. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts with I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll. The B-Side was the superb Love Is Pain. I played it over and over. In school, people would sing it but change the lyrics to a variety of rude versions.

My first album: One Friday in July 1982 the four of us piled into my Dad’s Fiat Mirafiori and drove 15 miles down the road to Waterford. Sinnott’s again and I had ten minutes. At that point I wasn’t 100% sure of what LP I’d buy but ABC were in the running. The woman in the shop was playing Poison Arrow as I walked through the door. I didn’t bother looking at the racks; instead I walked up to the counter and said “May I have the ABC album please?” Ms Jack Black walked over to the turntable and unceremoniously yanked the needle off the spinning wax. “It’s the last one” she growled by way of explanation.

My first compilation: REWIND - This was a taped copy of K-Tel’s Star Traks. It was released in April 1980, and its cosmic gold disc sleeve soon adorned the number one slot in Hilary Murphy’s Carousel record shop on John Street. I wasn’t in a financial position to buy the LP at the time but a taped copy (green BASF) quickly did the rounds on our road. 20 songs in 63 minutes means that truncation and editing was inevitable but back then, this was not a concern to my 8 year old ears during the summer of 1980.

In terms of vinyl, the first one that I got was Chart Hits ‘82 – buy one, get one free. Sleevenotes by Jonathan King and soundtracked my Christmas that year. I also got the Rothman’s Football Yearbook that year – the one and only time – and still dip into it.

I think my passion is driven by the need that there’s always another record that I want, it’s an endless journey.

Has your collection shifted predominantly towards pop and dance music? How have your musical preferences evolved, and what draws you to these genres? Are there any standout labels in your collection?

Like most people, I started off listening to pop music. Then I moved into indie & alternative sounds before casting the net wider – hip hop, soul, funk, lounge / easy listening, techno, house & other dance elements – and then back to the 1960s and the whole reissue culture. As of 2024, my preferences incorporate all of these genres. My collection hasn’t shifted predominately towards pop and dance music – you are getting that incorrect impression from my blog because it wholly focused on them (as well as a number of indie series). Here are the reasons why I chose to write about compilations:

    1. I like a challenge
    1. Very few people focus on them

Trying to write about pop & dance compilations is very difficult because unlike regular studio albums, there’s very little back story out there. I had to dig deep and focus on the science behind them (sequencing & inclusions) and also tie in my own experiences & memories of not only the actual compilation but also the component parts (the songs).

Standout labels include Warp (groundbreaking electronica), Chemikal Underground (thrilling 90s indie), Trunk & Finders Keepers (great excavators for a while).

Do you enjoy exploring physical record stores? What makes this experience special compared to online platforms like Discogs? Any memorable moments or finds while browsing through record shop racks?

Depends on whether it’s new or used. For new releases / reissues I much prefer to shop online because

  1. It’s cheaper and
  2. They have the items in stock. I have no interest in going into a local record shop and being told

“We didn’t get it in but I can order it for you”. For used records, I prefer markets, record fairs, charity shops but the selection is much better abroad. Some memorable finds – an original Curtis Mayfield Superfly with pop-up sleeve in Freak Out, Dublin mid-1990s, numerous 60s 45s in Euro picture sleeves at Utrecht Record Fair 2011.

That fair was extremely intense – three full days of digging and playing the records on my portable turntable at night in the hotel.

Preserving the quality of vinyl records is essential for collectors. Can you discuss your approach to storing LPs, including the use of special inner sleeves? How do you ensure the longevity of your vinyl collection?

Custom-built shelving and IKEA Expedit / Kallax.

The approach is not unusual – try to keep away from sunlight. I prefer polylined inner sleeves rather than plain white ones but I have no intention of retrospectively re-sleeving thousands of LPs based on a somewhat irrational fear that they may be ruined otherwise.

Looking ahead, do you have any plans or aspirations for expanding your vinyl collection? Are there any rare or sought-after records you're still hoping to acquire?

Would love a trip to Japan and spend two weeks minimum trawling their shops looking for records and CDs. I don’t have any special wants as I kept buying new LPs all through the dark days of 1990-2007 so didn’t really miss anything then.

Lastly, what advice would you offer to someone starting their journey into vinyl collecting, aiming to build a quality collection while preserving the integrity of their records?

Buy proper equipment – a decent turntable with a good cartridge, an amplifier and proper speakers. Don’t skimp on this or you will ruin your records. Always consider a good quality second hand pressing rather than a reissue.

Also remember you don’t need to own everything on vinyl. Some releases are suited to CD. Another piece of advice – buy a CD player as well and do not ignore that format. There is great value in used CDs. I love vinyl and CDs equally. I bought my first record in 1981 and never stopped. I bought my first CD in 1986 and never stopped.

Both formats have their advantages and disadvantages. I have no time for Born Again Vinyl Junkies – people who switched to buying CDs in the early 1990s and suddenly had an epiphany in the mid-2010s and now buy vinyl again but denigrate CDs at every opportunity. They are the loudest anti-CD voices who feel they have to over-compensate for ignoring vinyl for so long. I can see right through people like this.

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