Interesting piece by John Harris, but also pretty light and arguably even intellectually lazy. Particularly in the idea (which may even be partially true) that RSD is inherently rockist:
"… I also wonder if the day has a larger meaning: as rock’n’roll enters its seventh decade, might it actually be about the defence of the music itself?
Hickman parries this by pointing to such non-rock Record Store Day releases as a 7-inch single by One Direction and three albums of classical music conducted by Herbert von Karajan, but it seems to me that the point is almost incontrovertible: to use the vocabulary of the 1980s, much of the energy that goes into the event is unmistakably rockist, and the festivities often feel like a day-long benefit for an entire musical idiom: Live Aid meets the Antiques Roadshow, with the aim of keeping the guitars ringing out for another year.”
I think the curious thing about those two releases isn’t that they’re not rock, but that they’re from genres peculiarly unsuited to vinyl - at least when there are other alternatives. Unless One Direction fans - teenage ones, at least - have surprising access to turntables, possibly via badgering older siblings or parents, the format mitigates against mobility and accessibility; for classical listeners, vinyl is either a product of strong nostalgia or odd ideas about sound fidelity. In other words, vinyl isn’t a logical pop or classical format anymore, vs. digital and CDs, for much the same reason that there is that appeal, among some, for rock: in between the two, rock fetishes the experience of the record in a way that is neither instantaneous nor crystalline. But there are other genres than rock, like dance and electronic, which value vinyl for their own reasons.
The discussion with Jon Savage is interesting, if a bit Retromania-lite:
"He talks about the historical gap that separates our own time from rock’s mid-60s heyday – as long, he points out,
as the gulf that separated 1977 from the 1920s. We talk about what he calls “the exhaustion of the form”, and the profound changes in how we consume music that have been caused by the internet. Record Store Day may be a collective rejection of what technology has done to music, but it is not immune from its effects: indeed, in the panoply of specially reissued records that puts the Sex Pistols next to the Grateful Dead, there is a very modern sense of music being completely uprooted from its original context.”
I mean, there’s much more to think about there, but clearly not space to do it in. The final part I can identify with quite a lot, in that it almost describes me in certain ways:
"Back at Jumbo, I meet 26-year-old Antonia Lines, a loyal customer who now works full-time as the shop’s ticket co-ordinator, and is busy preparing a one-off fanzine for Record Store Day. Though she has a Spotify account, she buys music exclusively on vinyl, a habit she inherited from her dad, a lifelong fan of punk rock. "I borrowed a lot of records from him," she says. "The Undertones, the Clash, Gang of Four – stuff like that." The two of them went to see the latter band, one-time residents of Leeds who reformed in 2004, a couple of months ago. "I took him," she says."It was great. We’ve seen a lot of gigs together."
So does rock music feel like it has anything to do with generational tension and causing offence to one’s elders? Is any of that still there? “I don’t know if it’s an offensive, stick-it-to-the-man kind of thing any more,” she says. “I don’t know if that will ever happen again in music, really.”
I think on the last part, it’s not an issue with music specifically as much as culture as whole - the ‘sticking it to the man’ attitude (which is doubtlessly an oversimplification of varied youth and counter-cultures) was broadly a product of a certain generational conservatism, itself a productive of rapid relative technological and social change. And that change has become so ingrained and cyclic that, okay, there aren’t the sharp, bright lines any more between cool and uncool, radical and staid. But ever since punk itself, the very feeling that rebellion has been sold out on has been a powerful motivating factor for youth movements. If we’re saying that’s gone too, it’s a very pessimistic moment. On the other hand, we are at this moment feeling the first burning of the empty rage of the ‘Millenial’ generation against those who would define, describe, disenfranchise, disempower them. It’s not ‘stick it to the man’: it’s to stick it to those who claim not to be The Man.