First published on http://franklinpark.suntimes.com/
A line of people stood waiting at the register of Val’s halla Records in Oak Park the morning of April 19, most with records in their hands.
That’s right, records; those black, round objects about the size of a dinner plate. First supplanted by the 8-tracks, cassette tapes, then smaller compact disks and later by the invisible digital downloads.
But records have been making a comeback of sorts in recent years. And that’s part of the reason the crowds came out to the annual Record Store Day, an event conceived in 2007 at a gathering of independent record store owners and employees, according to the movement’s website recordstoreday.com.
“We carry 78s, 8-tracks, CDs and vinyl,” said Val Camilletti, owner of Val’s halla Records. “Vinyl is outselling everything.”
For Mike Kellogg, 40, part of the appeal is having an object. Kellogg walked out of Val’s with albums by Of Montreal, Steve Earle, Jack Elliot and local musician Will Phelan, who performed live on Saturday at Val’s in honor of the annual Record Store Day.
“For me, it’s having a thing, rather than something that’s more ephemeral,” Kellogg said. “I’m also a collector. I like that there are only so many of these.”
That affection for tangible collectibles is part of what inspired Saturday’s celebration, which the website describes as “a way to celebrate and spread the word about the unique culture surrounding nearly 1000 independently owned record stores in the U.S. and thousands of similar stores internationally.
Not only did suburban and Chicago record stores celebrate — including Rolling Stone Records in Norridge, Vintage Vinyl in Evanston and Rocks N’ Rags in Highland Park — but there are Record Store Day participating stores on every continent except Antarctica.
Ryan Joseph Anderson said he has multiple reasons for preferring albums. A musician, Anderson lives in Nashville but is currently touring with his band in Illinois. He grew up in Oak Park going to Val’s Halla. Saturday afternoon he left the store with albums by Nick Cave and Neil Young.
“It sounds better,” Anderson said. “I like holding them. I like having the artifact. You can’t see a cool record cover on iTunes.”
Joseph Norris grew up listening to albums.
“We didn’t go to church,” Norris said as he glanced through his purchases of Big Pink, Van Morrison and Townes Van Zandt. “We listened to vinyl records every Sunday.”
Norris finds the quality of sound to be better on vinyl.
“It makes you feel like you’re behind the guy at the soundboard,” Norris said. “It rocks, it pops.”
After sinking for years, sales of albums have been rising for the last seven years said David Bakula, a music industry analyst for Nielsen Soundscan.
“Last year we saw 30 percent growth,” Bakula said. “This year its 35 percent so far. Ten years ago you might have seen an artist who only did a CD and a digital album and didn’t do vinyl.”