Vinyl Junkies

Vinyl Junkies: Adventures In Record Collecting by Brett Milano (2003)


There are a variety of reasons to read Brett Milano’s Vinyl Junkies.   If you are truly one of those obsessed record collectors, you may find some solice in knowing you’re not alone.  You may find comfort in reading about others upon whose obsession you can reflect that “st least I’m not as bad as him.”  Or you may just enjoy the myriad of tales of those who share you passion.


If you know someone who is a collector, Vinyl Junkies will shed some light on the inner workings of the mind of a record collector.  This may help you appreciate their hobby.  Alternatively, it may switch on that red warning light that tells you to run for cover.


Whatever your motivation for reading Vinyl Junkies, it is a good read.


Milano wonderfully  illuminates the  nature of Record collecting.  “When you start wondering about the personal history of a disc, you’re getting close to the point of no return.”


As Monoman, a recurring character states, “There’s a lot of mysteries trapped in those grooves and I get joy out of learning those mysteries.”


Milano, a long-time Boston music journalist and self-confessed record collecting nerd, asserts that he learned to read by reading record labels and he still believes the first words he read were “Elvis’s Golden Records.”


And he doesn’t shy away from some interesting collecting metaphors –  “Placing the needle in the groove is a physical act -maybe a sexual one, if you really want to stretch the metaphor …”


Vinyl Junkies includes conversations with the likes of Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth and Miriam Linna from The Cramps – musicians who are collectors.


Linna who was the original drummer for The Cramps speaks of vinyl’s allure as a medium for music’s power-  “Seeing a record made is the coolest thing because you’re seeing something that can actually change the quality of somebody’s life, or change their mood, or make a chemical difference in their bloodstream.  It’s really a heavy deal when you think about it.”


He also includes record label executives who are collectors.  Geoffrey Weiss with a collection in excess of 100,000 discs.  For him, his records would be valuable even if he was deaf  -playing the, is just an extra bonus of owning them.


“… but the appeal of collecting is that it doesn’t necessarily make sense.  On some level, there are times when you’ve just got to be mental.”


Chapter four discusses record collecting’s relationship to serotonin deficiency.  I get comfort from flipping through crates of vinyl -now I know why.


If you’ve ever wondered why you like vinyl more than CDs – “CDs are like sex with a condom.”  STDs and all aside, you get the point.  That said, chapter 4 is a must read for those vinyl affectionatos who look down their tone arms at CDs.  There are CDs that through quality remastering sound better than even the most pristine first pressing vinyl versions.  There, I’ve said it.


The Chapter with Peter Buck of R.E.M. fame is great as it tells of his time visiting and working at record stores.  My youngest son’s first job was at an HMV record store.


Milano also covers a good supply of collectors who focus on vinyl oddities.


“Who collects records?  Mostly people who don’t have a dating life.”according to musician Roger Manning.


Milano does manage to find a few female collectors, but I suspect none of these women would have any time for the truly obsessed male record collector.  And on the B-side of that equation, these women all seemed to have personalities of such strength that most male geek collectors would be stuck in a skipping groove in their presence.


I found the chapter of stories about collectors each chasing their own holy grail to be a bit depressing.  For each collector who found that elusive recording there seemed to be a huge let down -the chase being the thing and all.  That said, the stories behind each treasured record where wonderful, especially the Electeic Ladyland that was once owned by Hendrix himself.  As Jeff Gold the owner says,“I mean I’ve got Hendrix’s DNA.  I could clone him”.


This is a collection of adventures in record collecting and a good read for anyone already obsessed with vinyl, or anyone trying to understand the mind and heart of a collector.