Vinyl revival sets the record straight

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published March 2, 2018

 From the left, Found Sound store manager Raymond Hayosh, Michael Herkowitz, Richard Henning and Laura Klein have witnessed the vinyl resurgence in recent years.

From the left, Found Sound store manager Raymond Hayosh, Michael Herkowitz, Richard Henning and Laura Klein have witnessed the vinyl resurgence in recent years.

Photo by Maria Allard

 UHF in downtown Royal Oak is a fun spot to shop for vinyl. Classic rock bands as well as bands from the 1990s grunge movement are popular finds.

UHF in downtown Royal Oak is a fun spot to shop for vinyl. Classic rock bands as well as bands from the 1990s grunge movement are popular finds.

Photo by Maria Allard

METRO DETROIT — Just about everyone who grew up after a certain time in the 20th century had a record collection — or at least their parents did.

Vinyl records were once a staple for music fans, who played their favorite albums on hi-fi stereo systems adorned with speakers, oversized knobs and built-in radios.

But about 30-35 years ago, as the world fast-tracked to a more digital existence, records were phased out. The compact disc was the new format on which to sing the blues, dance the night away, get jazzy or play air guitar to your favorite tunes. Then came downloading files, YouTube videos and streaming music online.

But record albums are back, and this time it seems they are here to stay. Ever since the demand for vinyl popped up a few years ago, local record shops have opened up and added new and used vinyl records to their stock.

Some records are the latest releases from more current artists — such as Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran — while others are reissues from the classic rock era of the 1960s and ’70s, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis is popular too. Many albums are priced at $14.99, but special reissues can go as high as $50 or $100.


Giving records a good spin
In April 2017, John Lehl opened Village Vinyl at 5972 Chicago Road in Warren to the delight of music enthusiasts. Inside the shop — decorated with “subway” size posters of rock gods and an array of 45s on the walls — customers can pick up their favorite music on vinyl. Lehl believes people returned to the LP because it “has more of a warmer feel to it.”

“It’s more of an experience,” he said. “You can hold a record in your hand. You can read the lyrics. You can look at the artwork. A CD is compressed. It sounds good, but there’s no noise behind it. With vinyl, you can put the record on and hear the needle hit the record.”

Lehl also credits the vinyl revival to musician Jack White (the White Stripes, the Dead Weather, the Raconteurs) and his independent record company and store, Third Man Records.

“A lot of the different labels are re-pressing the old stuff,” Lehl said. “They’re taking the recordings and trying to make them sound better.”

Village Vinyl sells everything from pop artists to soundtracks to hip-hop, but Lehl said “hands down” classic rock is what sells the most.

“We sell Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin all the time,” Lehl said. “It’s good stuff. It’s what people know.”

Lehl himself has been buying vinyl again, even music he “hated as a kid,” such as jazz and retro soul.

On a recent afternoon, brothers Brandon Knoll, Travis Knoll and Ryan Knoll shopped for the first time at Village Vinyl.

“I just heard about it. We decided to stop in and check it out. There’s a pretty good selection here,” said Brandon Knoll, 33, of Ann Arbor, who has always been a fan of vinyl. “It just sounds better. You get the highs and the lows and you hear the instruments.”

Before leaving the store,  Brandon Knoll picked up Bad Company’s “Desolation Angels,” the Pretenders’ “Learning to Crawl,” Aerosmith’s “Draw the Line” and John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Uh-Huh.”

Listening to music is one way the brothers have bonded.

“We share the same taste when it comes to music,” said Travis Knoll, 23, of Sterling Heights, who listens to all kinds of music, including his favorite bands Blink-182 and Green Day.

“I like finding stuff that I listened to while growing up,” said Ryan Knoll, 28, of Sterling Heights. “It’s cool to see the mashup of stuff and my type of music.”


On the record
In July 2012, there was a new sound in downtown Ferndale, courtesy of Raymond Hayosh and Dean Yeotis. The duo co-own Found Sound at 234 W. Nine Mile Road, which stocks vinyl records, cassettes, CDs, memorabilia, T-shirts and more. Hayosh, the store manager, noticed there was a renewed interest in vinyl around 2008-09.

“It wasn’t the resurgence it is now, but it was the beginning of it,” he said. “I think the mainstream push started happening in 2013.”

The vinyl at Found Sound is available in just about every genre: pop, rock, punk, metal, goth, soundtracks, opera, classical, easy listening, jazz, blues, religious and world. Today’s vinyl manufacturing has changed since its heyday, including an increase in weight.

“They are heavier. They’re using a thicker gram on vinyl records now. In the mid-’70s, they were very wonky and 120 was the standard gram. Now they weigh 120, 180, 200 grams,” Hayosh said. “The grooves are deeper so you can get a better sound.”

He added that all the record companies are making vinyl again.

“A lot of them are being made overseas,” Hayosh said.

One album many Found Sound patrons have been requesting is “Buckingham/Nicks,” the album that Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham released in 1974 before joining Fleetwood Mac. The problem is Hayosh has never been able to stock it. He keeps trying, though. Indie rock at Found Sound sells well, and a new appreciation for artists that weren’t always taken seriously has emerged.

“We sell a lot of Bread, the Carpenters and Air Supply,” Hayosh said. “For a long time, those were the bands that were uncool.”

Almost eight years ago, UHF at 512 S. Washington Ave. in Royal Oak, owned by Jeff Bubeck, opened.

“The vision was to cater to record collectors by selling hard-to-find records and new stuff,” store manager Scott Hagen said during a recent workday in which the Ramones’ “End of the Century” LP played overhead. “As record stores were closing, there was still a need for it.”

It’s Henry Pardike who prices the merchandise as it comes in at UHF.

“I’ve always been a massive music nerd since I was a kid,” he said, adding that the 1970 vinyl release of Cat Stevens’ “Tea for the Tillerman”; 1983’s release of “Pyromania,” by Def Leppard; and Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 smash hit “Rumours” are among the store’s biggest sellers.

“A lot of the releases are re-pressings of the classic titles,” Hagen said. “If you’re re-pressing a classic title, you’re taking a new master copy to press the record with so it’s louder, cleaner and clearer.”

UHF brings in people from all walks of life.

“Our customer base is 13 up to people in their 70s,” Hagen said. A lot of the younger shoppers who missed out on vinyl the first time are picking up new releases as well as classic rock albums.

As for the more mature clientele, “A lot of them are buying back the stuff they had when they started listening to CDs and got rid of their (vinyl) collections,” Hagen said.

Since 2011, Davey Taylor has been welcoming patrons into Weirdsville Records at 61 Macomb Place in Mount Clemens.

Something that Taylor has noticed is how cellphones impact album sales. If people see an interesting cover of an artist while browsing through album bins, they look up songs on YouTube. If they like them, they’ll buy the record.

“Vinyl is king,” Taylor said. “When I was growing up, records was all you got. You had something tangible in your hands. You had cover art. You had a record collection to show.”

While Weirdsville sees its share of new-artist releases, Taylor said it’s the classic bands like the Stooges, the MC5 and Black Sabbath that sell the most.

“The kids care about Prince and (Jimi) Hendrix,” Taylor said.

Music fans also may want to mark their calendars for the international Record Store Day set for April 21 this year. The day celebrates independent record stores, artists from all musical genres, and hosts limited-edition releases and more.

 


The top 10 best-selling vinyl records of 2017, according to the website www.1063thefox.com, based in Findlay, Ohio.

1. The Beatles, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
2. The Beatles, “Abbey Road”
3. “Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1” soundtrack
4. Ed Sheeran, “÷”
5. Amy Winehouse, “Back to Black”
6. Prince and the Revolution, “Purple Rain” soundtrack
7. Bob Marley and The Wailers, “Legend: The Best Of…”
8. Pink Floyd, “The Dark Side of the Moon”
9. “La La Land” soundtrack
10. Michael Jackson, “Thriller”