LISTEN AGAIN: Les Blair and Peter Barr, who have launched The Vinyl Countdown for lovers of albums at the Scarth Hall, Staindrop						              TM pic
LISTEN AGAIN: Les Blair and Peter Barr, who have launched The Vinyl Countdown for lovers of albums at the Scarth Hall, Staindrop TM pic

THE joy of listening to an old fashioned vinyl album has led to the formation of a new group at a dale village hall.

The Vinyl Countdown was launched earlier this month by Les Blair and Peter Barr at The Scarth Hall, Staindrop.

Armed with a selection from their own collections of LPs and with a record player, speakers and amplifier courtesy of Peter, they invited other enthusiasts to join them.

The response was encouraging and the next get-together takes place later this month.

Peter said helping to set up the group was the excuse he had been looking for to revisit his vinyl records and start playing them again.

“I had to do some work on my turntable to get it up to scratch, but this gives me the chance to hear other people’s music as well. Jazz, for example, I really know nothing about it. It’s a great excuse for people to hear things from the past, enjoy them and share some comments about them.”

Les said one of the most pleasing things about the group’s first session was album lovers’ willingness to say a few words about why they had bought a particular record or what it meant to them.

“The first session went very well. We had everything from classical to Queen and there were some good discussions about what was played,” he said.

Peter added: “The idea for the future is that people can bring a couple of albums and if they want to say why they bought the album and what the attraction was before playing a couple of tracks, then by all means.

“But people don’t have to bring albums, they are more than welcome to come along and listen to what is played.”

Both in their mid-60s, Les believes they were around when the album format was at its height.

“My favourite album is my first album, Humble Pie’s Natural Born Boogie, the time when the 60s were just going into the 70s,” he said.

With the advent of CDs and digital music, he said he thought the album would, like many a track, simply fade away.

But sales with sales of vinyl on the rise – 4.1million last year, a rise of 9.5 per cent on the previous 12 months, plus a booming second hand market – that is far from the case.

And it is little surprise that the biggest sellers were reissues – the likes of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles and David Bowie.

“I thought albums were dead and gone when CDs came, which I thought was a pity. But as our generation reached the age we are it’s nice to look back through rose tinted spectacles at a lovely time in our lives

Les said: “You see more and more people in charity shops going through the boxes of old records, which you can still pick up for a decent price.”

He said he thought there might be many people in and around Staindrop who would still have a stash of albums gathering dust in attics, garages and cellars just waiting to be dusted off and rediscovered.

“When we bought these albums, it was an investment and it was a far percentage of your pay in those days.

“Unlike CDs, playing an album is as much a physical thing as a listening thing – picking it up, taking it out of the cover, putting it on, dropping the arm onto the disc. There is much more interaction than simply pressing a button.”

Peter added: “It’s stuff people have not heard for years that they liked. In many cases, people will not have replaced their album collection with CDs.”

l The next meeting of The Vinyl Countdown takes place on Wednesday, October 31 at the Scarth Hall, Staindrop, from 7pm to 10pm. Admission is free.

For further details, contact Les Blair on 07715 303515.