Put the needle on the record. You might just recognise the sampled line from the 80s British dance breakthrough number one Pump Up The Volume by MARRS.

Ten points if you know where the lyric comes from originally. *

For me, and millions of other music fans, putting the needle on the record remains a special experience.

Vinyl might have given way first to the CD and then to downloads and streaming, but it still cannot be bettered as a listening experience.

It might not be the most convenient way to listen to music. Some will no doubt say it’s not the best for sound quality.

But, for me, it’s still the most satisfying way to enjoy music.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m no dinosaur. I’ve undoubtedly got more CDs than vinyl albums in my collection, and both are dwarfed by music streamed to my smart phone.

But when I want to listen to something properly – not just as background music in the car or on a walk – then nothing beats vinyl.

The sound quality might not be perfect, but that’s part of its appeal. It’s how recorded music was meant to sound, complete with hiss and crackles and all the other idiosyncrasies of vinyl.

And it’s obviously not just me who thinks that way.

Vinyl sales have been on the up over the last decade. Last year, 4.2 million vinyl albums were sold in the UK – an increase of almost two per cent on 2017.

By contrast, CD sales slumped by 23 per cent in 2018 although physical sales (vinyl and CDs combined) are still worth almost £2 billion a year to the UK music industry.

The upward curve of vinyl sales is a reward for those retailers who have kept the faith through decades of change.

Record stores were once the only place to buy music. There were several in every town and city and they dominated the market.

The introduction of the compact disc meant they had to diversify but the rise of downloads and streaming pretty much destroyed the record store with the chains going to the wall and independents going underground.

Indie shops were always the best places to buy records – the places you could guarantee would get a copy of any single or album you wanted, no matter how obscure.

And it’s the independents that have led the vinyl revival and they are now trendy places in which to browse and shop.

Record Store Day is an annual celebration of such places and a chance for music fans to say thanks for keeping the vinyl flame alive.

In Newport, Diverse Vinyl is the place to be on April 13 for this year’s Record Store Day.

As usual, music fans will be queueing outside the Charles Street store to snap up the exclusive vinyl releases issued to mark the day. This year, these include releases from acts as diverse as The Alarm, Chase & Status, Elton John and The Fall.

But, for the second year running, Diverse is going the extra mile and organising a free music festival in Newport city centre to mark Record Store Day.

Funded by Newport Now, the city centre’s Business Improvement District (full disclosure: I manage the BID), the festival will see music and spoken word performances across five venues – The Murenger, Tiny Rebel, McCann’s, Slipping Jimmy’s and Le Pub – and acts include Emily Green, Rainbow Maniac and Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard.

Entry is free to all venues.

Here’s to a fantastic Record Store Day in Newport celebrating all that’s best about vinyl and live music.

* Put the needle on the record? It’s from the track of the same name by the Criminal Element Orchestra.


  • Revolver – The Beatles: The best by the best. Imagine any artist today releasing an album of this quality and then following it up just nine months later with Sgt Pepper.
  • Sound Affects – The Jam: Paul Weller experimenting with sound and becoming frustrated with the restrictions of being in a group all at the same time.
  • The Queen Is Dead – The Smiths: Magnificent from start to finish. A band at their absolute peak.
  • Blood & Chocolate – Elvis Costello & The Attractions: Difficult to choose one album from our nation’s best songwriter, but this is a spectacular mixture of melody, spite and venom.
  • The Bends – Radiohead: The leap from Pablo Honey to this would take most bands a lifetime. No weak links on an album that paved the way for everything that has followed from Britain’s most daring band.


  • Itchycoo Park – The Small Faces: Just under three minutes of pop perfection. Everything you need from a 45.
  • Heroes – David Bowie: The starman at his artistic peak. Plenty of his singles sold more, but none matches this for emotional intensity.
  • That’s Entertainment – The Jam: Only released in the UK as an import, but nevertheless the best single from the last great singles band.
  • Sat In Your Lap – Kate Bush: Extraordinary few minutes of brilliance. From her worst-selling album but the precursor to her best.
  • Shipbuilding – Robert Wyatt: An Elvis Costello Falklands protest turned into something other-worldly by Wyatt’s plaintive vocal.