In this era of disc-less, digital downloads, the idea of music as physical artefacts becoming seen by many as a thing of the past, it is refreshing that certain corners of the music industry keep it alive. In particular, independent record shops such as Rough Trade, whose East store is located in the fashionable Spitalfields area of London, and BM music in Soho, fly the flag for vinyl from the many independent labels who still want to give DJs something real to spin.
It's not that often these days that the traditional, major record companies play this game now. EMI's own record pressing plants closed down long ago, and any time an EMI label wants to release vinyl product, it has to get them produced externally.
Even so, it is still pleasing that on Saturday, 17 April 2010, Parlophone and Polydor leant their weight to the cause of "Record Store Day", aimed at attracting the 'casual downloader' to discover (pun intended) the joys of buying these circular plastic slabs for slapping on a turntable. The joy of having real sleeves to look at, to hold, to carry in a bag on the way home.
Even records with no particular artwork, but a generic company bag, can still incite excitement and trepidation as the buyer travels home waiting for the chance to play it. Harking back to the days when hit singles by the hot artists of the 60s like The Beatles, The Hollies, even Adam Faith, all came in a generic Parlophone sleeve, a set of limited 7" releases were put out on Record Store Day, pressed in short runs of either 300 or 1,000 copies, in similarly generic sleeves, similar to more historic ones but with a modern twist. Some of them contained previously-released material, and some unreleased.
So here it is then. Parlophone vinyl, 2010 style. Older generations could be forgiven for thinking this was trying to be a Columbia sleeve from the 1960s, since the colour is more resemblant of those. Even so, the lettering is similar to that of mid-60s vintage Parlophone sleeves, and the modernised '45RPM' logo raises a smile for managing to be both nostalgic yet fresh and stylish.
The records come 'dinked' (centre-out) most probably because the pressing company finds it easier to make them that way (with no centre in the first place).
The labels contain extremely small print for its copy information, which for my money is the only downside to the modern design trends (of which Parlophone is only one follower).
A slightly less traditional approach to the reverse of the sleeves and labels for the B-side, with this clever 'bleed over' effect from the sleeve to the label showing a repeated stack of logotypes.
It is worth noting that these sleeves are not actually truly generic, because each title has its own barcode, which is printed directly on the sleeve (rather than as a sticker), so each disc has had to be inserted into the correct version of the sleeve.
It has to be said the sound quality of these new 7" discs is extremely good, taking advantage of modern developments in vinyl disc mastering and cutting. Conversely though, they do tend to suffer more from static, having collected large chunks of dust and other unidentified flecks when removed from the sleeve even for the very first time!
What this site is about...
Click here to read our potted history.