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South African's Love Affair with Vinyl Records


Kevin Stuart about to put another vinyl record on the turntable inside his Record Mad store in Johannesburg. (Darren Taylor for VOA News)

Kevin Stuart about to put another vinyl record on the turntable inside his Record Mad store in Johannesburg. (Darren Taylor for VOA News)


Benjy Mudie owns Vinyl Junky. He flips through records inside his Johannesburg store.

His vinyl albums are much more expensive than CDs or MP3s –- digital audio records. Prices range from a few dollars to about $35 for a copy of a classic rock album in perfect condition.

Yet Mr. Mudie, a music expert and record label boss, says his sales have increased greatly in the past year. He says young South Africans are driving the "vinyl explosion."

"It's become hip to have records again. A lot of young people are the bulk of the people that buy vinyl now, people under 30 that were only being born when vinyl went into decline in the mid (19)80s."

Benjy Mudie says young people are discovering music their parents, and even grandparents, grew up with. And they want to listen to it just like their older relatives did: on vinyl.

"They're buying the (rock) classics; they're buying (Led) Zeppelin and The Doors and (Jimi) Hendrix and The Beatles and the (Rolling) Stones."

Benjy Mudie believes increased demand for vinyl is linked to young South Africans realizing that the "age of pop idols manufactured by TV" isn't so great after all.

"Young people are looking for something different. They're tired of being force fed by contemporary radio and by record companies, force fed a diet of people that all sound the same."

But the main reason for the vinyl rise, he says, is that music simply sounds better, and feels better, on vinyl.

"Vinyl to me sounds warmer and it has depth, it's got echo, it's got soul, whereas digital is very clear, very precise; very Teutonic. But it's soulless! Vinyl is visceral! It's a visceral experience. You take it, you pick it up; it's something to look at. You can't look at an MP3."

A few years ago, Kevin Stuart started selling his vinyl collection from home to earn money. Seeing a big demand for his records, he opened the Record Mad Shop in northern Johannesburg.

Inside his store, the needle on a record player begins a recording.

"I get a lot of young people coming in here and saying, my dad just gave me his record player, a bunch of records and a record player, so I'm expanding on that. I think it was definitely driven by media and by reviewers and I think people just got really, really sick and tired of MP3s."

"Do you like Modest Mouse? Cos we've got the new one in of that."

An assistant helps a customer at Mr. Stuart's store.

"I think a lot of people can still relate to records: My dad had this; my mom had this; I grew up listening to Noddy on vinyl or Led Zeppelin, or AC/DC or whatever it was."

Kevin Stuart says the rebirth of vinyl is resulting in a rebirth of music in South Africa.

"People are connecting with music again in a way that our parents used to, our hippie fathers and our acidhead mothers!"

Stuart does expect the hype, or intense excitement, about vinyl to decrease. But he adds that a real love of vinyl records has been brought to life again, and South Africans are all the better for it.

I’m Marsha James.

Darren Taylor reported this story. Marsha James adapted it for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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Words in This Story

vinyl recordn. an analog audio recording

comebackn. a return to being popular

hip n. informal; knowing about and following the newest styles, very popular

bulk n. the largest part of something

visceral adj. coming from strong emotions and not from logic or reason

hype n. talk that is intended to make people excited or interested in something or someone

Have vinyl records made a comeback in your country? Do you know people who still listen to vinyl records? We want to hear from you. Write your thoughts in the comments section.

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