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Review: Vinyl Nation (2020)

Vinyl records, for many of us, they bring back lots of memories. Not just of the music, but of what we were doing while it was playing. But, as with so many things, time and technology have relegated them to the history books. Or has it? Vinyl Nation takes a look at those who still cling to the format, be they collectors, musicians or anything in between.

Directors Kevin Smokler and Christopher Boone use Record Store Day as the jumping off point for their film. Starting with interviews of collectors at Mills Record Co. to pick up this year’s exclusives, we start to get a feel for just how wide a range of people still buy vinyl records. Perhaps that range is best exemplified by the little girl talking about the Disney album she’s getting. And right behind her is an album by British punk band The Damned.

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Indeed, Vinyl Nation acknowledges the image of record collectors as either old folk who refuse to change with the times or indie band obsessed hipsters. It also does its best to dispel it. Sure there are plenty of them, but there are also hip hop DJs, soul music fans and the previously mentioned young Disney fan among many others.

The history of vinyl and the music industry forms much of the film’s framework. The rise of the record and its eventual fall at the hands of CDs and MP3s is blended in with the interviews and reminisces of fans, record store owners, even the owner of a pressing plant.

Speaking of pressing plants, if you’re curious about how records are made, Vinyl Nation has you covered. It gives a quick lesson in the process, from the making of masters to the pressing of the individual records. It also shows how the gatefolds are made as well.

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But it’s not all doom and gloom. Much of Vinyl Nation is focused on the growing resurgence of the format. And one of the more controversial reasons for that, their alleged better sound quality, is discussed at length.

An enjoyable documentary, Vinyl Nation is currently playing at virtual theatres across the US. You can find a list on the film’s website and its Facebook page.

Where to watch Vinyl Nation
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