Pip Piper's new documentary The Vinyl Revival and the Shops That Made it Happen, based on Graham Jones's book of the same name, is a love letter to an industry that's in the process of an unbelievable comeback.
Compared to the bleakness of Last Shop Standing, Piper's previous film on the fate of record stores, this documentary feels celebratory. It features a mix of shop owners, including a brief nod to
Phil Barton of Sister Ray Records in
But behind the veneer of excitement and enthusiasm lies a sense of dread. Record stores may be experiencing a boom at the moment, but the old guard of shop owners know all too well what can happen when public interest sways. Independent shops are facing a constant battle against Direct to Consumer marketing and chain supermarkets dipping the most cursory of toes in the vinyl trade.
What revives the film's optimism is the introduction of up-and-coming band Cassia, signed to Distiller. The drive and excitement of this trio to release their debut album on vinyl reassures us that the dogged determination of shop owners, producers and collectors is worth it. Seeing the boys find and hold the finished album in their local record store affirms every claim the film makes about the beauty and importance of vinyl. It may be precarious, but it's definitely precious.
Head to Truck Store on Cowley Road or Rapture in Witney to fall back in love with collecting music. There are still screenings of the film in Exeter, North Yorkshire, Liverpool, Emsworth, Cambridge, Birmingham, Cinderford and Edinburgh, or you can download the film by purchasing the Distiller Vinyl Revival album here.