Real Ale Twickenham keeping the love of vinyl alive

By Joe Marshall
March 20 2020, 10.25

Now, more than ever, music lovers are choosing to buy old fashioned vinyl.

South West Londoner visited a showcase of new records at Real Ale in Twickenham.

Surrounded by fridges filled with bottles of craft beer, wine and spirits, the atmosphere was friendly and quietly buzzing.

Here we caught up with insiders including Eel Pie Records owners Kevin Jones and Phil Penman.

On the topic of algorithms on streaming and download sites, Kevin said they lead to a ‘spiral of self-curated hell’, whereby music fans are automatically being recommended bands and artists similar to what they already listen to, and therefore not discovering exciting new jams.

Mike, the Real Ale store manager, values records because the calibre of sound is far greater than on a digital rendering.

Indeed audio quality is an important consideration.

For years people have argued that old fashioned records have a broader, more authentic sound than CDs.

They certainly beat MP3s, which are notorious for delivering an artificially compressed version of what the composer intended. 

Kevin said that Eel Pie Records functions as a community hub for music lovers.

He said you can enter the space and hear something you haven’t heard before, meet like-minded individuals and talk to people who can advise on what you might like.

Mike said having a physical object in your hands is important.

He thinks record shops create a sense of community too, where people can bond over shared interests.

Craft beer has, like records, boomed in recent years.

They used to have a Spotify playlist in Real Ale but, Mike said: “It is so much nicer having tangible records.”

Ines, a customer, agrees.

HAPPY SHOPPERS: Customers Kate (left) and Ines

She believes streaming is too easy and takes the fun out of discovering music.

There is talk of cassettes becoming the new vogue format, but Kevin doesn’t think they will take off again.

He said they sell them in the shop because they are a great ‘artefact’, but have poor sound quality.

Eel Pie has its own record label too. Kevin described its first release, an album by Buffalo Blood, as a slice of ‘Americana’.

Last year Eel Pie was jointly responsible for the High Tide festival in Twickenham, which saw around fifty acts, including musicians and spoken word artists, perform across five stages.

There are plans for a repeat event in July 2020.

Some argue that the new music industry paradigm devalues the work of musicians.

If albums and singles are free, they become disposable.

If you can’t hold a record in your hand then it is no longer something you own, but rather a tiny part of the infinite mass of noise which is out there on services like Apple Music.

Eel Pie Records and Real Ale curated and facilitated a more authentic listening experience.

Information on the latest Eel Pie Records and Real Ale events can be found on www.eelpierecords.com and www.realale.com

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