About a decade back, Radio & Gramophone House in Connaught Place, one of the oldest music shops in the city, did away with the shelf displaying Long Play (LP) records. About two months back, it restored its exclusive LP shelf, now full with recently released LPs of both western and Hindi film music. “We restored our vinyl shelf because now there is a sudden spurt of interest in LPs. Many of those who approach us are youngsters who have dusted off old LP players bought by their father and grandfathers. In the past month alone, we have sold dozens of LPs and new players,” says Rishi Jain of Radio & Gramophone House, set up in 1951 by his grandfather.
Jain is not exaggerating. Long play records are staging a quiet comeback, with top music shops across the city once again storing and selling them.
Landmark, the largest book and music retailer, has a rack devoted to LPs at both its Delhi and Gurgaon outlets. At present, the Gurgaon outlet has almost run out of stock. “We’ve sold almost our entire stock of LPs. There has been a huge rise in demand in the past couple of months,” says Albert John, in-charge of the music section at Landmark, Gurgaon.
The interest in the forgotten format was kindled last October after Saregama launched the soundtrack of the John Abraham-starrer Jhootha Hi Sahi. It was the company’s first LP after Dil To Pagal Hai in 1997. Taking a cue, T-Series, too, cut an LP for Tees Maar Khan and Patiala House, starring Akshay Kumar. “We will soon release 10 titles of old classics,” says Apurv Nagpal, Managing Director, Saregama Limited. Adds Pallavi Siddajjara of bollywoodvinyl.com, an online LP record shop, “There is a huge demand for LPs of musical hits such as Sholay, Don and Silsila. R D Burman and Shankar Jaikishan are the most sought after by LP lovers.”
In 2010, EMI began to distribute “audiophile-grade” vinyl records in the country. The company had stopped manufacturing LP records at its Dum Dum plant near Kolkata about two decades back.
A wave of nostalgia grips Anuj Rajpal, owner of New Gramophone House opposite Moti Cinema in Chandni Chowk as he shows you a bunch of newly released LPs. His shop has been selling LPs for close to 80 years “The number of LP customers has doubled in the past 6 months. It feels great to have LPs of new Bollywood movies among the heaps of the old ones. Even when music companies stopped producing new LPs, we didn’t stop selling them,” says Rajpal, surrounded by thousands of LPs, gramophones and record players. He has a collection of about 2 lakh LPs and is the distributor for T-Series’ new LPs.
Recognising the growing demand for LPs, many music stores in the city have begun to sell LP players from brands such as Jensen, Lenco and Denon. Saregama, for instance, markets Lenco LP players that boast features such USB ports, in-built speakers and AM/FM radio. The company is also selling them through its website.
One reason attributed to the renewed interest in LPs is sound quality. Buyers say an LP gives much better sound than the digital format. “In digital formats such as MP3, some frequencies get compressed and you get a very metallic kind of sound. I can listen to LPs for hours together, but digital music sounds become jarring to ears after a few hours. Still, I am not sure whether the iPod generation will take to LPs in a big way, ” says Suresh Chandvankar, secretary, Society of Indian Record Collectors. The society, which works to bring together LP collectors and preserve old LPs, also brings out Records News, an online magazine. Chandvankar alone has about 15, 000 LPs in his personal collection. Guide to buying LPs
Others like DJ Jazzy Joe, who runs recordsindia.com, a Delhi-based online records shop, feels that the return of LPs will help curb music piracy. “The digital format is killing the music industry. In the last five years, the sales of music CDs has come down by 65 per cent. That is why even established artistes are now more interested in doing live shows than cutting albums. Youngsters need to be educated about the fact that the LP, an analogue format, is better than digital to save the music industry. It is the only format that has survived for more than 100 years and I am sure vinyl records are going to be back in a big way, ” says Joe.