By Ali Webb

    I separated from my husband last year and the first thing I did when I came up for air was purchase a record player. Why? Because music makes me happy and music sounds better on vinyl.

    My record collection is vague, amateur but it has bones: the Jewel of the Nile soundtrack, Starship, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Carole King’s Tapestry, Holst’s The Planets, various soul compilations and, most recently, a brand spanking new album from The XX.

    As a child of the eighties, I grew up listening to my parent’s record collection filled with Toto, Genesis, Neil Young, the Mamas and the Papas, Nicolette Larson, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell and so many more. Theirs was a collection that provided a soundtrack to my life. Every time I hear a track by one of these artists, I’m transported back to my childhood dancing in the den with my brothers or kicking back outside on the lawn, bmx lying on its side, the Realistic timber veneered record playing spinning in the background.

    So how do you establish a record collection, a collection that will provide my son with memories and me with moments? Fellow inner westie Joel Sexton has a cracking collection of over 400 records. Considering this epic number, I was confident he would be able to steer me in the right direction.

    ‘My parents and aunties had great collections of records. Their collections were filled with the music I grew up with: Dire Straits, Hoodoo Gurus; a lot of Australian rock. ‘My collection today consists of a lot of late seventies and early eighties rock, with a lot of music from my youth like Bob Dylan, INXS, and Midnight Oil.

    I just think this music sounds better on vinyl,’ Joel told me – I totally agree. Whilst my collection hasn’t quite hit the fifty mark yet, it has taken me a while to work out how to store them. ‘You can always make space for records. I had custom made shelves installed at home. I store my records alphabetically, by the artist’s surname or the band name. It was a hard decision when it came to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, whether I filed the record under N or C.

    Joel explained that finding a record’s home on the shelf wasn’t always easy. ‘I also have mini collections of subcategories including ‘Christmas’, ‘Soundtracks’ and ‘Various Artists’ – like the all encompassing Smash Hits collections.’ I’ve been searching for a copy of Hit Pix ‘88, a collection of top hits from the bicentennial year that I had on cassette as a kid.

    I loved this album. Hearing Joel talk about his compilation albums ignited a fresh challenge for me. I had to find this album but I had no idea where to look.

    Joel tells me that he scours op shops, Mill Markets, ebay and discogs online for records. ‘I’m a big fan of the Lost Ark on Koroit Creek Road in Williamstown, the vinyl collection is great and well-priced,’ he explained.

    So how do you start collecting records? I started mine by finding a classic album in an op shop. The difference between a $5 op shop purchase and a $45 brand new album purchase is nothing more than price to me. Purchasing music is special. I fork out cash because I want to hear it and play it for my friends. It provides memories and flashbacks of family, boyfriends, weddings, babies and even divorces! Music is a part of life and it certainly does sound better on vinyl.

    This was a tricky question for Joel, but he summed it up nicely for me: keep it simple, a collection is about you and what you like. Joel’s guide to an excellent record collection:

    1. Include something nostalgic
    2. Everyone needs a copy of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon
    3. Find a great soundtrack. I recommend Pretty Woman or Batman (1989).

    Yarraville Music and Record Fair takes place at Yarraville Club in August. The Lost Ark can be found at 294-296 Koroit Creek Road, Williamstown. Yarravinyl (Yarraville Pop-up park) is open until mid-late May.

    Keep up to date with Ali Webb’s inner west adventures on her blog at houseofwebb. or on

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