The announcement this morning that supermarket chain Sainsbury’s is setting up its own record label (in conjunction with Universal Music and Warner Music’s Rhino label) to release vinyl compilation albums has been met with a mix of bemusement and amusement, mainly from people too young or (more likely) too stupid to remember when Woolworths and other high street retailers sold low-cost, exclusive compilation LPs. I’m assuming that as the day progresses, it will be met with sneering horror by vinyl snobs – the sort who think that any record player costing less than £1000 will ‘destroy’ your precious vinyl (the precious vinyl that they never actually play anyway) and are secretly aghast at the idea of vinyl becoming anything more than a very expensive niche product.
The naysayers are wrong. This is a great idea, and curator Bob Stanley is just the man to put together interesting collections that mix the familiar and the obscure – he has form in this, after all.
Anything that helps make physical music more mainstream should be applauded, and that won’t happen if records remain the domain of small indie shops and cost an arm and a leg to buy. And the compilation album is a much under-appreciated art form – the best are as vital as any ‘proper’ album, and have been responsible for me discovering many acts that I might not have otherwise heard.
Stanley’s first two Sainsbury’s Own Label collections are Coming Into Los Angeles – A Taste Of West Coast and Hi-Fidelity – A Taste of Stereo Sound. Both are beautifully presented, looking like actual works of art – objects of desire, in fact – that use 1960s Sainsbury’s packaging imagery.
Forget the music snobs – these albums deserve your attention – and frankly, they have a cracking selection of tracks on them, from the Doobie Brothers to Buffalo Springfield; from Van Der Graaf Generator to Giorgio Moroder. If they keep the prices reasonable, then I’m definitely in the market for these on my next grocery shop.