Cinematheque Showing 'Vinyl Nation' Documentary in Its Virtual Screening Room

The advent of the compact disc in the 1980s almost made vinyl records extinct. Yet, in the past decade or so, vinyl has made a huge comeback and now reportedly accounts for more sales than CDs.

Vinyl Nation
, a new documentary currently showing in the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque’s virtual screening room, chronicles vinyl’s resurgence with interviews with both fans and industry experts.

Filmed last year at record conventions, record labels, record stores and pressing plants in 14 American cities, the movie features interviews with vinyl aficionados who love the way the format “elevates the totality of an album,” as producer and musician John Vanderslice puts it.

The movie commences with interviews with fans lined up outside of Mills Record Company, a Kansas City store that’s stocked with Record Store Day specials. From there, the filmmakers travel to Brooklyn, New York, where two writers talk about their love of vinyl.

The filmmakers then traipse across the country to conduct a series of interviews with both experts and novices alike.

In one segment, Quality Record Pressings’ Gary Salstrom, a famous “plater,” talks about the progress of handling lacquers and making masters and then stampers that go to the pressing room. Salstrom explains that he got into the industry by sanding stampers.

Of course, the record store used to be the place that you went to buy vinyl records. That’s not entirely the case today, though places such as Amoeba Records, which has three locations in California, and the Sound Garden, a store in Baltimore, still cater to discriminating music fans and offer communal experiences. “For people who like to collect records, it’s the thrill of what might be behind the door of that little shop,” says musician Kelley Stoltz. “I’ve never been stunned to find an MP3.”

United Record Pressing owner Mark Michaels talks about buying his Nashville-based pressing plant in the mid-2000s. He discusses encountering problems after record labels decide to stop producing 12-inch vinyl singles shortly after he bought the plant. With that roadblock in the past, the pressing plant now thrives.

The film doesn’t just center on middle-aged white dudes who collect vinyl. The movie features a segment on a female Latino DJ collective and includes numerous interviews with people of color. Interviews with the makers of Crosley turntables make it apparent that the company has tried to market to female consumers, and footage from the annual Austin Record Convention shows just how diverse the record-buying audience has become.

While the film doesn’t follow any real narrative, it does provide a comprehensive and engaging look at vinyl’s history and its current resurgence.

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About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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