Vinyl Nation

Vinyl Nation ★★★½

Around ten years ago, I purchased a beat-up old book from an antique store titled Steal This Book (yes, reiterating that I paid seven bucks for it) written by counterculture kook Abbie Hoffman. Among chapters on such topics as guerrilla radio broadcasting, free medical care, political asylum, and making Molotov cocktails, there's a section on shoplifting. In it, Hoffman suggests that one can steal a vinyl record by sliding it into a pizza box. I remember being tickled by this advice, because it seemed so dated to me that there used to be places where you could buy both a pizza and a record. Fast-forward to last Thursday; I, in my pandemic-appropriate mask and gloves, am in the checkout line at Target. I watch my frozen pizza and limited edition red vinyl of Lana Del Rey's Born to Die roll down the belt. Separately. Hoffman would be disappointed.

I believe my story would fit well in Vinyl Nation, not just because it covers a dizzying amount of ground. Tracing vinyl's 20th century high point to its absolute bottom in 2007 to its mighty resurgence now, this doc is stuffed along the way with peeks into manufacturing, independent stores, and turntables (please reconsider that spiffy-looking Crosley) and a wealth of interviews with industry insiders, musicians, and fans of all stripes. The filmmakers really want to push back against the stereotype of vinyl aficionados being dumpy white male snobs, so it was great seeing this variety of interviewees. Vinyl Nation also tackles some of the new (or at least, new to us post-resurgence) challenges about vinyl, namely the environmental impact and shoddy or questionable business practices.

I wouldn't say this doc is a home run, but if you're a vinyl nut like me, you'll have a lot of fun and learn some stuff too. If it wasn't close to midnight I'd put a record on right now.

Support your local record stores!

Quinn liked these reviews