Documentary Releases: The Vinyl Revival (2019) - Reviewed

Around 2012, documentary filmmaker Pip Piper embarked on the cinematic adaptation of Graham Jones’ nonfiction work Last Shop Standing which chronicled the downfall of the independent vinyl record store in the United Kingdom.  Some seven years later in a strange turn of events, Piper would revisit the record store scene which found itself booming thanks to renewed interest in the analogue vinyl record disc audio format with the new short documentary film The Vinyl Revival.  

While I myself was getting into vinyl collecting in the early 2000s with emphasis on electronic music as well as diving through my parents’ record collections, to watch the resurgence of vinyl as the gold standard for listening to music at home happen around me was a very exciting time to be an audiophile.  One would have never guessed a format as old as the invention of the sound recording itself would still be the dominant preference people have for listening to music.

Though running only a mere forty-three minutes in length and not exactly answering all the questions posed by what’s driving the industry shift of tactile physical music media over digital streaming, The Vinyl Revival is a well-meaning love letter to record stores and vinyl collectors everywhere.  Featuring various interviews from industry veterans including but not limited to Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and Philip Selway from Radiohead to record store owners over the appeal of the album presentation over the digital sound cloud, the short documentary intends to get to the bottom of just what it is on a vinyl record that you can’t get anywhere else.

As a seasoned vinyl collector with a freemotion turntable using high-end needles and cartridges, I was simultaneously delighted by the young age demographic of the fandom surrounding vinyl collecting and annoyed by the viral marketing of things like Record Store Day which almost always attract scalpers eager to make a buck off of third party resales.  I also am inclined to recommend the far more comprehensive Scratch documentary over this one which predated the popular revival of vinyl by almost six years.  

That said, it was nonetheless a worthwhile short film attempting to make sense of the format's triumph over compact disc or digital media.  Whatever vinyl means to you (polished sound quality is the appeal for me), The Vinyl Revival is a lovingly made tribute to that very fanbase which has proved the long thought to be dead format is indeed very much alive and well.

--Andrew Kotwicki