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Make a date to fall back in love with vinyl

In many ways it's a shame that there should be such a calendar event as Record Store Day.

For a music nerd like myself, every day could potentially be spent in vinyl emporia, flicking through the racks and digging in the crates for weird and wonderful audio artefacts. Why do we need to single out a specific day to celebrate what should be a customary, regular occurrence?

Initially established in this digital age to raise awareness of the dwindling prospects of independent bricks-and-mortar music retail outlets and the physical product therein, Record Store Day - which began in the United States - has blossomed into a global phenomenon in its own right and is now in its seventh year.

When the bells tolled about the demise of traditional shops, so the fight back began from musicians, labels, sellers and consumers. But are music fans simply content to illegally download music, or shop on their laptops from the anaesthetised comfort of the couch? Online retailers do occasionally manage to undercut prices, and advert-laden streaming services are increasingly popular; but a good high-street shop should still play an important role in any music fan's world.

One can tap into expert advice, share in a sense of place and community, stumble upon random gems and, most importantly, enjoy recommendations and tips from like-minded individuals. Not even the cleverest online aggregator or algorithm is capable of the truly personal touch.

Nevertheless, what can tempt people back into shops and even into spending appropriate sums of money on music - something many people believe is, or should be, free? Cue the sound of pressing plants whirring into action, as new formats and limited-edition items are dreamt up and manufactured. Box-sets, picture discs, coloured vinyl, alternate sleeves, B-side compilations, 7", 10", 12" EPs, collaborations, cover versions, posters, badges, prints, rarities, bootlegs and demos are now all up for grabs.

Some people are cynical about this overabundance and surfeit of options but, in the record-collecting world, everyone loves something distinctive. As a fan's interest in an artist grows, so does the desire to complete a collection and secure an irreplaceable, rare piece of their art. Some might scoff, but others might as easily stroke their chin and approve.

Strangely, in a world of increasing homogeneity and mass-production, ­epicurean tastes are more widespread, and certainly more easily catered for. But as a whiplash reaction, music lovers aren't content to shell out their hard-earned cash for a simple CD or characterless download. Collectors want a more intimate, individual - dare I say "organic" - experience and something approaching a one-off product at the end.

Personally, I have never been a super-consumer, shopaholic or fashion victim. I don't need the latest craze or the flashiest new gadget. I've never coveted my neighbour's sports car or yearned for designer suits … but I still go a little weak at the knees when I enter a record shop. All logic, prudence and common-sense evaporates as I eye up the endless goodies on offer. Writing this, I can spot my pristine copies of Neu! 86 on lemon yellow vinyl, an Arab Strap box-set and complete The Cramps 7" single collection… Lovely!

This year, there are more than 600 specific releases to tie in with Record Store Day, and many will be extremely limited and hard to come by. Despite a few ruthless, cold-blooded online auctioneers trying to make a fast buck from the limited editions available, many fans should hopefully bag themselves a piece of history on April 19.

It seems there are more artists and labels than ever lending their support to the cause and championing the independent retailer. Record Store Day was spearheaded by a global network of underground, alternative and DIY music communities at the start, but in 2014 it looks like everyone is getting in on the act.

If you're first in the queue at your chosen store, you might get your hands on a remix single from Nile Rodgers, 18 unheard recordings by Green Day known as Demolicious, a limited new pressing of Adam & The Ants debut long-player Dirk Wears White Sox, the brand new vinyl album release by Pixies, or a string of 7" singles by the likes of David Bowie, Paul Weller, Elbow and even those vacuous pop urchins One Direction - all with additional download codes, naturally.

At a local level, one of the most interesting releases will be the deluxe double vinyl edition of Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, the 2007 debut album by The Twilight Sad. Limited to 500 copies in the UK, it contains never-heard-before tracks and unseen artwork.

Although some local retailers have fallen by the wayside - such as Edinburgh's legendary Avalanche Records, which will now be trading online and as an occasional market stall in the future - other shops such as Glasgow's Monorail survive against the odds, offering a specialist service to a city that brims and overflows with music. Their trick is to provide something that no-one else has, with attention to detail, high-quality stock and select live events.

My BBC Radio Scotland programme tomorrow night comes from that very shop and features a vinyl-only playlist selected by guests including singer and label-boss Johnny "Pictish Trail" Lynch, Herald writer and broadcaster Nicola Meighan, and Bluebells singer and college lecturer Ken McCluskey. There is live music from Meursault and selections from broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove, Deacon Blue's Ricky Ross and James Mercer of The Shins. The focus of the show is on this ancient format that continues to laugh in the face of death and still appeals to younger and newer generations.

Last year saw vinyl sales at their highest since 1997, with shops now stocking twice as many records as CDs. Who would have expected that? The physical artefact is alive and well, attracting all ages and growing beyond its cult status. With a variety of exclusive formats and restricted pressings, it's now a club everyone wants to join.

Vic Galloway presents on BBC Radio Scotland at 8.05pm-10pm on Mondays (www.bbc.co.uk/radioscotland). Tomorrow 'Vic's Vinyl Exchange' special has live music, guests and Record Store Day exclusives. Contact Vic at www.twitter.com/vicgalloway

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