Record Store Day 2023 is fast approaching and, as noted by What Hi-Fi? managing editor Becky Roberts, there are plenty of reasons to get excited.
I myself have big plans to hit my local shops and rummage like a pig for truffles the moment I can over the weekend. And, having seen the growing number of young people rummaging alongside me in said stores over the past year, I know I’m not alone in my love of vinyl hunting.
But despite my excitement, over the past few days, I’ve had a separate thought growing in my head. Specifically, I feel the exact same way about Blu-ray.
Now before you go rolling your eyes, hear me out. If you take an objective view of why I, and most of the people I know, love vinyl, in pretty much every instance you can say the exact same thing about Blu-ray.
Let’s start with the obvious: the joy of actually owning the media. We all know that there’s something special about owning a bit of music you love in a physical format. This is a key reason I own a vinyl copy of my most loved albums – sometimes more than one if it’s particularly awesome, like Rush’s Permanent Waves – even if it’s also available on streaming.
I know I’m not alone. Cambridge Audio’s CEO Stuart George listed a desire for people to own their music as a key reason he sees CDs getting a similar renaissance to vinyl during an interview with What Hi-Fi? earlier this year.
For me, the same’s true of Blu-ray. Most recently this was evidenced by a sudden impulse I had to revisit one of my favourite cartoons – Dragon Ball Z. This happened when I finally finished watching Dragon Ball Super on Crunchyroll and then felt a hankering to rewatch the original show. However, fate was not on my side and to my dismay I rapidly realised no streaming service in the UK that I use has Dragon Ball Z in its library.
Since then I’ve been counting the days until my next payday and have been in ongoing negotiations with my other half about why I need to buy this rather swish-looking Dragon Ball Z Blu-ray collection. In my mind, £300 is a more than fair price to have permanent access to one of my favourite cartoons.
Then there’s the collectibility. One of the big things collectors love is finding rare items. That’s why, as well as vinyl, you can find everything from old computer game cartridges to first-generation iPhones selling for astronomical amounts.
This is also 100 per cent true of Blu-ray, with some out-of-print discs already selling for excessive amounts. Let’s take Kevin Smith’s Dogma as an example. Is it the best movie ever made? Nah. But because it’s been out of print for ages, even less than top-condition second-hand copies are retailing for hundreds of pounds on eBay. This is the cheapest copy I could find at the time of writing – if you don’t know the movie, trust me, it’s not worth spending £160 just to watch Dogma. The price is all about rarity.
Then finally, there are the extras. Vinyl’s been doing an excellent job enticing me to buy different versions of the albums I love using cool things like alternative album covers, unheard B-sides, and the ilk. This is a key reason the latest collector’s edition of Miles Davis’ On the Corner Sessions is top of my purchase list at the moment. I mean look at it, it’s blue! How cool is that?
The same is true of Blu-ray with Steelbook and special editions all coming with cool extras. These Event Horizon 25th Anniversary Edition and Masters Of The Universe Steelbook are great examples of what I mean. Both have funky cases and come with collectible pamphlets and extra interviews with the cast and crew that more than justify their upfront cost, in my mind.
And it’s for all these reasons, that I can’t help but feel Blu-ray is on the verge of having a similar renaissance to vinyl, which I’m all for.
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