Vinyl's last stand celebrated in Sound It Out
Shane the Status Quo fan wants to be buried with his records; when he dies, there's a company that will melt his vinyl collection and then fashion it into a coffin. Shane is one of the real life characters we meet in Sound It Out, Jeanie Finlay's affectionate portrait of the last record store in Stockton-on-Tees.
Some thirty miles outside of Newcastle, Stockton-on-Tees is (to borrow the phrase from Chris Hedges) one of Britain's "sacrifice zones"; a model example of the permanently depressed north east and little more than a well-populated ghost town.
Finlay makes sure to include lots of views of a deserted high street marked by shuttered windows and thrift stores, although it's not like Sound It Out is a bummer (that's Alan Zweig's 2000 suicide note, Vinyl, that you're thinking of).
It's about records, and record-collectors, and the love of wax, and the importance of music and community; all of which crystallizes when Finlay's camera scans the faces of rapt listeners as Saint Saviour—a local girl made good—returns to Sound It Out for an in-store performance and delivers a heart-wrenching version of "Love Will Tear Us Apart".
Finlay finds a fascinating cross-section of regulars in the appropriately messy store. Jobless basement DJs and the totally wired and bug-eyed duo who make their own mákina come closest to the cliche of the insectoid northern male of the 21st century.
But then there's the metalhead and his friend, a thoughtful and sensitive Pisschrist fan who describes how music literally saved his life, or the toothless and bronchial lady thrilled to pick-up three Meatloaf LPs. Later, we see the amiable Shane, who's had a horrible life, floating blissfully away in his decrepit flat to the strains of Quo's "Caroline".
Presiding over all of it is Tom, the store's owner and a man universally revered by his customers. He shows them the same respect; expertly servicing their needs and happy to lend an ear, even when he thinks their taste is a little suspect. You wonder what will become of them all when their vinyl citadel is finally sacrificed, too.
Sound it Out screens at the Vancity Theatre, on Monday (July 23)
You can follow Adrian Mack's contribution to the lobotomizing techno-nightmare known as Twitter at @AdrianMacked.