Ack! Ack! Ack! Records – Middlesbrough’s Vinyl Destination
By Adam Clery on September 6, 2011 in Music
Simultaneously the “pay freeze” and “petrochemical” capitals of the UK, crime, unemployment and overall greyness are all going up seemingly as fast as the football team is sinking. The home of the talking CCTV camera, the visual muse for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and the last place on earth you’re likely to find Kirstie Allsop turning up for a hen party, even OfCom have told people to give it a miss.
But hey, at least it’s got a sweet record store now.
That’s because Ack! Ack! Ack! Records, willed into existence by local music aficionado Oli Heffernan, has opened its doors to an unsuspecting Boro music scene. Presumably still reeling from the closure of Fearnleys, the clientèle appears to be channeling its grief into a renewed appreciation for both cherished classics as well as a fresh vigour for unearthing previously unheard gems.
Naturally, we got down as soon as we could to talk to the man himself about just what setting up your own business, on the proverbial burial grounds of so many likeminded entrepreneurs, actually consists of, and we’re delighted to report that he’s taking it all in his stride.
Delighted, and also relieved.
At the risk of sounding preachy, an independent record store, one that’s as well stocked on enthusiasm as it is on the records themselves, is one of the most important resources imaginable for a burgeoning music scene. Not only does it give local artists a place to pick up new inspiration, but it allows them to meet, mingle and manifest over their common ground.
In an age when the music we buy is becoming increasingly faceless and throw away, they’re arguably more important than ever.
Tragically, owing to the economy, the demand or simple mismanagement, Middlesbrough has had to do without one in recent years – audiophiles having to travel over to Stockton’s now famous Sound It Out Records to even come close to feeding their addiction. No coincidence either than with these outlets falling by the way side, no bands have really sprung out of the region and slapped us all in the face since DARTZ!
This isn’t just some hark back to some mythical “good old days” where everything was pure and sepia, it’s important to remember that revelling in the tactile pleasure from owning a physical release, and enjoying the speed and convenience of one-click purchases, aren’t mutually exclusive. iTunes is as much a part of making great music now as shops like Ack! Ack! Ack! are, but for as long as they’re in direct competition, finding a balance won’t be easy.
After all, being able to throw your pocket money at entire albums from the comfort of your own sofa is a marvel of the modern age, but who wants to leave their kids a folder on a hard drive to remember them by…
Hence our relief that the folks of Middlesbrough appear to be embracing their new play park for the ear both in presence and in pocket. Long may it continue and, hopefully, it’s a sign of better things to come.
- Jack White Messes About In A Factory For Record Store Day