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Book: Turntable Stories

Chapter: White Midi: Memories of an Alba

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.46290


My whole childhood experience of (and exposure to) music was founded upon vinyl; in particular, vinyl spun on my parents’ turntable, mounted atop their Sanyo separates system which cost, they related, a whopping £200 in 1979 (equivalent to around £1200 today). Whilst this system also had a cassette player, it was always the turntable which was in use, and vinyl the chief source of music (the tape player only ever really used (a) to record music off the radio and, most significantly, (b) to record borrowed vinyl).

But it was only in my early-teens, in the nascent 90s, when I finally had my own player, a gift from my parents: a belt-driven turntable built into an Argos-bought, mid-budget Alba midi-hi fi system complete with a sophisticated (!) 3-band graphic equalizer, twin cassette deck and CD player. And it was in white (an aesthetic decision entirely out of my hands, my mum thinking it wouldn’t stick out so much from the décor of my bedroom... and a detail which would become the subject of much teasing from friends).

Finally, though, I had something upon which I could play my parents’ vinyl – The Beatles, Donovan, Isaac Hayes, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald all graced the platter and I soon started curating my own record collection.

‘White Midi’ will be a love letter to that white Alba; to building my vinyl collection which I bought and played on it; and to a rudimentary turntable which helped shape my intricate taste in music, right up to its sad demise in my early undergraduate years at university, a tragedy which saw my betrayal of the midi for the micro system, and an end to my relationship with vinyl.
For a time, at least.

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