Just for the record

UNIQUE HOBBIES

Just for the record

In this day and age of MP3s, it’s rare to find even cassettes and CDs let alone vinyl records. However, Shankar Rao, the director of a company, has these in plenty at his house and takes care of them with enormous passion.

The music-lover has been collecting these since the 60s and in fact, the collection was passed on to him by his father, a veteran of World War II. “He was interested in music and would collect jazz records. He used to travel to a lot of places and would collect them wherever he went,” he informs. He further adds, “Those days, we used to have a device called radiogram which played records one after the other. It was like an automatic player.”

Being in a musically-oriented family, the passion for records came naturally to Shankar. “I play the piano and harmonica. While my elder sister used to be a Carnatic singer, my younger sister played the sitar. So we were a musically-proficient family,” he laughs.

So when his father’s collection was passed on to him, he only added more to it. “Some of the records I have are the old ones of Clay Records. But most of them are the basic ones that were available in the 1960s,” he says. Be it pop or rock, western, jazz or classical, Shankar has them all. Currently, he has a collection of a whopping 240 records.

While he has staples like ‘The Beatles’ and Elvis Presley that every music aficionado has in his or her collection, he even has the records of MS Subbulakshmi and Ustad Bismillah Khan. “In the early 60s, they had the best music on these records. I remember adding Pink Floyd, Frank Sinatra and Dave Martin to the collection,” he adds.

“Those days, a lot of Hindi movie soundtracks were also available in the form of records but sadly, I don’t have those in my collection. I remember seeing the records of Raj Kapoor’s movies. Even KL Sehgal’s songs used to be available on these records. He was such a great singer,” he recalls nostalgically. “My favourite one is the best of ‘The Beatles’. A rare one I have is a record of Elvis Presley which was released in Japan in 1966 with his signature. It also came along with his calendar,” he gushes.

He has fond memories of the collection. “When I was in New York, these records were sold in the subways. I remember picking up many of them in the 90s over there. I used to hunt a lot and get the first cut of the best songs performed by any good artiste. I used to buy these for a dollar,” he laughs.

The records are in such a good condition that he listens to them even today. This is because he takes time out of his work to keep his collection neat and organised.

   “I spend once a week taking care of them. I clean them and keep them covered and categorise them. I keep them in a good condition.”

Ask him about the music of today and he merely laughs, “Trance music is popular among the youngsters these days. But music is something that one should enjoy. It should be good on the ears. However, today’s music is more like noise.” 

Does he have any tips for those who are pursuing a hobby? “I advise anyone who has a collection of records of any kinds to categorise them in order to be able to listen to them easily,” he informs. “But otherwise, for all hobbyists, all I have to say is just treasure your collection,” he sums up.

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