Sound It Out

Sound It Out


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Like denim and Status Quo, vinyl appeals to fanatics. Record stores that sell these black plastic platters resemble shrines to the faithful. Making a doc about the last shop in Stockton catering for such obsessives is going to be compared to High Fidelity. Obviously.

Jeanie Finlay's affectionate film would have benefited from an infusion of Jack Black. There are energy junkies and boppers amongst the clientele, loners with tattoos, old blokes who buy Meat Loaf and suicidal teenagers ("Who are you?" "General delinquents") with a pash for heavy metal, but the atmosphere in the store is sensitive to eccentricity and doesn't make waves.

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There is nothing particularly special about the shop, other than it is run by someone who loves his job and is good at it. What holds your attention are the people. Excepting one-off dabblers, looking for pre-Ziggy Stardust, or trying to flog stolen goods, these habitues are serious collectors. They live in bare rooms with a chair and a record player and stacks of albums. Their fingers play air guitar, their faces locked into a twisted mask. You get the feeling that their social lives are limited to Sound It Out and their rooms.

Beyond the wierdness of having a music deck and disco in your mum's shed is the sense of loss, connected to the North East, shops closing, the High Street for sale, empty boulevards like the pale ghosts of industrial decay and because of it, perhaps, a closeness that comes with shared deprivation. Unlike the Home Counties, where dress codes are manditary, Stockton, as portrayed by those who frequent Sound It Out, is uncritical of sartorial misrule.

It is too easy to dismiss vinyl junkies as saddos. "It's all about emotions and memories," says the shop's owner. "If it wasn't for music, I wouldn't be here," says the chubby-faced teenager with the torn jeans who has tried to top himself twice already. You can melt records down and mould them into the shape of a coffin. Shane, who spent his childhood being called a spazza and now talks with authority about the medication he needs to retain his job as a shelf stacker, is planning on doing that.

Ninety-nine per cent of Sound It Out's customers are guys. "They don't want to grow up." What's so clever about the chattering classes anyway, when you've got this?

Rock on, my friends!

Reviewed on: 25 Jun 2011
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Documentary about the last record shop in Stockton.
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Director: Jeanie Finlay

Year: 2011

Runtime: 74 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: UK

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