Lifestyle

My Collection: Vinyl records rule in Jason Parker’s home

By John Lewis

Along a wall in Jason Parker’s lounge room is a simple-looking wooden cabinet with four short legs and a cloth facade.

It looks like a fairly characterless piece of vintage furniture, until you open the lid.

Then you are into a spinning rabbit hole of rock music history — John Lee Hooker, Johnny Cash, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The B-52s, Johnny Cash, Metallica.

And we’re not talking the endless shuffle of Spotify, CD, MP3, walkman or cassette tape — we’re talking the real deal.

We’re talking vinyl, with a break every 20 minutes to change the music.

The wooden cabinet with four legs is a Kriesler stereo radiogram made in Sydney in 1967, which Mr Parker picked up for a few hundred dollars.

‘‘When I saw the radiogram I said ‘that’s exactly what we want and, as a bonus, it plays records’,’’ he said.

It also has a radio, which covers both sides of the moral spectrum.

‘‘You can only get horse racing or Christian music,’’ he said.

To demonstrate the devil’s music, Mr Parker slides one of the Stones’ double album Exile on Main St on to the turntable, a 52-year-old piece of musical technology.

‘‘In a minute you can see the valves glow.

‘‘I can only describe the music it makes as like warm honey.’’

Mr Parker’s radiogram sits within arm’s reach of his vinyl record collection which, at the last count, stood at about 500.

They are neatly stored in another purpose-built, but more contemporary, cabinet which at the moment displays covers from his eclectic collection, including The Rolling Stones, Primal Scream, B-52s, Metallica, The Ramones, Paul Kelly, the soundtrack from the 1970s movie Every Which Way But Loose starring Clint Eastwood and a 1980s compilation of summer dance tunes.

Mr Parker first came across the vinyl disc when he was eight and his father bought a record player at a garage sale.

‘‘It came with AC/DC’s TNT album and I had no idea what it was. But when we put it on, I just fell in love with it. It’s still one of my favourite albums of all time,’’ he said.

He grew up listening to his parents’ music — Elvis, early rock ‘n’ roll, and country music.

He then veered off into his own tastes and bought thousands of CDs, but eventually came back to his roots.

‘‘It’s funny, but a lot of the music your parents listened to, you start to appreciate as you get older,’’ he said.

As a teenager he would hang around the Lyric Music store in Shepparton’s Maude St Mall with his cousin Justin.

‘‘Every Saturday morning we’d get on our bikes and spend hours in the store browsing the records and CDs. It was a hang-out. My parents would phone the store and tell me to bring bread and milk home,’’ he said.

The Goulburn-Murray Water project officer, now a family man with three young boys of his own, still cannot resist the chance to go on a vinyl hunt.

If he happens to be with his brother Troy — another music tragic — then things get serious.

‘‘We’ve spent eight hours just cruising record shops in Melbourne. But I do have to limit myself — $70 for a new vinyl — that’s a fair commitment.’’

Occasionally, he might give the radiogram a rest and select something from the Wurlitzer juke box in the kitchen.

At the moment it’s got a playlist of hundreds of Christmas tunes — from Glen Campbell’s Blue Christmas to Justin Bieber’s Under the Mistletoe.

When not listening to music, he plays bass guitar with drummer Troy and a few other musos — although a dislocated finger has slowed up his live music playing lately.

Ask him what his most treasured record is and he disappears into his collection and surfaces with a slightly battered-looking cover showing an ecstatic crowd at a Sonic Youth concert at Melbourne’s first Big Day Out festival in 1993.

Circled in the sea of faces are two heads, labelled ‘‘Shaun’’ and ‘‘Jason.’’

‘‘We were so keen we were the first in the car park,’’ he said.

The vinyl collection is a storehouse of memories as well as music.

What’s going to happen to it all when he spins his last disc?

‘‘You’d like to see it go to someone who cares.’’

After he attended the funeral of Shepparton sporting legend Don Fairless, his daughter came up and asked what she should do with her father’s enormous collection of jazz records.

‘‘I said ‘why don’t you donate them to a nursing home?’

‘‘I kinda hope it happens like that. You just look after the music for a period of time — you’re like a caretaker.’’