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Elton John on Record Store Day: 'Vinyl just sounds better'

By Mark Savage
BBC Music reporter

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  • Record Store Day
media captionElton John on his love of record stores

Rock star Sir Elton John says vinyl albums provide a better listening experience than CDs or streaming music.

"It does sound better," said the star. "I know people say it doesn't, but it does.

"I've been around long enough to know. I've been in so many studios, I've made so many records. It just sounds better."

Sir Elton's comments came as he was named a "Record Store Day Legend", honouring his support of record shops.

There has long been a debate over the merits of vinyl over digital formats.

Apostles argue that an LP's analogue sound signal produces a more authentic, honest sound, while digital formats like CD and downloads compromise quality for the sake of portability and convenience.

Audio engineers argue that digital files are inherently more accurate - and that some of the "warmth" of vinyl is, in fact, distortion introduced by the turntable.

In reality, both have their pros and cons, but the perception that vinyl is superior has been a key reason behind the format's resurgence.

Sales in the UK topped three million last year, the highest total in 25 years according to the BPI, which represents the music industry.

Sir Elton will be releasing a new version of his legendary live album, 17-11-70, to commemorate the 10th annual Record Store Day on 22 April.

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This exclusive edition adds six further songs to the original tracklisting, including previously unreleased recordings of Indian Sunset, Your Song and My Father's Gun.

"It wasn't supposed to be a live album, it was a radio broadcast," the musician told the BBC, "but it was bootlegged so much that the record company decided to put it out."

image captionSir Elton says he sold his original vinyl collection in 1990, but started collecting again two years ago

"It's probably one of the best live albums of all time," boasts Sir Elton.

"I'm never one to say good things about myself, but it is pretty fabulous."

The star is well known for his love of record shops - having bought his first singles (At the Hop by Danny and the Juniors; and Reet Petite by Jackie Wilson) at the age of 10.

He said was "honoured" to be named a Record Store Day Legend, and wholeheartedly supported the initiative - which aims to tempt record-buyers back into their local, independent shops.

Special vinyl releases are made exclusively for the day and many shops and cities host artist performances and events to mark the occasion.

BBC Music is an official partner of the event; and BBC Radio 6 Music will premiere a selection of the exclusive new records in the week leading up to the event, culminating in a live broadcast from Vinyl Tap in Huddersfield on Friday, 21 April, hosted by Lauren Laverne.

BBC Radio 3's Record Review will also celebrate the initiative with a live show at Spiritland, a listening cafe just north of King's Cross in London, on the day itself.

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