Sainsbury's is setting up a record label

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Some records, yesterdayImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Sales of vinyl topped three million last year, the highest total since 1992

It's a case of Sex and Drugs and Sausage Rolls: Sainsbury's is setting up its own record label.

The supermarket giant is releasing a series of vinyl albums in 168 of its stores, starting this week.

The first two releases are 20-track compilations curated by Saint Etienne star and pop scholar Bob Stanley.

The musician, whose own hits include You're In A Bad Way and He's On The Phone, said he wanted to put music back on the high street.

"Growing up, one thing I loved was the number of high street shops where you could buy new releases," he told the BBC.

"I remember buying Dusty Springfield's Greatest Hits, the one with a striking high contrast black and white cover, at Woolworths in Croydon.

"I knew a few of the hits, but that was the first place I came across songs like Goin' Back and The Look Of Love, life-changing songs.

"Those kind of compilations - where some of the songs are familiar, and the rest of the album is a revelation which can shape your tastes - I think are just as important as classic standalone albums like Pet Sounds or Parallel Lines."

Image source, Sainbury's
Image caption,
Bob Stanley says vinyl has a "heft" that CDs and cassettes can't compete with

Stanley's first two compilations are titled Coming Into Los Angeles - A Taste Of West Coast; and Hi-Fidelity - A Taste of Stereo Sound.

They combine familiar tracks like Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells and Al Stewart's Year Of The Cat with deeper cuts - such as The Flying Burrito Brothers' cover of The Rolling Stones' Wild Horses.

The records come with essays by Stanley and striking, modernist artwork inspired by Sainsbury's in-house design studio of the 60s and 70s - whose minimalist packaging designs became classics.

Image source, Sainsbury's

The resurgence of vinyl is an unexpected success story for the music industry.

Fans bought more than three million vinyl records in 2016 - the highest number in 25 years - and sales in 2017 are up 30.6% year-on-year.

Sainsbury's began selling vinyl in March 2016 and, with 120,000 sales so far this year, claim to represent 5% of the total UK vinyl market.

Its label - called Own Label in reference to the supermarket's own-brand line in the 1970s - is a standalone imprint, released via Universal and Warner Music.

Image caption,
St Etienne (L-R: Sarah Cracknell, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs) received rave reviews for their recent album Home Counties

Stanley says the format holds a certain romance for music-lovers.

"The heft of a vinyl album, the weight of it in your hands, and the impact of the artwork are all something that CDs and cassettes can't compete with."

His future Sainsbury's compilations will hopefully include tracks by The Scone Roses, Bread Zeppelin, Ryvita Ora, Korn Flakes, Martha And The Blueberry Muffins and Pick and Little Mix.

At the time of writing, St Etienne have no plans to re-record their 1992 hit single, Join Our Club (Biscuit).

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