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Collections & Hobbies

A metalhead’s doll collection?

1/4/2017

steve-2“I originally started listening to my mom’s Elton John, Billy Joel and Paul Simon records,” admits Steve Ratcliff.

From there, he says he turned in to a “total metalhead.”

“A lot of the metal I used to have, I’ve replaced it with punk,” he laughs. “When I was a young metal head, I didn’t give any other music a chance. We were really rude to the new wave stuff, and I really regret that now, because there is a lot of really cool new wave music out there.”

So mark it down. Ratcliff doesn’t hate disco — at least not anymore. And if there is one thing he loves, it’s vinyl records.

“I have a good collection,” he says. “Some of my records I part with, and then I get new ones.”

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The flat disc record was the main medium for music up until late in the 20th century. But by the late 1980s, the compact disc and other digital forms of music storage eclipsed its market share. By 1991, the vinyl record album was all but history. Some say vinyl is a thing of the past, but Radcliff says he thinks that in 2017, the past is prologue.

“Any artist that you can imagine, they have records out now,” he says. “They never stopped making records, and I knew they wouldn’t. Sure, there weren’t as many coming out, but it never stopped.”

Records are still being cut and manufactured — albeit on a smaller scale — and they continue to be popular with DJs and audiophiles with a refined ear. Ratcliff is one of the latter.

“I have 30,000 records,” he says.

His passion has turned into a profit stream. He now sells some of his records, but he also maintains a list of albums that are untouchable.

Ratcliff says if he was only allowed to keep one record, the choice would be easy.

“Slayer. ‘God Hates Us All,’ ” he says without hesitation, showing his tattoo portraying the same.

He also has polka, jazz and even political records of old speeches. He pulls out one with Martin Luther King Jr. on the cover giving his famous “I have a dream” speech.

“Oh, and see this vest right here? Ben Crew,” he says. “It’s a jean jacket with the arms torn off, worn and reworn by punk star Crew. It’s still unwashed. That’s the vest. It’s a punk rock vest; it’s pretty ripe.”

He also has a plethora of albums from the ’80s, including vinyl from “Miami Vice,” “Beverley Hills Cop,” and The chuck-1Jackson 5’s 14 greatest hits equipped with bonus color poster and Michael Jackson’s white Motown knitted glove.

He begrudgingly admits that he does have a few CDs.

“Look at this ‘In Defense’ one,” he says. “There are only six of these in existence.”

He says the band’s promoter made it for the members, and the singer gave his to him.

Radcliff has advice for people looking for a record player.

“You can get them on Amazon from $60 on up,” he says. “It just depends what you want to spend. I love Amazon.”

Did you know?

Global sales of vinyl has increased every year since 2006, but some reports indicate the trend might fall off when the final totals are tabulated in 2016.

Vinyl can become scratched or warped, but with proper care, records can last hundreds of years. It was this durability that led NASA’s launch of two records into outer space carrying instructions on how to play them if an alien life form were to find them.

“I have a dream…” Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech at the mall in Washington, D.C., was distributed originally on vinyl, and Steve Ratcliff has it in his collection.

The Iowa fight song, “You gotta fight, fight, fight, for Iowa…” was originally blared on vinyl by Dubuque Street fraternity brothers waking one another up at 4 a.m. to start tailgating. ♦

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