Private Collection: Chris Phelps

One of our newest features on the blog is Private Collection. Featuring interviews with vinyl enthusiasts about their collections. For our first interview, I am pleased to introduce Chris Phelps, a fantastic photographer from Texas with an impressive client list (He’s probably shot your favorite band!) with the likes of Fueled by Ramen to Alternative Press, who just happens to be an avid vinyl collector. Thanks for talking with us, Chris!


What is your name & occupation?

My name is Chris Phelps and I am a photographer.

When did you start collecting vinyl?

I started borrowing my parents records when I was in high school and started my own collection when I was 15 or 16. I’ve been collecting ever since–almost 12 years now.

How many records to you own?

Somewhere around 800 records including 45s.

photo 1
Why do you prefer vinyl?

A lot of people talk about the sound being better, richer, warmer, etc., and depending on the record I agree with that. I don’t think new records pressed to vinyl sound as good as some of the older stuff. I think back in the day when they were making records they were mastering them specifically for vinyl rather than a digital to analog conversion.

For me, it’s all about the experience. Especially as an image maker in the music industry I love seeing the large format artwork. There is a certain reverence towards music that comes from the ritual of pulling a specific record from your collection, removing it from a dust cover and sleeve, and then putting it on the turntable, only to have to flip it halfway through. You have to really love the music to go to that much trouble. All the while you have this great big piece of artwork that is physically in your hands. It’s a pretty awesome experience.

There is a certain reverence towards music that comes from the ritual of pulling a specific record from your collection, removing it from a dust cover and sleeve, and then putting it on the turntable, only to have to flip it halfway through…

I certainly don’t get the same experience checking out a new artist on Spotify, but there is a place for both in this world. They’re two different formats each with their own inherent pros and cons. Obviously you cant take a stack of LPs with you on a long road trip, or when you’re out for a bike ride or a run.

ProvidedWhat is your favorite album in your collection?

Thats a tough one… It took me 10 years to find my first original
mono copy of Pet Sounds, which is my favorite record of all time. I hear something different in it every time I listen to it. I actually own about 5 or 6 different pressings of it because they each have their own sound and character.

I’ve got some rare early Ray Charles and Sam Cooke records that I also cherish as well as my entire Johnny Cash collection. I’ve got almost everything Johnny Cash put out from his first 45 at Sun Records through the early 70s. I’ve still got a few holes to fill but I’ve definitely got more Johnny Cash records than any other single artist or group.

As far as recent stuff… my favorite record this year is
Phosphorescent – Muchacho. I’ve always been a fan of his, but he
really nailed it with this record. That and his “To Willie” record,
which is comprised of Willie Nelson covers and is an homage to
Willie’s “To Lefty” 3

What is number one on your Want list?

There’s a limited edition pressing of The Blood Brothers – “…Burn, Piano Island, Burn” LP that they put out which is limited to 200 copies and I missed out on it when it first came out back in 2003. It’s a 2xLP with hand screen printed artwork on the opposite sides of each record. It’s something I’d love to get one day and get framed.

They were my favorite band when I first started collecting vinyl and they were actually one of the first bands I ever photographed. I spent the day photographing them on 6 rolls of black and white film for my final project in my Photo I class, it was sort of a “day in the life” documentary type project. Needless to say, they are near and dear to my heart and I would love to have that record some day. It goes for around $100 on ebay and I haven’t gotten around to forking up the cash for it yet.

Where is your favorite place to shop for vinyl?

I have the pleasure of traveling a lot for work so I always look for record shops in whatever town I happen to be in. Some of my favorites include: Amoeba Records in Hollywood, Other Music in NYC, Love Garden Sounds in Lawrence, Kansas, Doc’s in Ft. Worth, TX, Good Records in Dallas, TX, all the shops in Austin, TX are pretty great too depending
on what you’re looking for… Waterloo, Antones, End of an Ear, Breakaway, etc. There’s a record fair underneath the Brooklyn Bridge I stumbled across one time which was completely amazing and I’ve always wanted to go back.

Follow Chris Phelps on Twitter, Tumblr, & Flickr