Monday, 19 October 2009

Record covers, CD’s and failing eyesight.

I miss the old album covers, I don’t miss the vinyl records they contained, I just miss the single and old double gate 12 inch by 12 inch cardboard covers - sometimes with an inner sleeve - with their wondrous artwork and readable linear notes.

I’ve always been a keen music fan and I don’t expect the passion to wane in my old age. I’m also not adverse to technological change but I do know what I like.

Many people these days romanticize the music on vinyl saying it’s a warmer sound.
I say “Rubbish”
Give me a CD anytime. Compact, wonderful sound, no pops or scratches (and even when it sticks it sounds cool) and anyone with a record player and children know the two are not compatible.

If you want proof of how fast vinyl has become redundant just ask any teenager to pick up one of your precious albums and put it on and see how the handle it. Or better still see how fast you jump out of your chair to take it off them.

CD’s are great. Portable and cheaper than ever before and with old catalogues being released and the ability to use disc burning on your home computer you can any music you want. Mp3 players annoy me for the same reason that Discman and Walkman before them annoyed me. I don’t like walking around with earphones isolating me from the wider world. Not to mention the amount of kids on bikes who have never heard me come up behind them in my car and the have nearly swerved in front of me.

Mp3 have also created a more current phenomenon that I don’t really relate to. The mix tape or just the current top hits and the even crazier one of putting your entire album collection on a little stick or card that can be destroyed by forgetting to take it out of your trousers next time you do the washing.

I usually listen to music in my car these days and then it has to be a complete album. It’s great, the sound is clear, I can skip songs easily and I can fit 12 discs in the car glove box.
But it’s when I want to listen to music at home when I realize how much I miss those old vinyl album covers. One thing that a CD can never replicate and this was a problem cassettes had as well was to produce good-sized artwork and lyrics and linear notes you could read without the use of an industrial strength magnifying glass.

I believe that is why kids just burn and download music onto their Mp3 players these days because they never had the pleasure of scanning over the packaging of the music their listening too and looking for hidden messages or pre Photoshop artwork.

I know this sounds like an old man “why do things have to change” whine but I recall when I was pre teen and hanging around my mates big brother’s bungalow and finding all these records with the strangest pictures on them and one had naked boys and girls crawling up rocks on this alien landscape ( Led Zeppelin – Houses of the holy) another was a school desk (Alice Cooper’s Schools Out) Others were plain with beautiful calligraphy (Neil Young Harvest) Many of the records these covers held were thrown in a pile waiting to be returned to their covers. The covers themselves also had different textures and quality. Some were smooth, others had a mottled crocodile skin feel to them. All up they were a hell of a lot different from the Bagpipe and yodeling LP’s that we had at our place.
Since that day I have collected many a record, read many a book and decided that if you love music you have to go beyond the music. I was so amazed at how many people blindly interpreted popular songs with meanings that were never meant to be that I wrote a book about it.
But I have to say if CDs had that extra 7+ inches either side they’d be harder to fit in the glove box but easier to read the words.

For the record (pun intended)
Best album cover – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Elton John (see above)
Colourful with a triple gatefold sleeve to highlight the lyrics, that are individually stylized by different artists.
Worst album cover – The Long Run – The Eagles
At one time the most expensive album ever produced and all the sleeve had was the band name and the title of the album. A total slap in the face to fans.

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