Saturday, 6 August 2011

Vinyl

FOR THE RECORD


It always seems to happen, just when you clean out something you‘ve held onto for ages it comes back into fashion. You may not believe it but vinyl records are making a big comeback.
It seems a bit odd, I remember when Compact Discs (CD) first came on the market, people fell over themselves to replace their old record collections because they didn’t have to worry about scratches, hisses, pops and needles jumping every time someone entered the room. Most of all people remarked about the clarity.
CD’s have taken a battering lately with sales plummeting due to digital downloads and the ease of file sharing thanks to MP3 players and the mega popular iPod.


No doubt if you are over 40 you no longer have your old record player in your house or maybe it’s in the garage under piles of wood or used furniture.
Lets face it CDs had appeal.
CD players were, well… compact… Compared to the cabinets and massive speakers we had as teenagers that could fill half a room. A disc player could sit on a shelf and meant you had more space to throw your clothes and bags on the floor. But no doubt some of you held onto some precious album that you couldn’t part with or held a great deal of memories.


Well it seems there is a lot more of you than you think.


You see record players never really went out of fashion in the same way vinyl did.
In the late 1990s and early part of the last decade due to the popularity of “DJ”ing and “scratching” turntables out sold acoustic guitars in Australia.
Mind you most of the players never got to play a full record all the way through and most of them never even made a full rotation due the method in which they were used. But it seems the record player (yes not just the turntable) is making a come back to play … records.
It seems the digital generation are looking back in the past and their parent’s record collection and discovering vinyl.
The reasons are many and varied.
My son, who is a musician, likes to listen to vinyl. After walking around for months on end with those little ear plug head phones jammed in his ears he says that the sound of vinyl records is warmer and the soundscape is wider, basically meaning the frequencies are not as limited as on a CD.
This is actually quite correct as digital music is compressed for the sake of volume without distortion.
So for the sound purists vinyl is the music source of choice.
Another reasons is not so much the sound but collectability of the vinyl.
Record collecting is a big business these days and a quick peek on the internet will find many sites dedicated to old records.
Why buy a digital copy when you can have the real thing, including original artworks and merchandising.
In America and the UK Collector magazines have been popular for years, usually filled with specific bands releases and price lists of various genres and decades.
Certain special releases or limited presses of some 1960s and 70s band can command up to $10,000. There are some serious collectors out there.
Even though the CD revolutionized the music industry vinyl records never really disappeared as a saleable item.
Those who wished to purchase their favourite bands latest release as a 12 or 7 inch (the standard sizes pre CD for the youngun’s) could do so but at quite a cost.
However these days many bands including popular ones such as Radiohead, The White Stripes and Gorillaz release special vinyl versions as part of the general release along side CD and downloadable versions.
In the last year record sales in the United States for new releases were 2.8 million a jump of 33% on 2009. This of course pales in comparison to the heady sales figures of pre CD days but it shows people still hanker for the older format still these figures go against the trend of album sales actually falling in other formats.
Of course this doesn’t even remotely mean that digital music is nearing its grand finale.
Even though I am a big fan of CD’s mainly for the portability (I still can’t stand mp3 players and would rather burn songs to disc) I have a record player.

My friend Ed Redman is an executive member of the internet art site Red Bubble based in Melbourne. Red Bubble is an award winning high tech, high end print on demand art and photography site that is reliant on the latest technology to service customers all over the world, but when Ed goes home he likes nothing more than to relax with a platter on the player.
Some of Ed's record collection


As well as being a recognised sculpture filmmaker and clothes designer Ed has a passion for vinyl that exceeds 3000 albums.
At only 30 years of age it is has become a consuming passion.
I asked Him why this love affair with vinyl?
Though he loves vinyl he did hasten to say that his first love is the music, he considers himself a music nut first a vinyl nut second. You can read the passion in Ed’s words:
“Personally I love the design elements, I love the sound, I love the attention to detail. I love that the format is continuing to cling on. But I really love the way it makes you concentrate on the music and the artist. Hitting shuffle on 45,000 songs on your iPod is useful, I can’t deny it, just as purchasing an album from iTunes, downloading and starting to listen to 8 seconds later is obviously handy. But for me it’s the complete package experience, from the design of the sleeves and labels, liner notes and matrix etching, the choice of pressing plant to the hidden quirks specific to the greater artistic possibilities available with a 12-inch cover. And finally to cracking the cellophane seal for the first time, placing it on the platen and dropping the diamond tipped needle in the opening groove”



I also like to listen to the albums but I get a massive amount of joy out of looking at the old gate fold sleeves and reading the linear notes. Something that CD’s just can’t match.
Plus my old eyes respond better to writing on a 12 inch piece of card than a 5 and a half inch piece of paper.
So if you find your kids rummaging around in the spare room and going through your box or milk crate of old albums just make sure they weren’t on the internet first and are pinching some of your retirement fund.
By the way if you want to recommission your old record player and are worried about worn needles. Sight N Sound in the Boronia Mall have a great selection that should have that old turntable spinning discs in no time.



(c)2011 Shidot Prod,/Danny Nolan, (who just can’t stop a rockin’) originally published BBCN August 2011

1 comment:

kayefar said...

Wasn't hard to work out this was you, love the blog those were the days and still have my vinyl