A Old Flame Suddenly Appears…
Vinyl, vinyl, vinyl.
I am a music fan torn between two mediums. My first introduction to the wonders of modern pop music came by way of vinyl LP’s.Their 12” artwork, gate-fold covers, liner notes, booklets (rarely, but sometimes), stickers, posters, picks, panties (Alice Cooper’s School’s Out) became an integral part of the overall enjoyment. When you put on an LP to convert it to cassette for the car you had no choice but to sit with those huge cans on your head and devour the entirety of the package for at least 40 minutes. This experience is what made me an “album guy” as opposed to a “singles guy”, although I did own my fair share of 12” 45RPM extended mix releases. It was an immersive experience and one that has stayed with me all my life. My first music purchases with my own money were Back in Black and Double Fantasy, when I was 12. At the end, right before CD’s became the dominant medium, I probably had about 15 milk crates worth of vinyl. I think the total came to a little over a thousand, including those 12” singles.
When CD’s came out I was instantly enamored. Not so much with the package (although those shiny discs and the clickety clack of the jewel cases seemed pretty cool,and definitly futuristic, not to mention those early CD players), more so the sound of the things. No scratches, no static, no warping, and clear as a freaking bell. They said they were pretty much indestructible and would last forever, a statement I later found to be false after a couple of imports in my collection started deteriorating…but the majority have stayed the course over the years, I have to admit.
I was in love with this new format and embraced it completely. My turntable started collecting dust and the vinyl itself was used primarily as a reference to what I needed to replace on CD. I eventually repurchased virtually everything I had, and I don’t think I bought anything new on vinyl that was released post 1987 (maybe 1988, maybe even 1989…my memory ain’t as reliable as it used to be). For well over 25 years I forgot about my old friend vinyl. The invention of the iPod and MP3’s as a format only cemented the fact that vinyl was dead. Vinyl was decidedly inconvenient for a man-on-the-go such as myself.:)
Then, sometime in 2014, I started picking up the odd LP at thrift stores, garage sales, antique shops, various other locales, mostly for the cover art.
And the ball started to roll.
Then my eldest daughter started expressing an interest. Then my youngest. Then my wife.
The ball was rolling a little faster, now.
A friend of mine mentioned a page on Facebook he thought would be of interest to me, On The Turntable Right Now, in which vinyl aficionados post, well, what’s on their turntable right now. It’s an incredible time waster, but fascinating as hell and certainly jump starts the old nostalgia engine.
The ball, careening by this point.
In the thrift store a few months back I spot a turntable. A good one, too. Not as good as I used to own, but definitely serviceable, and for $6.00 US how could I not? I then decide to place an ad in the local newspapers I work for, a “WANTED: OLD VINYL ALBUMS” in the classifieds. I also added, “must be reasonable”, and I was suddenly flooded with calls.
To understand why this happened I think you need to first understand the 2016 reader demographics of a typical local newspaper. They skew old(er), most are empty nesters, most are downsizing. Some of the calls I have responded to seem to be marginally aware of the Vinyl Resurgence of late, and as such have unrealistic expectations about what their albums are worth. With the help of my IPhone I direct them to the prices on Discogs for a more accurate/realistic valuation. Most are extremely reasonable, though, and a good deal of the folks responding to my ad just want them the hell out of their garage, and are willing to just give them away as long as you haul ‘em.
I want to mention at this point that I always go through them and offer them fair value. If I spot something I know has great value I will let them know. I spotted a signed Martin Denny album at one of my digs and told the woman she should hang on to it. There was a rare vintage Beatles Japanese box set I knew the guy should have checked out, so I passed. I offer them a fair value is my point, I need to sleep soundly at night, you know what I mean? I have ‘rescued’ a couple of piles from folks that were treating them rather poorly; some dude I met at a KFC parking lot the other day had an almost complete set of Beatles albums, from Hard Days Night through Abbey Road, and he almost had a kind of ambivalent disregard for them that made me low-ball him. He said he just needed to “buy a pack of smokes”, so I took them off his hands for him. Overall most of these finds have averaged about a buck an album. Some of the covers are rough with the insides pristine, and some vice-versa. Everyone wins.
Listening to my finds on the turntable now I have to admit the sound is pretty terrific, and definitely different. The whole experience is different, in a number of ways, the most significant to me being that it forces me to slooow down. Better than Norco.
I’m having a blast rediscovering my old friend vinyl. I know a lot of you prefer this format over all others, and I’d love to hear your stories. What is it about vinyl that appeals to you? Or, do you prefer MP3’s, cassettes (God help you), CD’s? Or, like me, a combination of mediums?