Ahh Vinyl! That most tangible of musical pleasures. I remember the pure joy I used to feel going to my local record store and picking up the latest great album on vinyl. I remember receiving ‘London Calling’ by ‘The Clash’ for Xmas in 1979. It was a double vinyl disc and it had weight, it was substantial, aside from being one of the 10 best Rock Albums ever. It even had a smell and it was visually pleasing also. Back when Vinyl was king the Graphic Artists had free reign to create some truly inspired and masterful images for the large 12″ x 12″ canvas. Vinyl unlike the Cassette or 8-Track it wouldn’t snap or break easily. Sure you could scratch it if you weren’t careful but as any record collector will tell you it’s quite easy to look after your record collection without them becoming damaged. I always made sure that I didn’t get my greasy fingerprints all over the vinyl by removing and replacing the treasured platter delicately from the sleeve & made sure to clean my records occasionally. Most important was to use a good quality diamond stylus. All these simple steps help keep most records pristine and replayable for decades to come.
This much maligned format lost favor once the ‘CD’ was introduced some 20 odd years but in recent years is having something of a resurgence amongst both record collector’s and audiophiles alike. There is just a certain something, a certain sound you can only get from a vinyl record. that just can’t be replicated on the CD. There’s richness in tone, an indefinable ‘something’ that still attracts those of us with an ear for such things. This may in part have more to do with how bands are recorded now in the digital age compared to the antiquated recording devices of the 60’s/70’s and before. The transference of the older music (pre-80’s) from dubious source-tapes and other sound sources certainly limited just how great that familiar old music was ever going to sound on CD no matter how much it was cleaned up and in cleaning up certainly a certain something was lost. This can go the other way of course, when so much of the hidden beats, the voice’s you didn’t (& probably weren’t supposed to hear) and every other sound from the original recording sessions were pulled out with high-tech wizardry and burned to the CD. The eventual finished product usually accompanied by much fanfare about how digitally remastered and wonderful this new media would be. Either way it didn’t sound as good as an original clean vinyl record.
As a collector and somebody who goes to great pains to look after their record collection it should be possible to play most of your vinyl without noticing too much in the way of hissing or spitting, the stereotype that vinyl unfairly got labeled with. Sure, once in a while one of my records my go ‘pop!’ or ‘ssss’ but that’s usually either because it was a poorly pressed album/single in the first place or (horror of horrors) I’d lent it to someone (usually the gentler of the species) and upon return found that it had been mistaken for a Frisbee or a scratching post.
Now with MP3’s and in future MP4’s which will allow us all to fit even more songs onto our MP3 Players and Phones the future generations are getting away from any kind of tangible media. It’s floating in space, digits and numbers waiting to be accessed on the Internet. But do not fret the resurgence of the vinyl album shows more and more that people want something tangible to hold on to. It just seems more human that’s all.