Monday, August 22, 2005

'Have another cup of tea, put a record on'

I'm old enough to remember the days when the long playing record was king. Between the ages of 13 and 18, I saved every penny I could just to get my hands
on an LP.
They were objects of lust and desire; held up in record shops, the small print of their text examined with reverence. I remember carrying the just purchased LP home in a carrier bag with a sense of anticipation that I have rarely experienced since.
You really felt that you were getting something for your money. The artwork (see Revolver left) was often magnificent, and often worth the purchase price alone. The back of the sleeves would be crammed with liner notes, and sometimes there would be an information supplement or poster inside the sleeve.
CD's killed the LP. With their demise, the whole tactile, visual experience was removed from purchasing music. The jewel like CD cases were a novelty, but somehow the sense of occasion was lost.
I was unemployed for a period in the early 1990's. In desperation for cash, I sold my record collection to a second hand music shop. The little weasel of a salesman gave me an average of £0.75 for my LP's and singles. I had some absolute crackers that I really should have held on to. I had the Rolling Stones 'Sticky Fingers' with the real zip on the front. Worse still, I had all the early Beatles singles in their original EMI sleeves. They had been donated to me by a kind aunt.
God knows what some of those records must be worth these days.
Of course, I replaced them all with CD's, but I still miss leafing through a stack of LP's. These days I mostly download. I suppose it's the music that matters really, not the medium that it's conveyed on.
I'd love to be able to lower an LP onto a turnable right now: listen to the stylus arm click into place, and hear that slight snap, crackle and pop before the music started.
Happy days.


Herge Smith said...

Had exactly the same discussion with a pal last week as we spun some vinyl on a proper record player and marvelled at the grainy sound - I'm not a lover/hater of improved sound quality, it's fine, LPs are just a bit different - the fact that each time you play an LP you kill it alittle is special, and you are 100% on the nail with the large sleeve - CD covers might just as well be black lettering on a white cover saying what the album is, it has no impact - 12" sleeves are/ were a thing of beauty.

Waking up and getting up has never been easy...

garfer said...

LP's on a good quality turntable seem to produce a warmer sound than CD's. Maybe that's just my imagination, or it's down to my cheapo CD player.
MP3's are fine, but ultimately compressed files must produce inferior audio quality.
Top lyric spotting there.

Rowan said...

I miss the sounds the needle made when hitting the record. I also miss being able to put my 35's on 45 rpms to listen to the chipmunks.

More than that though, I miss the oversized headphones that actually sounded like real speakers over your ears...not these shitty things that give me shocks inside my ear, break every five mins, and hurt (cuz I have small ear canals).

Geek In Pink said...

Oh the horror. I hate throwing away things and then regrettin it later. I always throw things away anyway, however...

garfer said...

I had a pair of those massive earphones. Great sound. The only problem was, people could enter the room while I was playing air guitar without me realising. Quite embarrassing if I was in the middle of a particularly intricate solo.
geek in pink
Weren't you Natalie the other day?

MHN for short said...

Lately, I've been listening to the iPod and singing away on it. 3 times owen(the sprog) has come up on me in mid note and scared the crap out of me because I was so ingrossed. He did it today in fact & he gets the biggest laugh off of me. sweet little bugger!

garfer said...

At least you can sing. When I sing along to my iPod, the cat climbs the wall.

Sniffy said...

Apologies for not scrolling down and missing this post earlier.

Yes Garfer, you have hit the nail on the head. The sound of vinyl is definitely warmer and somehow more wholesome and real. It's all to do with the shape of the waves apparently, as well as the actual emotional input of having to initiate that physical interaction between stylus and record. A beautiful,warm, deep sound that cannot be reporoduced digitally.

For convenience, you can't beat MP3s, WMAs, Oggs, or whatever the latest format happens to be: that ability to scan through your PC's media collection, set it to shuffle play and enjoy - it's wonderful. But it also seems cheapened. Music on tap, just there, to hand. I think this is reflected in the quality of the music that's "out there" too. Lots of mass-produced, cheap and nasty pap. Even the so-called elite "artistes" that are so famed and adored amongst the festival afocionados are nothing to write home about.

You can hardly blame George Michael for packing up.

I have a collection of some Beatles early stuff - the Parlophone EPs in mono. Oh, how they were treated with such disrespect with I was a nipper, but I loved them so much, they were constantly on the turntable. I think it's Twist and Shout and that sort of thing.

One of my favourite and most enduring sounds from 1979 is: (dthump, crackle, crackle...) "I'm in the phonebooth, it's the one across the hall", with Debbie Harry and Blondie producing one of the albums that provided a soundtrack to that entire year. Oh how I love that album.

MHN for short said...

My Siamese cat Cinnamon used to like for me to sing lying on the floor. She would sniff my nose while I sang. I think she thought that I was purring in a strange big kitty kind of way. I miss her.

garfer said...

music has just become more disposable. When you bought a record you listened to it over and over. Maybe if was just simpler fishing an LP out of its sleeve.
There was also an incentive to listen to it all the way through rather than cherry pick.
Blondie was ace.'Touched in Your Prescence Dear' - perfect pop music.
Cats are strange and unknowable creatures.