As a vinyl tragic, I thought I’d put something together about why I love vinyl.
I don’t get it. What’s the point?
Good. Don’t! It’s not for everybody – end of story. I don’t get plenty of things from why people think they can’t like the music they liked as a teenager to those stupid pastel coloured polo shirts with the collar up and little polo horses on them. I also don’t get protein shakes and cup cakes and my life is all the better for it.
It’s totally inconvenient.
Yes it is but that’s entirely the point. You can listen to Spotify in jail basically, over your phone, iPad at work or whatever. Possibly even in a sewer in Rangoon. But how often can you sit down and put on an album, listen to it linearly from one side to the other. The point is, it’s a total luxury to sit down and listen to music the way (and the order) it was INTENDED to be heard. No skipping of tracks or random play. You can really get the discourse of an album when you just sit and listen to it.
Go places you’d never normally go
Vinyl hunting has sent me to some of the craziest places in the world. Op shops (thrift or charity stores in other parts of the world) in country towns, the Thieves’ Market in Lisbon, the most decadent parts of Shanghai, you name it. You can log onto iTunes anywhere. Or buy a CD from a service station. But as Lemmy once said, the chase is better than the catch. Besides there’s nothing cooler than boarding your flight home with 20 kilos of vinyl in your hands as cabin baggage, trying to make it look light. Some people like postcards, my grandma bought souvenir spoons. I bring home hoards of vinyl and remember the freaky places I’ve been and the people I’ve met every time I play them.
Would you believe not everything made it to CD or MP3?
Not only can you find a good $2 cheapy that could be your favourite record. But you can’t find it on any other format. That my friend is pay dirt when you find that gem that you can’t get for love nor money, on any other format for less than the cost of a pot of beer. More importantly though, say you trash a hard drive (I’ve trashed more than you’ve had hot dinners), do you really miss all those grubby MP3s? You can always get them again, who cares?
It just looks cool
Every vinyl collector has a record that just has a cool cover. There’s something about that 12” x 12” format and a bit of dust. Let’s be honest. Andy Warhol would’ve never done the Sticky Fingers cover for the Stones if they were on that tiny CD format. Let alone with a real zipper. There’s a real story to some album covers. Oh yeah but what about digi-packs and mini LPs? They’re still tiny and well just kind of sterile. There’s nothing like holding the vinyl cover in your hand. Vinyl captured a zenith in music where the cover art was just as important and timeless as the music itself. It actually was art, not a label for a product.
People used to write their names on the label
Vinyl used to be something you’d take to a party. These days you put on Pandora or Spotify and listen with irreverence to someone else’s playlist. Worse still 5 arseholes competing to have their phone playing 20,000 tracks of horseshit to rock the party. But back in the day it was different. You’d write your name on the vinyl label and take your records to parties.
Australia in the seventies was a different scene. All-night clubs were hard to come by so it seems. It was very hard to get take away booze after say 9pm. So house parties were all the rage. Seems as long as you bought some wine or a few stubbies and some records, it was pretty easy to get into a house party. I’m still amazed every time I buy a second hand record and it has ‘Bob Smith’ written on the label. It makes me think how much more special music was and how much simpler life must’ve been.
It sounds better
There’s plenty of extremely valid reasons why it doesn’t. There’s also plenty of reasons why it does. But if a record was mastered for vinyl, nothing but nothing sounds better. Albeit I agree a record mastered for MP3/CD sounds rubbish on vinyl. But when it’s right, it’s right.
Finding that other cultures love your music too
Could anything be crazier than finding a Rose Tattoo record in Portugal; the Angels in Quebec; or a Hoodoo Gurus record in Hawaii? The Living End doing a Christmas duet with Kylie Minogue in Osaka? Quirky and rare rules, end of story. Nothing starts a life long friendship like finding that the French dude you thought you’d have nothing in common with worships AC/DC the same way you did as a kid. That you can attribute to vinyl.