Thursday, August 09, 2007

Vinyl Record Day

Today in Music History:

In 1986, Queen gave what would be their last ever live performance when they appeared at Knebworth Festival.

panties on vinylThis weekend on August 12 is Vinyl Record Day. I've been asked to participate in a blogswarm about the event, to write about any thoughts, memories or the love/hate relationship I have with vinyl. Jb over at The Hits Just Keep on Comin' is the one who has organized this whole deal and if you head over there you can check out all the music bloggers who have joined in the fun.

Last night I actually attended a bar b que that had a vinyl theme. Our host encouraged everyone who was attending to bring their favorite vinyl and we'd be playing them throughout the evening. I thought I was an audioiphile but homercat is not a big dog in this department. We were at a bona fide hardcore audiophile's house and he still buys everything on vinyl. Honestly I was drooling over his collection. Massive. Even though he has to special order new releases, he goes out of his way to track it down. Combine the state of the art sound system and the massive collection it was like an audiophiles wet dream.

As the night wore on, people were sitting around looking at the albums and having meaningful discussions about their favorites, rarities, collectibles and more. We were all brought back to reality for a brief moment as that dreaded scourge of vinyl made an appearance, the stuck needle or locked groove if you will. As our host got up to unstick the groove, I thought to myself, yep I don't miss that.

At one point a jam session broke out as people had brought their guitars, tambourines , harmonicas and a couple gals had brought along their excellent voices. It all became for a short while a throwback to our youths when the only way you could get your music was on vinyl. It was an extraordinary experience and a good time was had by all.

Back when vinyl was king, holding that album and reading the liner notes while the record played was our closest connection to the artist. Some of us would actually use the cover to roll up a big doobie while we listened to Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother for the umpteenth time. We only had 2 TV stations, 3 on a good night, and they usually signed off at midnight. Remember that test pattern they'd run. If you were lucky one of the magazines like Rolling Stone, Circus, Hit Parader or Creem would have an article about your favorite artist. You never saw them on TV unless you allowed to stay up late on the weekend for the Midnight Special. So when you bought that new album you would cherish it. Nowadays you can take your music everywhere with you, but back then you had to wait till you got home to hear your favorite record as turntables weren't the most portable of devices.

Album art and packaging was an art form in itself and I feel that now album art is a lost art form. So many new releases now tend to be so uninspiring as to produce many yawns and a lackluster response in general. I couldn't begin to tell you how many albums I purchased based on the cover itself. Without even knowing who the heck they were or what they sounded like, if a cover caught my eye I would think,"That cover is so damn cool that it has to be good" and 80% of time it would be great. As we were trying to pin down our most prized piece of vinyl last night, my choice was a no brainer. Alice Cooper's 1972 release, School's Out, which is in the photo that accompanies this post. The original album cover (designed by Craig Braun) had the sleeve opening in the manner of an old school desk. You could actually fold it out into a desk and you opened the lid and the vinyl record inside was wrapped in a pair of girl's panties. Priceless I tell you. When you removed the record, there was all manner of clutter in the desk that you could spend hours looking at. I can tell you it's a hard puppy to find now.

So as I conclude my post for vinyl record day I ask myself, do I miss vinyl? Am I one of those music purists who say that Cd's and other digital music has a "cold" sound and feeling and vinyl has a warm and pure sound. In a lot of ways I miss several aspects of vinyl. I don't miss the fact that no matter how careful you are, how meticulous you care for your vinyl, they eventually acquire pops, ticks and other staticky noises. I am one who will take his music any way he can get it. Although I do feel quite an urge to acquire a turntable and start collecting again. Who knows what the future will bring. I do know that those of us who grew up listening to our favorite artists on the record player will never forget what it was like to buy that new album and that feeling you had when you held it while the music played. One things for sure, I'm going to suggest to Bob that he have another vinyl night sometime soon. Now for some tunes that I would wear my turnable out playing.

Luney Tune by Alice Cooper
Buy It

My Drum by The Osmonds
Out of Print

157 Riverside Avenue by REO Speedwagon (sharebee link)
Buy It

Flaming Youth by KISS
Buy It

Blues For Baby and Me by Elton John
Buy It

Fly Like an Eagle by the Steve Miller Band
Buy It

Ain't Nothing but a House Party by the J Geils Band
Buy It

Funny Toon