Rubbish, piffle, tommyrot, drivel and utter bilge

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Vinyl Solution

In this age of digital cameras, camera phones, CDs and MP3s, DVDs and Blu-Ray, HDTV, satellite and cable, no-one under the age of about 30 appreciates what I am about to write here. Do you realise CDs have been around for almost 30 years?
The first album on CD was Abba's "The Visitors", although this was only a test pressing done for demo purposes on TV's "Tomorrow's World" in 1981. The first commercially available CD was Billy Joel's "52nd Street", released in Japan in 1982. MP3 has been around since 1996!
When I was young, movies were not on DVD or even VHS. They were on telly on a Sunday afternoon, or on my grandparents' living room wall. We had no video games or cable or satellite. We had Monopoly, or three TV channels on our black-and-white telly. Did I feel deprived? No. I never thought I'd turn into an old coot either, but here it is, even though it pains me to say it... "Kids... they don't know they're born these days."

I was dismayed to see on the website that along with Aunt Bonnie's fruitcake and tube socks, cassette tapes were listed as a crappy gift.They received a 7 out of 10 in crappiness. Holy Dolby noise reduction, Batman! I think I must be getting old.

I first started to feel old when I lived in Washington State and my first wife and I operated a daycare facility from our house. We hired a couple of high school seniors to help us out in the afternoons. One of these girls, a lady by the name of Shadie Lane (honestly!) was chatting to me about music one day. Now, bear in mind first of all that at this point in my life I was only 32 or so and still considered myself somewhat hip (I still do). It came to light during this conversation that young Shadie had never ever heard of Blondie (the band). Well, I almost did a spit-take. "Whaaat?" I spluttered, scarcely able to conceive of the notion that there were people alive on the planet who did not know of the delights of Deborah Harry et al? I tried to jog her memory by naming a few songs. "You know..." I said. "Rapture? Atomic? The Tide Is High? Ring any bells?" but to no avail. She had been born in 1981, you see, and hence Blondie had been sadly disbanded by the time she had been old enough to form any opinions about music. "By God, I'm a geezer," I said to myself. "The Geezmeister. The Sultan of Geez."

I've always tried to keep an ear to the ground when it comes to music. There is much new stuff that I like. Some of the current music is just guff. (God help me, I caught myself humming along to Lady Gaga today.) It always gives me a warm fuzzy feeling when I talk to someone of the same approximate age as myself who actually likes the new stuff too. My friend Lee, an attorney in Gainesville, GA, is about the same age as me and he was talking to me recently about the delights of the Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs. But sadly, mention anything prior to about 1995 these days and you will likely be met with quizzical expressions all round. 

I've always been into vinyl and tape. Don't get me wrong, I like CDs and appreciate all the MP3 downloading and YouTube watching available, but there was something a bit more.... I dunno, tangible about an LP or a cassette. On an LP you can see the grooves, the individual tracks. I liked getting sleeve notes, inlay cards, bonus 12" singles and lyric sheets, studying the label designs and noting the comments written into the out-tracks by the guy at the record plant who mastered the disc (Arun Chakraverty, anyone?). I loved getting stuff on different colours of vinyl. While it is true that you can get a lot of freebies with CDs, I have yet to see the gatefold sleeve on an iTunes download. I mean, what are you gonna get your idol to sign when you go to a concert?

P.S. A little side note - evidently, CD sales are down, and Vinyl sales are up - although their numbers pale by comparison to the increase in digital downloads.

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