For the past few years, there have been reports that vinyl is making a comeback in the age of the MP3. Other reports from the recording industry predict that the combination of the MP3 and the steady rise of vinyl sales may lead to the final death of the CD. But before we get carried away, let’s consider this: according to this report from Rolling Stone, LP’s only accounted for 0.1 percent of all music sales in 2008. So much for the vinyl revolution, huh?
In the grand scheme of things the spike in record sales don’t account for much; however, I’m not surprised that more people are finding the joy in spinning the black circle. That is not to say I’m anti-MP3, far from it. As a consumer of many types of music, I was thrilled when the day came that I could
rip off free MP3s pay and download music from the internet. I can honestly say that since this technology has become readily available, I have been aware of more bands and supported them by purchasing music or seeing them live. There’s also something cool about hearing an often forgotten Who song that’s an intro to some cheesy cop drama on television, remembering how much you like it, then going to the fancy interwebs and immediately adding it to your collection of iTunes. Seriously I’m a fan.
However, in this day and age of instant music gratification there’s a couple of things LPs can offer that MP3s just can’t:
You go to the record store with no agenda of what to buy, just checking out what’s available. You thumb through the stack of LPs, you look each of them over carefully. You take in the entire package, starting with the jacket. Do you like the cover art? Is it new, or does it appear to be well worn? Does it have some other person’s name written on it? Some people are into that. You check the track listings on the front side and the backside. Finally one catches your eye and you say, “Baby, you’re coming home with me tonight.”
On the drive home, the anticipation is building. You can’t wait to get that thing out of its jacket. Once you’re at your crib, you carefully slide the record out of the plain white sleeve. And there it is, in the buff. You give it another once over, again front and back. If you picked it up at classy place you’ll notice the pristine shape of each groove. If you got it cheap at a seedy joint you might notice some scratches and marks where it’s worse for the wear. But don’t throw it out, sometimes a well-experienced album can still have a lot to offer. Some people blow on it before they get started, others just slap it directly on the turn table and give it a spin. In about 20 to 30 minutes you flip it over and do it again.
Yes, it truly is all about the experience. Let’s see a MP3 give you that.
Another advantage of vinyl is how inexpensive records are these days. MP3s may be a dollar a track, but for a few bucks you can get up to 12 tracks with all the fun stuff you get to look at on the album jacket while you listen to it. Remember when you could read the lyrics without Googling them?
If you’re into the older music, there is a certain satisfaction in hearing this music the way it was meant to be heard. There was a reason why they put some of those tracks on Side A and others on Side B. There was an art to it. And vinyl just sounds good. It’s just different. Others can explain it better than I can, but all I know is that this how you should listen to Freebird and Stairway, man.
But vinyl is not limited to just the retro stuff. Look hard enough and you can find LPs of everyone from the Raconteurs and the Killers, to Flogging Molly and Metallica. Wilco has even taken the novel approach of giving you the same album on CD with every LP purchase.
But you don’t have to take to the internets for vinyl records. Despite recently losing Spun Records, which was devoted exclusively to vinyl, Fayetteville still has locations for the audiophile in search of LPs. Sound Warehouse has a great selection, and even though Vintage Stock is more of a used CD/Movies/Video Game and Comic Book store, they still have a respectable collection of LPs.
If I missed anyplace else that sells vinyl in the Fayetteville area, please let me know. And as always, I’d love to hear from Flyer readers on this subject. Is vinyl dead, dying or just beginning again?