Vinyl and Me: Some thoughts on my new interest in old tech…

Perhaps it is an example of my own desperate need to keep in trend or maybe I could argue that I am, in fact, trying to appreciate music ‘as it was supposed to be heard’. Whatever the reasons for my instinctive attraction to vinyl, I have now crossed the line and purchased my first few records to experience, side-one-to-side-four, on a shiny Crosley (something I’m already getting stick for, unfairly I might add).

"...was I miserable because I listened to the music? Do all thos

Suffice to say, in my 31-years on the planet, I have always had a deep love for music, building a collection steadily on CD and then, one-by-one, transferring them into an iTunes library. The inevitable frustration that my vinyl habit will pull me towards another purchase of an album I own on CD leaves a bad taste. With this in mind, I need some sort of structure before I raid every piggy bank to fund this music addiction.

This entire endeavor needs to be tackled as a challenge, albeit with myself. It needs clear rules and boundaries to stop me impulsively ticking off every Thom, Sting and Weller I already own, vainly trying to recreate the wall-to-wall collection of Rob Gordon in High Fidelity.

So here are my guidelines as I embark on this long and winding road…

  1. vinyl4No Best Of/Greatest Hits/Gold/Singles Collection, etc…

What is part of the beauty of a record is the track order. OK Computer, What’s Going On and Straight Outta Compton all have specific play lists, as each track merges from one to the next seamlessly. All holding something unique in each track and in the full album itself.

I’m currently on the fence as to whether this excludes soundtracks (An early purchase of Pulp Fiction may have to be disqualified) as, obviously, the playlist is a compilation listing rather than ‘the way it was intended’.

  1. (Ideally) No Rebuys…

As noted, I’ve already placed boxes in the attic after purchasing them on CD and transferring them to PC. Ideally every record will be something that has slipped through the net (though The Verve’s Urban Hymns was one of the first few). U2’s latest album was a free download (you’ll probably have it yourself) so I could buy that. London Grammar’s exquisite If You Wait, only slipped into my download collection via a friend, so an LP purchase was my only purchase of the album. A comfortable balance may be albums I’ve downloaded, but never purchased a hard copy of. But that still feels like buying the same thing. This is a little bit of a grey area but a key factor when choosing new experiences rather than stuff I know so well already.

vinyl2

  1. Only one, per year…

No, no, I’m not buying only one record each year. That’s madness (Besides, I’ve already purchased five in less than a week). Instead, I’ll be selecting an album for each year. Starting with next year, 2016, and working my way back. I don’t have to get them in order – and I’m not entirely sure which year will be the earliest year. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. The fun part of this is trying to decide (considering the rules above) which album will represent each year.

Going further back, it’ll get tricky. But, in situations like David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Blur, tragically, I only own their music through Best Of’s and Greatest Hits. This will be an ideal opportunity to learn about the optimum album to buy. As I write, I’ve now heard Let it Bleed as it was supposed to be heard and (no shock here) it really is perfection. But, on the flip side, U2, Radiohead, Michael Jackson, Coldplay, Oasis, R.E.M. and so, so many others, I’ve intimately devoured every album they have created on CD. But this is all about new experiences and these restrictions should be a way to inspire. I’ll listen to music I’ve never heard and, hopefully, understand musicians in ways I’ve never known.

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