If I asked my kids if they knew what a record player was they would probably look at me as if I was a marsh mallow who had just flown in from mars, and when I did that was exactly the reaction. We now have a record player sitting on our sideboard in the living room that gets used regularly. But what is it about the love of records and the record player that is deep rooted with in us that are old enought to remember them. I will never forget the first record player I bought for myself. I bought it from a friend in school for Five pounds which is just over six dollars. Below is a similar to the one I got.
As soon as I got it home I took the single speaker out it and then wired it up to two big speakers another friend had given me. This was the type of record player that you could play one album or a few singles kind of like a mini juke box if you like. The prong sticking up in the middle of the record player would hold a few records and drop a new one down every time the last finished. The only problem with that was one record on top of another would be slippery leading to it not playing right, so often I would just play one at a time. This would have been around the early eighties I would not have been any older than ten to twelve, the reason I remember this particular memory is because I was now old enough and entitled to hire records from our local town library. Before I could do that, I used to listen to either the radio or charts or music on T.V. but more often I used to steel my sisters records and listen to them on my mum and dads massive big sideboard record player radio thing, honestly this would take up half the living room as you will see in the picture below.
Now the next mission was to go to the library and hire out two records I think that was the limit at the time. One of those albums was Nebraska by Bruce Springsteen which got tossed aside, the other one I got, I listened to all the time it was ELO’s (Electric light Orchestra) Best of album. Now you maybe shocked that I tossed the Bruce Springsteen album aside but I was captivated how ELO integrated classical sounds into modern music and I still stick by that choice today. This memory is really the starting point of my love of vinyl records.
If you think how long the record player has been around and how long it had remained the most popular way of listening to music compared to how many new forms of listening to music has been superseded by something else over the last 30 – 40 years ie cassettes, cd’s, mini discs, and now fully digital music, I would say the record has faired pretty well. But that doesnt explain why the vinyl record has such a place etched in many peoples hearts. Is it all just based on the remembrance of the good memories we had when listening to records way back, or nostalgia perhaps? This is something that I have often thought and definately concluded that this is in the ingredients but not the sole factor. Lets look at what it involved from a new record being released to the actual playing of it on your record player.
So you had heard a new song on the radio you really like and really want to get a copy, you then find out if it has been released yet if yes then great if not you find out when. Next step would be to go in to town to your local record shop to buy the record you want. So now youve purchased it, its in your hand, you cant wait to get it home and play it on your record player, there’s an excited feeling in your belly as you read over the album cover, another record for your collection. (I must mention here as well there is something good about having the physical product in your hand that you dont experience with digital downloadable music). You get home you play it, it sounds great, its sounds as if the band is actually in your room. (more on the sound in a minute) You may think all this hassle for a song or a record album. One thing is for sure all the length you have gone to get your record your going to make sure you look after it and value it. Waiting to get something and going to length to get does teach you value, I know I sound like an crazy old man when I say that, but think about it. We live in an age where almost everything can be got instantaneously and because there is no waiting time no hassle to get things they are often not looked after with value and care, I know I have seen it in myself. Next part for me is the sound. With records, all the sounds seem to be comming from all the right places, drums slightly to the back, bass slightly to the left or right, guitar the opposite side from the bass and the vocals right up front, it sounds good, it sounds live, it often sounds like the band is right there in the room with you, so there’s a connection straight away. Digital music weather it be downloaded or on a cd sounds far to polished and not real, it can also sound as if the all instruments and vocals are comming from the one place making it not sound like a real band set up. What’s the reason for this? In order to get digital music down to mp3 size it has to be compressed way more than it did when recording studios operated before the digital age. I dont even think now that bands are releasing brand new records again that the sound will be as good as they to will have been first recorded digitally. I refuse to pay the price they are asking to find out, for two reasons. Reason one I’m not a big enough fan of the bands that are releasing these albums to pay the money, second older albums that are being re released, originals can be bought at a fraction of the price in second hand shops.
So in rounding up, the hassle of getting the record in the first place is all part of the excitment and whole experience. Back in the day thats what you had to do as there was no alternative but for me its the sound that is the upmost importance and why I still scour the second hand shops otherwise I would save myself the hassle and download it. The sound crates a unique atmosphere that digital music cannot touch. The only down side to records is they can be easily scratched so you really do have to look after them, secondly the digital age has opened up the door for artists to record their own music very cheaply which I fully support as you will find out from my podcasts. But all that doesnt change the fact that the sound of a vinyl cannot be matched through any other medium other than seeing a band that is talented enough to play live. I would encourage any young music lover to get themselves a record player and look for older artists records in second hand shops as the listening experience is just something I fear will never be matched again.
So friends let the music live on, you can share this post using the cons below and also don’t forget to leave a comment on your first music memories.