You know.. when I was a lad I would go round to relatives houses or to my mates.. and everybody would have vinyl records. They’d be in cupboards of various sorts, or piled up on the sideboard or even scattered round the floor like on the video of ‘Brimful Of Asha’.. Well that might seem cool now but to some that sounds frankly awful!!!
The thing is that since the advent of CD’s; records (yes I know – Vinyl!!) have drifted further and further away from the ordinary folk who piled them up on the sideboard and become more and more a fringe activity of the obsessed or the ‘Golden Eared’.. I am not decrying the Golden Eared here.. I am one (part-time) and if I won the lottery a chunk of it would go on hifi indulgences that I have dreamt of owning for the last 20 years. But records aren’t just a better sounding medium (arguably but it’s not an argument for here) where the law of diminishing returns allows you to get even more from the grooves the more you spend (but you have to dig deeper and deeper to do it – into your pockets that is..!) They are also a truly great thing to own in many other ways.
Records are plain and simple cool, satisfying, nostalgic, collectable, they smell good, they are interesting, they do sound better potentially but they don’t have to! They are a good investment, they are a great adornment for your pad. Having a funky record deck in your place and a carefully selected stack of wax does more for your credo than any Laura Ashley wallpaper in my opinion..
But they are also fragile, difficult to buy (you can’t just download them), then there’s the whole condition thing, they need to be stored, they are heavy, they are not cat-proof! Or child-proof! and they are comparatively expensive – though you do get your money back if you don’t trash them, unlike an MP3.
So what’s the point of all this.. well, simply the idea is to take the ownership of vinyl records back off the Golden Eared. They are not the exclusive property of the wealthy, or most knowledgeable, or most obsessed, or most deserving and well-read. However neither do they deserve to be scattered round the floor or played on the cheapest of all players that carve themselves a new groove when they are playing! (future blog post here..!). Nor do they deserve to be stacked up on one of those awful devices that takes loads of singles at once and almost successfully manages to drop them from a great height onto the turntable with a reassuring clatter. I’m looking for the middle ground – the place we can all be happy and live in harmony. Where you don’t have to have the best of the best cartridge or cables, you don’t even need to know or care about VTF (if you don’t need to know don’t ask) but where you will buy a half decent deck when you can (they look cool anyway) and you won’t grab your record carelessly with your KFC hands – and you will put them somewhere where they look fab but the cat can’t use ’em as a scratching post and they are not going to turn into fruit bowls on their own (hint – think radiators, conservatories etc..), essentially giving the pleasure of Vinyl Record ownership back to the people where it belongs.
That way the records themselves don’t have to sit in cold damp garages and basements waiting for ever for a very exacting home. Suddenly more of them will be loved and appreciated – even if they are not the rarest and most beautiful pressings. Those forgotten uncared for records get to sing once more! I find it very satisfying when someone buys another copy of ‘Elton John’s Greatest Hits’ or a copy of a Saxon LP sells for a couple of quid and goes half way across the world to an ecstatic owner, because once upon a time not very long ago these would have ended up in the tip.
Well Vinyl Records are too good for that, they deserve better – and thankfully that’s what they seem to be getting.