Today, I went scurrying beneath the house to unearth our 1970s/'80s vinyl record collection.
Embracing the great vinyl music revival
A copywriting assignment for a vinyl record retailer got me inspired. As I waxed lyrical about the warmth of high-fidelity sound, I got to thinking about the records and artists that underscored my growing up.
I remembered Alice Cooper’s 1977 concert at Melbourne’s Festival Hall.
I evoked angsty teenage hours spent dissecting Joan Armatrading and Patti Smith’s lyrics.
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I recalled rings of girls dancing to Cyndi Lauper, circling a pile of our handbags.
For me, vinyl is about nostalgia. I guess that rings true for most over 50s. But for many, it’s about the music quality and the experience. And it's driving a global resurgence of vinyl.
On and offline, there’s a fast-growing throng of folk (of all demographics) looking to own their music in a physical way. Not just vintage and old vinyl, but new releases, re-releases and rare pressings.
Just as Kindle didn’t kill the printed book, nor did CDs and digital formats kill vinyl.
It’s a revival. Only vinyl never actually disappeared. It just declined from fad to niche, where a loyal few appreciate it for what it is.
This week, I discovered what it is. Vinyl music has a depth of sound that simply can’t be replicated on MP3 or other digital formats. It’s to do with those physical grooves in the record that enable “more” sound – a deeper, warmer bass. That’s the grittyness people refer to when they rave about vinyl sound.
And what of the experience itself? How does it compare?
Flicking through a timber rack of vinyl albums versus punching a title or artist name into a search box on iTunes.
Holding a record sleeve in your hands and unfolding to ogle the artwork inside versus browsing thumbnail images online.
Sliding a brand new vinyl record from its plastic protector sleeve, carefully placing it on the turntable and lifting the needle arm across to where you want it versus clicking a title, punching a button on a touch-screen or waiting to see what shuffles up next.
Sitting on the floor with your album sleeve reading the lyrics as you listen and sing along versus scrolling through Googled lyrics on a device screen.
Owning (really owning) a piece of physical music versus being one of thousands (perhaps millions) accessing the same thing through a streaming service.
Having friends over to share, hand around and convo about your vinyl collection versus lending someone your iPod.
Diving deep amid the dusty boxes under the house to retrieve your 30-something-year-old vinyl collection versus struggling to remember the password for your streaming subscription.
Now … all I need is a turntable so I can stop reminiscing and start experiencing our vinyl collection in its full glory. Not sure if I’m late to the party, or early.
What about you? Are you a vinyl lover, or vinyl denier?