Vinyl is a GOOD THING.
No nonchalantly sneaking in with CDs tucked away in your jacket pocket, no feigned innocence when you’re grilled about where the house-keeping money went this week
“You haven’t been buying CDs again, have you?” as an overture to a Force 9 on the Richter scale rant about fiscal responsibility.
With vinyl, you look your obsession in the eyes.
Without blinking, head held high.
You carry your purchases proudly through the front door (mostly anyway – I’ll admit to have found temporary storage in the garage during times of financial crisis until the coast’s been clear..) and say excitedly “Look what I discovered today” to a mostly indifferent and (frequently) mildly belligerent audience.
We are the cultural safety net.
We rescue Marc Benno and Leon Russell albums from cut-out bins. We provide homes to Smokie Hogg and Charlie Bradix on “Texas Blues -Anthology Series Volume 5”
We are the WWF of popular music, rummaging through CD jungles to stumble over Chris Rea’s “Deltics” – corner clipped to denote a record destined for the knackers’ yard – and discover the exquisite “Cenotaph-Message from Amsterdam“.
We’re prepared to pay $130 for the sublime and unquestionably ego-less Albert Lee in “Head, Hands and Feet”. Or $70 for 5th Estate’s “Ding dong, the witch is dead”
(And if someone’s digitised them……..please…?!)
My teen years slotted neatly into the 1960s.
Vinyl defined my life.
Once we’d got a radiogram, that is.
We had a couple of record stores in Auckland – Marbecks (still there, same location in Queen’s Arcade, now with an e-shop) and Lewis Eady (long gone) plus the department stores – John Courts, Milne & Choyce and Smith & Caughey (the latter still there and still as snobbily upper-class as ever).
And 246 at 246 Queen St. New Zealand’s first shopping centre. 3 floors, Scandinavian furniture store, book shop, HMV record shop, menswear with cool stuff, coffee shop. That’s where I lived on Friday nights . Late opening. Until 8 o’clock.
My pocket money went on books and singles, with LPs – Beatles mostly – turning up on birthdays and at Xmas.
(“The Byrds’ “Tambourine Man” was an exception – I saved for weeks for that one.)
Whatcha gonna do about – Larry’s Rebels (with my schoolmate Terry Rowse on the organ)
On top of the world – The La-di-das
Gates of Eden – Bob Dylan
Universal Soldier – Donovan
Rain – The Beatles. A true gem and absolutely necessary for the completionist in me to round out my series on Nick Hornby’s “31 Songs”
Hey Joe – Jimi Hendrix
Some of them in stereo, even. (You had a choice – take the mono version, or wait 2. Or 3. Or 4 weeks until a stereo pressing arrived from England.)
The limited library wasn’t really a big constraint – there was always Graham Horne, Bruce Hales, Martyn Jones, Maurice Dagger or Greg Wade (or their siblings) who’d have something else, so we’d head over to the Hornes’ basement or the Dagger’s dirt floor garage on Saturdays with our records under our arms, girlfriends tagging along and play them all again and again and again and do the Twist or the Shrug or the Jerk or whatever was new on 6 week-old broadcasts of Shindig (not that we knew the names – we’d just copy.)
And that was pretty much it before I left New Zealand in 1969
The serious collecting started when I got to the UK and has continued pretty much unabated since, with the Lufthansa crews who lived in the same apartment block getting lists of “Essential”, “Important” and “If you have space” to bring back from JFK or LAX.
And then tracks moved onto the Mix and Match tapes to play in the car on the way to work (or anytime, actually) and they became such a part of my life – to the end of my days, when I hear “Lido Shuffle” I’ll expect Bap to segue in with “Bedde”- that I saw it as MY DUTY to preserve them for posterity.
Steinberg’s Clean 5, WaveLab a USB pre-amp and weeks later, I’ve got them in a mostly listenable condition in iTunes. (And I need something as good for Mac)
You have to understand. In those days, needles didn’t get changed, records got stacked on each other without the cover, beer (if we were at Maurice’s place – thanks for that, Mr Dagger..!) got splattered over them, Daggers’ garage dirt floor was .. a dirt floor – these things happen – until they sounded like .. well…this.
“Like a Rolling Stone” took me 2 hours and God knows how many iterations to clean up. Surgically removing nano-second clicks with a cursor as a scalpel and performing cosmetic surgery with the “Extrapolate” tool.
And don’t talk to me about CDs. (Although I’ve got more than too many..)
Vinyl is where music, art and writing coalesce. You sit back in your chair, listening to the music and looking at good, LARGE FORMAT artwork and quirky (or otherwise) liner notes (some of them even urbane..), reading the lyrics and seeing who played on which track without having to flip through a booklet that’s so thick that you can’t wedge it back into the jewel case.
Vinyl’s healthy, too.
You can’t become a couch potato. You’re up and down like a fart in a bottle…
Vinyl covers are historical documents.
In the year that Paperback Writer/Rain came out (1966), a transistor radio cost £29/18/6 in pre-decimal New Zealand. I was getting 9s a week pocket money back then.
And a one way “Young International” ticket to Europe cost $318 in 1968. About 10 weeks gross salary for me at the time.
And then there’s shellac.
I haven’t got my grandfather’s collection – they and the gramophone went to Ken Mac, farmer, his closest neighbour (about 5 miles down the road, actually) in North Yorkshire.
But I’ve picked up some bits and pieces over the year.
Some on flea markets in England, some in Mumbai in Chor Bazaar and a lot from Meher, also in Mumbai.
Which explains why Ricky Nelson’s there with “Travellin’ Man”.
And I’ve got an HMV wind-up gramophone that weighs an absolute ton from the shopping arcade in the Oberoi Sheraton in Mumbai with a HUGE megaphone that I – get this – HAND-CARRIED back to Frankfurt. In Economy.
So today, I dusted it off, replaced the old with a new Long Playing Steel Needle, Made in England, cranked the handle, removed the original cover from Waldren’s in Hounslow and gently placed
“With Sword and Lance”
Recorded in a Concert hall in 1932
on Regal Zonophone
Conducted by James Oliver
and Played by Grand Massed Brass Bands
Including St Hilda’s Professional Band; Edmonton Silver Prize Band;
G.C. and Met. Silver Prize Band; Stoke Newington British Legion Band
And let it rip.
So thanks, Thomas.
AM Then FM
Echoes in the wind
Flea Market Funk
Good Rockin’ Tonight
Got the Fever
In Dangerous Rhythm
It’s Great Shakes
Lost in the 80s
The “B” Side
The Hits Just Keep On Comin’
The Snack Bar
The Stepfather of Soul
Underground Vault of Records, Music and all kinds of Stuff
Vinyl Record Day blogswarm