Friday, 30 January 2009

Vinyl Countdown

As I was kneeling on my bedroom floor yesterday organising my CD’s and records (yes, that’s right I’m that kind of record nerd) it suddenly occurred to me that in this age of downloaded music people might never have this again, a record collection.
We’ve all been aware of the take over by digital download media over the last few years but it wasn’t until yesterday that I began to think to myself, have I wasted my time? All this time, effort and money finding and buying all these records, was it all a waste?
My answer is, of course not! I love record shopping! I love finding new, interesting bands and albums. If anything I think it’s the digital download kids of today that have lost out.
When you consider that whenever you download music, legally or illegally, you miss out on the package that comes with owning a record, you miss out on the sleeve notes, the artwork, any hidden messages etc. I know you can get artwork when you download music but can a grainy JPEG really be a replacement for holding a record in your hands and seeing the artwork right in front of you rather than on a computer, you wouldn’t want to see the Mona Lisa on a computer screen for the first time, would you?
As for the case of the liner notes, did you know the Johnny Depp played guitar on the ‘Be Here Now’ album by Oasis? It this kind of little, fun factoids that people will miss out on if they download music. The liner notes can also serve as a great gateway to discovering new music, take a look at the liner notes in CD or record it lists the producer, sound engineer, where it was recorded, when it was recorded, who played on it, who did the arrangement and lots more information, all which is not included on a download (go check your iTunes now if you don’t believe me). This is particularly true with electronic music when you read the liner notes to a dance album the thank you list is as long as a crying actress who just won an Oscar!
The point I’m to make here is in this age of digital downloads, which has undoubtedly revolutionised the way that we consume music, are we really gaining more music knowledge? In order for us to get this new music surely something has to be lost? If you look at the case of Pat Mawhinney, who has the largest record collection in the world, when the US library of congress examined his collection they determined that of his records between 1948 to 1966 only 17% of those records were now available to the public. Do you still think we’re gaining music?
The thing I love the most about CD’s, records and record shopping is the rummaging through stacks of records in store and friends houses to see what they have, what new records they bought that week and seeing them all lined up on a shelf or piled on the floor and the thing that scares me most is having that image on rows and rows of records lined on a shelf being replaced by some big, bulky and ugly hard drive sat on the corner of someone’s desk.

Essential Selection:

Return of the Space Invaders – Kiss My Shiny Metal Ass
TTA – Neo Violence (Laidback Luke Remix)
Hamonic 313 – Dirtbox
Sky Larkin – Molten
Tame Impala – Desire Be Desire Go

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