NOTE: Sadly there are a few broken links on this article. Sites like Sleevage are no longer up. sigh.
NowPlaying was a hit from the day it was created. Vinyl recordings are serious business. Sleeve artwork is a historical goldmine.
When was the last time you spent a few minutes browsing records at a real record store? Miss it? I do.
Before you move on, park in the back of your mind that you need to take a look at the NowPlaying section of my site. Okay. Carry on.
I’m no audiophile, but I surely miss the experience. While driving by any record shop I try to make time to stop and see what is available, used or new, in the vinyl section.
Okay, so let me put a little background behind this. My first record ever purchased?
Purchased down the street at the K-Mart on 7” 45rpm vinyl. It is what it is, and I was only eight years old, but the song was very played out on AM radio in those days. Surely you have a better story than I. What was your first album?
There has been a surge or renewed interest in recordings on vinyl of late and for good reason. The physical act of removing the record from the sleeve, admiring the sleeve artwork, being surprised at a lyrics sheet slipped inside, and the shine of fresh-pressed virgin vinyl exposed to your phonograph is quite the experience. Akin to (but even more enjoyable than) picking up a hot newspaper and perusing it’s pages, ink transferring to your fingertips….
Each format has its advantages. 8-track, cassette, reel-to-reel, laserdisc, beta tape, VHS, Blu-Ray, DVD HD; cartridge games; digital files such as MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3, FLAC, AAC, WAV, etc.
Vinyl is a physical experience. Each side allowing no more than half an hour of music keeps you returning to flip or spin other records to keep you engaged with the medium. Strangely, older phonograph machines allowed you to stack up three or more records to auto play additional records once the tonearm arrived close enough to the turntable spindle. Hearing the record player click and clack as a new record is placed on the wheel of steel is a pleasant notification that your mechanical device is working smoothly.
I mention all of this because I know some of us have an attachment to mechanical and physical devices from the past. We have accelerated our information and entertainment consumption to such a speed that our expectation of quick and quality would leave us gasping for more were we to devolve back to even a year ago (or earlier, gasp). Why does the digital keep us at such a quick pace? Ease of delivery, quick access, easily update-able content, as well as the interrelationships content enjoys these days.
I’m typing this as the network is down. After I placed a 45-minute phone call to Time Warner (my ISP), they said I would be refunded $1.98 for the day of no service. I see. Consumption of information, services, entertainment, videos, communication, chatting, sharing files, collaboration on projects, and updating websites all ceases when there’s no connection. The analog delivery of postal mail, newspapers, published editorials in magazines and periodicals appears to be going away but there is still a requirement in many industries for physical signatures, hand-held confirmation of a presentation, legal notifications, and companies who have yet to go digital in their billing systems.
The artwork on sleeves is a completely absorbing topic, and I’ll skip the bulk of it but only to say that I miss the large format of art on 12” by 12” record sleeves. I’m happy that digital entertainment devices are moving in a direction that allows us to enjoy larger formats of digital artwork, such as iTunes LP & Album/Video Extras, larger handheld devices like the iPad displaying larger album covers and movie artwork, etc.
All of that aside, I would share with you that spending some of your time to spin a record on a used or new record player would be a pleasurable diversion to your day. Give it a chance. There is scientific and empirical data that suggests that there is a warmth that a physical record provides that digital formats can’t. Experiencing this will help you decide for yourself.
So, to let you know which musical albums I’ve been enjoying, on vinyl and otherwise, I setup the NowPlaying pool on flickr so that you may browse and contribute. You can also see my submissions, pulled into my nowplaying section for you to see, with links to services where the music is available to purchase or listen to such as last.fm, amazon (PICTURE DISC!), discogs, etc…
We try to create ways for browsing and enjoying the artwork and representations of entertainment experiences. Let’s hope the experience is never lost by…
…oh, wait, the network is back up!