Vinyl revolution.

Posted on January 20, 2010


I was recently down at my mum’s house, cleaning some of my things out of her attic, when I came across a box of my old vinyl LPs.

Flicking through them, I was transported back to a time when I’d eagerly await a new release, trekking down to a suitably monikered trendy record shop, its walls lined with plastic wrapped vinyl rarities, where I would part with my hard saved pocket money in exchange for twelve inches of grooved plastic.

Which set me to wondering. Could a box of CDs or an MP3 evoke the same response? I moved to a box of CDs. Just as many memories there, I thought, but, as I lifted one out and I saw the split and broken hinge, the scratched plastic of the cover, and the faint sound of a broken centre pin rattling around somewhere within, I realised that, despite all the associations, they had never given me the same thrill, and probably never would.

So, as I looked back at the box of vinyl, I realised that these were more than just a means of listening to music; they had become totems, anchors to the spirit of my youth, as potent and evocative as the smell of cut grass that takes us back to our memories of those early, endless summers.

People will, it seems, never tire of the debate over the difference in sound quality between digital and analogue, but to my mind it is less about the sound of the music but more about the associated experience. Because now that we have an entirely different way of purchasing and experiencing music, we have lost the physical connection we once had.  There’s no anticipation in awaiting a new release. No more carefully saved pocket money and the too cool for school shop, all replaced now by a simple button labeled “purchase now”. And we can choose to simply select what tracks we want to buy as well. Forget the idea of an album as a journey. Now you can just experience the highlights, like a trip to Stonehenge but missing out the A303.

Now, I’m not saying I dislike the choice or the convenience of the MP3. There is something to be said for the ability to create a playlist, or the instant gratification of random access, however, I do feel that there’s something missing from the experience now, and I think it is the tangibility. After all, when was the last time you saw a groupie getting an MP3 signed?

Today I still keep my music stored in a box. The only difference is that it’s white and has an apple etched on the back of it. I have to confess, I am something of a hypocrite, as it is my little white box that plays the music in my home.

And my vinyl? Well, like so many of my memories, they are still confined to a box in the dark recesses of my memory and my mum’s attic. After all, what good are they to me now? I don’t own a record player anymore.


Posted in: Music