For the Love of Vinyl
On the A&K Christmas gift ideas list last month we included a turntable. As in, for records. The vinyl ones. You remember those, don't you?
I was serious about the recommendation and it’s exactly what I bought for my boyfriend; a man who has everything along with a deep love for all things musical. And since somewhere along the highway of life he lost his milk crates filled with ’80s albums, I also started a whole new collection.
Shopping for the records was the fun part of this gift. According to Nielsen Soundscan, the sale of vinyls soared 52% in the US last year, which means anytime a new album comes out these days it’s also available on vinyl. And old albums are being re-released. Whatever you’re shopping for you can probably find new or used on vinyl.
The resurgence is welcome news to audiophiles, as it is widely agreed that vinyl sounds superior to digital (whose downloads have decreased – 12% for songs and 9% for albums). An Mp3 file is usually cheaper to produce and that means low quality product is everywhere. And now having done my research I wholeheartedly agree. Vinyl sounds richer and clearer.
The new turntable has led to great debate around the best albums of all times, the where-were-you-at-in-your-life-when-this-album-came-out recollections and the best recent records to add to the library.
The following list, in no particular order, makes up the collection I’ve started. Of course these are not the best albums ever – that would be an impossible list to write – and it obviously reflects my own tastes (and vintage), but I promise you they are all worthy.
1. Tom Waits, ‘Closing Time’ (1973) – The perfect album for when you need a good cry.
2. Oasis, ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory’ (1995) – Often rated the best album of all time.
3. Ben Harper, ‘Welcome to the Cruel World’ (1994) – He is a superstar rock icon for good reason.
4. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, ‘Damn the Torpedoes’ (1979) – Probably the best live tracks they ever recorded.
5. Bon Iver, ‘For Emma Forever Ago’ (2007) – There’s something about this album that breaks your heart (and not only because it was recorded in a cabin in the woods!)
6. The Head and the Heart, ‘The Head and the Heart’ (2010) – A little bit folk-rock and a little bit British pop-invasion this is one of the great bands of the last decade.
7. Red Hot Chili Peppers, ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ (1991) – The absolute best in funk rock. A must.
8. Alicia Keys, ‘Songs in a Minor’ (2001) – Whatever kind of music you like, there is something for you here. She is so beyond talented I’m wondering if she’s from another planet.
9. Coldplay, ‘Parachutes’ (2000) – If only to listen to Chris Martin’s voice.
10. Bruce Springsteen, ‘The River’ (1980) – The first album I ever bought. It’s all about nostalgia.
11. Norah Jones, ‘Come Away With Me’ (2002) – A little jazzy, but not too much. Seductive. Perfect on a cold winter’s night.
Listening to vinyl makes you sit down and take in an entire album since you can’t so easily skip to the next song and I’m finding a new appreciation for that. And I like being able to see and touch a record. As consumers, we tend to define ourselves by the things we buy and the collection on the shelf will be a conversation starter. Will certain records be on display and others tucked away? Like a book shelf lined with intellectual classics and the Danielle Steele novel under the pillow (no offense to Ms. Steele. I read all of them.)
So, where do I go from here? Please send your music suggestions, new and old, as this is a never ending project.