27 Jan

Old Albums are Selling Better Than New Thanks to Vinyl Records

It’s no secret that I at the Classic Vinyl Record am into classic rock and metal than new, pop music. So this story warms my vinyl heart. Older albums have outsold new albums in 2015. More people bought something old than something new. In this case, new is a term used for anything younger than 18 months. That would change the view of this story, except that three of the top five selling albums are much older than 18 months.

Because online streaming of music is growing (up 92% from 2014), physical album sales are dropping, unless you are talking about vinyl. Vinyl album sales are growing as well with 12 million records sold last year. As the article states, Taylor Swift had the #1 vinyl album sold, so it’s not just older people. The three older albums that made it into the top five? Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon at #3, Beatles – Abbey Road at #4 and Miles Davis – Kind of Blue at #5. I already own two of those.

As much as I stream music using Spotify, I love my vinyl collection. It makes me so happy that the art of listening to music is growing. Streaming music enables a lack of listening or even concious thought about what is being played. Vinyl records demand your attention. That enables us to listen to the music. To see more people buying vinyl (and more young people) is a great sign for the industry.

Top Selling Albums - 2015

image credit – http://www.theverge.com/2016/1/22/10816404/2015-album-sales-trends-vinyl-catalog-streaming

11 Jan

Remembering David Bowie – Changesonebowie

Sad news today, David Bowie died yesterday (January 10, 2016) after fighting cancer. He had a very, very long career not only as a singer, but also as an actor, producer and much more. One of my first exposures to Bowie was the movie Labyrinth, but his music became a staple on classic rock radio growing up.

I was never a big David Bowie fan, but I did like his music for the most part. Because of not being a huge fan, I only have one vinyl album of his, the 1976 compilation album Changesonebowie.

David Bowie ChangesonebowieSince it was released in 1976, it has all of his hits up till then, which there are still quite a few. Space Oddity is my favorite, along with many other people. This compilation album is certified platinum and reached the top ten Billboard album charts, which I think is awesome for a comp. album.

Bowie had many personas that resulted in his music having many different styles. He was able to reinvent himself multiple times, without ever following the crowd.


David Bowie – Changesonebowie

Side one

  1. “Space Oddity” (from Space Oddity, 1969) – 5:14
  2. “John, I’m Only Dancing (from the single of the same name, 1972) – 2:43
  3. “Changes” (from Hunky Dory, 1971) – 3:33
  4. “Ziggy Stardust” (from Ziggy Stardust, 1972) – 3:13
  5. “Suffragette City” (from Ziggy Stardust) – 3:25
  6. “The Jean Genie” (from Aladdin Sane, 1973) – 4:03

Side two

  1. “Diamond Dogs” (from Diamond Dogs, 1974) – 5:56
  2. “Rebel Rebel” (from Diamond Dogs) – 4:30
  3. “Young Americans” (from Young Americans, 1975) – 5:10
  4. “Fame” (from Young Americans) – 3:30
  5. “Golden Years” (from Station to Station, 1976) – 3:59

If you would like this on vinyl, you can buy David Bowie – Changesonebowie (Vinyl)
on Amazon.

David Bowie – January 8, 1947 – January 10, 2016

15 May

RIP B.B. King. One of the Greatest Bluesmen is Gone

Sad news yesterday (May 14th, 2015), B.B. King died at the age of 89. The New York Times had a great write-up about him and his life. Some great parts are:

Mr. King considered a 1968 performance at the Fillmore West, the San Francisco rock palace, to have been the moment of his commercial breakthrough, he told a public-television interviewer in 2003. A few years earlier, he recalled, an M.C. in an elegant Chicago club had introduced him thus: “O.K., folks, time to pull out your chitlins and your collard greens, your pigs’ feet and your watermelons, because here is B. B. King.” It had infuriated him.

When he saw “long-haired white people” lining up outside the Fillmore, he said, he told his road manager, “I think they booked us in the wrong place.” Then the promoter Bill Graham introduced him to the sold-out crowd: “Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the chairman of the board, B. B. King.”

“Everybody stood up, and I cried,” Mr. King said. “That was the beginning of it.”

That was a great thing to read. B.B King broke down color barriers. His music wasn’t black or white, it was real.

There were hard times when the blues fell out of fashion with young black audiences in the early 1960s. Mr. King never forgot being booed at the Royal by teenagers who cheered the sweeter sounds of Sam Cooke.

“They didn’t know about the blues,” he said 40 years after the fact. “They had been taught that the blues was the bottom of the totem pole, done by slaves, and they didn’t want to think along those lines.”

That made me sad. The Blues are part of the American heritage. They were born out of the poor experiences of the descendants of slaves, which makes it that much more important. If we know where it came from, it can help us not to repeat history.

I am teaching my 4 year old son about all kinds of music, but focusing on jazz and blues. The other day I had some Maynard Ferguson on the stereo and he asked what it was. When I said it was Maynard, he said “Play me the blues!” I laughed so hard. Now I am sad that he will grow up in a world without B.B. King. At least I will always be able to play his music.

If you want to hear his music, there is a playlist in memory of B.B. King on Spotify. If you want to buy his music, check out B.B. King’s page on Amazon.

08 Oct

Aryeon – Universal Migrator 1 + 2

Sometimes at work I just set Spotify on shuffle mode in certain playlists, but other times (like today) I want an album. So this morning it was the Universal Migrator 1+2 by Ayreon. I love Ayreon’s music. Also, most anything by Arjen Anthony Lucasson. It has a great element of cheese in it, but the production quality and musical writing is excellent. The Universal Migrator albums are, I believe, the quintessential Aryeon experience. The other stuff is great, but these two albums capture his sound and essence perfectly. One of the best things about Ayreon’s music is the sound quality and engineering. His albums are beautiful to listen to. They have dynamic range, changes in style and phenomenal musicianship. Also, the second half of the album has Russell Allen from Symphony X and Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden as guest vocalists! How much better does it get?

They were not actually released as a double album, but they are a single concept story line, so in Spotify and other places they are considered one album. The first album is The Dream Sequencer, and the second album is The Flight of the Migrator. They basically tell the story of  time traveler after the destruction of Earth (very shortened synopsis).

You can listen to Ayreon – The Universal Migrator on Spotify, or buy it from Amazon (the CD version of Universal Migrator Pt 1 & 2). I would recommend buying this on vinyl with the Amazon links below.

01 Apr

Grado Headphones for Listening to My Vinyl Records

I bought a pair of Grado SR125i headphones from Amazon last week.They just came today and my first impression is that they really open up the sound. That my not sound very technical, but the music sounds expansive, wide, open, big. Details are very clear. I can hear more reverb and effects than I could before. Granted I have been using the Apple Ear Buds most of the time.

grado sr125 headphones

I haven’t listened to any vinyl yet, I have moved and haven’t set up my turntable. But through my Mac Mini the Grado headphones sound excellent. Some of the reviews on Amazon say to use them for about 24 hours of music listening to break them in. However, there is an argument about whether headphones can even be broken in, or if it’s just your brain getting used to the sound of a new pair.

Another reason I got them is because I listen to music at work through my headphones a couple of hours a day (depending on meeting schedules). The new Apple Buds are much better than the old ones, but still aren’t the best. I wanted something quality that didn’t go inside my ear. One thing about these new phones is that they are somewhat heavy with the massive cord. It is very think. I have never seen headphone cable that think. It’s more like an instrument cable.

I checked out the reviews and tried to go higher end without breaking the bank. The Grado SR125i is what I decided on. If you would like a pair or want to upgrade your cans, check out Amazon’s selection, but always read the reviews.

When I get my turntable hooked up, and ‘break in’ the headphones I will let you know what I think of the music then. Once of the first albums I will be listening to will be Atom Heart Mother by Pink Floyd.

What kind of headphones or speakers do you use to listen to your vinyl? Let me know in the comments.

29 Jun

Block and Bar Vinyl Record Cleaner

I have talked about how to clean your vinyl records before. However, I saw this post recently on Instructables.com on how to make your own Block and Bar record cleaner. Check out the link for the full version.

Basically, the guy took some Removable Putty and wraps it around a tapered dowel. Then he takes a block of wood and moves the dowel with putty around the records. He took great pictures which really show the dirt being taken out of the record grooves.

I am going to try this. He has pretty good directions on how to make this yourself. Here are a few pictures.




What do you think? Have you used anything like this? What is your favorite way to clean your vinyl collection?

17 May

Vinyl Record Phono Preamp for Computers

I have talked about a couple of USB turntables before, and in particular the ION USB Turntable, but I have said that I don’t necessarily want to convert my vinyl and never listen to it again. It’s great to convert vinyl albums to MP3, but I still want my vinyl records.

Recently I moved into an office and decided that I wanted to have my records with me there rather than at home. However, I had no way to listen to them without buying one of these USB turntables. I already have a Technics table, and didn’t feel the need to buy another one.

After some research I found the Behringer PP400 Phono Preamp. This allowed me to plugin RCA into the preamp, then RCA to 1/8 inch cable right into my laptop. It also included a grounding plug for my Technics turntable.

There was a problem though. I still couldn’t hear anything on my Macbook. I did more research and found that I had to download a small program that would allow sound to pass through from the line in to the output. The older versions of OS X allowed you to do that, but not the one I was using. It’s called Line In from Rogue Amoeba.

Was it the greatest sound I ever heard? No. But when I needed my vinyl fix it did the job. I had a decent set of speakers with a sub-woofer on my desk and the records sounded good, although a little thin. In an office though, you don’t need, nor would I have been allowed to have a massive awesome sounding stereo.

I would definitely recommend this option if you are in a place where you can bring in your turntable and vinyl collection without bothering anyone.

23 Sep

Spotify Music Service For Hard to Find Albums

I have been using Spotify for a few months now, and I have to say that I love it. I don’t normally talk about services or programs, but I love this. I am not being paid in any way to say this.

I have barely touched iTunes since I got Spotify. There is so much music out there that I have never heard, and it makes it easy to find. Using the Related Artists tab, I have found more bands that I love than I ever knew existed.

The best thing about it is that there are bands that I can’t find anywhere else, they may have only made one album, or they just were not necessarily the greatest band, but I still want to hear them. I have found many of them on Spotify.

There are two paid levels, but I am just on the free one. With the top one you can stream music to your mobile device.

I know that this is a vinyl album blog, but you can’t take your vinyl with you. This you can. And it is much better quality than your average 128K MP3. The best thing is that once you find a new band (or old band you never heard of), you can then find the album on vinyl, and you’ll know that you like it already.

If you use Spotify now, what are some of the playlists you’ve made? Have you published them?

07 Apr

Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Emerson Lake and Palmer

The title seems a bit redundant, but it is the self-title debut album of Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

ELP - Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Released in 1970, Emerson, Lake and Palmer was the first album from ELP. It is basically a solo album for all three members as only the first song was a combined effort. Extended solos and songs, complex time signatures and many classical influences make this album a definitive piece of progressive rock. However, many people do not like ELP. They think they are pretentious and overblown and boring. I say those people are welcome to their opinion, but that since much of ELP’s music is actual classical pieces or heavily influenced by classical music, then people who don’t like them probably have no appreciation for classical music either.

I have talked about ELP – Brain Salad Surgery before, which I think is one of their best albums.

I think Keith Emerson is an amazing pianist and composer. Plus the Hammond organ he uses is fantastic. I love that dirty Hammond sound. The best example of this sound is on Knife Edge, one of my favorite Emerson, Lake and Palmer songs.

Track Listing:

Side One:

  1. The Barbarian
  2. Take  a Pebble
  3. Knife Edge

Side Two:

  1. The Three Fates: (i) Clotho (ii) Lachesis (iii) Atropos
  2. Tank
  3. Lucky Man

Emerson, Lake and Palmer went to #18 on the Billboard charts, while “Lucky Man” went to #48 on the Billboard top 100.

You can buy Emerson, Lake and Palmer at Musicstack or at Amazon.

05 Mar

How to Clean Vinyl Records

I have talked a lot about why records sound better, and about some of my favorite albums, but I have never talked about how to clean and care for your vinyl albums(UPDATE: I have talked about it, check out how to Make Your Own Block and Bar Record Cleaner). The main reason most people don’t like the sound of vinyl is because they have only listened to dirty records. Dirt and dust get in the grooves and that’s what causes the pops and clicks that are associated with vinyl records.

Grooves in a Vinyl Record

The above picture is from an electron microscope from the University of Rochester. It shows the dirt and grim that collect on the grooves of records. You don’t want this.

The best way to clean a vinyl record is to buy a record cleaning machine. The Moth MKII is a good one to use, as it is a vacuum powered cleaner.

Moth Vinyl Record Cleaner

You can find the Moth record cleaner at Juno.co.uk. Using a record cleaner is the best and most effective way to clean a vinyl album. However, it is a bit expensive for the casual listener. So there are more options for those not willing to spend the money, however, the quality of cleaning goes down from here.

The next option is to use a solution and brush to remove the junk from the records. You can use homemade solutions, such as water and a tiny bit of gentle dish soap (with no moisturizer); or you can use 90% isopropyl alcohol, NOT rubbing alcohol. You can usually find some cleaner at your local record shop too. Use this with a clean dry  fabric preferably a cloth diaper. Rub the record with the grooves a few times in both directions to get the junk out. Make sure that the record is completely dry before you play it. Also make sure that you do not get the label wet.

While doing all of this, handle the record by the edges, and don’t touch the grooves with your fingers. Touching the records wrong is one of the biggest reasons why they get dirty.

Another important item to have is the proper sleeve for your records. Whenever I buy old records, especially if they are at a flea market or something, they are usually missing the inner sleeve. Or they have one made of paper. Paper degrades over time and leaves dust in the grooves. You can get a pack of 50 inner sleeves for about $15-$18. These will not degrade and also help in reducing static.

I also use an anti static cleaning brush every time I play a record. This doesn’t take the place of a good cleaning, but it helps keep off surface dust and can keep cleaned records cleaner a lot longer.

I love the sound of vinyl, but I don’t love the pops and crackles that come with dirty records. I have read comments of people on the internet say that they like the cracks and pops, and I think that many of them have no idea what a good, clean vinyl record should sound like.