18 Jan

Vinyl Records and CD’s Part 2

Here is the second part of this article by The Lonely Note. Here is the first post on the difference between vinyl records and CD’s in case you missed it.

Portability
This is probably the one category where the two camps of format fanatics can agree. The compact disc wins the portability argument in one fell swoop if only because of its smaller, sleeker size. The vinyl LP is physically wider, and it is considerably heavier. This means that transporting numerous amounts of CDs can be accomplished much easier than transporting even just a few LPs. Furthermore, most car stereos can play CDs, and many folks own portable boomboxes to where they can easily bring their silicon tunes with them. Imagine trying to install a vinyl player in a car dash!

Durability
In the past, my only experience with vinyl was the faded, crackling sound of warped records stored in my parents’ basement. Obviously, if a vinyl has been taken proper care of, the LP can live a long, fruitful life, and the crackles and pops of vinyl urban lore can be avoided. But in any case, my not-so-unique experience serves as an effective example of another benefit the CD holds over vinyl: turntables make contact with the medium every time the music is played, whereas no physical contact is made with a CD. It is a laser beam that decodes music encoded digitally, meaning virtually no wear or tear occurs when a CD is played. Vinyl LPs, on the other hand, are worn down slightly (albeit minutely) every time the stylus runs itself through the groove. On top of that, vinyls are much more easily scratched and the dust they can collect can significantly alter the intended sound. However, there is one caveat to the durability debate: Silicon, over time, begins to deteriorate just by sitting in storage on its own. In fact, CDs apparently have a life span of only 15 good years. Vinyl, on the other hand, can endure for over a century. Depending on how permanent your collection is, vinyl may actually win out in this category.

Listener Experience
CDs have tried to employ gimmicks in the past to force its listeners to be more emotionally involved. Some music companies have snuck computer programs that can be played off of the disc, and some have even implemented “secret tracks.” But for the most part, many CDs are relatively boring, containing little incentive for the listener to sit back and just admire the disc. Vinyl obviously does a better job of generating involvement. The division of a long player into two separate sides means that the listener better be paying attention so she can flip the record over at the necessary time. The heavier, thicker tactile effect of vinyl also leaves greater imprint on the imagination from simply just touching and handling the waxy record. Larger artwork and linear notes are usually packaged with the vinyl LP. Conversely, CDs are flimsy and brittle, invoking little romantic feeling from its look and touch.

From a convenience perspective, there is no way to remotely navigate from track to track on vinyl when a listener is bored, wanting to hear something else. No, the vinyl is more album oriented, meaning the listener must usually be committed for as long as each side is. If the listener wants to change track mid-rotation, she risks scratching the record and disturbing continuity by improperly lifting the stylus and matching it with an incorrect section of groove. On the other hand, because of the instant gratification the CD provides (just click a button on a remote from the comfort of your sofa) there really is very little involvement required by the CD. This may be highly convenient, but is it a memorable experience?

For many, the rapid accessibility to music a CD provides is what makes the medium great. After all, who wants to mess around with keeping an eye on a turntable when the kids need to be fed and supper is on the stove? But for those who play records to experience a sonic odyssey, all of the otherwise cumbersome features of the LP are actually enjoyable moments of the experience. Carefully placing the vinyl on the turntable and meticulously descending the stylus require diligence and focus. In contrast, simply loading a silicon disc into an electronic tray happens so effortlessly we often take it for granted. Depending on one’s motivation, the interactivity required of vinyl can be a saving grace, or instead, a despicable curse.

Technological Differences
The technological distinctions between vinyl and the compact disc are starkly evident. The former is analog, and the latter is digital. Vinyl contains the physical manifestations of the sound waves in its grooves, while the CD contains binary snapshots and representations of the sound in the form of ones and zeroes. Vinyl can hold maybe half-an-hour’s worth of audible data on each side, whereas the CD is single-sided and can hold up to 80 minutes of sound in a much smaller space. CD players allow the listener to pause, skip, rewind, and shuffle all from the convenience of a remote. Turntables require the listener to hover over the unit to run its functions, and they are incapable of skipping or pausing in the way a CD player can. Shuffling is also an impossibility with vinyl (unless, maybe, you have some crazy, custom-engineered system).

Perhaps the most important technological difference has to do with the fact that an album is the music, and a CD is merely a place where the music resides. At first this is sort of a murky distinction, but think of it like this: An album, because of its analog nature, has a unique physical “fingerprint” for each album imprinted onto it. The actual sound waves are imposed into the vinyl, essentially creating a different “sculpture” for each album recorded. With a CD, its digital encoding is manifested as microscopic differences in dye burned by the original laser. However, unlike vinyl, with the right kind of laser (and arguably the right kind of CD) that original image can be erased and re-recorded with something else on the very same piece of silicon. So while the digital image can change, the physical characteristics of the CD remain the same. Such a function is impossible with vinyl.

Furthermore, the CD is multifunctional, whereas vinyl is not. With vinyl, it has one purpose: the playback of audio. CDs, as we are all aware, can contain so much more than music. Photos, computer software, video, classified documents, and PowerPoint presentations can all be stored and accessed on a compact disc. And because the music on CD can be easily “ripped” to a hard drive as an MP3, M4A, or OGG, exact digital copies of the original audio can be created for archival on a completely different digital medium.

For many, CDs are merely a temporary storage place for their music. With the advent of iPods and home music servers, many CDs may be sitting on the shelf collecting dust, while the music originally contained on those very discs are still in viable rotation on some of these other digital mediums. For instance, I may play Alice in Chains’ Dirt on my iTunes once a week, but I haven’t actually lifted the original compact disc out of its jewel case in over two years. Conversely, because vinyl is very difficult to replicate to other formats without sacrifice in sound quality, pretty much the only effective way to access the original music is to play the original vinyl LP.

Prelude to Part Three
You have probably noticed that I have failed to detail the most important aspect of the CD/Vinyl Debate: sound quality. Don’t worry, I will be sure to discuss this and share with you my personal thoughts on the subject in the near future. For now, this post has grown long enough, and I will end it here.

You can find the introduction to this post on the basic differences between CD and Vinyl here. The third part on the sound quality differences between LP’s and CD’s is found here.

18 Jan

Vinyl Vs CD. Analog Vs Digital

Great post over a The Lonely Note, talking about the difference between vinyl records and CD’s. It’s a three part article, so I’ll split it up too.

Introduction

Perhaps the only argument that has persisted on longer than the vinyl vs. CD debate is that one about the chicken and the egg. Both camps have loyal supporters. And both camps have strong evidence supporting their preferred medium. Yet neither format has attracted a substantial majority of audiophiles exclusively.

A few months ago Wired published an article about vinyl and its contribution to the “impending” death of the CD. Allegedly pressing houses are at capacity and vinyl sales are up, while CD sales have steadily declined since the dawn of the millennium. Of course, many CD sales have been displaced by MP3 purchases at online retailers such as iTunes, meaning that digital music resides no longer on silicon discs but on servers and hard drives instead. However, even with those MP3 sales accounted for, vinyl’s rise as the medium of choice for some music buyers is impressive.

Having been born the year after the compact disc was invented, I have personally witnessed the swift extinction of turntables from the lay person’s living room. By the time I was entering junior high, mere ownership of a record player was symbolic of the luddite and his unwillingness to accept the bright future the CD promised us. After all, vinyl records were bulky, difficult to transport, and began to crackle when dusty or scratched. CDs, on the other hand, were small, sleek, durable, and were easily portable for play in car stereos or discmans. CD burners were affordable and put the power of track selection in the hands of the consumer, while I never personally knew anybody who had a $10,000 vinyl cutter just sitting in her bedroom.

Yet, as vinyl vacated the collective imagination of the everday music listener, the medium prevailed in the niche circles of DJs and analog fanboys. DJs often preferred vinyl for its scratching capabilities and for the fact that analog offers a wider range of frequency for listeners than does the CD. Analog purists argued that vinyl provided a warmer, fuller sound, and that CDs sounded sanitized and mechanical. Because digital could only take “snapshots” of the sound, they said, CDs were incapable of presenting a true reproduction of the studio recording. The groove of the analog record, they furthered, is the only medium able to provide true sonic replication because the indentation in the vinyl is a physical manifestation of the actual sound waves and vibrations created by the original instruments.

As I weighed the audible possibilities of vinyl in a music culture rife with silicon, I decided to examine the format differences for myself. Did vinyl provide a richer, warmer sound? Or was CD superior in that it furnished a much more precise tone?

You can find the rest of the article on the physical differences between analog records and digital CD’s here, and the actual test of the sound quality difference between vinyl records and CD’s here.

18 Jan

Journey – Escape Album on LP

Journey is one of those great 80’s rock bands that people either love or hate. Personally, I love Journey, otherwise I wouldn’t have their album. You can buy this album at Musicstack. I have also recently posted about Journey – Frontiers album.

Escape by Journey

This was actually referred to as the worst number 1 album ever by Dave Marsh of Rolling Stone. It has gone 9 times Platinum, and is Journey’s best selling album after the Greatest Hits album.

Escape (or ESC4P3, or E5C4P3 depending on how you see it) was the first album with keyboardist Jonathan Cain, and was released in 1981. The songs from this album are a staple of classic rock radio, even adult contemporary radio now. I heard “Don’t Stop Believin” on the secretary’s radio at church the other day. You can’t ESCAPE Journey. Ha. You like what I did there. Can’t escape Journey, Journey – Escape? Nevermind.

“Don’t Stop Believin” “Stone In Love” “Who’s Cryin Now” and “Open Arms” are the most popular songs off of this album, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of it sucks. Here is the track listing;

  • Don’t Stop Believin’
  • Stone In Love
  • Who’s Crying Now
  • Keep On Runnin’
  • Still They Ride
  • Escape
  • Lay It Down
  • Dead or Alive
  • Mother, Father
  • Open Arms

By the way, Journey has hired a new singer. Just last month, December ’07. I saw Journey last year with right after singer Steve Augeri got throat cancer [update: He does not have cancer, it was a throat infection.] and was replaced by Jeff Scott Soto. But he was fired, and after seeing a local Philipino bands’ uploaded videos on YouTube, Arnel Pineda was hired as the lead singer.

14 Jan

Van Halen Self Titled Debut on Vinyl LP

All right, time for some rock.

Nobody rocks like Van Halen, even Van Halen (Hagar era) can’t touch them. Sorry to those Sammy Hagar fans out there. I like his stuff, but it just doesn’t do it for me like Van Halen with David Lee Roth.

Van Halen’s Self Titled Debut Album

Released in 1978, this album has made it past Gold and Platinum status, and made it to Diamond. Actually, 1984 by Van Halen also went Diamond. There are only four other bands to have two original albums go Diamond, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Def Leppard.

I know that almost all of the guitar players I know, (being a musician I know quite a lot) say that Eruption off of this album was the reason they played guitar. Eddie Van Halen is probably the most influential guitar player in history along with Jimi Hendrix.

This record is one of those albums where almost every song is a hit. “You Really Got Me” “Runnin’ WithThe Devil” “Eruption” and of course, one of my favorites “Ice Cream Man.”

By the way, the track listing on the back of the album cover is out of order. I don’t know if that makes any difference, but hey, there it is.

Here is “Ice Cream Man” on MP3 for your listening pleasure;

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And out of the kindness of my heart, here is “Eruption” for all you guitar players;

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As always, you can find Van Halen albums on vinyl, and CD at Musicstack.

14 Jan

The Biggest Record Show in the World. The Last Record Store.

Ok, so maybe I’m a little behind the curve here, but I just saw that there is a record convention in Austin, Texas that is the biggest in the world. The Austin Record Convention has been meeting since 1981, brings in over 300 dealers, and over 1 million records, tapes, CD’s, and even an 8-track or two.

I went to a record show once, but it wasn’t near this big. It was in a Red Roof Inn or something like that.

I would love to go to a record show that is this big. Apparently, it’s so big, that they have search announcements every few hours for people to be able to find a certain record.

The next show is October 3rd, 4th, and5th of 2008.

At the next few shows they will be selling the inventory of an old record shop that closed down, and has not been touched since 1970. Wow! Can you imagine, brand new records, magazines and posters from 1970? I bet there is some nice stuff that nobody has even seen in 38 years. Here is what they have to say about the store on the website;

In these days of diminishing vinyl, while we all watch the remnants of the vinyl era melt away on eBay or at the record shows, it’s easy to think back to the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s when vinyl ruled and record shops were everywhere. If you ever wished those days would come back or you had a time machine, well your dream has come true, if only for a brief flash in the musical pan. What’s this all about, well it’s about a record shop that shouldn’t exist in 2006 but yet it does, or did, as so many stores did during those golden decades of vinyl.

Our story starts in 1968 when a young Scottish lad obsessed with Soul music and in love with all it represented came to the US in search of his favorite records. His name is John Anderson, and he represented the vanguard of the European invasion of the US in search of vintage vinyl, although there were a few US collectors like the Stolper Brothers hunting around it was mainly a European assault. John turned his love of the music into a business and began importing the US 45s and LPs to England. A preview of what was later to be called the northern soul collecting mania.

John searched the country top to bottom for his records and one day in 1972 he drove into the small town of Miamisburg, Ohio. He cruised down Main Street and sure enough there was an old record shop as there were in most towns across the USA. John found the door locked but finally got to talk to the owner who told him he wasn’t selling his records anymore. He found out that the shop had started in the late ‘40s by the Kondoff family and run by the Mom and Dad and two brothers, George and Chris. The parents passed away and George left but Chris carried on, accumulating a huge amount of vinyl as he refused to return anything. Then he decided to close it up, and he shut it down in 1971. John came back every year during the ‘70s but the answer was always the same, no sale. He finally gave up and went on to easier deals as the country was awash in vintage vinyl in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. The ‘90s started and old music was bigger than ever, with everyone looking for that stash of old vinyl. I met John around that time and he often tortured me with his stories of the days when 45s were 10 cents or less and LPs 25 cents. He mentioned many of his great deals but he also mentioned the ones that got away, including that odd record shop in Ohio. John and I put together many record buys and as we marched into the new century vinyl seemed more popular than ever and harder to find all the time. While reliving the easier days about a year ago I mentioned the old Ohio store again, John thought that it was worth another look so he went by on one of his regular US trips. He found the store just as he last saw it 25 years before except no one was living in it now. He contacted Chris Kondoff’s brother, George, and he told him that his brother had retired and they were going to sell the store and the contents soon. He promised to contact John when that happened and sure enough in about 6 months the lawyer for the estate contacted John and asked him to come make an offer. So off we went to Ohio to look at a store closed for almost 40 years.

You can imagine the excitement as we drove down Main Street in the small town south of Dayton, then there it was just like we expected it, a old building with Popular, Rock, Solid Soul, Bluegrass and Golden Oldies, written in old print on the windows, and they truly were as you can see. When we walked into the shop it was like stepping into the Time Machine, all the LPs on display were from the late ‘60s and the bins were full of vintage ‘50s and ‘60s LPs. Sealed Beatle LPs, all the Rolling Stones, both mono and stereo, Pink Floyd on Tower, also all the Standells on Tower, the Hollies, the Animals, the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, it was all there! And from the earlier era, Eddie Cochran’s “Singin To My Baby” on Liberty, the Duals “Stick Shift”, Link Wray and the Rockin Rebels on Swan. Obscure soul Lps, lots of James Brown King Lps, and hundreds of Starday and King country LPS, all sealed or mint.

Then there was the 45s bins loaded with picture sleeves by the Beatles, The Stones, the Yardbirds, the Miracles, Supremes, local garage bands and R&B, County and Rockabilly from the ‘50s. Pinch me hard, I thought I had stepped into a time wrap, Beam Me Up Scotty! But first let’s buy some records!

Since John and I didn’t deal in LPs anymore we brought in Craig Moerer to buy the LPs and we took the 45s and the paper goods.
And what paper goods they were! All the Billboards, Record Worlds, Cashboxes and other lesser known industry magazines of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, A complete history of the evolution of music from the ‘50s era to the hard rock ‘70s. The whole series of musical progressions from the Elvis period, to the Beatles invasion, the psychedelic ‘60s and into the ‘70s funk period. Also all the tragedies of those decades, Buddy Holly, Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison. Plus all the record catalogs from the early days on up, Chess, Excello, Motown, etc, all the major (and minor companies). I learned more reading through the industry magazines and company catalogs than I’d ever done before. John Anderson told me the only thing like he’d ever seen like this in all his years in the music business was a guy in the Brill Building had a lot of magazines back in the ‘80s but not this many.

Amazing that they had been able to gather all these in such a remote area and in a small store.

Our wonderful pack rat, Chris Kondoff, also kept all the record company cardboard promo displays. Huge Frank Sinatra cardboard posters, Buddy Holly stand-ups, Johnny Burnette, Jackie Wilson, and the soundtrack to Spartacus, an incredible promotion with about 6 different cardboard posters plus a huge Elvis display of course. Amazing that the record companies put so much money into promotion in those early days, it was very common later in the ‘60s and ‘70s but I hadn’t been aware it was so big in the start of the LP/45 era.

The shop even still had the old listening booths of the old days, where one could take his 45s and decide which ones deserved his 98 cents. Later on you could do it with LPS too but since they were sealed it wasn’t so easy.

Many of the local people stopped by when they saw the door open after so many years and shared their stories of the old days when they bought their first records in the shop. It was fun to hear and interesting to learn how much a part of life in the small town the store was during it’s day. Just looking around the shop it was easy to think of the changes in music and in culture over the last 50 years, the Elvis years, Kennedy’s assassination, the attack of the Beatles, the Hippie scene and most of all the incredible influence music had on all of us through those years. The Last Record Shop, yes I’m afraid so but what a trip it’s been!

Hey, maybe I’ll see you at the Austin Record Show in October.

11 Jan

Cream – Disraeli Gears on 180 Gram Virgin Vinyl Record

When I was at the record shop the other day, I saw a great classic album that I immediately picked up. Cream – Disraeli Gears on 180 gram virgin vinyl. Sweet!

Cream - Disraeli Gears

It was brand new, unopened on 180 gram vinyl! I was surprised to see it their, as the owner didn’t have a lot of new stuff. I couldn’t wait to get it home and listen to it. Disraeli Gears was when Cream started to get more of a psychedelic sound, and the songs Strange Brew and Tales of Brave Ulysses really bring that out.

When I started to play the record though, I was very disappointed. It wasn’t that it was in mono (a lot of album were in mono in the sixties), but it just doesn’t sound very good. I know that the recording technology back then wasn’t like what we have today, but i have heard these songs before, and this just didn’t sound good. It’s OK, but not great, not 180g vinyl should sound like. So I looked and realized that it was put out by a different label. It was released by Lilith Records, which I can’t find much information about, so they must be a small company. It really doesn’t sound like they used the masters to produce this album. It almost sounds like they used another record or even a cassette tape to record onto the vinyl. It reminds me of a saying (paraphrased so there isn’t any language), “You can’t polish poop.”

Here is an MP3 of my favorite song off the album, Tales of Brave Ulysses;

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If you want to buy Disraeli Gears by Cream, you can get it at Musicstack.

The track listing is;

  • Strange Brew
  • Sunshine of Your Love
  • World of Pain
  • Dance the Night Away
  • Blue Condition
  • Tales of Brave Ulysses
  • Swlabr [She Walks Like a Bearded Rainbow]
  • We’re Going Wrong
  • Outside Woman Blues
  • Take It Back
  • Mother’s Lament
11 Jan

Vinyl Records Making a Comeback? Thanks For the Newsflash

Well, Time Magazine has now just noticed that vinyl records are becoming more popular. How very journalistic of them to be so on top of popular culture (sorry for the sarcasm). After reading their article, I really got the idea that Time thinks that the reason vinyl is selling more is that young people think it’s cool. They do provide other explanations too, such as the better sound quality, and the experience of vinyl.

I do agree that things are fads, especially when it comes to something that is ‘retro.’ But don’t sell these teenagers short on their ability to hear when music sounds good, and when it sounds bad. Yes, I’m talking about the iPod. If you listen to an iPod, and don’t think it sounds bad, plug it in to a full range stereo system. You won’t have to listen too hard to realize that the sound has no depth.

Anyway, off my soapbox, and back the Time. Here is what they had to say:

From college dorm rooms to high school sleepovers, an all-but-extinct music medium has been showing up lately. And we don’t mean CDs. Vinyl records, especially the full-length LPs that helped define the golden era of rock in the 1960s and ’70s, are suddenly cool again. Some of the new fans are baby boomers nostalgic for their youth. But to the surprise and delight of music executives, increasing numbers of the iPod generation are also purchasing turntables (or dusting off Dad’s), buying long-playing vinyl records and giving them a spin.

Like the comeback of Puma sneakers or vintage T shirts, vinyl’s resurgence has benefited from its retro-rock aura. Many young listeners discovered LPs after they rifled through their parents’ collections looking for oldies and found that they liked the warmer sound quality of records, the more elaborate album covers and liner notes that come with them, and the experience of putting one on and sharing it with friends, as opposed to plugging in some earbuds and listening alone. “Bad sound on an iPod has had an impact on a lot of people going back to vinyl,” says David MacRunnel, a 15-year-old high school sophomore from Creve Coeur, Mo., who owns more than 1,000 records.

The music industry, hoping to find another revenue source that doesn’t easily lend itself to illegal downloads, has happily jumped on the bandwagon. Contemporary artists like the Killers and Ryan Adams have begun issuing their new releases on vinyl in addition to the CD and MP3 formats. As an extra lure, many labels are including coupons for free audio downloads with their vinyl albums so that Generation Y music fans can get the best of both worlds: high-quality sound at home and iPod portability for the road. Also, vinyl’s different shapes (hearts, triangles) and eye-catching designs (bright colors, sparkles) are created to appeal to a younger audience. While new records sell for about $14, used LPs go for as little as a penny–perfect for a teenager’s budget–or as much as $2,400 for a collectible, autographed copy of Beck’s Steve Threw Up.

Vinyl records are just a small scratch on the surface when it comes to total album sales–only about 0.2%, compared to 10% for digital downloads and 89.7% for CDs, according to Nielsen SoundScan–but these numbers may underrepresent the vinyl trend since they don’t always include sales at smaller indie shops where vinyl does best. Still, 990,000 vinyl albums were sold in 2007, up 15.4% from the 858,000 units bought in 2006. Mike Dreese, CEO of Newbury Comics, a New England chain of independent music retailers that sells LPs and CDs, says his vinyl sales were up 37% last year, and Patrick Amory, general manager of indie label Matador Records, whose artists include Cat Power and the New Pornographers, claims, “We can’t keep up with the demand.”

Big players are starting to take notice too. “It’s not a significant part of our business, but there is enough there for me to take someone and have half their time devoted to making vinyl a real business,” says John Esposito, president and CEO of WEA Corp., the U.S. distribution company of Warner Music Group, which posted a 30% increase in LP sales last year. In October, Amazon.com introduced a vinyl-only store and increased its selection to 150,000 titles across 20 genres. Its biggest sellers? Alternative rock, followed by classic rock albums. “I’m not saying vinyl will become a mainstream format, just like gourmet eating is not going to take over from McDonald’s,” says Michael Fremer, senior contributing editor at Stereophile. “But there is a growing group of people who are going back to a high-resolution format.” Here are some of the reasons they’re doing it and why you might want to consider it:

Sound quality LPs generally exhibit a warmer, more nuanced sound than CDs and digital downloads. MP3 files tend to produce tinnier notes, especially if compressed into a lower-resolution format that pares down the sonic information. “Most things sound better on vinyl, even with the crackles and pops and hisses,” says MacRunnel, the young Missouri record collector.

Album extras Large album covers with imaginative graphics, pullout photos (some even have full-size posters tucked in the sleeve) and liner notes are a big draw for young fans. “Alternative rock used to have 16-page booklets and album sleeves, but with iTunes there isn’t anything collectible to show I own a piece of this artist,” says Dreese of Newbury Comics. In a nod to modern technology, albums known as picture discs come with an image of the band or artist printed on the vinyl. “People who are used to CDs see the artwork and the colored vinyl, and they think it’s really cool,” says Jordan Yates, 15, a Nashville-based vinyl enthusiast. Some LP releases even come with bonus tracks not on the CD version, giving customers added value.

Social experience Crowding around a record player to listen to a new album with friends, discussing the foldout photos, even getting up to flip over a record makes vinyl a more socially interactive way to enjoy music. “As far as a communal experience, like with family and friends, it feels better to listen to vinyl,” says Jason Bini, 24, a recent graduate of Fordham University. “It’s definitely more social.”

Yes, I know that my blog is new, and someone might make the argument that I’m doing it because it’s popular, but I’ve had my vinyl for years, and I’ve bought vinyl for years. My dad had vinyl records. He had quite a different selection than I do though, although I have many of his. The Maynard Ferguson MF Horn I talked about before, for example. He also had a lot of gospel quartets, which just aren’t my thing. I can appreciate the singing and the harmonies, but it’s just not my thing.

So back on topic again. Records have been popular for years. I used to go to a shop ten years ago where all he sold were vinyl records.

I don’t think records ever became NOT popular. What happened is that CD’s came along, although they didn’t sound as good as vinyl, they didn’t sound bad. Now that we have MP3’s, and those can vary a whole lot in quality, people are realizing that they just don’t sound good.

What do you think? Are people today trying to be cool by buying vinyl LP’s, or do they really think that they sound better than MP3’s?

08 Jan

Leviticus – I Shall Conquer Vinyl Record

Here is one that not a lot of people will have. Leviticus is Christian metal from the eighties. There is another band out there called Leviticus, also metal, but they have a much different set of lyrics.

Leviticus - I Shall Conquer

I know, there are a lot of people out there who think that Christian music sucks, and well, I’m one of them. I can’t stand most of it. But every once in a while something comes along that is good, at least to some people.

Leviticus came out of Sweden, formed by singer Björn Stigsson. I Shall Conquer was their second album, but their first full length release. It has good, catchy riffs, and great playing. The engineering leaves something to be desired though. It almost sounds like it was recorded in a hall, rather than a studio.

I Shall Conquer has been remastered, but I haven’t bought that one yet. I saw this in a record store the other day and just had to pick it up. I don’t think it was played more than a few times. The cover looked new, and so did the record. It had no popping and clicking at all. It just sounds great.

Here is an MP3 of the second track off of the album, Let Me Fight;

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The track listing is:

  1. I Shall Conquer
  2. Let Me Fight
  3. He’s My Life
  4. Doubt
  5. Action More Than Words
  6. All Is Calm
  7. Day By Day
  8. Strive Forwards
  9. Psalm 23
  10. Folj Mig *
  11. Leva Han Som Lar *
  12. Min Mastare *

The last three * tracks are bonus tracks on the re-release in 2000. Unfortunately, not on this record. They are in Swedish, use more keyboards, and have a little bit less quality production, but they are still good tracks. Min Mastare is actually kind of prog (progressive).

You can this CD on Amazon:

Or you can go to Musicstack and find the album on CD, cassette or LP, however, not every Leviticus is the same band. Just do a title search, all formats for I Shall Conquer. Or just search for whatever you want.

07 Jan

Laser Turntable Plays Scratched, Warped and Broken Records.

I came across this record player a few years ago, and recently found it again. It actually uses lasers to play the record instead of a needle. In spite of this, it is still analog, not digital.

The ELP Laser Turntable uses five lasers, two to track along the grooves, one to stay the same distance from the record, and two to play the stereo sound from either side of the groove. Because of this, it can play records that have been scratched, warped, and even broken.

I asked for a demo CD from the company, and it came with some sound samples. Now, trying to show sound samples from vinyl on a CD is hard. It inherently has sound degradation. But it does show how records that are normally considered ruined, can be played again.

It also reads the information on the vinyl record, and can skip tracks just as on a CD. that is pretty cool.

What about quality of music? Well, like I said earlier, it is hard to hear a difference since it was transferred to CD, but I really did notice a difference in sound. Was it enough difference to pay the full $10,000? I don’t think so. But there were definite differences in the sound. You can also buy a declicker that will take out much of the hissing, clicking, and popping that most people associate with playing vinyl records.

This record player would be perfect and really is a must have for audio historians, and audio restoration. Libraries could use this. If you have a business where you need to get audio from records that are in horrible shape, then you need this. If you are an audiophile, and want the best sound you can, then go ahead; if money is no object.

For the rest of us, I believe that the price is too much. You can get good turntables, and cartridges and get just as good of sound.

Having said that, the biggest point for the laser turntable is the fact that since it uses lasers and not needles, It doesn’t wear on your record. Wow! That is kind of important. But again, worth $10,000? Not to me, but you make your own decision.

04 Jan

Local Record Stores. Keeping the Vinyl Record Industry Alive.

Well, I finally found a good record store in my town. There are so many places that have some records, but those are in pretty bad shape, and there’s not a lot to choose from.

Checkered Records, however, was exactly what I was looking for. They don’t have a website, and are only open Thursday, Friday and Saturdays from 11:00 to 5:00. I figure that he must have a good customer base to only be open three days a week. The guy that owns the place seems to be a pretty good guy, though I didn’t get a chance to talk to him as there was a decent amount of people for a small record shop.

I was impressed with some of the albums he had. There was a number of picture vinyl, especially from Alice Cooper. He had a real range of styles too. Jazz, funk, soul, rock, metal just about everything. Not so much progressive metal, but not a lot of people carry that.

You can find some good stuff online, albums no one else has, but sometimes you just need to go and touch and see them before you buy. If you find a good record shop in your area, don’t keep it to yourself, let everyone know.