A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Vinyl Strikes Back

I was at the mall a few weeks ago and wandered into a store called The Rock Shop. I browsed the store's offerings, which by the way did not include anything which could be classified as igneous or sedimentary. No, this store has something called vinyl records on which is imprinted grooves; which when placed on a turntable and with the application of a system comprising a needle, an amplifier, and speakers enables one to hear sounds. 

I was amazed at this technology. As I marveled at the selection of discs - the size of dinner plates - I also saw thin little plastic boxes about the size of a three-by-five card that contained a thin tape which when inserted in a specific slot could also yield sounds. The tape was wound around a wheel so that the sounds could be heard for minutes on end.

What marvelous devices we now have to listen to pre-recorded sounds! What a wonderful…wait a minute! Vinyl, needle, amplifiers, speakers, tape…all this sounds very familiar and yet…

Arrrggggh! Vinyl records are back, and with a vengeance! Records that I bought years ago for $7.99 are now ticketed with tags showing $19.99 to $25.99! The records, mostly produced by independent producers, have seen sales increase over the past year. One estimate put total sales at 8 million units!

This is nice for the record industry, but not good for me.

Back about 25-30 years ago when music technology was changing from vinyl platters and cassette tapes to smaller laser type technology, I began a record collection in earnest. I was seduced by the allure of the old recordings which surrounded me in my childhood, and then overwhelmed by nostalgia for the early rock and roll albums, even though rock and roll as a genre was peaking at the time.  

I attended record shows every few months when I lived with Warrior Queen in Northern Virginia and I would come home with an armful of albums ranging from Ray Charles to Nancy Sinatra. I had excess disposable income at that time (key words here: at that time) because Warrior Queen paid the mortgage. Some I bought to complete my collection of a certain artist, some I bought so I could actually listen to them. Mostly I bought them as an investment to fund a comfortable retirement. In those days, the thinking was that vinyl records - as they became scarcer and rare in the marketplace - would increase in value from 10 to 20%. Now, since vinyl is making a comeback, they are no longer scarce, and the value of the old albums has bottomed out and…my retirement dreams are now SHIT!

Oh, patron saint of recorded music, St. Thomas of Edison, why have you forsaken us?

Double arrrggh!!!!

My collection now stands at several thousand and most of these are “cut-outs” - overstock which had perforations made into the covers (hence the name) to decrease their value and were bought at bargain bin prices. A perusal of record collecting websites advised me that records that are rare have the highest value on auction websites. Overstock albums are not rare and therefore not valuable and therefore not capable of buying me a lunch at Wendy’s when I’m 64!

Triple arrrghhh!!!!

Of course, those over a certain age (I’ll go out on a limb and set it at 40) are familiar with my explanations of the old technology. I mainly described it to entertain those members of the millennial generation. I blame you millennials for sabotaging my retirement aspirations! How dare you get misty eyed about the 70s! What are you thinking?

Abandon the vinyl while you can! Go back to your iPods and your downloads! That’s where “the action is”.

I can only hope that you’ll spend thousands of your hard earned disposable income on discs and the market will cycle around again.

I look forward to the day when your grandchildren make compact discs the next wave of recorded sound!

(Thank you for reading! BTW: I asked the clerk at The Rock Shop where they keep the 8 track tapes. She shook her head and said they had to draw the line somewhere. Thank you, St. Thomas of Edison; there is a god after all!)


Blogger Raybeard said...

Vinyl has definitely made a comeback here.
About 25 years ago I gave away my set of Beatles LP albums and re-bought them all as CDs. How I now wish I hadn't. I do miss those big, glossy sleeves and I want them all back, even though the earlier records were in mono. There was something magically infuriating about choosing which tracks to play and trying to get the 'needle' on the lead-in to right track - but it was an 'experience' AND the sound was 'better' even though we really knew that CD cleaned it up and improved it.
Even the classical LP records were something more special to possess.

December 14, 2014 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Ah, if only knew then what we know now....

December 14, 2014 at 6:19 PM  
Blogger Ur-spo said...

I want cassette tapes back in vogue.

December 14, 2014 at 10:01 PM  
Blogger todd gunther said...

Spo, I dare say that those machines needed to play them are scarcer than turntables!

December 16, 2014 at 8:50 AM  

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