Vinyl lasts forever ...(July 28, 2017)
The endless debate and dire predictions surrounding the 'death of the CD' (following the casstte into oblivion) and the irrepressible rise of the download continue unabated, but now a new contender enters the ring. Well, actually it’s not new because it’s older than both of them by many years. According to those that know (and I recently spoke to a few of them) the vinyl LP is no longer the province of nerdy collectors, dusty second hand music shops and Sunday market stalls ... the LP is in resurgence. Indeed, some artists are now producing their work on LP, CD and as downloads. Some vinyl LPs also include a card with a code that once you’ve purchased the LP allows you to download the album as an mp3.
Does this mean that there are folk out there that actually enjoy turning an LP over once one side is completed? Do they enjoy the incipient crackle that precedes each track? Do they enjoy the textural feel of vinyl LPs over CDs? How about the torrent of rage when one of your drunk mates places a hot cup of coffee on your latest acquirement? Or when some ham-fisted oaf scratches the delicate vinyl surface? Perhaps retro-chic has its downsides too.
Apparently, the answers to the questions about watching the physical turning of LPs, hearing the crackles and the ‘feel’ of the product ... is yes to all. The potential LP-loving audience also feel, according to research, they are getting more for their money. The artwork on an LP cover is larger and offers more potential (even if that means a return to the increasingly bizarre excesses of the triple gatefold days ... hands up anyone that remembers them). There is more room for ‘readable’ lyrics and the entire package is far more tactile than a plastic ‘jewel case or small piece of folded cardboard.
To be expressly fair to all involved, the folk I spoke considered that it’s ‘horses for courses’. They maintain that the LP is for those moments when you have the time and interest to luxuriate in the product; or for those moments when you want to hear your music 'in the raw'. The CD is quick and easy for parties and such, and indestructible (virtually), it's also easier to store and transport. While the download is convenience personified ... storing or transporting ... it's also there for your mp3 player to use in the train, taking exercise or whatever else you like to do with two plastic speakers in your ears. So those in the know reliably predict that we will all migrate to LPs with the same speed we left them ... not to replace the CD or download but to live in harmony with all as we need them.
Whatever the argument or the outcome at least it prompted me to sit in the garage for an hour or two sorting through the 2,000 or more LPs I have acquired over the years. Ho hum ... there we go on yet another wander down nostalgia’s dark and half-forgotten lanes.