More than a digitally perfect CD, and way more than a compressed audio file downloaded to a portable device, a vinyl record is a record, if you will, of an artist or genre at a particular moment in time. From the pantheon of 1950s jazz to the Psych records of the 1960s, vinyl records in their original jackets deliver sound as well as sensibility. No wonder contemporary artists like Pearl Jam and Radiohead insist on releasing their new work in a variety of media, with vinyl at the top of the list.

Vinyl records were not the first form of analog sound recordings. Cylinders came first, invented by Thomas Edison in 1877. Edison did a great many things right, but his phonograph cylinders were bulky and expensive to produce, so in 1887, Emile Berliner invented a gramophone that could play flat discs. By 1929, the cylinder was dead.

The earliest records were not even made of vinyl. Some were fashioned of hard rubber but most were pressed out of shellac, which was a mixture of resin and fiber (cotton was commonly used). Shellac records had their drawbacks (they were so brittle that if you dropped one it was likely to crack or shatter), but the format lasted until about 1950 when vinyl finally took over.

The first vinyl records had actually been manufactured by RCA many years before, in 1930. Those discs were 12 inches in diameter and meant to be played at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute, or RPM. Although vinyl records generated a lot less playback noise than shellac, the Great Depression was no time to be introducing a new entertainment product with limited manufacturer support, so vinyl didn’t catch on then.

In 1948, Columbia introduced its trademarked 12-inch, 33 1/3 LP (for Long Play). RCA countered with a 7-inch, 45 RPM EP (for Extended Play) disc. For two years, consumers faced a format choice that caused phonograph manufacturers to equip their devices with both 45 and 33 1/3 playback speeds (many companies also added 78 since that format was still quite popular). As we now know, vinyl 33 1/3 LPs prevailed, while smaller, 7-inch vinyl 45s were used for singles.

Vinyl records had numerous advantages over shellac, with durability and sound quality being the top two. But vinyl was hardly a perfect medium. The discs warped when subjected to high temperatures or improper storage, and they tended to acquiring a static charge, which meant they attracted a lot of dust. You could wipe the dust off the disc, but you had to be careful because the discs were very easy to scratch. In most cases, this use caused hiss; in some cases, a record’s groove would be so damaged that the needle would keep skipping back, providing the source for the phrase "broken record."

So why collect imperfect vinyl records when CDs offer the same music but without the background noise caused by a needle moving through vinyl grooves? Many people believe the sam...

DJs like vinyl, too, because it gives them more control over the music they are playing than if they were spinning CDs—it’s like the difference between driving an automatic versus a car with a 5-speed manual transmission.

Beyond these differences, there is the fun of collecting itself. In some cases, as with early pressing of the second and third Grateful Dead albums, the vinyl versions are the only way to hear what those records sounded like before they were digitally remastered.

Album art is another reason to collect vinyl. For the Rolling Stones’s "Sticky Fingers," artist Andy Warhol created a cover that featured an actual working zipper; some years later, artist Robert Rauschenberg designed a clear plastic cover for the Talking Heads’s "Speaking in Tongues." The Who’s "Tommy" came with a booklet filled with art and lyrics, and if you want a copy of The Beatles’s infamous "butcher" version of "Yesterday and Today," you’ve got to go back to the original vinyl.

Also collectible are the 45s. Motown 45s features artists from Michael Jackson to Stevie Wonder, and few logos in popular music are as iconic as the crowing rooster on the yellow Sun Records label, especially if the name of the recording artist at the bottom of that label is a guy named Elvis Presley. Finally, thanks to their retro-looking labels, 78 records are appealing, regardless of who was recorded.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas pays homage to international female opera singers of the LP era. Chronicling more than 800 singers, the… [read review or visit site]

317X

317X

Despite its mysterious title, 317X is plain and simple—an online gallery of vintage LPs, with a 1950s vintage fee… [read review or visit site]

Mybeatles.net

Mybeatles.net

Jesse Barron's collection of Beatles 45s, picture sleeves, magazines, books, and memorabilia. Browse singles and al… [read review or visit site]

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

This great site, from the Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors, offers detailed background information an… [read review or visit site]

The Remington Site

The Remington Site

Since 1999, the Remington Site has offered classical music collectors a glimpse into Remington Records, an independ… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Northern Soul 45 Gene Toones What More Do You Want Simco HearNorthern Soul Acetate Unissued 45 Irma & Fascinations You Need Love Virtue HearNorthern Soul/sweet Soul 45 Jades Lucky Fellow Mode HearBob Dylan Blonde On Blonde Columbia 2xlp Nm Mono Wlp Funk 45 Willie Wright Right On For The Darkness Hotel Vg+ HearKhan Jamal "drum Dance To The Motherland" Rare Private Free Jazz Lp Dogtown NmNorthern Soul/funk 45 Volumes Ain't Gonna Give You Up Karen HearCrossover Soul 45 Guitar Ray You're Gonna Wreck My Life Shagg HearNorthern Soul: Ivorys - Please Stay / I'm In A Groove (despenza 12266) Very RareNorthern Soul 45 Yiddish Soul Brother Amnon Only Girl I Had Chess HearNorthern Soul 45 Vickie Labat Got To Keep Hangin On Shagg HearDavid Bowie The Man Who Sold The World Lp Mercury 1971 Uk 1st!Placebo 45 - Balek - Stoned Marc Moulin Synth Rhodes Funk Jazz Hip Hop Ohearo70s Soul 45 Wee Try Me Owl Hear70s Soul 45 Ujima I'm Not Ready Epic HearThe Way We Live A Candle For Judith Original Uk Lp Dandelion Prog Psych TractorUk Columbia Sax 2531 Kogan Gilels Sonatas For 2 Violins Lp Stereo 1964 TurquoiseNorthern Soul 45 Youth Opportunity Program Of Hopes Dreams & Tombstones Vg+ HearNorthern Soul 45 Sam Ward Sister Lee Groove City HearAlice Cooper Love It To Death Warner Bros Lp Nm Shrink David Bowie Do Anything You Say 1966 Uk 7" Pye Promo OriginalGandalf Self Titled Capitol St 121 Lp Sealed Cream Wheels Of Fire Atco Sd 2-700 2xlp Nm Mono WlpCrossover Soul 45 Unique Blend Yes I'm In Love Eastbound Vg+ HearAllman Brothers Band At Fillmore East Capricorn 2xlp Nm WlpCrossover Soul Unreleased Acetate 45 Unknown Artist Get Down On My Knees HearNorthern Soul 45 Soulettes Bring Your Fine Self Home Scope HearBeatles Let It Be Box Set Apple Original 1970 Complete In Investment Condition !Northern Soul Funk 45 Rufus Wood Before 2001 Espanola Vg+ HearCrossover Soul 45 Vee Gees Talkin Jump Off Vg++ HearDavid Bowie Man Of Words/man Of Music Mercury Lp Nm Wlp Gatefold Cream Disraeli Gears Atco 33-232 Lp Vg++ Mono WlpThe Doors Strange Days Elektra Ekl-4014 Lp Nm Mono Shrink Sun Ra & His Arkestra "jazz In Silhouette" Rare Jazz Lp Saturn Creedence Clearwater Revival Self Titled Fantasy 8382 Lp Nm Wlp Shrink Nirvana Love Buzz B/w Big Cheese 7” Original #522 Of 1000 Sub Pop 1988 Ex/exAllman Brothers Band Idlewild South Atco Lp Nm Mono Wlp☆the Beatles Please Please Me 1st Uk (black And Gold) Mono Lp Stunning Vinyl☆ Khan Jamal & Byard Lancaster "infinity" Rare Private Spiritual Jazz Lp Jam'brioFunk 45 Soul Lifters Hot, Funky, & Sweaty House Of The Fox HearNorthern Soul 45 Danny Woods You Had Me Fooled Correc-tone Vg++ Hear70s Soul Funk 45 Vise Baby, I Love You Chocolate Mama Vg++ HearBasement Soul Funk 45 Eunice Collins At The Hotel Mod Art HearThe Doors Morrison Hotel Elektra Lp Nm Wlp Gatefold David Bowie Self Titled Deram Lp Nm PromoNorthern Soul 45 Herb Ward Honest To Goodness Rca HearModern Soul 45 Veda What It's All About West Sounds Vg++/nm HearSun Ra & His Arkestra "super-sonic Jazz" Rare Jazz Lp Saturn John Coltrane Blue Train Blue Note 1577 Mono 1957 Lp Dg Rvg Ear Morgan Fuller Beatles Demo - Hello Goodbye / I Am The Walrus Rare!!!Kenny Dorham - Cafe Bohemia - J.r. Monterose - Orig Blue Note 1524 - LexingtonNorthern Soul 45 Herb Ward Strange Change Argo HearThe Beatles, All You Need Is Love 1967 Uk Green & White A Label Demo 45 Single. Northern Soul 45 Maurice Williams Being Without You Deesu HearSandro Brugnolini Library - Utopia - Psych Jazz Lounge Funk Fuzz Bossa OhearCatapilla Self Titled Vertigo Lp Nm Wlp Gatefold Nathan Davis "if" Rare Jazz Funk Lp Tomorrow Sealed 70s Soul 45 Ultimates Girl I've Been Trying To Tell You Br.roma HearPink Floyd-the Dark Side Of The Moon-lp Shvl 804/a-2 B-2/1973 UkDavid Bowie. Blackstar Lp. Deluxe Clear Vinyl. 3 Lithograph Prints. Rare. Mint.

Recent News: Records

Source: Google News

Paul McCartney & Skype Join Forces For Animated Love Theme Mojis
VVN Music, February 12th

A collaboration has been announced between the world's most celebrated living musician and its foremost video chat and online communication platform. Paul McCartney and Skype have partnered to launch a new range of animated love themed Mojis for ...Read more

AC/DC Launch New Bourbon and Cola Drink, 'Let There Be Rock' Fund for ...
Ultimate Classic Rock, February 12th

As Vintage Vinyl News points out, the details surrounding the fund are hazy at best — the band hasn't stated how much of those profits are being put toward Let There Be Rock, or how exactly it'll help the artists in question. We do know, however, that...Read more

1995 - Tony Secunda (manager Moody Blues, Procol Harum, more) - Heart attack (54)
VVN Music, February 11th

1967 - The police raided Keith Richards' home in West Sussex, England while he was throwing a party. 1968 - Jimi Hendrix returned to Seattle to receive the key to the city and perform at his High School. 1974 - The Bottom Line opened in New York City...Read more

Vintage Video: John Lennon Sings "Instant Karma" on "Top of the Pops" (1971)
VVN Music, February 11th

On February 11, 1970 (46 years ago today), John Lennon and Yoko Ono brought their band to the British television show Top of the Pops, the first of the four Beatles to appear on the program. Lennon sang live in the studio but the rest of the...Read more

Bat Unloads on Kelly Osbourne; Says It's Repayment For Her Father's Incident
VVN Music, February 11th

Kelly Osbourne has joked she's paying for father Ozzy's crimes after a bat defecated on her head. Black Sabbath rocker Ozzy Osbourne achieved worldwide notoriety when he bit the head off an unconscious bat during a performance in Des Moines, Iowa...Read more

Rare vinyl album gets another spin
BBC News, February 5th

An album made by a Scottish Christian rock band is being re-released more than 40 years after it was recorded in a garage in Paisley. It comes after copies of the original recording of White Light's Parable started changing hands for up to £650. After...Read more

Discovery of rare vinyl record has staff at Huntingdon charity shop in a spin
Hunts Post, January 26th

Discovery of rare vinyl record has staff at Huntingdon charity shop in a spin. 12:32 26 January 2016. Debbie Davies. A rare Jazz record at Oxfam, Huntingdon, with Manager Jeffery Stalker,. Archant. A rare vinyl record featuring blues legend Memphis...Read more

East Bay teen spins vintage vinyl into business venture
San Jose Mercury News, January 17th

East Bay teen spins vintage vinyl into business venture. By Paula King. For the Contra Costa Times. Posted: 01/17/2016 07:02:21 AM PST# Comments | Updated: 24 days ago. Adia Douglas, 16, of Brentwood, the owner of RPM Records in Brentwood, stands ...Read more