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.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors
The Remington Site
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Records
Source: Google News
Globe-trotting DJ Kevin Failure not afraid to experimentJournal and Courier, August 28th
Since traveling the globe, he's used the opportunity to seek out rare vinyl records. He might just play some of them when he performs at the Spot this Friday. “The sounds may be deep and dark, but my intentions are pure and simple,” he said. “If all...Read more
Rock rules Monarch's RetroburnSan Francisco Examiner, August 28th
As the Burners hit the Playa this week, people inThe City will gather en masse at Monarch to hear vintage vinyl played on a killer modern sound system, and dance to 1960s, '70s and 80s psych rock, garage, rock 'n' roll and soul. Mission District DJ...Read more
Best of Drinking Songs @ 'Vintage Vinyl'The Courier-Journal, August 27th
So pop a top and join C-J music writer Jeffrey Lee Puckett and C-J web producer Tom Heiser on this week's "Vintage Vinyl" as they toast their favorite drinking songs at www.courier-journal.com/music. MORE 'Vintage Vinyl': The Ramones on "Vintage Vinyl" ...Read more
Vintage Vinyl: Elton John's 10 best songsUSA TODAY, August 18th
This week on Vintage Vinyl, our music experts Jeffrey Lee Puckett and Tom Heiser debate the merits of Elton John's extensive discography. Previously: Vintage Vinyl on Prince. Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/VzONb3 ...Read more
Best of Elvis Presley @ 'Vintage Vinyl'The Courier-Journal, August 14th
16, C-J music writer Jeffrey Lee Puckett and C-J web producer Tom Heiser dedicate "Vintage Vinyl" to the real King of Pop. Join the fun at www.courier-journal.com/music. Jeffrey Lee Puckett and Tom Heiser take on the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley...Read more
Gaslight Anthem set to 'Get Hurt' at Vintage VinylAsbury Park Press, August 8th
Not only can you buy the new Gaslight Anthem album, "Get Hurt," at Vintage Vinyl in Fords, but you can see the New Brunswick band there 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16 for an instore performance. To attend, you must pre-order the band's new album on CD or ...Read more
Vintage Vinyl: Prince's 10 best songsUSA TODAY, August 7th
Our music experts take on Prince. Tom Heiser: It's no controversy to say Purple Rain joins Born in the USA and Synchronicity as the monumental albums of the '80s. The Beautful Ones remains the album's soul – a full-throated rock ballad and show...Read more
Best of Elton John @ 'Vintage Vinyl'The Courier-Journal, July 30th
This week on "Vintage Vinyl," C-J music writer Jeffrey Lee Puckett and C-J Web producer Tom Heiser take a long look at John's finest work. The boys take on the Rocket Man in this episode. They even talk about that Tony Danza song. Scott Utterback, The C-J...Read more