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
1981 - Big Walter Horton (aka Shakey) - Heart failure (64)VVN Music, December 7th
1928 - The name Grand Ole Opry was used for the first time by George D. Hay on a WSM radio broadcast. 1945 - Earl Scruggs debuted as the newest member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. 1963 - Frank Sinatra, Jr...Read more
Ray Price Readmitted to the Hospital in the Final Stages of Pancreatic CancerVVN Music, December 7th
Ray Price's son, Clifton Ray Price, has written that, after a few days home for Thanksgiving, Price has been readmitted to the hospital in the final stages of pancreatic cancer. Price wrote on his Facebook page: Dear Friends. My Dad is very sick. He is...Read more
Petition Started For a Clarence Clemons Postage StampVVN Music, December 7th
The website Backstreet.com and their contributing writer, Shawn Poole, are co-sponsoring a petition to put Clarence Clemons on a postage stamp. As they noted, December 7 was the third anniversary of Clemons final show with the E-Street Band (he died...Read more
Review & Set List: Bon Jovi @ Etihad Stadium, MelbourneVVN Music, December 7th
Die-hard Bon Jovi fans will be keen to find out if the departure of founder Richie Sambora has had a negative effect. Sorry to say Sambora fan, no it hasn't. My concerns in heading along to see the Samboraless Bon Jovi for the first time was that the...Read more
Guitarist Charlie Marinkovich Leaves Iron ButterflyVVN Music, December 7th
There may be an Iron Butterfly at some time in the future but, for now, it appears to be done. Last year, the band lost former guitarist Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt, who died from cirrhosis of the liver, and bassist Lee Dorman from heart problems. In...Read more
Vintage Vinyl-Best Record Store on Earth?ChicagoNow (blog), December 4th
Vintage Vinyl is the place I'm talking about, where the cut out bins are endless, running wild from one end of the store to the other. Vinyl runs rampant too, covering the walls, from floor to ceiling. Probably the most 45's or 7"s I have ever seen. It...Read more
Brian May Beats the Badger CullersVVN Music, November 29th
Anti-badger cull campaigners, led by Brian May's Save Me organisation, are today celebrating a major victory as the Government today announced an immediate halt to the badger cull taking place under an extension license in Gloucester. Under the license ...Read more
Fleetwood Mac on Vintage Vinyl webcastThe Courier-Journal, November 27th
“Vintage Vinyl” hosts Jeffrey Lee Puckett and Tom Heiser dig into the best of Fleetwood Mac this week and have picked their 10 favorite songs with some help from Danny Flanigan, a Louisville legend. If you want to offer your list, or just disagree with...Read more