|Slithers of plastic in |
cardboard sleeves. Mmmm...
And so I’m slowly ceasing to buy CDs and switching back to vinyl instead. You get the MP3 download coupon into the bargain, so if you’re really anal, you never have to actually play the LP, you just preserve it. But that’s not right. When records were prematurely written off two decades ago, we purists tediously cited the ritualistic joy of carefully removing the record from its sleeves before executing with immaculate precision the act of dropping the needle on to the opening grooves. Even those of us who’ve developed the shakes find that our hands become miraculously steady when faced with this hushed ceremonial moment.
A couple of days ago, while reading the excellent Document And Eyewitness: An Intimate History of Rough Trade by Neil Taylor, I fetched out an early RT release, The Fall’s magnificent Grotesque. I’ve played this LP dozens of times down the years, yet it bears not a single scratch or scuff mark. Most of the records I bought 20-30 years ago are the same. I had a strictly no-loans policy – if anyone wanted to tape them, they had to give me the cassette. I’d then record them on my Mum’s Grundig music centre, despite the electric fence and 10-yard no-entry zone around it, before she came home from work. But it was my Mum who had taught me so well how to respect records, so I knew there was never any danger of my discs damaging her expensive needle (she thought that any record not recorded with a full orchestra would somehow sully her German hi-fidelity set-up).
The picture above, take in my bedroom in Bearwood, Birmingham, in 1985, well reflects my fetishisation of vinyl, to the point where I’d scatter my collection out on to the carpet and lovingly picture it, as though it was lying there spreadeagled and waiting for me to fall upon it. I remember even at the time feeling aware that this was self-indulgent, but now I love to study this snapshot of what I was spinning as a 19-year-old. Twelve inch records are not just made for listening, but to be caressed and cared for as well. And for hording audiophiles of a certain generation, they’re our history too.