Column

Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

The Trendy Gifting Option: Death to the Vinyl Album

Very good piece, Ed. It seems to me, though, that one part of the puzzle is missing. Remember that Ralph Peer got into the record business to help his father sell record players. Many people who might purchase vinyl recordings have long since discarded their high end stereo systems. This means there's a possibility of resurrecting the audio component business, at least for turntables and possibly for amps and such. There are much bigger fish to fry than merely convincing consumers of the superiority of vinyl records. Besides, records begin to wear out on their first playing, and according to some fanatics I remember running into, become unplayable after ten plays, creating a constantly renewable revenue source. Brilliant!! I doubt it will ever really appeal to the masses of people who prefer their music cheap or free and privately through their own ears. Remember saying "You've got to hear this," while madly jumping from one 33 1/3 LP to the next? - Ted

Vinyl smolders on.  I saw Dave and Phil Alvin's show last night.  They are selling 78's in a heavy sleeve, same retro look and feel to the packaging as what I see among some of my mom's 78's.  Fun souvenirs.

Now that's a Broadside that would've sunk "Ole Ironsides".  Great piece.   Nice clips from High Fidelity too...

Of course the majors would be buying their way back in to what they originally destroyed, starving out the indies...that is corporate America in 2016...

I remember seeing one of those Beatles CD displays...I didn't buy any either...sorry Ed.  If I'd known then you were part of all that, I might have laid down $15.

The Dylan box...I couldn't bring myself to do that...the fact that you've now mentioned sorting through that a second time makes me glad I didn't try...I've got records by Dylan that the producer and the artist approved for release that I don't like at all, so I'm not sure what I'd have done with all of that...

 

 

I love my old vinyl, which I've kept near mint. I can't afford the new stuff. I assume this is mainly a marketing/distribution discussion. There is no comparison re: the sound. I am not a hipster.

Agreed Will, no comparison

...and your rejection of being pigeonholed is duly noted!

Thank you!

Based on the title of this column, I was hoping for something a little more, well, crankier. You know, like the one you did about all those reports back from summer music festivals some years ago.  This time, I was ready. 

I left vinyl behind in roughly 1987.  I had no real emotional attachment to the format, so it wasn't hard.  I never thought that my old records sounded better than my CDs, although maybe that's because I had a middling stereo system and/or that my vinyl records were far from mint condition.  Certainly, the older ones were unlistenable given the bargain basement sytems (i.e., the kind your parents might buy you or your sibling from a department store as a birthday present) they got played on.  Recently, I was tempted to buy a decent turntable and maybe stick my toes in the vinyl waters again, but my heart wasn't in it.

 As far as buying the same product goes, three is usually my limit (LP, First CD release, Remastered CD) and it has to be for an album I LOVED.  I did buy the whole Led Zeppelin catalog for a fourth time, though.  It's almost like I had no choice.  Jimmy Page must have cast some sort of subliminal spell on me.  Then, there's a few albums I've inadvertently bought four times because I've recently bought a box set containing remastered albums (e.g., Bruce's Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town, The Clash's London Calling).

I read that Salon interview after you linked to it on your Facebook page.  Meant to comment, but never did.  Bombastic sentiment, indeed.  Also, some predictable pooh-poohing of people who bought the recent Don Henley country album.  I thought that album was surprisingly good.  But, you know, Eagles.

I really like that the Alvin boys are selling 78s at their shows. They totally get the souvenier and artistic value of merch. 

If any of you guys are interested, I've put together my first five years of articles originally published here at No Depression on three different formats. Currently on sale at my website, we have them available on stone tablets, parchment paper or my personal favorite, Post-it notes. 

Love you old timers who follow me and take the time to comment. 

Sadly, we have a weight limit and also a storage problem  in our trailer for stone tablets and post-its. Could handle micro-fiche if you can supply it. Could you possibly manage View-Master?

My preferred format is papyrus...Ed, it is my understanding that those articles were among the original wall writings discovered in the Cave of Altimira...

An unmentioned benefit in the vinyl boom is the (my) predicted resurgence in Satanic  backmasked messages. I've never figured out how to play my MP3 files in reverse and always had this gut feeling I might be missing something.

If you have the Atlanta Rhythm Section's Champagne Jam LP, mint or not, listen to it in forward mode at 45 instead of 33, you will find it is actually a Stevie Nicks solo record.  

Glad I don't have to have mint...which Stevie Nicks solo record is it?

If you listen to Spooky (or Stormy, or Traces) by Classics IV (with Dennis Yost), you'll find it is acutally an Atlanta Rhythm Section record...

Hmmm...I looked at the link...I missed a lot of the vinyl backmasked messages as well apparently...

I'm sure we are missing something...now it's bugging me too...thanks Hal...

 

 

I feel for Thaddeus Hermann, for whom it's real and personal, but if there's a long term future for vinyl, surely new production capacity will come on line? As for existing plants, are they not remnants of the big labels and their economies of scale?  We had Aldi (Australia's #3 supermarket chain, German owned) selling a big shipment of vinyl at Xmas and my gut feeling was there'd be a net benefit to small record shops, if anything. More turntables sold. etc. 

I occasionally buy LPs by artists I like, even though I couldn't tell you which box in the garage holds my turntable. I put people who insist that vinyl sounds better in the same box as anti-vaxers and climate change skeptics, but 12" artwork beats the hell out of digipaks.

Ed, I would pay big for your collected articles on Post-it notes, but not the regular yellow. Any chance of limited edition pink?

Pink was the first to sell out, and due to limited production and inventory, it looks like sky blue, banana yellow and Irish green are also gone. Not to tantalize you, but if you buy the stone tablets I will also include my invisible ink edition at 10% off. Who could resist?

I'm a hard sell, Ed. I usually buy the previous year's festival t-shirt at 75% off. Forty bucks for a t-shirt? Forty buys a lot of Dutch waffles. (No fried clams at Oz festivals.)

Dutch waffles....had to Google:

 

Do they have Howard Johnson's in Australia?

Edible albums are clearly the next hipster trend! Until there is a gluten-free dutch waffle long player option I'm sticking to chocolate "vinyl".

 

Leave the air conditioner on Hal!

  Well, here in Philly, LPs are making a decent comeback. The Barnes and Noble near me has a music room, Over the years it has gone thru many changes. When I first went there, it was mostly CDs and some  DVDs. As time went by and mp3s became popular, it was less CDS and more  DVDS, and blue ray Discs, the Blue Rays and DVDs were taking over the whole music store, not many CDs left. Next, I noticed a couple of records and some portable record players that you could hook up to your  computer or stereo. If you would go to the store now, mainly because of their size, about  one third of the store is LPS, one third is CDs and the rest is DVDs and a few Blue rays, not as many as before, they just are not selling. My collection is mostly CDs and a good number of cassette tapes. I am happy with CDs, I don't want to startover again with records, a lot of the records are digitally remastered which doesn't make sense. Well, watching one record store.                                       

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                            

Personally, I'm over vinyl.   Now, it's Pono or nothing for me.   

But if you REALLY want to ride the next retro wave, here's a link to a great story I heard on Marketplace recently. 

http://www.marketplace.org/2015/11/10/tech/how-one-company-keeping-audio...

My son is active in the experimental music scene here in NYC and cassettes have always been the configuration of choice for artists and labels in that world. For them it's not retro or a souvenir for a night out, but how they choose to present their art. As I have been thinking about it, while I hated eight tracks and was never crazy about CDs, the cassette tape really was never problematic except for the occasional tape-eating monsters. The sound was warm and, minus the elasticity of the tape that changed the pitch, it actually wasn't a bad vehicle. On a completely different topic, I've decided today that I'm going to start collecting iron trivets from old gas stovetops. I think that's a new area of exploration. 

Cassettes, never bought an album in that format, though I'm no audiophile I didn't think they sounded all that great compared to vinyl. But I did buy blanks to make mix tapes for car trips and to record LPs for the same purpose and thought those sounded ok.  Pretty sure it was my imagination one way or the other.  A couple years ago I found a couple dozen mix tapes I made from the early 80s into the late 90s.  I popped in a few in my deck expecting that dreaded oxidized hissing but no, they all sounded great and I've had fun listening to them around the house.  Looking at the tapes I was buying Maxell high bias and a bunch of Fuji GTI tapes, normal bias and on the case they say designed for cars.  I wonder if that was a marketing gimmick or a real design feature, certainly they endured extreme temps in the car.  I think I recall avoiding high bias because they seemed prone to deteriorated sound, or maybe it was the low bias.  Whatever, pretty sure like most people I learned to avoid the 120 minute tapes and stick to 90s , which didn't seem as prone to stretching or breaking.  Had a Luxman tape deck that I loved right up until it starting eating tapes, hence my 25 year old Denon deck, which is still hooked to my Denon receiver along with my old JC Penney MCS turntable circa 1980, a 5 disc player, and satellite radio. I just threw the JC Penney MCS speakers in the garbage a few months ago, they weren't worth the expense of overhauling after 35 years, and they certainly weren't worth arguing with my wife over.  To hear her talk they took up "half the house" (shoulda threatened to buy a pair of Klipsch speakers to make her right).  Regardless, when we rehabbed the house the entire first floor was wired with ceiling and wall mounted speakers, so the old speakers weren't needed.

In my radio days (all of the 80s) we used ten inch reels of 1/4" tape for pre-recording shows and had terrible trouble with shipment after shipment of Ampex tape, the industry standard at the time. I developed a deep distust of tape as a medium. But I've got cassettes from the mid-to-late 70's  (Amazing Rhythm Aces, Marshall Tucker Band) that spent much of their early lives in my work car at temps well over 100ºF ... and they still play fine. Go figure. 

I read that Warren Buffet is buying steel wire and wax futures.  He'll make a killing when the hipsters catch on to the wax cylinder and magnetic wire resurgence! 

https://www.loc.gov/programs/national-recording-preservation-plan/tools-and-resources/guide-to-vintage-audio-formats/

 

     

 

I'd just like to mention that I have the largest collection of smoke signals in America. You may be surprised to learn that this was the first format for recorded music. The good old days. 

Lovely article and subsequent dialogue here!

I'll admit that I just don't get the vinyl thing.  It's pure hipsterville, the smoke signals gone modern. For all the grooves that I tended so carefully all those years ago, played through the best equipment I could afford (admittedly, not that high end), my music has never sounded as good as it does now, streamed digitally through my modest hifi equipment.

I remember talking to a musician/producer acquaintance, who just shook his head at it all. "We can make anything digital sound like vinyl", he said. "All we have to do is introduce the right mix of distortion. No one can tell the difference".

People may LIKE the experience of handling big vinyl discs, and they may even like the sound the records produce.  That doesn't mean the sound matches what it was in the studio, or in the concert.