So I had this idea…
With the resurgence of listening to music on vinyl records, there has been a correlating explosion of information out there on how to properly care for all these new records (please don’t call them ‘vinyls’, I beg you.) So I’m starting a new series of articles I’m calling ‘Vinyl Rules’ to make it as easy as possible to care for your treasured records the right way, and without spending a ton of money. The first topic I’d like to tackle is record cleaning. If you’ve spent any time looking for old records in stores or in your grandma’s attic, you’ll see very quickly that people back in the day did not take very good care of their albums. Not at all. But with today’s expensive records, old and new, there’s no excuse not to keep them in tip-top shape, now and into the future.
Part of vinyl’s appeal is the ritual of listening to music, something that’s lost when we’re listening to tunes playing on a computer or a phone in the background. Shopping for albums, bringing them home, putting them on the turntable, and listening intently with the album cover in hand. The ritual is what it’s all about. The attention that must be paid to the music. The relaxation of it all. Another thing about vinyl is that it must be cared for, and for me, that’s just part of the overall experience; vinyl records are a physical entity, textile things, and they sound better when they’re properly handled. Treat them poorly, they’re going to sound bad. Treat them right, however, and they’ll sound better than just about anything else out there.
For a self-diagnosed music obsessive like myself, there is never a bad time to hit the local record stores to spend some time browsing the crates for some new tunes. In an attempt to make sure that there will always be record stores around for us, in 2007 a group of independent record store owners started Record Store Day. And Record Store Day is what I’d like to talk about today, because while overall I support the idea of such an event, I also feel that there are some drawbacks as well.
When I started buying vinyl records again several years ago, I kept coming across sections of albums identified only as “Numero Group.” These albums were mysterious: the front covers featured no text whatsoever, just a single large photograph, usually black & white, sometimes an old blurry color photo. A photo, and a number. 001…026….005. No text on the back, just a number again, and a strange-sounding title, like : ‘Eccentric Soul – The Capsoul Label,’ or ‘Cult Cargo – Belize City Boil Up.’