Saturday, January 02, 2010

How Records Got Their Groove Back

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Photo by Mark Hooper
How Records Got Their Groove Back

As CDs fade away, there's a new vinyl answe
"They lied to us, man," he said.

Flipping through old vinyl albums at a used-record shop, I did what anyone does when a fellow human bares his soul: I ignored him. "They said CDs would sound better," he persisted. "They lied!" He rapped a vintage Ramsey Lewis album on the edge of the bin, like a gavel, releasing that distinct scent of dust and decomposing cardboard.

"I got rid of my record player. I let my records go. And they never even bothered to bring back half of my old jazz albums. Not half. It was like they hooked us, and then they gutted us."

It was a spontaneous outburst, but the gist of it I've been hearing for years among frequenters of the vinyl bins: despite the advantages of compact disks (CDs) over vinyl—you'll never hear a CD pop or click, and you can access any track instantly—the supposed perfection of the format was overstated. Of course, the companies were just as over-the-top about LPs. Here's a quote from my vinyl copy of Tony