I watched a documentary on the history of the vinyl album last night. It set me thinking… how different times were back then. I remember when CDs became mainstream, I, along with everyone else, rushed to replace my favourite tapes and records with their CD equivalents. For years I was happy and that seemed the right thing to have done. Now I’m not so sure.
Watching that documentary made me realise the great thing about the vinyl album. For starters, the physical item was a solid slab of nondescript black plastic. Every album – once stripped of its sleeve artwork – looked exactly the same. A circle of black. A circle of black that could only hold a certain length of sound. Every band, no matter how lowly or how grande, had to make music to the constraints of that black circle. Every band, whether an obscure entity or the most popular group of the day, had to construct their music to fit two discrete sides of plastic. Two sides of a coin.
I suppose what I’m saying is that I like the fact that bands had to create their worlds within a set of rules that every other band also had to follow. Two sides of round, black vinyl.
… and the album artwork. Those gatefold sleeves. I know it’s comforting to be nostalgic… but are we losing a little of the magic in this internet age? A time of bands producing 24 hour-long songs. A time of a billion hits on YouTube for fad music. A time when anyone can bypass the record company and release whatever they want, whenever they want.
Nostalgia. I am well renowned for basking in its warm glow. Nostalgia and red wine. I thank you.