And I bought a lot of them. From the late 1960s through the 1980s, I dropped a large chunk of my spendable income on those magical platters. We’re talking thousands of dollars here.
I had a pretty nice collection, too. Not take-up-a-complete-floor-of-your-house crazy, but substantial enough that they were always the heaviest part of any move.
And I loved those LPs. They were musical treasure chests, containing the sounds and memories of my youth. Their covers alone could transport me back to times and places, faces and experiences.
I still have a lot of those albums. They’re in the basement now, gathering dust in their moving-box mausoleums.
Oh, I could still play them: I have a working turntable, amplifier and speakers. But these days I access my music digitally, via compact discs, MP3s or the cloud. The sound quality of those formats may not be optimal, but their portability and affordability are trade-offs I’m willing to make.
Now comes news of a resurgence in vinyl LPs. Since the advent of CDs, some audiophile friends have bemoaned the change while touting the higher ranges and warmer sound of vinyl albums. Sometimes this is framed as a battle of good (analog) vs. evil (digital). And while I appreciate their passion, I’ve just never been that discriminating.
Still, being a fan of most things retro, I thought this might be a cool development. That is, until I checked out what a new vinyl LP sells for: anywhere from $20 to $40, at least twice what a CD or digital download for the same album costs.
Call me Darth Vader, but I can’t afford that. And even if I could, the music’s not mobile — can’t play a vinyl LP in your TIE fighter or X-wing.
So, while vinyl may be making a comeback among the folks who can afford to shell out $38.98 for Keith Richard’s newest album on amazon.com, on my planet it’s a scratch.
I’ve gone over to the dark side of the Force and there’s no coming back.
The latest sonic discoveries:
“Here Come the Girls,” The London Souls
Speaking of retro, these New York City rockers have channeled the classic rock of the late 1960s and ’70s with this album. Relying on a guitar-drums-bass combo, they’ve put together a group of songs that evoke the Beatles, Cream, Led Zeppelin, the Who, Faces, and just about any band from the golden era. Singer-guitarist Tash Neals’ vocals have a throaty blues edge that gives the lyrics — which are pretty pedestrian, frankly — an urgency, while drummer Chris St. Hilaire and bassist Stu Mahan provide a beefy foundation. If you’re a fan of bouncy power pop with no big messages, you’ll love this album.
Recommended tracks: “When I’m With You,” “Alone,” “Crimson Revival,” “The River,” “Valerie.”
“Mystery Glue,” Graham Parker and the Rumour
Their second effort since reuniting in 2012 finds Parker and company in fine form. In a recording career that spans four decades, Parker’s lost none of his lyrical genius — every track here boasts a handful of witty turns of phrase, all set to seamless, soulful rock ’n’ roll. In fact, if there’s a negative to be found on this set, it’s the lack of the musical jagged edges that have also characterized Parker’s best work. The band and production are so airtight that some of the tracks aren’t allowed to breathe. But it’s a minor quibble for a musician who deserves a lot more recognition and respect than he’s been granted.
Recommended tracks: “Transit of Venus,” “Wall of Grace,” “Flying Into London,” “I’ve Done Bad Things.”
“Sirens,” The Weepies
The fifth studio album by folk rockers Deb Talan and Steve Tannen is like a big bouquet of delicate flowers. Each song is beautiful in its way, crafted to showcase Talan and Tannen’s wonderful harmonies, the musical accompaniment designed to provide subtle support. That’s not to short-sell the intricate instrumental patterns the songs are built on — many of them are downright mesmerizing. And their lyrics explore a lot of emotional terrain: love and loss, illness, mortality. Several songs that seem upbeat on first listen take on an undertone of melancholy when you begin to decipher their words. Knowing that Talan has successfully battled breast cancer since 2013 gives the album that much more poignancy and power.
Recommended tracks: “No Trouble,” “Learning to Fly,” “Crooked Smile,” “Brand New Pair of Wings,” “Volunteer.”