Last month's Enjoy the Music.com review of the VPI Nomad is but one example of the many new turntables, vinyl LPs and associated equipment making their way into the home of many music lovers worldwide. Once again the record album is experiencing double-digit growth over the previous year as consumers, and bands, can't seem to get enough of what they desire. With a variety of online stores taking orders in advance of the LP's official release date, we find ourselves eagerly waiting the day it arrives at our doorstep. For brick and mortar store shoppers, Record Store Day brings in a wide variety of patrons hoping to purchase something extra special. To meet this demand, companies including Acoustic Sounds to IMPEX Records and others who are producing new, or remastered, vinyl albums find themselves needing to fill their shelves at an increasing rate. All the major record labels are now realizing that getting an LP made at one of the handful of pressing plants is not as easy as you'd think. Today, there is a backlog spanning upwards of three months; with some pressing facilities having a more extensive waiting list!
Longtime LP enthusiasts are cherishing these new releases and grabbing them up at a record pace! We all know the drill, you find out an album will be/is on sale and you quickly act to ensure you get a copy. Then comes the anxious waiting, followed by more impatient waiting, until the day it arrives at your doorstep. If you want to see a junkie in action, simply tell a vinyl LP enthusiast his fave band is releasing a new album on high-grade, heavy weight vinyl and then sit back and watch their reaction. Anyone who knows the symptoms of addiction might make a connection between the same yearnings for another 'fix'.
Of course there is always the quick fix by visiting a nearby record store. Having recently spent some time at a variety of brick and mortar stores, for a few moments I resisted the urge to shop and, instead, sat back and watched as customers looked through the LP bins. Sure there were the 'normal' people, yet I'd say about half of them were passionate addicts. Pure, unadulterated junkies looking for their next music fix. I'd guessestimate that all high-end audio vinyl lovers have had those moments. The Beatles, Coltrane, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Norah Jones, Justin Timberlake... whatever the specific musician or album title makes no difference. Those long moments from when you initially buy the LP until you get home and set the needle down on the cleaned LP is almost like those 5am moments after an all-nighter of (fill in drug of choice here). If you feel I'm way off the mark or exaggerating, go to a record store and then look into the eyes of those shopping for LPs to see this for yourself.
There are many who say that the lossy MP3 format
single-handedly killed the true sound of music for a generation or two. They might
not be far from the mark! With vinyl now within the minds of tweens and
20-somethings on up, they are realizing the scam that is today's playing full
price for licensing the ability to
listen to lossy MP3 versus the far higher sound quality vinyl LP. In addition,
there is no doubt that album artwork is, well, visual art. The CD
Jack White's release of Lazaretto has recently become the best-selling vinyl LP since 1994! Ok, so Lazaretto has sold only a bit over 60,000 copies to date, which is a very small number as compared to today's popular digital releases. Still, Jack White's use of 'Ultra LP' and other gimmicks have helped to spur sales. Such gimmicks as the A side playing as standard, while side B plays from inside near the label to the outer groove is an interesting way to creatively make your release unique. Then we have vinyl LP releases with colored vinyl, glitter within clear vinyl and an upcoming release is said to have real money shredded within the 12" plastic LP! Then there is laser etching, the longstanding and highly frameable picture disc... All of these artful expressions are completely lost on the downloadable MP3 and to a great extent the CD. Dare I mention that one band has hidden music underneath the paper label of their LP! Just as an addict might go to great lengths to fill their yearning, imagine all the LP buyers who rushed home to hastily remove the center label! The possibilities in newfound ways of artistic creativity with the vinyl LP is growing by the day! None of this is possible with MP3 or the CD (or streaming music / downloads).
So next time you are out and about vinyl
shopping, remember that you are not alone. Look into the eyes of others flipping
through the LP bins seeking their next fix. When you meet another ardent
collector who just so happens to have that rare pressing you have spent years of
your life to acquire, will you find yourself like the addict? Are you willing to
do almost anything to acquire this
cherished rare pressing? Here's something for you to do. The next time you finally
get that treasured and highly-prized vinyl LP, go into the bathroom and look
deeply into your eyes. Can you see that
look in your eyes? How is this any different from the drug addict desperately
seeking their next fix?
Then when you first drop the needle on the opening groove, how is the anticipation any different than those moments just before that 'magic drug' alters your reality. And finally, when the music begins to fill your ears, how would you quantify the results? How does the music change the way you feel deep inside your soul and, dare we admit, perhaps (involuntarily) make your body move. Ok, perhaps the heroine analogy is a bit awkward for some, so you could say it is like religion and the moment your body flails as it is being saved as you bear witness. Whatever the case may be, in the end what really matters is that you...