Vinyl forever!

I’ve been in a retro mood lately. On a whim, I searched eBay for an old comic I remembered buying when I was ten years old: Load Runner – “The galaxy’s first computer comic.” As luck would have it, I was able to pick up a complete collection of the comic right there and then. Issue nine had a free flexi disc containing a pop single, “Talk to Me,” by a virtually unknown band called Mainframe. This was no surprise; for some reason, that song has been embedded in my brain for the past twenty-four years. The next thing I knew, I was keying the word “mainframe” into eBay, and now I’m the owner of a 12″ single and LP.

The only thing is, I don’t own a turntable. I had to get my friend Graham to fish his old 1980s stereo system out of his attic. CDs were invented when I was in junior high, so I belong to the last ever generation of teenagers who bought vinyl. And I still have some of those records lying around. I was keen to listen to my old stuff again and compare the sound quality to CDs.

You know those people who insist that vinyl has a better sound? They’re right. And I’ve always had the feeling they were right, ever since the internet file-sharing explosion allowed me to revisit the music of my youth digitally. Recently, I was listening to “Calling All the Heroes” by It Bites. It’s a nice, clear digital recording from a CD source. But the song’s opening blast lacks the oomphf (for want of a better word) that I remember from my old vinyl single of the same song. This is something you can’t recreate by simply turning the volume up. Vinyl, despite the crackles, undeniably provides a richer, fuller sound. I’ve a good mind now to buy a turntable and start collecting oldies from car boot sales.

As for Mainframe, they’re an interesting band. They’re sound is in keeping with the New Romantic material of the 1980s (Ultravox, Depeche Mode, etc.). Some of their less pop-oriented stuff is a little like Tangerine Dream. More info, including an audio sample, on Mainframe’s Wikipedia entry. It’s nice to find something from the 1980s that was almost unknown in the 1980s.

7 thoughts on “Vinyl forever!

  1. PRAEst76

    I love vinyl. I love the way it looks and feels. I found that especially a lot of electro stuff sounds much better on vinyl. I’ve tried to buy as much of my Depeche Mode collection as possible on vinyl. Violator needs to be heard on vinyl. I bought Exciter n vinyl… it almost grew on me. almost.

    I think the BBC reported that in 2004 sales of vinyl 7″ singles was up by 75% or something. It’s become quite trendy for bands to put out limited vinyl singles.

    Many people theorise that eventually all singles will be a digital download with limited vinyl releases for those that want a tangible collectors item.

    Long live vinyl I say!

  2. Darryl Sloan

    Maybe it’s just the novelty, but I’ve found that I actually want to sit down and listen to music again, rather than simply delegating it to background noise while I’m doing something else.

    I remember the first Tangerine Dream song that caught my attention was “Sun Gate” from their Optical Race album (mid 1980s). I first heard it as a cassette recording from a vinyl LP (not quite the same thing as pure vinyl, but still analogue, I guess). I remember the sound being really vibrant and emotive. Some years later, when I bought the CD, I was struck by how flat it sounded in comparison.

    Yes, I think it’s time to take the plunge and rediscover what music is supposed to sound like.

  3. No doubt about it. I am from a generation that grew up more on CDs, but I had the chance to listen to a record closely after transferring some of my mom’s records to CDs. I was convinced from that day on. These days, I can be found flipping through the LPs at my local record shop. I expect records to continue gaining popularity among kids like me who grew up with CDs, and later MP3s and iPods.

  4. I really can’t agree, LPs are from the past and that is where they should stay.
    The only great thing about LPs was the cover art. Especially on old heavy metal albums.

    I can’t even be bothered with CDs these days, preferring instead to have MP3s.

  5. I find myself more often than not opting for a digital download if it’s available. Especially now that many legit sources are giving up the ghost as far as DRM is concerned, something I’ve been boycotting from the beginning.

    Still, I bought a vinyl on eBay a few weeks back and another about a month ago so I’m still adding to that collection.

    Paulie… you’re stuck in the future man, get with the then!

  6. I did the then, when it was the now. I used to wear flares too, and that’s something else better left in the past.

    Mostly though, I’m just lazy and I love gadgets. I need my divx DVD player, Creative media player and Sky TV. I don’t have room for a turn table, and I remember all the nonsense like needles breaking, scratched records, etc.

  7. Steve They

    Totally agree with Paulie. I must admit to owning a turntable and about 100 records, but I havent touched it for about 4 years! I love CD’s MP3’s, DVD Audio etc. If I have a song I like I will always try and find it online even if I have the vinyl version more handy. I just find the quality better. OK, it all depends on the bitrate I know that, but vinyl is to fluffy sounding for me. As for It Bites – Calling ALl The Heroes, I had that on vinyl and on CD and the CD version sounds miles better! People seem to like vinyl cause they think its cool to be “followers of fashion.” I love digital media cause it just sounds better! Viny is OLD technology! Long live digital! How music is MEANT to be played!!

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