By Harry Ballmann
I’m going make the case for vinyl and it’s pure procedural brilliance. It is a package. It is a ceremony. It is a method of listening that must satisfy us until we can hear our beloved artists play live during the summer festival season.
For many contemporary music listeners, they simply do not wish to spend hours trawling through aimless record stores seeing cover after cover of albums they’ve never heard and would probably would never listen to. Indeed, this may seem as odd as it does a waste of time. But for those in the know, those with the interest to pursue quality music, vinyl is the way forward. The early 90s spelled the start of the age of convenience, progressing into the age of streaming, yet for a statistic to suggest that there have been more vinyl purchases than downloadable purchases, it has left an avid music fan wondering, what is it about that age old method of listening which is prevailing?
I’ve listened to vinyls all my life, scattered around my family home, listening to music this way is a part of me I suppose. However, since the emergence of online methods of music listening, the whole dynamic of music is in flux: people are listening via CDs, streaming, downloads and vinyls and you can’t forget the most lovable method of live music. Now that these methods are out in the open, I can give a full and hopefully compelling case for vinyl, backed up by the statistics of its success, ultimately leading to it’s inevitable importance in the sustaining of the proper music industry not dominated by Warner Brothers and Virgin records, but by XL Records and back to the days of Atlantic Records, representing those who wish to make music over money.
Of course, the main arguments against vinyl are its practicality and in some cases, it’s cost. Plastic does cost money. Virtual music you don’t actually own, costs comparatively very little and indeed, takes up little space. With vinyl however, you do own it. You have something to possess, something aesthetically pleasing, a few pages of lyrics and photos to look through, an artistic cover to look at, ultimately in order to create your seemingly ‘hipster’ converted bookshelf or luggage trunk into a store for the vinyls you bought in your fur lined denim jacket. I digress.
Taking the small, seemingly insignificant piece of plastic may be a ball-ache for some, but a ritual for others. You can embrace the music, you feel it from the start to the end, a momentary reflection half way through as you flip the side and the best part of all, it brings back the beauty of the album. You listen to the whole thing, cover to cover, both sides. There is no shuffle, which lets you embrace the album in its entirety, feel the nuances of the music through the crackle. It is less condensed than a stream, even when listening to FLAC or WAV. It sounds better, there is nothing that compares, other than obviously, seeing your beloved Foals or 1975 live which you guys reading this article (to become more interested in vinyl) inevitably love.
I’m not saying that liking the ‘non-mainstream’ bands which are now inevitably mainstream is a bad thing. You’re buying their music and you’re enjoying it. For the industry, that’s more than anybody can ever ask. And this is with the help of vinyl: it is cool, it’s aesthetically pleasing, it sounds better. So, long live the revival.