Just what is it that makes polyvinyl chloride so different, so appealing?

Today as Joe is poppin’ the 40oz along the East Coast and having a whale of a time, its best to take the oppourtunity to rain on his parade a bit. We’ve chosen today to publish Tommie’s lastest contribution, a top post from the man who Joe’s been having beef with for weeks now. So, as a little dig at Joe for having such a good time, here it is.

So here we are… it’s 2010, I’m writing on my little netbook for an online music blog and I’m listening to music. I’m listening to an album which was released in 1977 and I’m listening to it on a medium which was first developed by Tommie Edison in 1877.

The record I’m listening to is The Clash by The Clash – original UK pressing – and I’m chuffed. Thing is last week I was called to my dear friend Richard’s house where his parents were selling off their old records. This was an exciting prospect for me and my fellow nostalgic hipster friends. Once we arrived things got even more exciting! I quickly eyed up four Velvet Underground albums, 6 Lou Reed’s, a handful of reggae classics such as U-Roy’s Dread In A Babylon and Peter Tosh’s Legalize It; as well as two Janis Joplin albums (oh and 6 Bob Dylan’s). So as you can imagine I’ve spent the most of this week catching up with a lot of listening.

Vinyl is a world which I can feel myself being rapidly and surely sucked into. I actually want to be one of those ‘sad’ record collectors which more music than sense or indeed furniture. I want to work in Championship Vinyl from High Fidelity.

One Day..

… and so I ask just what is it that makes polyvinyl chloride so different, so appealing?!

Well I have several theories… But first I need to turn The Clash over to side B…

1. I’m a teenager doing all he can to be different from the ‘mainstream’.

This has probably got a part to play. It’s certainly seen as a slightly quirky and ‘indie’ thing to do. Though I do feel that this is a bit of a superficial way of looking at it and is not the main reason I like vinyl.

2. The sound quality of analogue technology is far superior and ‘warmer’.

I actually have very little idea about what this means. Vinyl does sound different but this is more because when you listen to a record it’s a special thing. You give it time and it takes up a sort of ritualistic feeling. Also the fact of the matter is that many records you find these days are so worn out and damaged that the actual sound quality is really quite poor. The funny thing is that this is just part of it and I accept the crackle and scratches as part of it… part of its history. Which brings me on to third theory.

3. The objects have character (the nostalgic argument).

One thing I do particulary like about the older records is the fact that they come from a different time perhaps even the time when the music was fresh and new. I get this feeling that this object has travelled from that time and place to this time and place… which I find fascinating. The Idea that this Lou Reed album was pressed and printed in America, transported here in the 1970’s only to be sold to some guy who then gave it as a gift to this person, who then had a child who became my friend who I then acquired it off… The object is important.

4. The object!

Records are very different from mp3’s or even CDs. It’s physical. The art work becomes even more important due to its size… CDs suddenly feel like postcards of real paintings… reproductions. And when you take out the vinyl you can see the grooves and you can sense the excitement and noise which could erupt from these silent black lines.

I guess as things become more digital and virtual I’m just clinging on to things.

Anyway… I guess by now you’re wondering when I’m going to play you some music which is a very good question… I guess I just wanted to ask the question about analogue and digital rather than introduce you to some new bands…

But here’s a song from Stereolab to finish off with:


4 thoughts on “Just what is it that makes polyvinyl chloride so different, so appealing?

  1. This one goes out to J.

    I geuss if i were to buy physical formats, it would probably be vinyl, only because CD packaging is so poor- i have so many broken jewel cases its untrue- i dont attach a huge amount of value to the object itself and with good enough speakers and a decent amp i reckon mp3s etc can sound pretty much as good as vinyl..

  2. Go Stza GO!

    I think you’re probably right. On the sound quality front its all about speakers and amplification.

    P.S. Just to clear my name… I did not write this as a dig at Joe, Phil’s just stirring 🙂

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