Record Store Day puts a new spin on older media

During my Pink Floyd phase in high school (everybody has one), I?bought my first record – a copy of “Wish You Were Here.” Back then, they still sold actual albums at some of the music retailers around here, mixed in with CDs and the vanishing piles of cassette tapes.

I?didn’t have my own turntable, but my parents did. They had their own vast collection of records from the musty, dusty ’70s; Zeppelin, The Who and Mott the Hoople, whatever that is. At the time the psychedelic covers and baffling names were a mystery to me (speaking of mystery, I?remember being afraid of the bizarre animal suits on the cover of the Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour”?- Walruses were NOT?meant to look that way).

Pink Floyd’s surrealistic cover art by Storm Thorgerson (who died last week) was displayed the way it was meant to be seen – on a cardboard LP-sized album sleeve. The artwork doesn’t look right shrunk down to CD size. I?happily appreciated the art and the liner notes as I?spun the record on my parents’ turntable, which had probably spun the same album many hazy years before.

Technically, that wasn’t my first album – I?spun many Disney read-and-listen albums on my Smurf turntable, and was gifted a copy of ZZ?Top’s “Sleeping Bag” 7-inch single when I?was eight. I?had the requisite “We Are the World”?and “Born in the USA.”?But it was the first I?got with my own money, and definitely not the last.?

Saturday was Record Store Day, the day of the year great bands put out extremely limited copies of unbelievable one-time collaborations and covers in awesome packaging and sell them to eBay merchants who then resell them to music lovers for 200 percent over retail. Once in awhile, actual music lovers slip in line, more recently since record store owners have a growing disdain for album scalpers and put limits on the number of copies you can buy.

While this year left me low on funds and working on this hallowed day, I?had in past years enjoyed the spoils of Record Store Day. I?researched online which bands had the neatest releases, then conferred with my friendly record store clerks (which I?assure you?DO?still exist) on who had what. And I?never sold them on eBay.

Vinyl has been enjoying a recent re-appreciation. Most bands, old and new, put out releases on vinyl. Often they contain exclusive tracks, posters and digital download codes for those who can’t break from the mp3 teat. Even local bands put out wax singles, which always looks cooler on a merch table than a CD jewel case.

I?consider it the optimum format for listening to most music. Classical music, jazz, classic rock, heavy metal, R&B, soul; it all sounds better on wax. You can argue the fidelity and whatnot, but I?think it’s the timeless cool of the crackling needle, the lack of distraction that comes with playing music in a car or on an iPod while jogging.

It also enhances the importance of track listing, as one side of the album sets the stage for the second, and you have to pay attention anticipating the midway record flip.

My battered copy of Black Sabbath’s self-titled LP?sounds great on vinyl, as the hiss of the needle on badly scratched vinyl gives way to faint rain falling and church bells on the first track.

Ramones’ “Rockaway Beach” and dance singles from LCD?Soundsystem seem more fun on wax.

I’ll continue to support vinyl, for both national and local acts. Just don’t dance too hard – the record will skip. With great music love comes great responsibility.

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