(Updated July 2008)
When I first started this page in January 1999, one of the things I planned to do was something on vinyl records. Up until now, I haven't been able to figure out a way to approach it. I thought I'd start out this section of the site by talking about my love for vinyl records.
I've always been a major music fan, so much so that I make my own Top 100 lists of my favorite songs each year. I subscribed to Billboard Magazine from about 1977 to early 2004 (boy, those take up a LOT of room). I don't buy it much anymore because a lot of today's "pop" music doesn't interest me.
I started collecting music in the late '70s when I was in high school and didn't have a lot of money. Most of what I could afford at that time were the singles instead of the albums. I'm more of a "top 40" person anyway - always liking the hit song instead of whole albums (although I really like the albums I've got). I like all kinds of music and my collection might seem huge to some, medium to most people, and small for a few. As of the first writing of this page (August 1st, 2000) I had the following:
1,127 seven-inch vinyl 45 RPM singles
57 twelve-inch vinyl singles
34 CD singles
7 cassette singles
235 vinyl (LP) albums
38 CD albums
It's grown a lot since then because I've run into good deals on bunches of 45s from record shows and the like. Probably over 5000 by now and always looking for more - especially old radio-station promo copies!
My favorite era for music is probably the 1980s. I loved the fact that just about any kind of music could hit the top 40 and become a hit - there was great variety in pop, rock, dance, slow/romantic, and even "alternative". Some of the early rap that hit in the late '80s was kind of cute too. Country was rarely in the top 40 by the late '80s, but the early '80s had many country hits. Every week Casey Kasem had his countdown and you could always listen to the Billboard top 40 - carried Sunday mornings in my area. I even managed to obtain a copy of one of his shows on vinyl at a record show once!
In November 1989, the first cassette-only single topped the Billboard Hot 100 - Roxette's "Listen to Your Heart". In mid-1990 they belatedly pressed a vinyl 45 of that song which I picked up, but at the time of its peak popularity was only available as a cassette. I think the first CD and cassette-only album (not available on vinyl) was Vanilla Ice's album that contained "Ice Ice Baby" (I DON'T have that!) Unfortunately these were signs of things to come.
It was in 1990 that vinyl became harder to find. Record companies continued to release albums and singles without a vinyl configuration being available. Quite frequently when a single started becoming a hit, they'd press vinyl copies mainly for use in jukeboxes around the country, but some made their way to stores that still carried it and was available to the collectors who wanted it.
I've always preferred getting my music on vinyl - in the '80s I used to love looking at all the 45s available in record stores. Many of them had "picture sleeves" to go with the 45s - they are neat to have and in some cases worth more than the record itself! Even the ones that didn't have picture sleeves had colorful labels that caught the eye. The playing time was listed right on the record, as was other information such as the writer and producer of the song. Sometimes they'd even design special labels for certain artists or songs, and quite frequently the labels themselves would introduce different designs after a period of time. Some - like Columbia records - stayed mainly the same; others, like Capitol records or RCA switched to different label designs and colors every few years. Buying albums was fun too - they are much bigger than CDs, and sometimes included special items like lyrics (which you didn't have to squint to read) and posters with the artists picture on them.
Although many people disagree on this, but I feel that vinyl LPs have a "warmer" sound than CDs. Some might argue that vinyl wears out too quickly - well, if you have a good needle and take care of vinyl, it can last longer than CDs. Many of my vinyl albums are still in the shrink wrap that came with it - I just cut a whole big enough to get the record out. Also, this is still unproven one way or the other, but there's still the possibilty that CDs will "oxodize" after a number of years and you won't be able to play them anymore. CDs can also be scratched if they're not taken care of properly.
The good thing about vinyl is that - contrary to what many believe - it's never really gone away. They are still pressing vinyl records - although not on every release. Also, you have to know where you can find it as it usually is only carried by stores that specialize in it or even by mail order. But there's enough of a demand that the record companies are still pressing limited quantities of selected releases. You look at today's Hot 100, and only a few titles are still available on vinyl 45s, and maybe another 40 or so on a 12-inch single; but older ones are still out there. During the '90s, CD singles were also available on a lot of titles, but those have started to disappear in recent years in favor of the download. On the Billboard album chart, probably about 25% are still available on the vinyl format. You think I'm alone? Every year in many major cities there are a few "record shows" where people buy/sell/trade old vinyl records - and they're always packed with people. I'm amazed at some of the stuff I've never seen before, and the many rare promo items that are available at these shows.
I've started to move slowly into CDs because in some cases there's no choice - but still love my vinyl records and I think they'll be around for a while yet!! Hopefully soon I'll be able to post pictures of some of the neat things in my collection - so please check back!
Also, if you have any vinyl 45s OR picture sleeves for trade/sale, please e-mail me. There are certain titles I'm on the hunt for which I haven't been able to track down, and I've also got duplicates I can sell or trade.
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