Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Vinyl Albums

If you seriously want to move foreward at any point in life, you have to let go of the past. I said that in my head over and over and over again as I sat and stared at two boxes of vinyl albums.
I've had these for years, collecting since high school, or maybe before that.
I'm not someone to live in the past; on the contrary, I've been accused of having no sentimentality. But I do have a hard time getting rid of these albums.

Over the years, they've been replaced by CD's, and now with mp3's. In fact my CD's have been packaged and put away as all of my music now resides on the hard drive of my Mac and my ipod. I haven't played them in years, probably not since 1987, the year we bought our first CD player. But they follow me around with every move. From Boxboro to Shirley, and all stops in between. Just becoming empty pieces of useless bagage.

I remember buying some of them; we used to take the train into Harvard Square and visit the used record shops, and the Harvard Coop in search of obscure, rare albums, bootlegs, imports. Some of the bootlegs were poor quality. I have one from the Stones, circa 1978 at RFK Stadium. It sounds as if the mic was in the coat pocket of one of the audience, but at the time of purchase, it felt like a 'find'.

The way records were treated always depended on the users appreciation for music. Some people just put the album on the turntable, dropped the needle, and left it at that. I'd carefully slice the plastic that the cover was wrapped in, slide the album out and carefully place it on the turntable. I'd then wash it with the felt and wood washer, and tape it. The album would return to the jacket, not to be played for quite some time.

So how can I throw them out now?

I see Kim Wilde, with "Kids in America". I bought this used, just for the single. Bob Marley's "Rastaman Vibration" with its liner note "(This record cover great for cleaning herb)"...The Cars debut album, which I have 2 of (marraige invariably creates some duplicates; im our case, it also brought more punk albums, like the "Black Market Clash" EP)...I also have Madness 12" single of "Our House".
Another one I found is the Jon Butcher Axis; I have a hard time finding his stuff online, much less on CD now. Saw him live at the old Cinema Lounge in Fitchburg at a midnight show. He looked like Hendrix, from the bandana down to the 'strat, and had the flair down cold. Speaking of Hendrix, I also have his Euro-import, "Smash Hits". Actually, I traded a cassette recording of the Who's "Quadraphenia" for this.

Some of the albums are pretty beat. When you purchase from a used record store, the quality may not be the best, and the sleeves may not exist at all. However, if the album is rare, then you catch as you can. Case in point is the Jonathon Richman and the Moder Lovers LP; no sleeve, the vinyl has some scratches, but at the time, it was out of print, so I scooped it. I washed it down, recorded it and put it away. The song? "Roadrunner", the only 2-chord song I have ever heard, or at least I think I ever heard. And yes, the same Jonathon Richman that plays the guitar and sings on the movie "There's something about Mary".

Electronics and the cyber world has rendered any argument for keeping these albums moot. Sure, there are used CD stores at the square and elsewhere, but why travel when I can find what I'm looking for with a few key strokes? And then download for a buck? And I can take my entire music catalog wherever I go, however I travel. So there's really no reason to keep the vinyl.

I thought about selling them, as a lot, or indivudually, so I checked the various onlite sites. What I found was that, unless the album was extremely rare at the time of printing, a la the Beatles "Yesterday" butcher cover, they are not worth the material. People were giving them away. My albums are officially junk.