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Twenty-Five Irrefutable Arguments For the Superiority of Vinyl, Ian McGillis

Twenty-Five Irrefutable Arguments For the Superiority of Vinyl,
Ian McGillis
From Vol. 2, No. 4


1.) Records just SOUND better. Don’t argue, okay? They just do.

2.) Twenty years after the egregious imposition of CDs, people still say “record store,” even when the store in question has no actual records.

3.) No one has ever sat staring for hours at a CD cover.

4.) Remember when double albums used to be configured with sides one and four on one record, and sides two and three on the other, so you could listen to concept albums like Tommy in sequence with a stacker, even though hardly anybody used stackers? That was so cool.

5.) Yes, records sometimes skipped, but the possibility of their skipping added a certain frisson to the listening experience.

6.) Records were much more often defective than CDs. That meant you would go back to the record store, talk to actual human beings(often about music)and end up buying more records.

7.) Some label logos (Vertigo, UNI, Charisma) were actually designed to do neat swirly things as you watched them spin. This meant that suburban children born too late for the 60s could approximate the LSD experience, with none of the brain-frying risks, in the safety of the rumpus room.

8.) The Ohio Players’ sequence of album covers in the 70s. I’ll say no more on this matter.

9.) True aficionados could learn to recognize different import vinyl BY SMELL. British pressings had a certain liquorice-like scent, German was more oily. There was a Raspberries album that smelled, a bit too strongly perhaps, of raspberries. CDs, lamely, have no smell at all.

10.) Carrying records on a windy day, you had to hold them at just the right angle.

11.) I once bought a Jamaican 45 (Uptown Top Ranking, Althea and Donna, Joe Gibbs label) that had a piece of hemp accidentally pressed right into the vinyl. That just would not happen with a CD, and the world is a poorer place for it.

12.) Walking around on the street or at school with unbagged albums, you were making a statement about yourself to the world. Carrying a Kraftwerk album, for example, said “I am the possessor of dark Teutonic secrets. You really should consider sleeping with me.”  CDs are more like business cards. Boring.

13.) The liner notes in a CD booklet are so fucking small you can’t even read them half the time.

14.) The vinyl LP was an organic artifact. It aged in interesting ways. If you wanted it to sound good, you had to take care of it. It was almost like a pet. CDs don’t DO anything. They’ll be choking up landfills until eternity.

15.) Who didn’t love the tactile, diamond-cutter delicacy of placing a tone arm on a record? You felt, in a very small way admittedly, that you were part of the creative process.

16.) Two words: gatefold sleeves. (Often with paintings of vaguely Tolkienesque tableaux. Even boogie bands like the Allman Brothers did this.)

17.) Somehow, punk rock has just never looked right or sounded right on CD. Admit it, all you punks. There’s just something inherently non-snotty about the CD format. The same goes for reggae. The mere idea of reggae on CD is ridiculous.

18.) The poster of Bob Dylan with psychedelic hair, included in his Greatest Hits LP, is a high-water mark of 20th century culture. So is the Mothership poster included in P-Funk’s double live album.

19.) What would kids in the 70s have covered their bedroom walls and the inside of their lockers with if they hadn’t had those Dark Side Of the Moon posters and stickers?

20.) Record store clerks used to look a bit like rock stars sometimes. They weren’t always geeks, that’s historical distortion.

21.) Warped records made cool woozy sounds. Some music (my brother’s Yes albums) sounded better when the record was warped.

22.) Two words: backward masking. (Everybody denies it, lots of people did it.)

23.) There was so much scope for righteous snobbery with vinyl. You could show your superior commitment by buying accessories like inner sleeves, outer sleeves, dust brushes, anti-static spray. (Alternatively, you could melt records down into ashtrays and expressionist sculptures influenced by those Dali and Munch prints you saw in art class.)

24.) If you weren’t careful you could get a nasty paper cut opening a new album. That meant feeling like you had passed a small test of courage and could listen to your new album with an extra sense of entitlement. CDs are such a pain in the ass to open that by the time you’re done you’re too pissed off to listen to them.

25.) Don’t even get me started on downloading.