The idea of music being better on vinyl is largely a subjective and personal choice. But, an ever-growing community of music lovers and audiophiles swear by it.
Technically speaking, the decibel range available on vinyls compared to CD is quite restricted, and mapping bass onto records is a tricky production skill to nail with some collectors suspecting that CD master tracks are being traced onto newer records to keep artists happy.
But it’s the quirks of the format that people love. Vinyl just looks so much more beautiful than a CD; the turntable’s needle picking up the surface noise of not only the record itself, but the environment the music was mastered in. Some even go as far to say that they can hear the musician’s soul in a record, with the soft ‘crackles’ picking up breathing, the sound of piano keys actually being pushed in, and the more real, human qualities to a performance.
What do you think? Here’s a small selection of unmissable vinyl experiences…
What’d I Say – Ray Charles
Classic. The song was distilled from an improv session with Ray’s band, and today it’s usually quite hard to find as an original vinyl recording even though it was very popular at the time. Also try his cover of Georgia On My Mind on vinyl. It’s dizzyingly romantic and the mainstay of jukeboxes across the USA even to this day, serving as the official song for the American state of the same name. No record collection can literally exist without Ray Charles.
Mr Tambourine Man – The Byrds
Probably everyone’s first listen of what a 12-string guitar can do. This song was written by Bob Dylan and then covered by a band that was struggling against its own producer who thought them all to be rubbish at the time. Nevertheless, this signature track shot The Byrds to fame in 1965, and remains the gorgeous backdrop to millions of hippie-love awakenings. The Byrds did the whole indie-rock-to-folk-rock-transition thing way before it was cool.
One Way Or Another – Blondie
Criminally skint in the 80s, Blondie were the epitome of punk rock Manhanttan who fought out of an incredibly dangerous yet creative life. One Way Or Another is pure feist in a song, and the perfect example of when people say that drums simply sound better on vinyl.
Questionable boutique coffee aside, hipsters and grandparents actually have many things in common: the love of a fine moustache, pale ales, the innocent mechanical aesthetic of typewriters and – a love of records. While live music and digital downloads still dominate the music industry at large, lots of new music releases on the retro format in 2016 enjoy another day in the sun. Popularity has grown astronomically over the last 10 years according to Nielsen and the like – 12 million sales in the US alone, and half of all vinyl released keeping thousands of independent record shops alive globally.
“After silence,” said the gramophone fanboy and celebrated author Aldous Huxley, “that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible, is music.”