Letter From The Editor: Record Collection: At The Crossroads, Again

Paul AaronsonI’ve been collecting records for 40 years, so writing my reissue column for Elmore just seemed like a natural extension. You know, dust off my favorite LP, listen to a newly remastered CD version (usually with some bonus material) and then write about it. For the first few issues it was that way, with BS&T’s Child Is Father To e Man, Traffic’s second album and Stephen Stills’ self-titled debut (all in my all-time top ten) leading the charge from the starting gate. But expanded editions, boxed sets and compilations seem to have taken over the reissue roost these days. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I miss good old side one/side two. Yep, the long player.

Record collecting has become something of a phenomenon these days and it’s not all due to the internet and eBay making records more accessible than ever. There’s just something about holding a real, live LP (and likewise 45, 12” and 78) in your hands that makes it irresistible. Not even so much as how it sounds (of course much better than a CD) but the actual feel of it. It’s as close to a perfect medium as you can get. For aging boomers like myself, it’s a trip back to the simpler days of yore, when, if you might be feeling a bit down, you could just head over to Chapter Three or The Record Cellar or Finyl Vinyl or Village Music (read more about these last two in this month’s issue), and pick up something to brighten your day. Beautiful records. Black vinyl, sounds great. Guaranteed to cure the anytime blues. It wasn’t hard, it was easy to do. Just pop over to your local dealer and score. Any type of vinyl, that is. And when you got home you just put the record on your turntable and dropped the needle down and you were goin’ places, baby. Where you ended up was usually the end of side two if you made it all the way through. But wherever the journey took you, you could go back there anytime you dropped that needle down, looked at the cover and read the liner notes and inner sleeve (a good inner sleeve was the best). Now, with most record stores gone, a collector/enthusiast has to go to a record show (there are many) or garage sale (there are many more) to get a “taste.”

Yes, try as they might, the industry could not kill their greatest creation. Analogue vinyl just can’t be directly downloaded (unless first converted to a digital file). Tough luck boys, the record album will be around just a while longer. The look, the feel and the smell are like foreplay, the listening like making love. The Lizard King knew well of what he spoke: “the music is your only friend…until the end.” Read all about it in Elmore and then get out there and do some record buying, people.

—Paul Aaronson

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