I Miss Albums

New long playing albums are as rare as hen’s teeth. Over the years LPs morphed into compact discs which in turn morphed into downloads and that is a shame. There was a ritual that I observed when I bought an LP. I carried it home carefully, opened it and read through the cover notes and looked at the illustrations. You could not judge an LP by its cover but some, such as “In the Court of the Crimson King”, had a better cover than it had songs. Others had a banal cover but the music was breathtaking, such as “Buffalo Springfield Again”.

The cover notes contained details of exotic names, such as that of the producer, whose name you would recognise. Others listed session musicians – Jimmy Page was a session guitarist on Al Stewart’s “Love Chronicles” who would later become more famous than Stewart. Backing singers, such as Rita Coolidge, would become more famous than those that they had backed.

It was important to carefully lift the LP onto the turntable. Record player needles inevitably gave hisses and played the scratches as well as the music and that was part of the charm; the music sounded homemade and far from perfect and that was perfection in itself; perfectly played music leaves nothing to the imagination.

Albums were important because they could communicate a whole mini philosophy and a way of life, simply by ordering the sings. Ordering songs is a lost art. If you order them well you create an extended experience which lasts a whole side on a LP and prepares you for the experience when you turn over the record. Ordering songs badly, such as happens on the radio, loses the intensity of the complete experience and makes it less stimulating.

I suppose some of the move away from LPs has been for genuine technical reasons, but also there has been a commercial reason for it; a new invention makes an old invention redundant, often whether the old invention provided a better experience than the new, and so it was when LPs ended. It was like throwing away a perfectly good tool and replacing it with a shinier one which did the job less perfectly.

I miss albums.

One Response

  1. Unfortunately, because music is so accessible via instant playing devices quantity has superseded quality. This is also true for the poor musical and recorded quality of current popular music. Tunes recorded for I-players have no dynamic range and, if it’s by a big label, has only 5 notes repeated from beginning to end.

    Like you, I treasure my LP’s but some of the great musicians of the 70’s recorded for quadraphonic LP’s onto at least 4 tracks of the studio’s tape recorders. Often, and definitely later, studios used up to 32 separate tracks which were mixed back to stereo or quadraphonic records.

    Many of these are now re-mixed into 5.1 surround sound. They are brilliant even when not particularly well executed. Always provided the original master tapes are used.

    Mike Oldfield, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Yes, Jeff Wayne, Talking Heads, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, The Who, Genesis, King Crimson, Pink Floyd…..and many more.

    I love my LP’s mainly for nostalgia and for the covers but SACD, DVD audio, Blu Ray audio can better capture the quality of the original masters and without the surface noise etc of records.

    It’s so surprising that musical quality and recorded quality (except in classical recordings) has plummeted from the peak of the 70’s and 80’s to the dross we now hear on the radio.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: