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.