THE LP is back!
At least that’s what I keep hearing. Young music fans disappointed by MP3s apparently love the warmer, richer sound of vinyl, and are snapping up platters by the likes of Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, Madonna, Radiohead and Weezer (Weezer on vinyl? Talk about a music geek’s wet dream.) Amazon.com now has a vinyl-only section, and even Best Buy is testing the waters. And turntables are selling like … well, they’re selling like a nearly dead technology that nerds have made kinda cool again.
Sure, vinyl is still a niche market. Hell, people who pay for music these days are a niche. But some kids who were born after the compact disc took over are finding they prefer the sound of their music on vinyl. They say they like the large artwork and liner notes. They say they enjoy the tactile experience of placing the LP on the turntable and dropping the needle onto the groove. Jee-zus, get out much?
I do agree with them that MP3s sound like crap, but I grew up with vinyl and I ain’t going back. (Here’s my early-’80s linear-tracking Technics turnable, stored away in my basement.)
I don’t miss the pops, the crackles, the hisses and the skips of my favorite records. I don’t miss having to gather my senses long enough to get up off the bed and turn over “Remain In Light.” (And “Sandinista!” required so much flipping, it was practically an aerobics routine.)
I don’t miss the warping or the wiping, or the way the pitch of the music would go up and down if the groove wasn’t centered perfectly on the plastic. And I certainly don’t miss lugging around the milk crates full of albums. All those goddamn milk crates.
To me, compact discs are the best compromise between richer-sounding LPs and portable MP3s. OK, so CDs do sound a bit bright and sterile. And you can’t do blow off an MP3. But if records are so great, let’s commit and bring back the frickin’ Victrola — that way these music nerds can crank it all they want.