Old records: still in the groove

I am fortunately old enough to be acquainted with vinyl discs, needles and turntables. Like all music lovers, I was excited when the compact disc was invented. And like most vinyl discs collector by the end of the 1980’s, I wanted to get rid of my heavy 33’s and 45’s collection, in order to get my albums replaced by CD’s. The crystal clear sound, the pocket size although thick and stiff but still handy for storage sakes, and the iridescent reflections on the CD, were consigning antique microgrooves to the dinosaurs’ era.

At the dawn of the 1990’s, second-hand stores were flooded with loads of vinyls that nobody wanted anymore. I remember that a shop manager kindly turned down my offer, arguing that most albums would eventually end up in the dump. Who would have thought at this very moment that the black disc was going to regain some interest and reach an iconic status ? Collectors and hopeless nostalgic freaks were back and more and more young people thought that vinyl discs were so fashionable.

I rarely listen to vinyl discs nowadays  but I still buy them sometimes. How could I explain this physical attraction that I have for these black vinyls? The thing must have something flexible and quite sensual.  Something warm and comforting too.  Just as a crackling fire. I always enjoy browsing through the alleys of a record store, as if guided by the penetrating yet undefinable smell of these “big CD’s”. I cannot help but slip my eager fingers through the albums exhaling their synthetic fragrance. Even the “pppfffshhh” sound made by the friction, is sweet, voluptuous, almost feline. Besides, the LP cover is, I think, more stylish and bears more impact than a CD’s. When buying a record, people are also steered by the wrapping. Some covers are indeed real masterpieces. Not quite the same on shorter scales as a CD. It is like enjoying a master painting on a stamp.

The digital sound is crystalline, although some claimed it was cold and metallic. Because the CD sound was emotion-free, aficionados swear only on cracks and clicks. Lay a record on the turntable, gently drop off the pick-up arm, carefully turn over the record to listen to the B side… It almost feels like a rite.

Old records are not over yet and vintage will be trendy for many years to come. As long as the turntable will go round and round…

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