Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why Collecting Vinyl is Ridiculous but Awesome

Collecting vinyl LPs has been a hobby of mine for the past 2 years, ever since I found my Dad’s rickety dusty old record player stored in our shed. You may be wondering why the heck I would collect prehistoric, incredibly awkward, bad-sounding circular things when I can download a flawless mp3 in mere seconds? I have my reasons.

I consider a classic LP to be like a fine wine: it becomes more valuable & delicious over time. There’s nothing like the scratchy sound of a record to make me feel like I’m living in the 70s. I love the plunk of the needle touching the vinyl, the dizzying motion of the record going round & round, and the aged faded ring around the cover.
Jethro Tull's Aqualung. Notice the ring that's formed around the top over the years.
It is much, much more expensive to collect vinyl than it is to buy a CD, download an album off iTunes, or download it for free (obviously!). If you want an original pressing of an LP (which means that it hasn’t been re-issued as brand new vinyl), then you have to decide how much you’re willing to pay for the quality of the vinyl. The more damaged it is (scuffs, scratches, how many times it’s been played, rips/tears/stains to the cover, and whether the packaging inside known as the ‘inserts’ are original and intact) the less it's worth. Thus, finding a classic album like Abbey Road or The Velvet Underground & Nico that is an original pressing & in excellent condition can cost you quite a bit, especially considering that the cost to buy it 40 years ago was ridiculously cheap.
The Velvet's Underground's classic The Velvet Underground & Nico. The cover is famously designed by Andy Warhol, and the original pressing with the peel-able sticker intact is rare. Sadly, mine is a re-issue, but I still love it.

I like the sense of authenticity when I’m holding an old record. Many have names, initials, and stickers on them -- who knew that vinyl would be worth so much many years down the road? I have one LP that is covered in Braille labels on the back, and one belonged to a Turk, shown below. Who was Turk? Who, other than Turk, owned this record? Did he sit alone in his basement, playing this over & over? Was he a Rocky Horror superfan? (I’m guessing yes, because this particular record has clearly been played at least a thousand times and is almost worn out).

The Soundtrack to The Rocky Horror Picture Show
I get super excited when I come across records like the ones below. These are long out of print and are nearly impossible to buy as CDs or download as mp3s. Muahaha.

Tim Curry's Fearless and Read My Lips. The best/worst song ever created is called "The Brontosaurus" and is on Read My Lips.
Sometimes, I break the rules and buy new pressings of contemporary artists, like the ones below. I figure, if I plan on buying their CD, I may as well buy a giant, super-fantastic, pretty version of it.

Tegan & Sara's Sainthood, Amy Winehouse's Back to Black, and Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster. Go ahead, poke fun.
And you can’t get all this pretty artwork with an mp3, can you?

Left: The inside of T.Rex's Electric Warrior.  Right: T. Rex's The Slider

David Bowie's Live in Santa Monica. Quite possibly the best bootleg album ever. The double LP set includes original artwork by George Underwood, Bowie's childhood friend. Underwood created the artwork for some of the early Bowie albums & concert posters.
 I usually have to order specific records off eBay, which is not always a blast. Some records you can only get from certain countries, sometimes you engage in tedious bidding wars, and sometimes the shipping costs are extraordinary. There is only one decent place in my town that sells large quantities of records, but most of them are junk. Hitting up yard sales & thift stores sometimes pans out well, though.

The Kids From Fame. Both the show & this LP are extremely cheesy & wonderful. Plus, I got it for 99 cents at a thrift store. Kaching.
I love my record collection. I’ve spent lots of time & money on a hobby that most people would consider to be useless. Yet the fascination of record collecting with young people is growing. Old records are being issued more than ever before, LP sales have risen majorly since the beginning of the decade, and you can even buy USB record players to transfer songs to mp3s directly to your computer. So there.


  1. oh my god i fucking love your blog!

  2. Thanks!! Your blog is ultra-hilarious & awesome!! Yay for at least one person reading this :)

  3. Make that two.

    I collect cds, i have boxes and boxes full of them at my house just collecting dust. I feel that there is nothing like owning a hard copy.

    I agree with you that vinyls are freaking awesome and their is just a whole different feel to the way the play and sound.

    I however don't have a vinyl player so to in my mind I have no need for vinyls other than to sell later in life.

    Props on your Velvet Underground Vinyl, I could imagine that was hard to find and or expensive.

  4. This is awesome! i love your vinyl collection, it's to die for :)