I grew up with the vinyl LP. This fact might lead you to some understandable conclusions: that I'm more than 100 years old; that I have cranky opinions
about much of "today's music"; that if I had a lawn I'd be yelling at some kids to get off of it. But only some of those surmises would be true. In point of
fact, I love all kinds of music from all kinds of eras, and I long ago stopped complaining about the sound of CDs.
Still, when I received a jumbo care package from Capitol/EMI containing shrink-wrapped, 180-gram reissues of classic phonograph records from my late, lamented youth — as part of the company's gigantic "From the Capitol Vaults" campaign — I wept hot tears of joy.
We're talkin' Band on the Run, the magisterial work by Paul McCartney and Wings; John Lennon's epochal Imagine and labor of love Rock 'N' Roll; the Band's eponymous disc and the enthralling Music From Big Pink; Jimi Hendrix's staggering live recording Band of Gypsys; the Beach Boys' rollicking anthology Endless Summer; Roxy Music's saucy, avant-glam self-titled debut and sophomore effort, For Your Pleasure; and more, more, more.
Dropping the needle on these fat platters was an experience both Proustian and Pavlovian. I was carried back to the primal scene of discovering the bands that still shake me to my core and reunited with the delicious sense of possibility that came from slicing open a 33⅓ newly acquired from Music Plus or Licorice Pizza.
Dropping the needle on these fat platters was an experience both Proustian and Pavlovian.And there's no denying that vinyl sounds better — warmer and wavier and more alive (I'll spare you the analog vs. digital underpinning of this argument). The various surface sounds that are audible even on a freshly minted album only supplement the aural pleasure, especially the murmuring not-quite-silence between tracks that builds anticipation for the next song. Quality issues aside, the physical process of playing records simply re-waters the roots of my devotion to music.
Then there's the LP as artifact. Apart from being on thicker, higher-grade vinyl, these babies are perfect replicas of the original packaging. This means gorgeous gatefolds, extra goodies like posters and collectible photos, and inner sleeves bespangled with liner notes, lyrics and artwork. True, you get some of that stuff in CDs, but it's too tiny to produce any kind of aesthetic rush. Vinyl records are works of art, and my hat is off to the folks at Capitol/EMI for being fine custodians of an extraordinary pop-music legacy.