I remember the day very well. One morning I walked into the record shops, W.H.Smiths, Woolworths, Rumbelows, and the records were all gone. Instead there sat in little neat containers, these plastic cases with little imitation pictures of record covers. I was devastated. Where are the records? But these were better, I was told. This is the way to go. On TV they sat smugly holding these plastic nothings and said they did not get damaged, you could sit on them, you could eat off them and you could play frizzbee with them. Hell, but I wanted to hear music and these things were no good with their tinny little imitation sound. Amplifying the sound gave you yet more tinny sound.
Like all other music lovers, I eventually got used to these horrible little things. I thought, I suppose I have to be dragged into the modern age out of my stick-in-the-mud attitude. I used to be an avid record collector, stalking the record shops in every new town I went to, finding gems with fascinating art covers, shiny vinyl with labels that were yellow and red and pink and green. Sometimes the whole vinyl was pink, as in the Elvis Presley album. I would come home and reverently put the large, plate sized records on to my turntable and sit back with the album cover in my lap. The notes on the cover were themselves a joy to read. The writers excelled themselves in their slick style. Those covers were an ad writer’s dream. You were educated about the music and the artist and also taught what good writing could do.
The chrome arm on the turntable would swing and settle on the shiny vinyl. The grooves would glisten in the firelight. The Hi-Fi notes would boom around the room and I was in seventh heaven. They were days when you listened to your music. If you wanted to hear a groove again, you got up and settled the needle back in that groove. This was a very satisfying moment. Don’t ask me to explain. In these days of fast food convenience when you fast fed music by touching buttons while doing algorithms it is hard to explain to anyone the physical satisfaction of being involved in some slight way in the reproduction of the music in your own home. Of course there was the bi-product of getting up out of your chair. We did not have to touch buttons all day and then have to go running in the traffic to get our daily dose of “exercise”.
A few weeks ago I did a very rebellious thing. I braved the thought of my friends laughing at me and got my old Sony turntable out of the loft and set it up. I matched it to my 1970’s Sony Amplifier and large Sony speakers. The music that was produced was such as I had not heard in twenty years. I was an avid Jazz fan and I also used to listen to some select Classical music. I had stopped listening to these of late because I did not get the same satisfaction from them. The old music I used to listen to seemed so anaemic and distant to me on the CD. The electronic hip hop seemed better than my treasured music and I am ashamed to confess, I succumbed to that mindless drivel. The money men who were selling us these discs knew what they were doing. They promoted electronic sound because it fitted better with the tinny sounding discs. You could not get one note of Hi-Fi out of them if you tried.
I dug out my old jazz records and what jubilation! You just would not believe the difference in sound. Of course I have Jazz CDs. I put them on and compared. No wonder I had gone off my old music. It was not my old music. It was imitation electronics, like photocopying your face! In support of my case I refer you to music fanatics who are going back to vinyl in droves. They are paying large sums of money for the albums and the apparatus this time around because it has all become so chic!
Along with the CD, may I add the whole caboodle of digital electronics serving music, the pink headphones, the sparkly speakers, the tin can surround sounds are all destined for the dung heap by the serious music enthusiast. The profit makers will suddenly surprise us by discovering the good old fashioned Hi-Fi. This time they will call it the “New Hi-Fi”. Wait for it. No! Don’t wait for it. Start right now and listen to some great music on good music machines.
So folks, do not believe the Ad-men. Not everything new is better. The cars definitely are not and the houses are made of clap board and your TV and you pads are not going to last 4o years like my old Hi-Fi machines. Hell, even our singing and dancing and flying war machines are no good against the 80 year old Kalashnikov. That is why we keep losing wars.
So I raise a glass to all things old!