Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vinyl Porn: Get your Groove-on with vinyl you don't have!!

Ever relax on a couch some Thursday evening with a terrible craving for twelve inches of hot, red vinyl? Yeah, me too. I just have to find some way to convince my credit card company to qualify it as a medical expenditure in order to justify spending the hundreds of dollars that it would take to get that rare redhead into my.... except wait....there's always the possibility of getting the cheap and cheezy porn version...a youtube video of the vinyl you wish you had.
It may not be as good as the real thing, but we all have to settle sometimes, and let's face it, you really don't stand a chance of actually getting the real 12-inch extended remix of The Brothers Johnson Strawberry Letter 23 on red vinyl, because well...she's out of your league.
   This dilemma of whether to wait and find it and buy it, or whether to get a taste of 'Taste of Honey' in instant-gratification form is a new one but that doesn't mean the desire is any different. And for those of us who like vinyl (and there seems to be more of us everyday) if you can't get the real thing at a reasonable price, then Vinyl Porn might be the way to go for you, too.
  Sure, there are problems inherent with the format, but those that complain too much about the 'hiss, crackle and pop' problem of records are often far too anal-retentive to be debated. With proper cleaning and care, even old vinyl and well-used vinyl can be kept very quiet, if that's still not enough, then perhaps Lps just aren't for you. And let's face it CD's and DVDs and their
respective playing devices also require cleaning and care and have their own set of breakdowns, screw-ups and skips that sometimes happen right in the middle of a movie or song. Mp3s and other compressed digital formats usually have a serious problem with the quality of the sound itself. Compression, for the sake of saving space and fitting more music on a drive or ipod, usually eliminates much of the resonance and more subtle tones of music. The dynamic range of highs and lows and variances in volume that occur in normal listening to everyday people seems to disappear from most mp3s, replaced with a uniformity of loudness and tone that often hurts the ears of those that listen too long. 
  The truth is, like most so-called 'fetish' desires, there's many more people who enjoy this sort of entertainment than are willing to admit it. But there's nothing wrong with it! So just admit it!! There's lots of reasons to like vinyl over other forms of music.
   The range of sound and variation of tones achieved by analog and vinyl are, as yet, unmatched by digital. Some 'technical' people will insist that measurements can't prove what people say they can hear. Some even claim that these frequencies are actually beyond human hearing capability, and yet somehow, people notice that listening to vinyl gives them a certain 'feeling' that other formats don't have. (And that 'feeling', of course, can lead to other feelings.)
   'Warmer' is the word most often used to describe the sound of vinyl when first compared to CDs, but that description was likely first used by jazz/blues and 'fusion' fans who noticed CDs' lack of variation in the tonality of their favourite musicians, especially horns and pianos. Punk, Heavy Metal and Grunge fans of the 1970s through 1990s described guitars as sounding more 'raw' on vinyl. Dance, Disco, Hip-Hop and Funk fans have described vinyl bass and drums as having more 'bounce' on the bottom end. One writer for The Blade newspaper in Toledo says simply that vinyl sounds "bigger" than CDs. These are all good reasons why vinyl has managed to hold on nearly twenty-five years after it was supposed to be dead and gone.
    The covers of albums, if done well, make great artwork, and the size and shape of the cover and inner sleeves allow for as much liner notes and/or lyrics as the band wants to give their audience. They also make great conversation pieces for those that want to talk about music and an easy reference for those who wonder if that certain bass player made an appearance on that album by so-and-so. The only problem with album cover-art is that sometimes the artwork is too good. Many people over the years have decorated their teenage bedrooms with the cover art of their favourite band. Many more use vinyl as a decoration for their adult dens or man-caves. ZZTop's Eliminator cover, or replica, can be found in many mechanics' shop.
    The Lp record also seems well-suited for human attention spans and natural cycles of action. At a running time of about 18-25 minutes per side, it seems perfectly suited for the purpose of giving people a break from the music every 20 minutes or so. Some people reading this might think I'm crazy to think of this as a good thing. If you grew up in 70s and 80s, you're likely thinking of 'getting a break' in relation to the constant interruption that comes with listening to music on typical commercial radio, with constant stopping of music for advertising, weather and traffic reports. But in the current era, too much focus is placed on keeping the music pumping, much to the exhaustion of people's ears. Whether you go to a dance club, listen to music on an mp3-player or even watching a movie, the never-ending drone of background music and thump of a beat seems repetitive and relentless. Sometimes a break can be a good thing, and 20-25 minutes seems about right; time to get a bathroom break, or a snack, another beer from the fridge or just wash the coffee mug and put it away.
   Most of the people who like vinyl don't have large collections. Most of a certain age sold off or gave away the 30-60 LPs they had in the closet in the late nineties, either to save space or to switch over to over-hyped digital formats. (Several of those people have told me they'd like to have those albums back.) Not everyone wants to be a 'true collector', either, with wall-sized libraries of vinyl. We just don't all have that kind of space. But we like good music, and we like good music on vinyl. And sometimes we buy it just to listen to and not because it's rare or unique.
   The problem is that vinyl is becoming more popular at a time when there isn't necessarily more selection on the market. Vintage Vinyl is getting only more scarce. Bargain bins get routinely raided for everything that isn't Polka music, and when you ask your next door neighbour if they want to sell their old records, they sometimes try to gouge you for some 'collector prices', when you were thought they were having a 'garage sale'. If you do try to pick up some vintage vinyl, you're sure to run into someone who honestly thinks they can get $100 for their Rolling Stones record even though it's very well-used and dropped from table-height only a couple of times with a coffee stain on the inner label. (Don't buy the record. You should direct these people to Ebay, where you can usually find the same thing, in better condition for $30 or less). Others insist that their Michael Jackson Thriller album, passed down from their uncle is rare, even though it was the highest selling album of all time and that means there are literally millions of copies out there in the world. (Thriller is popular, not rare (duh!), but It is a sellable commodity. You can get a decent copy between $10 - $30. I wouldn't dare pay more than that, but I'm not a Michael Jackson fan, either.)
   New Vinyl isn't cheap. News reports indicate that the record presses have been started up again, and they're pumping out vinyl as quickly and high-quality as they can. However, creating and pressing records is, at least partially, an art-form so brand-new pressings can cost as much as newly released Blu-Ray or HD-quality videos. And the new 'rise in vinyl' isn't coming fast enough to produce a re-issue of Teddy Pendergrass's 'It's Time For Love' or those two good albums by Hot Chocolate. Newly-pressed vinyl and re-issues tend to repeat and cash-in on the very biggest sellers of past. So if you buy the re-issue you usually end up listening to Barry White's greatest hits, or Nirvana Nevermind, much like everyone else. New Vinyl is definitely on the rise, but there's still lots of room to grow.

  And then, as I said, there's the porn version...
  Thousands of videos on the internet are literally video of people who want to share some of their sexiest grooves with you. And they don't even know you!! The audio output only mimics the true sound range of vinyl, but it's enough to get you going, and it's surprisingly appealing to the eye, even when the video only shows the actual turntable and nothing else.
  Some Vinyl porn-videographers imitate the sorts of the things that you might do in your own home, like checking out the cover art, the inner sleeve, or even investigating manufacturer or the year that the record was made.
  It might seem weird at first, getting your groove-on to someone else's record collection... staring, a little bit envious of another person's twelve-inch... probably a little unsure or unwilling to admit that this really 'does it for you'. But it's nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. In the end, this is just another form of entertainment, isn't it? This is a modern, liberal and more understanding and open world and everyone has needs, right? And sometimes you just can't get that certain feeling that you want without the help of a video shot of some hot black vinyl. So why not let someone else drop the needle?
   Besides, how weird is it really?
   
   If you're dating, the last thing that you want to hear from your potential partner is that he or she doesn't like your record collection. Most guys got too much heavy metal and not enough R&B, most girls got too much pop and not enough rock. And let's face it, some people are Prince, and others are Rick James and they just might not get along. Perhaps you can find some common ground with one album that you might want to wait until the third date to try out: Isaac Hayes un-cut album-side length version of Do your thing. Just click play and then fullscreen and let someone else drop the needle while you and the girlfriend can 'get down' on the living room dance floor, or sofa, without worrying about 'skipping'.

   Having some friends over for a party? Sure, you could flip through your CDs searching for a ridiculous mix of songs from any pop/dance era that sounds mostly like prototypical Michael Jackson or Madonna or other 1980s stuff. Maybe you spend hours downloading large volumes of various tunes and just put it on some kind of big loop on an mp3 playlist and then run it through your home stereo. But what if you had a thirteen-minute, extra-disco vinyl  of FunkyTown by Lipps Inc? Okay, you wouldn't actually have that, but if you could get to listen to that vinyl instantly, and at a moment's notice? Wouldn't you rather take your friends to Funky Town?


 A married or long-term couple without a fireplace at Christmas time might click their remote to channel several-hundred-something to watch video of a crackling fireplace on their TV for some hearth-like ambiance to give them that special feeling that they want to get while they're having their cocoa. So why not put on some virtual vinyl as well? A couple without a turntable or perhaps without the vinyl they want might consider putting on a youtube video of a vinyl album that you might never consider buying (or won't admit to)... but maybe one you would like to pretend you have. A couple of swipes and clicks and bing, bang, boom, you got some warm, vinyl Cars to go with your hot chocolate and virtual fireplace. Sure takes the chill off of winter for me....

   And then there are those of us who might be alone, who wouldn't mind being seduced either....



Need more Vinyl Porn? Check out Vinyl Porn 2: Suggestions for your Virtual Collection
Or, if you still can't get enough, click on Vinyl Porn 3: The Vinyl Resurgences Marches On!
and yet more at Vinyl Porn 4: The New Wave of Vinyl Listeners