Friday, October 3, 2014

Vinyl Porn 3: The Vinyl Resurgence Marches On!

Part of the idea of making these vinyl-porn blog entries is to celebrate the true beauty and sex appeal of this form of music and keep it alive, especially since it is still the best sound available to most music consumers. At the same time, there's no reason to junk old technology when it still works very well and can still serve a purpose. And to most discerning ears vinyl still provides the superior sound and dynamic range to produce a more realistic-sounding recording. However, brand new vinyl collections can be expensive and many people don't have the advantage of starting with their parent's collection. This is why we need Vinyl Porn: videos of turntables and records posted by people who want to share their collections with the public.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Vinyl Porn, feel free to peruse some in our previous two installments: Vinyl Porn, and Viny Porn 2: Some Suggestions for Your Collection or skip ahead to our next installment: Vinyl Porn 4: The New Wave of Vinyl Listeners

The Debate Continues?
On music blogs and chat sites, as well as comments on numerous YouTube channels and other places where the debate over format is still alive, there are many detractors to the 'return to vinyl' resurgence: they suggest that the recent upsurge in vinyl sales is just a fad that was started by hipsters discovering their parents collections and will soon fade into memory. Well this 'fad' seems to have been going on for more than five years and still seems to be on the upward swing with the release of Jack White's album Lazaretto, which has set a new sales record. Some detractors suggest that vinyl-lovers are only fooling themselves into hearing a difference in quality and are simply 'nostalgic' for an old-tymey sound. This argument suggests that we cannot trust our own ears, but at the same time is something which is actually not possible for many vinyl lovers that have turned to the format and yet are under the age of twenty-five, which would mean that LPs would have left most major retail shelves before they were born. Some of those that criticize the vinyl format suggest that vinyl lovers have a strange fetish for the hiss and pop of dirt and static in the grooves, when the truth is that most vinyl listeners are usually quite vigilant in diminishing unecessary surface noise with proper cleaning and care of their records.
   And lastly, some suggest vinyl is irrelevant to certain people because they listen to house music and electronica and therefore don't need the higher resolution of analog sources; this is quite possibly the strangest argument out there, considering that dance music and modern DJs have been some of the most vocal people about the quality and distinctiveness of LPs and turntables. If anything, dance-music bands and fans of electronica have played a significant role in the resurgence of vinyl. Daft Punk's Random Access Memories album, just last year(2013) was recorded in analog and released on vinyl; it set sales records, won awards, and is often the most-cited example of most analog vs. digital debates on all blogs or comments. To suggest that dance-music fans aren't interested in 'the vinyl sound' is a very good hint that someone isn't really listening to the fans of dance-music.
  To some people, the debate is over and they've made their decision one way or the other. But the truth is that none of us, all music-lovers, would be having this debate or discussion if we searched through our parents and grandparents album collection, spun some records and thought they sounded terrible. Instead, with a little care and cleaning, most people are finding that they sound great. In fact, those under 25 that are accused of being 'nostalgic' are simply discovering, sometimes for the first time, the sound quality that their parents remember well. The low, fat, thump of a real bass drum, the tap and tingle of the cymbals and hi-hat, the bounce and beat of a bass-string and crisp transition and clarity of guitars and horns.
 In the video example on the above left, we hear one of those iconic records: A copy of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars album, cued to the song 'Starman' and with the help of high-resolution digital audio we can almost hear the true sound of the 12-string acoustic guitars playing at the beginning of the song, yet somehow this made-for-youtube version still pales in comparison to the real audio of the analog copy that is being shown spinning on the turntable.

CDs are obsolete?
  Those of us who know that vinyl is the superior-sounding musical form have realized for a long time that CDs, though a technological breakthrough of their era, are actually a downgrade in sound quality. And although digital formats are claimed to have less problems of wear and tear than analog, the truth is that digital formats are far from impervious or indestructible, and have their own set of problems and corruptions due to compression, programming flaws and even loss of data from file corruption or damage due to computer viruses and other sorts of dastardly programming. Sound quality and sabotage set aside, part of the problem with digital has to do with changing formats, which changes the playback technology and leaves some formats behind while production pursues the most popular format with the most consumers. Regardless of quality, most of these formats, when production has left them behind become obsolete: Sony Betamax tapes, HD-DVDs, etc. However, some formats, like vinyl records and cassette tapes, remain useful to those who are not pleased by the quality of new formats. It's unclear as to how CDs might remain relevant when digital music capability has passed them by.
   And while CDs were once the dominant form, once again, we are faced with such a dilemma: CDs are quickly being replaced by more portable and transferable mp3 files and their accompanying playback devices, and soon the stacks and stacks of CD collections that people have may be viewed as being mostly obsolete. But mp3s are, once again, usually not an improvement in sound quality, and If CDs continue to decline in popularity, then perhaps even more people will return to vinyl as well. And why not? Sometimes returning to a previous incarnation of sound is the best way, just as most of the best amplifiers still make use of tube-based transistors. We hope that the best technology, or the one in which we've invested the most time and money, will win out, but it doesn't necessarily happen that way.
   Here, we've posted a video that can only be described as an extreme example of technological regression; Feel free to be astonished as you watch a CD literally transformed into a phonographic record and played back on a turntable in less than seven minutes, thus turning a seemingly out-of-date medium into its more relevant and hip ancestor for the sake of having a more practical musical medium.
   And yet, some of us still don't have turntables and to build a collection may take years, so this is why we need vinyl porn....

Late 60s, early 70s Movie Soundtracks
 And when we think of vinyl porn, we might think about having a 'sexy party', such as seemed to be all the rage in movies made in the late 1960s and early 70s. A younger generation might not know about such movies or music if not for parodies by Mike Myers and his Austin Powers trilogy or send-ups done in sit-coms like 'Family Guy'. At the time, movie producers, mostly British, were scrambling to find music that would successfully appeal to a younger (at that time, the baby-boomers) generation of movie-goers, but rather than hire rock bands, or using music by psychedelic or progressive rockers, most of these movies simply wanted to hire a songwriter to 'update' the existing orchestras that were used to score their movies. The result was a much more amusing and less serious 'rock-influenced' music that suggested something romantic or sexy. Usually these songs utilized the alto saxophone, a twangy beatles-ish guitar riff or bass-line that suggested a jazz influence, but nothing so serious as fusion jazz or funk.
 Of course, the 'sexy parties' referred to by certain cartoon characters are closely associated with camp comedy, such as in the British 'Carry On...' movies. Camp comedy has always been much more of a european thing, but in these modern times, we hope that people of all cultures can feel free to dance as effeminately as they wish.
    And since we're blogging about movie music from the early seventies, we might want to peruse what was considered to be the 'surround sound' of the analog era. Quadrophonic sound systems unfortunately never caught on the way that Stereo did, and most of the recordings produced in Quadrophonic sound were large-scale orchestra recordings, but the equipment itself is still sought after by audiophiles and music lovers. This video shows a vintage quadrophonic system with all the old-style luxurious cabinetry restored while playing a song from a Dean Martin film. All this while looking over an audio system that you'd love to have in your living room.

The Vinyl Community (or VC)
On Facebook, Twitter & various other networking sites, many fans of vinyl exist and want to share their thoughts, opinions and collections, as well as whatever gem or 'grail' they've recently found in a flea market or record-store. This is particularly effective on YouTube and other video sites where these vinyl-afficionados can be seen holding up copies of their favourite albums. Needless to say, some of these albums are vintage, some are out-of-country pressings, and some are recently re-issued. Fans of a particular band or genre of music can often watch a video as long as twenty minutes and feel marvelously entertained, especially when the person in the video is holding up really cool album covers and waxing poetic/nostalgic/romantic about this record and how the music contained therein took hold of their hearts/minds/bodies at some point in their youth/teens/twenties/college/mid-life/pensioner-years.
   True music fans don't stop listening to music when they turn twenty-two, even if they work too hard and don't have time to really pay attention to a talented musician or whatever happens to be top of the charts right now. True music lovers also want to share with others, often across genres that don't seem to fit with one another. You can find fans from every culture and community. Funk Fans appear from places where they would have no idea of the culture of inner-city USA that gave birth to the music. Eighties-music fans appear and speak of bands like the Cult or Siouxsie and the Banshees even though it's clear that they are not old enough to have truly experienced the 1980s. And sometimes someone who is clearly a hard-rocker holds up a Roxy Music album and says "I like this a lot!". The Vinyl Community, as it currently exists, seems to break down cultural barriers and stereotypes easily and without fail, and helps prove what many people already know; music is the international language.
   One of the most popular, knowledgeable of the YouTube Vinyl Community is Dereck Higgins who goes by dereckvon, and has a near-encyclopedic collection of progressive rock, but also has a wide range of tastes in music. Heavy Metal 80s fans would enjoy LJ's channel at BioCYTE1 although he does recommend a country tune or two. Collector-oriented vinyl lovers would probably gravitate to Doctor Deadwax and probably join him for a virtual beer while talking about vinyl. Robert Z and GuessImjustaSpudBoy (AKA Ottavio) are representative of collectors who enjoy 'the dig' and a few jokes rather than just the brand new vinyl or the rare stuff. Do You love the Beatles, The Who, David Bowie and others but aren't actually old enough to remember their glory years?; check out Paige Martin and Dylan Harrison channels. VinylFury is hosted by one of the calmest voices of the internet, while sequoiaflame has a host with an infectious giggle. Of course, the list of vinyl community members goes on and on, and it keeps growing every day, so if any of the channels I've suggested don't appeal, you can always find something to your liking.
  At the same time, whenever something good appears, there are always those who attempt to jump on the bandwagon. Sometimes they are there for fun, and sometimes it's to make trouble. It's usually easy to tell who those people are, but not always. One clear bone of contention in the Vinyl Community is the supposed 'Record Doctor' Atticus Martin. Mr Martin is currently posting his videos on a channel called GOZER'S DEN. Despite having an air of authenticity, appearing in well-produced videos with excellent camera-work and editing, this supposed 'professional record-restorer' is probably the most controversial figure in the Vinyl Community today. Needless to say, we at Very Us Mumblings do not condone or endorse any of the methods used by this person, and advise vinyl-lovers of the squeamish-type to avert their eyes to some parts of this video when Mr Martin's methods become 'extreme'.

It's Friday Night...
It's Friday Night, you and the spouse/partner/long-term-relationship-person are cozy on the couch, but the movie and/or hockey game is over and you don't feel like watching the bad news or the late night talk shows. At the same time you don't feel like going straight to bed, because you just put the kids to sleep and this is the only moment of peace you'll get because the weekend you've got planned is full of kids stuff and a bunch of household duties. In a moment of brilliance you shut off the T.V. and tell your girlfriend/boyfriend or significant other: "Hey. Why don't we listen to some music?"
    "Sure." is the response. "Something laid back or Romatic. Something on vinyl."
   "Laid back? Romantic?" you say. "I don't have anything like that on vinyl."
   "Why not?" asks the spouse/partner/long-term-relationship-person.
   "Because I'm forty-something, got two kids and all i've head of recorded music for the last ten-plus years is Justin Bieber, Myley Cyrus and the new crappy-version of the Chipmunks. I think the last album that I actually bought for myself was Limp Bizkit back in 1999."
    So, you go to the computer, direct your browser to mofizzy.blogspot.ca and Very Us Mumblings and discover that there is a new blog entry on Viny Porn (Part 3) and find the section called It's Friday Night... and to the upper right you find this Vinyl-Porn video of a song by Sade, shot in High Def video and posted on YouTube by a person with much better taste in romantic music than yourself and you click on it and then expand to fullscreen and play in HD 720, then head back to the couch...
    thus ending part 3 of Vinyl Porn. Remember to enjoy vinyl responsibly.



P.S.:    Or, instead of Sade, you could go another direction:


Do you want more sexy, warm, spinning vinyl action? Check out:
Vinyl Porn 4:The New Wave of Vinyl Listeners