Rockbrat Wonders: About the vinyl revival, MP3s and Al Kooper

So it’s 18th of June, June 2013, lunch break, and I’m indulging in a little aimless wandering through the inner city streets of the national capitals CBD. I turn my pockets inside out but can’t even find a buck. An aimless wander without dough. It’s the library for me, but then, for old time’s sake I head into one of the cities two remaining music retailers that sell second hand records with the intent of killing time perusing the racks. Must be a sign of the times, because no longer do I delve into the racks perusing the LP’s that I could add to my expansive collection. On the contrary, I head straight to the new Hip Hop LPs’, looking for obscure Australian artists who command a several hundred dollar asking price on eBay. I’m outta luck. So I check out some of the bins with LPs by Australian artists in the hope that I may stumble upon a folk or prog rarity. Alas, I’m not that lucky. What I do find though, are several LP’s I once owned. My Sports LPs, a couple of Radiators LPs. There’s even some of my old 7”s there I see.  For a moment, I feel a little dejected. The irony is not lost on me. For 20+ years collecting records meant so much to me, but not nowadays. Life changes, priorities change. I still love music, always will, but I will never ever be an all-consuming, collecting completest – of anything, again. I still have a couple of hundred albums, more than most people do in 2013, but considering I’ve whittled that down from over 2000, that figure sits comfortably with me. The guy who I sold these to must have sold them on to this store, cos I didn’t sell them to this store. I look around at the 30 or so crates of records that line the floor. Most are reasonably priced at 4 to 5 bucks a piece or so – but nobody’s buying. There’s racks filled with remastered and reissued LPs, 180 gram vinyl and original packaging etc etc. Why ? What’s the point of that? Is it for the “warmth” of the sound ? Purely nostalgia for mine. If some audio geek would like to qualify it for me, please do. Yes, I know that MP3’s are compressed to the hilt, but for the average listener, they more than suffice. I recently bought Carolyne Mas’s first 3 albums on Mp3 (none are available on CD), direct from Carolyne’s website. 30 songs for $10, all delivered at 320 kbs – and although they are not “warm” they still sound GREAT!  Who has time to sit down and actually listen to a record nowadays top to bottom ? It’s a nice notion isn’t it ? Pull up the bean bag, crack open a frosty root beer and a bag of nuts, drop the needle in the groove, crank up the volume, read the inner sleeve and take in the sounds of the big hi-fi stereo. It’s a nice thought, and if you have the time and capacity to still do that, happy trails to you. I certainly don’t have that luxury of time, though I’d again like to one day. Anyway, I digress. Music retail is a dying species. Cold fact. You really think in ten years some 20 year old is gonna want to go buy a copy of the Beatles remastered LP’s yet again? Probably not.  The same store is selling the bulk of their CD’s for 4 to 5 bucks. You wouldn’t have seen this 10 years back. CD’s are also on the slide. Kids want to download music, legally or otherwise. That’s reality, the Jeanie is out of the bottle. The stores PA is playing a copy of The Who’s “Who’s Next” album. Cool man. Although, when you haven’t heard tracks like “The Song Is Over” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in a while, I come to the conclusion that new bands can continue to release new music for the next umpteen years – and its mostly superfluous, as all you really need is one classic, such as this one. Do you really need anything else ? Nah, not really.  Amongst the albums I see that are given the 180g reissue treatment include Motorhead, Sun Ra, Stryper, and even the Motleys double LP best of. I spy an album cover that is familiar to me, having seen it in countless times in second hand stores over the years, though never bought it. It’s “The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper”, the blues classic recorded at The Fillmore in 69, with Santana and Elvin Bishop and others. Although I’m aware of both their history & influence (particularly with Dylan etc) I have never listened to this album. The packaging, admittedly, did look good, and with the lives shots, you can get an idea of what it must have been like to be at the Fillmore that night. I thought to myself, I’m gonna buy this, even at $30. For a second I almost took it off the rack and walked to the counter to pay for it. Then I glanced over and saw some of my old LP’s dressed in their $4 price tags, looking up at me forlornly like unwanted dogs at the RSPCA animal shelter. I shoved the record back into the rack and walked out the store, and just bought a digital copy from Amazon for half the price – 15 bucks. Vinyls been dead for 20 years  – it ain’t coming back friends, and it had better make room for the CD too! Buy it here

One thought on “Rockbrat Wonders: About the vinyl revival, MP3s and Al Kooper

  1. Please don’t despair – it’s apparent you are in a bad place concerning record buying. I’m sure the passion will return. As far as I am concerned re the subject, it’s Happy Trails for me! Cheers John
    PS I remember the name Caroline Mas, but can’t place it – Google, here I come.

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