Annoying Things About Record Coverage in the Media
Inspired by this post on NPR’s A Blog Supreme, I’ve decided to come up with the annoying things about record coverage in the media. These things are usually front and center whenever there is an article about the “vinyl revival”.
1. The crackly sound. You can substitute scratchy for this one. This talking point just won’t die. Many people seem to think that records by default are supposed to be dingy, scratchy, dusty and archaic sounding things. Provided that a record is mastered properly, it will sound great. Of course, this assumes that the person playing the record is using a clean, properly aligned cartridge, a decent turntable and stores their records well. Preferably sleeved in an upright position on a sturdy shelf or rack. Unfortunately, with the way I’ve witnessed many people handle records (usually like frisbees, with their fingers all over the LP), it’s understandable why many people think records sound like shit. They handle and store them like shit. Usually stacked on the floor, not in an upright position, but on top of each other. The records will become warped when they are stored in this fashion.
If not stored haphazardly on the floor, then they are stored unsleeved in milk crates. Usually in a dank, humid basement or attic. The records are then played on crappy turntables with cartridges that are old as shit. Naturally, it will sound like shit. Somehow, this sound is purported to be charming. I wish more people realized that what they are hearing isn’t charm, but the sound of defects and flaws. Sorry to piss on the parade. Records aren’t meant to sound like that when everything is done properly. Those memories you had of grandpa’s scratchy records just means grandpa took terrible care of his records. He probably had an old, dirty cartridge to boot. That’s a surefire way to get dirt in the grooves and damage records for good. Once you get dirt in the grooves of a record, it’s a wrap.
Record care is something that is sorely lacking outside of the audiophile community. I’ll never forget when a friend saw my record cleaning machine for the first time. She acted like I just stepped off the Star Trek Enterprise. The next time I go over to someone’s house, I will act surprised when I see clean plates. You mean you can wash plates? I thought you were supposed to keep eating off dirty plates. What kind of sorcery is this?
2. Vinyls. This word really grinds my gears. Why is vinyls becoming an acceptable word? It’s completely unacceptable. Why is there a need to pluralize vinyl? Why don’t people know that the plural for vinyl is vinyl? Avoid it all together and just call them records.
3. DJs. Not DJs as people, but the inclusion of DJs in the narrative. Nothing against them, but it seems like every “vinyl revival” story has some DJ scratching an LP. They have little to do with the resurgence of vinyl today. What do they have to do with consumers of music who buy records solely for listening? Absolutely nothing. Despite this, DJs seem to be the central figure in many of these stories. Most DJs today don’t even spin records, they use Serato, or they plugin their iPods or use laptops. Yes, people with iPods are now “disc jockeys”. Funny.
The few that still spin records certainly don’t buy new records. That would be pointless and cost prohibitive since the art of DJing is essentially damaging a record. Most go crate digging. The sales figures for the “vinyl revival” uses SoundScan data. That data only counts sales for new records. This pretty much excludes DJs. Nevertheless, whenever you see a report about the “vinyl revival” on the news, it will no doubt show some DJ scratching records, as if DJs today are why there is a resurgence of vinyl, or as if most of the people buying new records are DJs.
4. The “warm” sound. The word “warm” means different things to different people. Unfortunately, most of the people saying it couldn’t tell you what they mean when they say it. It would be one thing if an audiophile said LP playback on their system sounded warm after adding a McIntosh tube amplifier. It’s quite another to hear someone describe a present day rap record made with pro tools, being played on a USB turntable connected to a computer describe their system as “warm”. It’s clear that they have no idea what they are talking about. They heard someone say “warm” and they ran with it. Unfortunately, the news media always finds this person to quote anytime they need an article. They’re always around to spread misinformation and overall vagueness.
These are the four biggest offenders in my opinion. Anyway, it’s time for me to hop off the soapbox.
Are you into vinyl?
Someone asked me if I was into vinyl. Maybe 42 pages of nothing but records on this blog isn’t enough. hehe
John Coltrane and Paul Quinichette - Cattin’ with Coltrane and Quinichette
Paul Quinichette was affectionately known as ‘The Vice President’ because he sounded similar to Lester Young, who was known as ‘Pres’, which was short for ‘The President’.
I love this photo by Malick Sidibé. A Malian man holding up a Jimmy Smith Blue Note record. I can relate to this picture on multiple levels.
The Jack Shainman Gallery in NYC will present a Malick Sidibé exhibition starting tomorrow with a reception from 6-8pm. More info here.
The 45 RPM x 2 LP pressings of Dexter Gordon’s Blue Note records from Music Matters and Analogue Productions.
Also pictured is the Cisco pressing of One Flight Up.
Our man in Paris was born today.
John Coltrane’s debut as a leader on Prestige records in glorious mono.
John Coltrane - Kulu Sé Mama
I don’t listen to this nearly enough. It’s been a few years actually. Gary Bartz once said A Love Supreme and the period after was essentially gospel music, and that Trane was channeling a higher power. I get it.
Jazz convos with an 8 year old
A convo I had last night with my friend’s 8 year old who likes looking at my record covers.
Kid: *Pointing to a Louis Armstrong compilation LP* - “This says hot jazz.”
Kid: *Pointing to Birth of the Cool by Miles Davis.* - “So is this cool jazz?”
Kid: “Show me the warm jazz please. I don’t like the heat or the cold. I like to be comfortable.”
The Thelonious Monk Quartet - Monk’s Dream
The highly sought nude Electric Ladyland cover by The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Jimi was not happy with this cover and it wasn’t his choice. Nevertheless, it is now a collector’s item. This is the 1st run UK Polydor pressing with this cover.