Thursday, 22 January 2015

Your Records Wear Each Time You Play Them

Your records wear each time you play them.

What was once a simple statement of fact is now an exclamation of incredulity on many an Internet forum. Pre-eighties, the idea that something wore out seemed as natural as the monthly oil change my Dad did on his Ford Thames van. Nothing lasts forever right, I mean that's what that poem by Shelley is all about isn't it? Be it Ozymandias or the 2 pence coin my first girlfriend used on her tone arm to stop the needle skipping, "Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, The lone and level sands stretch far away."

This thought was on my mind after taking a few albums from the family vaults (Mum & Dad's house) when I was researching the Help lp. Along with the Beatles record, I took The Kinks second album, Kinda Kinks. This is a first pressing on the Pye label, purchased in March 1965 making it nearly fifty years old. When buying a second hand record, there are many things to look out for such as scratches and faulty presses which can be gauged visually on the disc. Groovewear however, requires a listen that any self respecting second-hand record emporium will be happy to let you do in store. The fact that so many old records sound so good, is really a testament to vinyl resilience. It wasn't unusual for a tone arm to weigh in at ten to fifteen grams in the fifties & sixties, cheap cartridges in the seventies & eighties forced many, like my aforementioned girlfriend, to take drastic action with coins, chewing gum or even heaven forbid, a Thunderbird 2 pod. Many in the sixties, indeed through the seventies and beyond ignored the warnings that stereo records would be damaged with a mono cartridge, continued blissfully unaware that diamond styli needed changing once a year (six months for sapphire styli). As for the suggestion that a damaged needle would permanently destroy your favorite waxing, well that was just poncey stuff in the punk age.  

So as I listened to this great sounding lp, I was grateful to my parents that had made a cassette copy I could listen to in my room, who had insisted if I wanted to listen to the record I would have to use the half decent turntable in the front room and that they had stored this album correctly (upright) in a dry atmosphere. They are just as responsible as producer Shel Talmy for passing along a truly great sounding record, which being played on my tone arm that tracks at 1.75 grams, will mean when I pass this album to my son it'll still be sounding like The Kinks in Pye Studios performing in the front room.


Nothing lasts forever, but a well cared for vinyl record will outlive you. 

1 comment:

  1. I've still got my old Thorens TD something turntable in the loft complete with SME3 cartridge and P77 stylus. I hated vinyl as you could get minor surface scratches just getting records out of the sleeve and yes the vinyl could wear out. I cant stand snap crackle and pop :-)