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02 January, 2011

One Vinyl Archive

My last post was about nostalgia. I remember writing that... Man, that was a good time. I dunno about you, but it seems to me like the world was a little gentler then, people took the time to stop and say hello, offer you some red hots.

But now is now and my sleep this night consisting of the miniscule peninsulae twixt bays echoing with the snoring rollers breaking next to me, coves of stinging salt brine intruding deep into nasal provinves. You know, a cold. So now, to write.

But first, the photo: Marley on Sony on walnut on camel-hair rug on tablesaw on garage floor. This is shortly after christmas, when I received an analog pre-amp to boost the circa 1979 turntable's signal to the 1980-something Panasonic boombox core.

Last time I heard music rumbling up from vinyl coulees was 1990. For more than a decade after, records and player perfected static techniques to amass a latently lithified mantle of dust in my parents' attick. Yeah, I spelled it attick, because fake as it may be, it looks older.

I wiped off dust a few times during the next decade, but the Virginia years were marred by death and dysfunction, poverty and plain ole bad luck. Breaking into a collection consisting primarily of early hardcore--live-fast die-young, dark and hopeless as a death-head's sinus--wouldn't have made sense anyway.

The tech to connect turntable to computer has been around for a while, but I don't want that. I want analog. Not because I am some high-end tube-warmed audiophile, but because I'm a preservationist, cheapskate, occasional luddite, garagelodite.

Likewise with the music. I have one milk crate of albums (plus a few of dad's classical discs), about a dozen 45s, and a couple of those in-between size ones. 10 years worth of Plan 9 purchases, yard sale finds, ironic parental property, and a few precious black platters liberated from unworthy owners. Like I said, a lot of punk, some rock and reggae, a few classical recordings, the standout of which is Karajan conducting the Berlin Phil in Beethoven's 9th. You know, the Clockwork Orange music.

I'd say I regretted nearly half of the records that I ever spent money on. Several can be blamed on my falling for some critic's stupid opinion, others on getting the only thing remotely interesting in a shop full of crap (and finding that the interest remains remote). A bunch of these remain in the collection simply because the milk crate has enough room. I always felt like I'd wanna listen back when I was older, so why get rid of them, why not keep an archive of the 1980s? I guess there are a million reasons not to, but that milk crate stashes so easily, gets out of the way so well, that the collection remains.

So now I get to fulfil that prophecy, and reminisce over the vibrations of diamond on vinyl.

Kids don't always understand the earnest social commentary and subtle ironies of band names like "Millions of Dead Cops" or songs like "Fucked up Ronnie" (Reagan, of course. One memory that struck from vinyl days was repeatedly opening the dorm door and blasting from my huge homemade speakers the opening line "Ronald Reagan, You're Fucked Up!" Ahhh...good times. I bet everyone else on the floor remembers that fondly as well.)

So I started with Bob Marley. Catch a Fire stayed one of my favorites since the time I first heard it. Besides, it's from 1973, I think, a year that echoed through my collection. That's the year of Ziggy Stardust, Dark Side of the Moon, something by Led Zep (like my sister and I were saying the other day, once you get past your adolescently self-conscious loathing of mainstream stuff, you find out that some of it is great), and several other titles that I randomly spew (maybe correctly) when veering into my rant about how that was maybe the best year for records.

Then I played Surrealistic Pillow to see if the Airplane proved rocking enough for my younger daughter. It came up short at the end of the side, and I may have overshot on the next choice, Raw Power by Iggy and the Stooges. She tore around on her scooter for a while, but by "Death Trip" her eyes seemed a little glazed.

Not sure what's next. I'll amble through the crate, make some discoveries, maybe cull a thing or three, and eventually delve into the hardcore. The girls will all be gone, the garage empty and reverberating. I'll see whether my improvisation lives up to what dad taught me about the physics of record players: concrete floor under a heavy metal table under a rug (to dampen whatever vibrations sneak through) under a planed and leveled slab of wood with high specific gravity under a solid turntable under a record under a needle. Can I crank it up loud enough to create feedback?

Regardless, my mind will loop back to first listenings. Fresh rebelry, Reagan's spectral shadow, loving life but not knowing it, other blatherings of the insomniac. Why speculate? This was about nostalgia, not what's next.

Good night.

1 comment:

  1. I'll be waiting for certain memories from the Hard Times period to leak into the reminiscinses (heck with the spelling: how 'bout MEMORIES?) of the louder years. I promise not to scan and post the one or two pics I have left over (including at least a couple stolen from the trash), but if you leave out your "aweeem-awepp"ing in the jungle, the quiet jungle - or being on a White Cross (or was it Minor Threat ... ?) album cover, moshing in our grandfather's shirt, I will be disappointed ...