Thursday, January 27, 2011

Forays Into Forgotten Vinyl - Vinyl Tidings


Mine and YourZ truly were weaned on a diet of flat black plastic growing up.  As we moved from teen petulance to young adult… well, erm, petulance, our vinyl collections were suddenly usurped by digital interlopers called CDs.  Because we (and yes, I have the courage, in this instance, to speak for both of us) are attracted by bright shiny things, our poor vinyl collections were superseded.  

Also out were the good old reliable turntables, replaced first by CD players then by DVD players.  We loved the new technology because we could pogo, mosh and/or bump'n'grind in front of the stereo without any fear of a causing a skip, jump or scratch.

Unlike most, however, we couldn’t let go of our albums.  When we combined households years ago, we both dragged two crates of records into the mix as well.  We used the full as speaker stands but found the more we looked at them, the more we longed for a record player.

Then late last year, Mine purchased, for a modest price, a Technics SL-D2 direct drive turntable (which apparently was considered quite good in its day).  Soon after, she also got a great preamp as a Christmas present. And this is where the music part of this post starts.

Christmas Day, instead of traditional carols, we played every single Midnight Oil album and the one single we owned.  It was like listening to a time machine, a powerful reminder of days gone by.  We listened to lots of other music too - The Flowers, Divinyls, John Kennedy, Paul Kelly, The Hollowmen and INXS, to name just the Australian acts (or at least those we could remember - we had a very jolly Christmas).  But it was Midnight Oil who ruled the day.  

We started with Place Without A Postcard, followed by Head Injuries, then 10, 9, 8..., Red Sails In The Sunset and the Power And The Passion single with a dub version on the B side - not necessarily in the right chronological order, but close.  As I listened, I felt connected with a time when life was stretched way out in front of me, brimming with all sorts of possibilities.  It teased me with the exuberance of youth I no longer have while reminding me of how good I have it now.  It was also the perfect way to spend a Christmas Day with the one I love.



While many of my friends and acquaintances have chosen to throw away their vinyl collection, I've never been able to my records go.  While more and more old music is re-released on CD and for download, many of the albums I loved in my youth miss out.  So for some time now, I've trawled the pages of eBay looking for my holy grail - a Direct Drive turntable in good condition at a reasonable price.

I have to confess that I bought this particular model because it was one I'd used before.  In fact, when my first husband bought it sometime in the late 70s it was very expensive and state-of-the-art.  I love the fact that it has a series of black lines on the side of the platen - so you can adjust the speed for pin-point 33 and 45 rpm speeds.

When I first bought it, we went in search of a phono preamp and picked one up for a very small sum.  Be warned, cheap preamps aren't worth the cash, and we abandoned our first vinyl session pretty quickly after finding a bass hum - probably because it wasn't earthed.  But Christmas Day dawned and the first crisp, clear notes rang out.  As did the hisses and crackles from long-ago times, and the odd jump as we re-learned to tip-toe past the turntable. (Do you have the same song in your head that I do?)

What I thought was remarkable about the rest of that day wasn't that we chose to play all our Midnight Oil (come on, Peter Garrett is our federal MP!) but that there were very few arguments about what we were going to play.  We pulled out lots of albums, scattered them all around the room and had a hoot of a time.  We danced (well, I danced), sang and generally carried on as if we were 20 years younger.

More please.



  1. You guys are sound purists aren't you? :-)

  2. It could be seen that way. But I do like the raw, unpolished, lo-fi stuff too.


  3. Speaking of vinyl-- do the two of you have a mono/stereo preference? By mono/stereo preference I don't mean music that was originally recorded in mono vs. music that was originally recorded in stereo. I mean music that was originally recorded in mono vs. material that was originally recorded in mono then remastered and re-released in stereo (for example the Beatles catalog up until about Revolver or Rubber Soul-- I believe Sgt. Peppers was the first of their albums actually recorded in stereo)

  4. As Mine said, if The Beatles could have recorded in stereo, she believes they would have. I agree with this take. We're definitely 'stereo' all the way. I can't think of the last time I heard something recorded in mono.