The Vinyl Records

I’ve been “collecting” LPs for many years now. In the early years it was the occasional novelty record from a thrift store. At the time I was living at home with the folks and would play these records on my parent’s turntable. Albums like the soundtrack to FM entered my collection during this time. I was also listening to music my parents had on the shelf – Bruce Cockburn’s Night Vision and Michael Hedges’ Watching my life go by come to mind.

In college I made new friends with turntables of their own, and a similar interest in wacky and not-very-good classic rock and polka bands. The Alarm’s Strength dates from this era. So, probably, does that Boston album the name of which I can never remember because it’s the one that doesn’t really have any of their “good” songs on it.

Over the subsequent years I continued to pick up records here and there. My blushing bride brought with her a box or two of LPs that she had amassed, including some great finds from the School of Music’s library sale. I think Smetena’s Moldau was in one of those boxes. Unfortunately, the turntable we brought with us to Toronto at that time was a bit finicky in ways that involved spastic jerks of the arm across the records without warning. My attempts to fix it only made it stop working completely.

Occasionally we’ve adopted entire collections at once. My grandparents’ LPs came to us when they sold their record player (Praise Strings I-III), and an aunt and uncle donated a box of Folkways and other original roots music records (I believe these were given to us the same weekend that I competed in the World Crokinole Championships in Tavistock, ON – another story for another time).

It was about three years ago that we picked up a new and improved turntable, and now we’ve been putting the shoulder to the plow to pick up music that is enjoyable to listen to on a good hi fi system. The challenge is that our LP record shelves (4 wooden crates) are overflowing, and I have to be very selective in my acquisitions.

Looking at these four boxes of records, it struck me that there are a number of albums that I don’t think I’ve ever heard. And there are probably many more that I have heard but completely forgotten. Why should those records take up valuable space on my shelf if they don’t contribute to our sonic ecology? Ditch the duds and free up the space, Simon. But I can’t get rid of any record until I’ve listened at least once. And every record will have to defend its musical (or other) value to remain on the shelf.

So I have started this series of reviews of the records in our collection, and titled the series The Vinyl Record. I hope you enjoy. I’m going to post this little essay and then start my review of Philippe Lapoint’s Transcription.