Over the holidays I was able to dive heart first into a love of mine I haven’t had the opportunity to explore in the past. I’ve been intrigued by turntables, vinyl, the authentic sounds produced by records since I was a boy. Of course, modern technology has made the turntable all but obsolete. But, upon further research, I was shocked to discover that vinyl hasn’t gone the way of the dinosaur just yet.
One of my Christmas gifts was an Audio-Technica unit and a set of speakers. I’ve eyed this particular model for some time and I couldn’t’ have been more thrilled to crack it open and try it out. But then there was the task of choosing records, and I didn’t want to just go at it without a purpose. So, I decided I’d dedicate my new turntable to sampling music I don’t ordinarily listen to. Jazz will always be at the topic of the list, and right way I knew I wanted a few classics by Miles Davis, John Coltrane, etc. You haven’t experienced authentic jazz until you’ve listed to an actual record. Digital just doesn’t do it justice.
My first choice was my favorite Miles Davis record of all time, Kinda Blue, followed by Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”. I played those practically nonstop, until I stumbled upon the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s album “So It Is”. I’d never before heard any of their music, but the tunes had a very New Orleans vibe. It’s upbeat and fun and reminds me why I fell in love with jazz in the first place. “So It Is” is a great soundtrack for winding down, believe it or not, especially after a particularly crazy work day. I put on the record, made a martini and was, for the next several hours, happy as a pig in shit.
As with any passion pursued, if done right, there’s much to learn, and taking care of vinyl is no exception. Don’t touch the record, only the edges. Clean them every few weeks. Don’t keep vintage vinyl in the sleeve it came in. Clean your records every few weeks. Make sure your needle stays free of dust and lint. Buy a special cleaner, only rinse your records with distilled water….so on and so forth. Needless to say, the learning curve is pretty steep, and curating the perfect collection is an art, not a science. And finding great deals on records is a skill that takes time and practice to master. But the best and most enduring reward is being able to enjoy great music on a platform that isn’t as ubiquitous as it was two or three decades ago, and that’s what makes it so rewarding.
I haven’t been as vigilant quite yet about avoiding spending premium price for records. The most expense one I’ve bought to date is around twenty bucks. Friends tell me yard sales thrift stores and the like are a great place to find hidden gems, but I have yet to really dive into this. Give me some time. If there are diamonds in the rough to be found, I’ll find them. In the meantime. I’m thrilled that I get to explore something that’s been an interest of mine for so long. And I’m always on the lookout for amazing finds. If you have any, shoot me a note or drop your suggestions in the comments. I’m all ears!