Saturday, November 8, 2008

Return of the?Vinyl Record

Out of the Blue and Back to the Black

written by Christopher Stadolnik

Vinyl sounds better. It's as simple as that. Real music is analog. And if your music is not created organically then you have more pressing issues to address than deciding what format your next media purchase will be on. My suggestion to you is to divert the money you have been spending on ecstasy and glow sticks towards the acquisition of some good music. After your sonic rebirth, return and finish this article. Those to whom this does not pertain may continue reading.

MP3 players are terribly convenient. But their convenience comes at a price. MP3 files are compressed by discarding some of the actual content of the song. The bit rate of MP3 files is generally 128?kbps compared to 1,411.2?kbps for uncompressed music on a CD. This means that when you listen to an MP3 you only listen to about one tenth of the actual song.

CDs also have their drawbacks. They offer a format with no audio degradation and are functionally similar to vinyl records. But unscrupulous music producers have sacrificed CD music quality in favor of louder mixes over the past decade and a half. The music industry has made a common practice of cutting the frequency response ranges. The perceptible difference between loud and quiet sounds in mixes is so the playback can be made louder.

Why, then, are records superior? They're inconvenient. They're bulky. They're fragile. And they're more difficult to buy. But despite all of their drawbacks, vinyl records have a distinctive appeal that the hardcore collector and casual listener can appreciate.

You can't touch an MP3. And, though there are some visually appealing CD case designs in the marketplace, there is nothing quite like opening a copy of Sticky Fingers with a working zipper cover, spinning the pinwheel on Led Zeppelin III, or thumbing through the leaflets in Live at Leeds. Art is, or at least was, an integral part of experiencing popular music. And holding a work of art in your hands while you listen to the music is a uniquely gratifying experience.

Vinyl sounds better. It is not subject to the compression loss and low frequency response drawbacks of MP3 and CD formats. Vinyl mixes also come in a format no one would ever dream of for a CD/MP3, monophonic. Some of the greatest albums of all time were produced in mono. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was originally produced as a mono mix (The Beatles were not present for the stereo mix down). Songs on the two mixes of the Sgt. Pepper's album sound unquestionably different (the mono is of course the better). Pet Sounds, Sir Paul McCartney's favorite album, was originally produced as a mono mix by one of the greatest rock producers/composers, Brian Wilson.

Acquiring vinyl can be as enjoyable as listening to it. There are new releases and reissues of older records available at Newbury Comics on 180-gram audiophile vinyls that sound fantastic. But there is really no substitute for the original pressings. They have a certain "aura" about them that cannot be reissued. Records are available cheaply at Salvation Army Thrift Stores. Though the "good stuff" is generally in questionable condition, with some patience and luck you can score some great finds (my greatest find to date: Led Zeppelin IV in mint condition for $2).

There are a few real record stores left in the city. Round Again Records at 278 Wickenden Street is a great spot. And Armageddon at 436 Broadway is a standout punk/metal/hardcore store. There are a couple other shops outside Providence for those lucky souls that have access to a car or would brave a RIPTA ride out of town. Zingg Music (formerly In Your Ear on Thayer Street) in Warren is an eclectic store, offering CDs, records both new and old, clothing, art, and musical instruments. The Time Capsule in Cranston sells comic books, movies, and other niche collectables as well as vintage vinyl. The average price per record is $3 which is by far the lowest price and the condition is generally good.

But before you go off and spend money you don't have, ask your parents where their old records are. Your attic may be loaded with Floyd, Dead, and Dylan records starved for love and attention. Your parents probably aren't cool now, but they may have been cool once. Why not take advantage of that?




The Record Ranch introduces auction site with record collectors and music buffs in mind.

Portland, OR, October 27-- The Record Ranch has formally launched its niche auction website at With the focus solely on music, The Record Ranch caters to obsessive fans and collectors worldwide. The website provides an affordable venue for music sellers to list items in auction and/or instant purchase formats. From vinyl to t-shirts to posters to 8-tracks, the category structure of the Record Ranch enables buyers to efficiently find just what they're looking for.

The Record Ranch's format is very similar to eBay, but finely tuned to the needs of music collectors. The pricing structure makes it a more affordable venue, especially for casual music sellers who can't qualify for eBay's Power Seller discounts. Basic listings are free. Enhancements such as subtitles and featured space on the home page can be purchased to spice up listings. Sellers also have the option to open a store free of charge. The final value fees are 4% for sold items up to $100, 3% for sold items between $100 and $200 and 2% for sold items over $200. Sellers may choose to accept payment via diverse methods, including Google Checkout, PayPal and checks/money orders.

Another big difference is the category structure. The Record Ranch is made up of “rooms”. There's a CD Room, a 78s Room and so on. Each room's genre subcategories were created with the obsessive fan/collector in mind. For example, if you're a collector of rockabilly 78s, there is a rockabilly subcategory in The 78s Room. This ensures collectors of a certain specific genre of music will find exactly what they're looking for much more quickly.

The Record Ranch's owner, Chris Celeste explains the overall concept of the site, “basically we're trying to give buyers and sellers an online equivalent of their favorite independent record store, minus the grouchy clerks of course. We want to connect sellers with buyers and buyers with sellers, plain and simple.”

About The Record Ranch:

Based in Portland, OR, The Record Ranch is a small team of record collectors and music geeks who also possess many years of record store, eCommerce, web development and design experience.


Chris Celeste
Phone: 503.307.6862


Classic Rock Videos

The Beach Boys lost concert - Surfer Girl

Album Cover Art

Let's look at #45 of's top 50 sexiest and dirtiest album covers (as compiled by their crack staff):

45. Scorpions: 'Love At First Sting' is the ninth studio album by the German heavy metal band Scorpions, released in 1984. Love at First Sting became the most successful album of the band in the USA where it peaked at number 6 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1984 and went triple platinum. The song "Rock You Like a Hurricane" reached number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the same year, "Still Loving You" reached number 64 on the same chart, number 14 in Germany, number 2 in the French and Swiss Top 50.

"Rock You Like a Hurricane" ranked #31 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs and "Still Loving You" ranked #22 on VH1's 25 Greatest Power Ballads.

An alternate cover showing a photo of the band members is used in several department store chains since they refused to carry the original album cover art.