Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vinyl Records – 60 Years Strong and Still in the Groove

I want to thank Jeffrey B. Palmer, Director of Marketing & Communications at the The Vinyl Institute for allowing me the exclusive right to reprint his wonderful article about the love for vinyl records.

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 23, 2008 – In 1948, Dr. Peter Goldmark developed the first long-playing record made of PVC. Vinyl records were quieter than the earlier shellac disks, could play at 33 1/3 rotations per minute which allowed up to 30 minutes per side of playing time, and were more affordable and less sensitive than shellac.

Today, to paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the death of vinyl records have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, their popularity has received a louder buzz throughout the country in just the past couple of months.

The Aug. 5 "Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer" noted The Flip Side music store was saved from extinction by adding used and new vinyl records and refurbished turntables to its inventory.

The Aug. 6 "Charlotte (N.C.) Observer" reported vinyl LP's at Lunchbox Records accounts for 45 percent of its sales.

In the Aug. 17 "Buffalo (N.Y.) News" Kelly Mordaunt, Record Theatre's University Plaza manager and buyer, claimed much of his vinyl-buying customers are "college age and under."

The Aug. 20 "Boston (Mass.) Herald" reported a Newbury Comics music superstore opening in Norwood will carry an extensive inventory of new vinyl records.

In just the last four weeks, independent news features on the growing demand for vinyl records have run in newspapers in Pueblo, Colo.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Bellingham, Wash.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Spokane, Wash.: Superior, Wis., and "The New York Times."

And the Sept. 23 "Fort Worth Star-Telegram" reported A + R Record & Tape Manufacturing in Dallas has seen a 25 percent upturn in vinyl record production in the last three years, prompted by interest in hip hop, dance, and punk rock records.

To meet the widespread demand, more musicians are releasing their latest recordings on both vinyl and CD - Madonna, U2, Buddy Guy, R.E.M., the Drive By Truckers, Elvis Costello, and Wilco among them. Neil Young typically releases both LP's and CD's of his music.

Sundazed Records has developed a large catalog of "high definition" vinyl reissues of 1960's rock mainstays like The Byrds, Love, Spirit, The Remains, Jefferson Airplane, The Stooges, Aretha Franklin, and Bob Dylan.

Also answering the demand for new/old vinyl recordings, Capitol/EMI Records launched its Capitol Vaults reissues Sept. 2, including classic rock chestnuts like Steve Miller Band's Greatest Hits 1974-1978 and the Beach Boys' 1966 Pet Sounds, as well as the music catalogs of newer rock bands like Radiohead and Coldplay. Capitol Records' Jane Ventom indicated the releases are aimed at "audiophiles who continued to collect vinyl through its leanest years, baby boomers who are dusting off turntables, and the iPod generation that's discovering classics on vinyl." Some record companies are offering digital downloads or CD versions of albums with the purchase of a vinyl copy.

However, many simply prefer the sound of an analog recording on vinyl instead of its digital alternative. Words they use to describe their vinyl treasures are "richer," "warmer," "more natural," "more durable," "better bass," and simply "cooler."

Vinyl-philes also revel in the indescribable joy of taking a vinyl record out of its sleeve, gazing at the album cover art, reading liner notes without the aid of a microscope, playing the record through one side and flipping it over, and even the occasional pop and skip of a scratched record. One long-time vinyl enthusiast remarked, "With vinyl, music listening is an experience, not just knocking off a couple of songs on your iPod while commuting to work."

Other vinyl releases recent and planned include re-issues of Paul McCartney & Wings' Band on the Run, John Lennon's Imagine, Jimi Hendrix' Band of Gypsys, The Eagles' Hotel California, The Allman Brothers' Live at Fillmore East, Def Leppard's Pyromania, The Who's Who's Next, and a deluxe box set of the late jazz trumpeter Miles Davis' legendary Kind of Blue sessions.

While sales of CD's have continued to drop over the last few years, 17 percent in 2007 from the previous year, sales of new vinyl LP's continue to surge, a 37 percent increase from 2006 to 2007. The Recording Industry Association of America states 1.3 million new vinyl recordings were sold in the United States in 2007, and analysts project annual sales to range from 1.6 million to 2 million by the end of 2008. Also, sales of new turntables nearly doubled in a year, from 275,000 in 2006 almost half a million in 2007.

Another plus for vinyl recordings -- no "laser rot." An article in the Aug 22 "Detroit (Mich.) News," stated laser rot is when the aluminum coating on the surface of old CD's and DVD's oxidizes and degrades, becoming irretrievably corroded. Old school vinyl recordings are immune to such digital deterioration.

The imminent demise for CD's may also be exaggerated. But while they have been around for only 27 years, vinyl LP's are 60 years old, and still spinning.

The Vinyl Institute represents the leading manufacturers involved in the production of PVC vinyl in the United States, and promotes the value of PVC and vinyl products to society.

For more information, contact:
Jeffrey B. Palmer
Director of Marketing & Communications
The Vinyl Institute
(703) 741-5669

Also go to: and

Collecting Vinyl Records

Unless you were born with no historical sense of music's roots, then you are familiar with vinyl records. If unfamiliar, vinyl records are an analog sound storage medium that in essence forms its effects from a flat disc with inscribed modulated spiral grooves. So what is the big deal? Surely that is what you are asking in the digital age of I-pods, Cds, MP3s and phone audio tools. Truth be told vinyl records were revolutionary for their time, and even to this very minute, monumental in shaping the future of digital music and sound. Vinyl records are obviously much more difficult to find these days due to massive advances in audio, however just like seeking a black and white TV, they still exist and are very real.

When young individuals hear about vinyl records they immediately assume they are obsolete and thus not worth their time. The irony is these records are part of the mainstream youth movement behind Hip Hop and Techno, and that's just to name a few. When you go to the club and hear the DJ, chances are he is using vinyl, and some of the most recognizable beats are due to spinning the modulated grooves on these discs. That is not to say that vinyl is all of a sudden mainstream again, but its effects are monumental and heard every single day spanning the 7 continents.

True albums on vinyl, to the biggest music enthusiasts, are like gold in record form. One of the biggest reasons vinyl records are still actively discussed today is for its nostalgic persona. But it goes beyond just remembering buying your favorite Beatles or Rolling Stones album in the 1960's. Vinyl records have had a rap for as long as they have been around about their ability to create a more authentic, real sound unmatched by digital reproductions of the same songs. Because of vinyl's linking to the positive influences of gramophone records, listeners are left with a more visceral experience.

Vinyl records are also a benchmark in the evolution of music, and serve as a bookmarked chapter in the bridge to the digital age. Collectors all over the world constantly discuss, trade and still seek out their favorite albums, almost a reminder to how much audio has changed for the better. Besides just being a warm blanket that covers music's die hard fans, vinyl records serve as an important lesson to the compression and presentation of audio beats for amazing audio output.

Mike Campbell has been a vinyl record enthusiast for 35 plus years. For more information on collecting vinyl records, and also to pick up on a few rare finds visit us at

Classic Rock Videos

The Animals - It's My Life

Album Cover Art

Here we are at #12 on the's list of the sexiext and dirtiest album cover art (Gigwise comments in quotes)

12. Ice-T: ‘Gangsta Rap’- "The rapper’s latest album, released in 2006, features Ice-T and his Playboy model wife Nicole Coco Austin complete naked sprawled across a bed presumably after the act of love-making. Unsurprisingly, some sales companies and stores objected to the artwork and refused to stock the record."

Though "Gangster Rap" seems destined to be more or less ignored the way all of Ice-T's albums in the last ten-plus years have been (in it's first week of release the album is ranked 6,000 in Amazon CDs and Best Buy isn't even stocking it at any of their stores in my area), Ice and his fans can take some solace in the fact that the album is Ice's most invigorated sounding disc- and his most professional, tightly produced disc - since 1993's "Home Invasion" - and if you didn't care for that one (I know a few fans who didn't) we might as well give this one the ultimate praise of his best since the landmark "O.G. Original Gangster" album from 1991.

While nothing here scales the heights of almost anything on "O.G.", it is important to remember it is a different time than Ice's heyday and that the rap game and sound is far different. Ice is smart enough to know that even his greatest albums would not be looked at as revolutionary today the way they were back in the mid to late 80's; so he has crafted an album that caters to much of the rap sound and production techniques of today, but lyrically Ice is still bringing us the kind of gangster rhymes that put him on the map. This isn't always a positive since, judging by the evidence submitted by his recent albums, it means almost every album includes a host of predictable tracks: the boastful tracks about how hardcore he is, the explicit sex jam, the umpteenth telling of his upbringing; how he used to hustle, pimp and rob jewelry stores; and his most obnoxious habit of beginning almost every other song by shouting his name, the year and the title of the album we are listening to and punctuating all three with an expletive ("Yeah! Ice-T. 2006. Gangster Rap, bi_ch!"). But most of the time Ice is so good at writing these kinds of rhymes, repetitive or not, the songs usually work. Rappers write about what they know and have seen, experiences that most of us should pray we never have to endure. This writing has become something of theatre in the rap world these days (you never know if today's rappers have lived through what they rap about or if they are just mimicking their idols or telling outlandish, exciting stories to sound hardcore, top the competition and sell more records), but Ice-T and all the rappers that broke out around the same time back in the day were the real deal, and the reason they - and rap - caught on was because no one had ever so bluntly told these stories before in music. So if we've heard all of Ice's gangster tales before, I suppose all he can do is try to dress them up in new ways and move them around in different directions to keep them fresh. On this album, for the most part, he accomplishes that.

Like his last outing, 1999's "Seventh Deadly Sin," this album is a tad uneven. There will be a great song, then two or three that don't really do anything for you, but then a pair that are good enough to stand along side Ice's best stuff. Unlike "Seventh Deadly Sin" though, there are far more high points here (I'd say ten or so of the albums 16 songs will get some heavy rotation in my CD player for a while) than low, this album is not as ugly and underground; even though the lyrics are often as hard as we have come to expect, Ice and his producers have turned their attention to the music; a lot of the tracks have a bounce to them that Ice has maybe never displayed before - surely not since his heyday.

But there are a few route outings. The first track is fun for a few minutes, with Ice name dropping all the old school rappers he came up with, but it grows tiresome and track two, like a few others here and many on past Ice albums, is a perfect example of what I'm talking about when I refer to some of Ice's lazy, boastful and unconvincing attempts to keep reinstating that he is the greatest and you better not step to him (isn't this the guy who, on his "Power" album, said braiging about yourself on your records is "weak s--t from a weak mind... why don't you talk about somethin'/you're just talkin' loud and sayin' nothin'."?). In my humble opinion the album should have kicked off with the third track, "New Life." Here, Ice settles down a bit, let's some of the music do the talking - or at least help him out, and declares he's back, he never went anywhere, and is never going anywhere; well written with good rhymes. He follows that with another high point "Dear God Can You Here Me." Again, good use of music and beats; Ice raps it louder the usual, if there were rock guitars on the track it might feel like a Body Count tune. This song is also the first of three to feature KRYST. All of the songs with his hand in them are among the better ones on the album. With track six, "Pimp or Die," more of that standard issue rap that Ice is better than, and seven, "Pray," a song featuring Mrs. Ice-T (and the album's cover girl), Coco, that is well intentioned but unfortunately grows obnoxious, we are starting to realize the pattern this album will take; giving us a few good songs followed by a few that you can simply move past. Track nine, "Real Talk" has some funky musical chops on it. Ice raps in a low, relaxed Snoop-ish tone. This track is this album's comin' up/what-I`ve-accomplished-in-the-game-thus-far opus, and not bad. It's also got Kryst on it again. "Walkin' in the Rain" is this album's best shot at a single. If Ja Rule and Ashanti can have a hit with that stupid ballad they had out a few years ago, Ice certainly deserves one for this. Thug love has rarely sounded so genuine. Set it to a sample of Barry White's old tune of the same name and you've got something. Similarly, "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" sounds like an old Curtis Mayfield tune. It's one of the smoothest beats Ice has ever laid vocals over. He has a hand here from Smoothe Da Hustler, who sounds like a slightly less gravel-voiced version of DMX. If "Walkin' in the Rain" wouldn't make it as a single, this one just might be Ice's other shot. Also good are two gangster anthems that recall the good old days of "O.G." and the like, "Code of the Streets" and "It's All Love" (there's Kryst again). "My Baby" is this album's sex jam. It's decent as these things go. The album ends with "Twice the Game." This isn't as tiresome as "Ridin' Low," "Pimp or Die" and the like, but it is more of the same. However, when Ice ends an album this solid by declaring he is twice the game, you really can't argue.

Ice-T fans don't need to be told to check this one out, but one-time fans who have lost track of Mr. O.G. over the last decade and are curious about how Ice sounds now, or those who have taken to VH1's "Rap School" and have seen the promos for this new disc and wonder what Ice's legacy is all about will not be disappointed if they give this one a try. It won't set the world - or Ice-T's career - on fire the way it may have at one time, but that is mainly due the sorry state of rap at this point and the fact there doesn't seem to be much of a push to get this album - or most new Ice - material out there these days. A shame considering that some of these tracks could stand up to 50 Cent and the like. (Amazon review by "By Boss Fan")

Double O.G. indeed, Ice. Keep it up.

This Date In Music History-December 11


Bread songwriter David Gates (1940)

Happy birthday to Brenda Lee (1944)

Jermaine Jackson (1954)

Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx (1958)

Birthday wishes to Booker T. Jones (Booker T. & the MG's-1944)

Born on this day in 1961, Darryl Jones, American bassist who has played with the Rolling Stones since Bill Wyman's departure in 1993.

Curtis Williams, Kool & The Gang (1962)

They Are Missed:

Big Mama Thornton was born in 1926. Janis Joplin covered her song “Ball And Chain.” Thornton had a 1953 version of “Hound Dog” before Elvis Presley. She died in 1984.

J. Frank Wilson was born in Lufkin, Texas in 1941 (died 1991). With his band the Cavaliers, he enjoyed a huge hit with 1964's melodramatic "Last Kiss." Pearl Jam later successfully covered the song.

Sam Cooke was shot and killed in a Los Angeles motel in 1964.


The Righteous Brothers "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" was released in 1964. It became their first Billboard Top 40 hit and reach #1 the following February.

In 1972, Genesis made their American live debut with a show at Massachusetts' Brandeis University.

In 2003, the RIAA certified AC/DC's "Back In Black" as the world's second-best-selling album of all time, behind Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

In 1968, the Rolling Stones began taping their Rock 'n' Roll Circus TV special in England, as their album Beggar's Banquet debuted on the British album charts at #3. Guests included the Who, Eric Clapton, Jethro Tull and John Lennon appearing as the Dirty Mac Band, performing "Yer Blues." The Rolling Stones withhold the special from broadcast, a decision which many believe was due to the Who's superior performance on the night.

James Brown released his 32nd album in 1971, "Revolution of the Mind: Live at the Apollo, Volume 3," boasting the half-hour epic "It's a New Day So Let a Man Come In and Do the Popcorn."

The Coasters recorded "Charlie Brown" in 1958.

Aretha Franklin made her New York stage debut in 1960, singing Blues and Pop standards at the Village Vanguard.

Bob Seger released his album "Night Moves" in 1976.

In 1961, Motown achieved their first #1 record when The Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman" reached the top. The session musicians on the track included 22 year-old Marvin Gaye on drums.

Elvis Presley started a 20 week run at the top of the Billboard album chart in 1961 with "Blue Hawaii", his seventh US #1 album.

In 1989, The RIAA certified four Led Zeppelin albums as multi-platinum: "Presence" (2 million), "Led Zeppelin" (4 million), "Physical Graffiti" (4 million) and "In Through The Out Door" (5 million).

In 2002, musicologist and author Rob Durkee compiled a list of The Top Ten Christmas Songs Of All Time (according to sales and radio air play)

1. White Christmas - Bing Crosby - 1942
2. Silent Night - Bing Crosby - 1936
3. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer - Gene Autry - 1949
4. The Little Drummer Boy - Harry Simeone Chorale - 1958
5. Jingle Bell Rock - Bobby Helms - 1957
6. The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole - 1946
7. The Chipmunk Song - David Seville and the Chipmunks - 1958
8. Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee - 1958
9. Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley - 1957
10. Jingle Bells - Bing Crosby / The Andrews Sisters - 1943

No word on where the ‘barking dogs’ were listed…..