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Experiencing an Album: Vinyl vs. Digital Downloads

I remember the first record I ever owned. It was a hand-me-down from my mum’s collection – Slade’s “Cum On Feel The Noize”. It was a tiny record that fit perfectly on the single size turntable. Then came my first ever purchased record, “Johnny Diesel and the Injectors”. I remember that moment vividly! I raced into my bedroom, carefully slicing open the plastic sleeve where I took a moment to stare at the front cover. Diesel with a soft case on his back, band members in the background all infused with metal and red rust. Cool hair! It was one of the first questions I asked him when we first met. “What products do you use to get your hair to stay up without it looking stiff?” Ha!

 The smell of every new record made me feel the same way as opening up a new guitar case – it was as if something awesome was about to happen. I carefully pulled out the paper sleeve that contained the record. Placing it on the table where I ever-so-gently slipped out the vinyl masterpiece, balancing it on the insides of my hands to avoid finger prints. That would be life over if a finger print landed on a record, I’d have to find a cloth, wipe it clean and pick up every tiny piece of lint to protect the needle. It added another 5 minutes to the process and messed up my qi! Down goes the record, carefully placing the needle at the very start, ensuring that it played from the edge so not a single beat was missed. I sat watching the vinyl spin for a few seconds before the first guitar riff of “Lookin for Love” started, blasting through dad’s EV3 speakers with an ever so slight sizzle from the needle.

 I sat watching and listening until it was time to flip to the other side. Like watching a clock tick, I’d follow the needle as it travelled further and further into the shiny black coaster of music. It was a shit album if I was waiting for the end, it was a great album if I was disappointed that the end was nearing. In this case, it was the latter. If I wanted to back track, I’d have to lift up the needle and place it to where I remember my favourite part to be. Very carefully. This process made mix tapes so much fun. It wasn’t something I could set up and leave – I had to be on the journey from start to finish. Record on the tape, needle drop. Pause record at the end of song. Change vinyl, get a level check by playing new. Drop needle at precisely the right spot allowing enough time to let up the “pause” button. Crunch, drop, vwiip, crackle, flip, slip, slip, flop, drop, check, crackle, drop, pause.. Aaahh fuck I unpaused, too late! I can’t have a mix tape with 2 beats shaved off the intro. Gotta do it again! Rewind.

That was such a therapeutic process. Buying a new record was a real event and made me appreciate the music in a different way. Even though the process was much more streamline when CD’s came out, the effort to play them back was similar.

At the risk of sounding like an old timer purist who is ungrateful for the advancement of technology, do you think it’s easier or harder to take the time to really listen to an album? In the days of vinyl and CD’s, the means of play back forced us to set aside whatever task was occupying our minds at the time to fully listen to a body of work. And it wasn’t as easy to skip, so we gave it a chance. Sure, we can take a moment to do the same thing these days, but that relies on our own self-discipline. It’s kind of not the same thing.

So my question is, do you allow your world to stand still when you listen to your favourite tunes today? Or does music mean something different? For myself, it’s definitely changed. Whilst technology literally exposes me to a world of music, I’m guilty of not giving new music a chance. Or at least I have to make a conscious effort to not judge so quickly. I can tell this by the ratio of new release vs classics in my iTunes library. I’m not saying one is better than the other. It’s all a matter of preference, but for me, I really miss that ritual. If I did it today, my mind would be saying, “Dude! It’s much easier to make a playlist in iTunes. You’re wasting time!”. Food for thought…

Slade “Cum On Feel The Noize”

Johnny Diesel and the Injectors “Looking For Love”


For those who are new to the site, hit up my introduction post and the about tab to understand what inspired this website as well as what’s to come. 

32 Comments

  1. Roddy Martinez31/10/2016

    I listen to my LPs with headphones while reading whatever information is provided on the sleeve. Records seems to be too short to me now,well you could squeeze only about 40 minutes of music on them. I look after them the same way I would do with newly born son or daughter.

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri01/11/2016

      Oh yeah! That’s the best. I kind of like how short they were. Almost more purposeful?

      Reply
  2. david31/10/2016

    playlists become boring..there is something special in a song line up on an album…I still pour over the artwork and liner notes of new CDS and love the smell of the chemicals in the paper. It’s a ritual i have tried to keep.

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri01/11/2016

      Yeah totally! It’s given me the bug, but these days, all of the sound systems revolve around the TV. Having a separate Hifi area with a record/CD player definitely invites a different vibe.

      Reply
  3. Greg T31/10/2016

    I totally agree with you Nathan. I used to buy a new album and sit and listen from start to finish. Can you imagine if the Wall by Pink Floyd was released today and people just picked the tracks they liked, the album would not make any sense. But as you say the digital world of music play back makes it so easy to select a track to play wherever you are.

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri01/11/2016

      Yeah that’s right! It would not be the same. You can miss out on so much when you are “nexting”.

      Reply
  4. Malcolm Gully31/10/2016

    Oh Pandora’s box is open Nathan! So my dad was part of “the world record club” and you got a catalogue and the deal was so many lps you had to buy per year and as a bonus joining Xmas offer bla blah buy x many and, well no money for Xmas we got to choose an lp each. Eldest Dave got “blind faiths album “blind Faith” Pete got “blood sweat & tears, Bryan got “Santana” with the lion face cover and I hot “good bye cream” with a live side studio side. I was 9 and frightened my school mates grooving to fahnams one is the loneliest number. Then dolby cassettes DVDs and now “playlist” downloads, this morning I downloaded captain beefhearts “safe as milk” I can download, pick up a tutorial and actually play riffs that I loved since childhood and wanted to do but couldn’t get started till later in life. Viva la technology. And I still have my vinyl my kids are laying it down digitally and won’t let me part with it “its our upbringing too” they say.

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri01/11/2016

      So basically, it’s changed but not better or worse. I’m with you. I can get a hold of material I had to travel to the US for at the click of a button. I’m also exposed to artists I would never have heard of. As you say, it’s definitely amazing for learning. I suppose the only downside is that it can provide an “on the surface” experience for the listener if the listener doesn’t purposely take the time. Rituals around playing records forced us to focus with patience. Now, it’s up to us.

      Reply
      1. Malcolm Gully01/11/2016

        Yep and Paul Kelly says in his book the value of making up cassettes of your favourites for friends, or you could grade your friends by the ones who returned vinyl intact in scratched with a decent opinion as opposed to those who scratch or loose or worse swap yours for theirs! Favourite album Alice Coopers”schools out”a mock up school desk with knickers inside! Very subversive for its time. Or my vinyl “doors absolutely live” full of atmosphere and cobbled together from many concerts a master of reel tape master and scissors.

        Reply
        1. Nathan Cavaleri02/11/2016

          Ahhhh the mix tape. Had many uses!

          Reply
  5. Troy31/10/2016

    Getting and listening to a record for the first time is an event, that should be relished. With the movement to digital music, people don’t fully take the time to immerse themselves into the album. Most artists, well at least the ones I listen too, arrange the songs into a sequence for the purpose of listening to the album as a whole recording.
    I love nothing more than opening a record, putting the needle on it and sitting back and reading through the sleeve. I love it

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri01/11/2016

      Yeeeah! You’ve just inspired a solution. THe “listening” that has the most impact is the first. So, have the modern day record player hooked up to your library. The first listen will convert the tracks real time into digital format for easy access later. The initial experience isn’t compromised! Lets get rich! haha…. You are right. It’s like a live set. Designed to take the listener on an emotional journey. A lot has to be said for keeping the HiFi separate from the TV entertainment unit yeah? When growing up, that corner was just for sitting around listening to music.

      Reply
      1. Troy01/11/2016

        That’s exactly right. When I buy new music, I always try and get it in Vinyl if available. Normally that will come with a download code as well, so you can have a digital versions.
        Some of my all time favourite albums took a few listens to get into, and I find that the slow burner that takes alittle while to appreciate, end up being my favourites. Of coarse there are always some albums that grab you from the first listen, but don’t give up in an album if it hasn’t clicked with you after only one try.
        I have a rule with any new artists that I’m trying to get into. I listen to only their album in my car for a work week. Normally I can listen to most records on way to work, so I get to listen to it 7-8 times, and then I really know if it works for me. There have been a couple that I couldn’t do for that long, as I hated it, but most make it through the week

        Reply
        1. Nathan Cavaleri02/11/2016

          Troy… That’s awesome advice. I’m going to give that a go! It’s definitely true too. A lot of my favourite albums took a few listens. Thanks mate.

          Reply
  6. Andrew Tierney31/10/2016

    I love the smell of old Vinyl Records, it has that smell and that feel that makes you wish it was the days of old, there were that range of 7 inch/45 rpm, 10 inch/78 rpm and  33 1⁄3 rpm and 12 inch/45 rpm and 33 1⁄3 rpm, Not only were there Vinyl Records, there were also Acetate Records with rare unpublished Music, and of course people would have fun with Vinyl Records by simply playing them backwards to hear what the back masked messaging would say. And throughout the years there were those albums on Vinyl Records that were best sellers and have iconic and famous album covers. One downside is those Vinyl Records would often skip in loops, which is either caused by constant playing or from getting or from being scratched. And with Vinyl Records making a comeback, the young people of today can experience what it was like to listen to music and other recordings on Vinyl Records that was experienced by their parents and grandparents all those years ago. How may do you own, which includes the ones owned by your parents? So then I can tell you how many I have, which includes the ones owned by my parents.

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri01/11/2016

      Spot on!!! It’s hard to say how many I own because they’re sadly in storage. Replying to you guys is making me want to set it all up again. It’s great to see that vinyl is making a comeback. Do you think it’ll last? It really is an experience which works well to deepen the material into our minds and bodies. Durability was always a problem. I remember now. Scratches, skips etc… If we converted our vinyl now on the first spin, we’d have a back up. 😉

      So tell me, how many do you have?

      Reply
      1. Andrew Tierney03/11/2016

        Heaps, perhaps lots, some are or were owned by my parents, and they Including most of the following artists on Singles and EP’s and LP’s: The Beatles, The Moody Blues, Dire Straits, David Bowie, David Essex, Linda Ronstadt, Fleetwood Mac, Wings, Jeff Wayne, Orson Welles, KISS, Frehley’s Comet, Vinnie Vincent Invasion, John Farnham, Jon English, Electric Light Orchestra, Fastway, Australian Crawl, Status Quo, The Mojo Singers, Mike Brady, The Two Man Band, Bruce Hornsby And The Range, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, U2, The Police, The Boomtown Rats, Sky, Elton John, Simon And Garfunkel, The Steve Miller Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Lionel Richie, Chicago, The Bee Gees, Cold Chisel, etc. Someday AC/DC, INXS, Van Halen, Genesis, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Icehouse and The Blues Brothers will be added the collection.

        Reply
        1. Nathan Cavaleri04/11/2016

          Dire Straits LP’s…. That takes me back.

          Reply
          1. Andrew Tierney04/11/2016

            My parents owned “Love Over Gold” and “Brothers In Arms”, and so I collected the rest: “Dire Straits”, “Communique”, “Making Movies”, “Extended Dance Play”, “Alchemy – Dire Straits Live” and “Money For Nothing” all on LP.

            What was the first album you ever owned?

          2. Andrew Tierney04/11/2016

            My parents owned “Love Over Gold” and “Brothers In Arms”, and so I collected the rest: “Dire Straits”, “Communique”, “Making Movies”, “Extended Dance Play”, “Alchemy – Dire Straits Live” and “Money For Nothing” all on LP.

            What was the first album you ever owned of any artist?

          3. Nathan Cavaleri07/11/2016

            Amazing albums. Such depth. First album I ever bought was Johnny Diesel & the Injectors…. Followed by Poison “Open Up and Say Ah” (I had a moment of weakness). ha!

      2. Andrew Tierney03/11/2016

        And Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Twisted Sister, Whitesnake, Roger Glover, The Angels, Yes, Rush and Asia among other artists will be included too. Oh and by the way, I have most of your albums on CD

        Reply
  7. Elise31/10/2016

    I would much prefer Cds or vinyl over digital download. I’m definitely guilty of not giving todays music much of a chance, perhaps to my detriment?

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri01/11/2016

      I say the same thing. But would we convert back?

      Reply
  8. Malcolm Gully01/11/2016

    I suppose all the relentless advancement in technology some of which I havnt bothered with (I tunes) has lead me to the ultimate and that’s write your own lyrics,learn some old favourites and ultimately perform. Bring it back to real.

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri02/11/2016

      If there isn’t a real need for iTunes then don’t bother. But I’ve come across bands I would never have through Apple Music/iTunes. It’s much easier when travelling too. You’re right, if it doesn’t feel real, move on. The purpose of music is to be moved. “Bring it back to real” Yeeeah!

      Reply
  9. Malcolm Gully02/11/2016

    There’s a young kid locally hell bent on getting his favourite stuff (Queen) on vinyl, maybe nostalgia , but he’s not old enough. So maybe it’s that belief is vinyl is genuine because the originally laid there stuff down on vinyl. Maybe? This is a 14yr old so there’s that hark for the real there. I went through my old stuff and handed over a 1979 live Killers, I was 19 then. It was in good nick and his reaction was like I handed over the book of Kells or something. So this search for the genuine is there. This vinyl resurgence isn’t a coincidence or anomaly. Its the platform that we still aspire to, like the golden era of film. There’s still diehard movie makers still producing in film asopposed to digital movie production. Remember the bootlegs? In bellow and blue and swishy blended vinyl compounds illegally stamped out from unapproved master tapes? We had some good “who” stuff with ripe language that wouldn’t have passed the censors and very early Bowie

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri03/11/2016

      Yeah totally! The younger generation are loving it. All this talk is making me want to get a record player again…. I brought it on myself! haha

      Reply
  10. Malcolm Gully03/11/2016

    $50 at an Australia Post store near you! Goes with the picnic blankie but don’t leave the lps in the Sun!

    Reply
  11. Andrew07/11/2016

    The first album I owned was Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of The Worlds, the second Album I own was KISS – Dynasty

    Reply
  12. Michael Connolly28/11/2016

    Covers…I miss covers, reading ALL and I mean ALL the details I could find. And then looking for the producers message scratched on the glass plate in the trail out section of the press. So cool.

    Keep well!

    Reply
    1. Nathan Cavaleri29/11/2016

      All adds to the vibe!

      Reply

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