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Vinyl records are back in the groove

Photo: Taelar Pollmann • The Sentry
Vinyl is making a comeback

A return to analog listening

In the fast-paced world society was accustomed to, many people did not have the time to stop and disconnect from life in order to enjoy a full-length album from start to finish while doing nothing else.  However, with most of the world under a variation of a stay-at-home order, those who have the means now have the time to enjoy a complete album without interruption.  The overall experience of listening to an album in full can be heightened by turning to the analog based medium of vinyl records rather than digital music files.  ‘This unprecedented time’ is an opportunity to revisit the pageantry of consuming music from a vinyl record player. 

There should be no shame in plugging in a pair of beloved headphones and relaxing as the needle moves around the grooves.  Unlike compact discs or digital files, music played from a vinyl record has character and more body.  There is an underlying crackle to every track that brings warmth to the sound being produced, almost as if the music itself was wrapping the listener in a hug.  People need welcomed hugs more than ever, even if they are through entertainment. 

Albums are not intended to be listened to in bits while on the go.  This idea is backed up with the fact that a nickname for album is “long playing” or LP.  No matter how they are referred to, albums are complete art pieces and should be treated as such.  A visitor to a museum would not look at only half a painting and then move onto to another painting to do the exact same.  That person would look and study an entire painting in one setting to develop an opinion. 

This type of listening really makes concept albums like The Who’s TommyGhost’s PrequellePink Floyd’s The Wall, and David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spider from Mars stand out from the crowd.  These albums and so many others like them are not just an odd collection of songs that have a thin idea connecting them together.  There is substance and plot driving each track into the next.  They are known as concept albums and are a step higher in quality and creativity than the traditional album layout of the 1950s.  Elvis Presley might be known as the King of Rock and Roll, but none of his albums are that captivating. 

As society moves into a digital based world in the name of convenience, it is calming to feel the weight of a record as it is placed on the platter.  Music has become cleaner sounding as equipment has improved, but the downside is with the imperfections removed, songs start to sound less human and more mechanical.  Plus, there has never been an inconvenience in moving the needle to the starting position or even flipping over the record to hear the second half of the album.  The extra interactions required to listen to vinyl records gives the listener a deeper sense of connection with the lyrics and melodies. 

 

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