Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Joy of Vinyl

Random thoughts on the occasion of the resurrection of my vinyl collection after several years of neglect.

1. What is the first thing I reach for? "Remain In Light". This is, by now, demonstrably a Pavlovian reaction. I have used this album many times as a test for how a stereo component or a pair of speakers sounds. (It's my "Dark Side Of The Moon".) I'm happy to report that it sounds as good as ever.

The curious thing about this, on reflection, is that it perhaps also reinforces the extent to which Brian Eno (who produced "Remain In Light") has, throughout my life, been something of a technological loss leader. Why did I really "need" a CD player? Because the only way to listen to "Thursday Afternoon" was on CD. Why did I really "need" an iPhone? Bloom. Why did I really "need" an iPad? Scape. (I know, it's kind of sad, isn't it?)

Thinking about "Remain In Light" also takes me back to when the video for "Once In A Lifetime" premiered on "Countdown". Aside from being one of the great music videos (I reckon that claim still holds: see below), it instantly catapulted the band into a much wider consciousness than their first three albums had managed. That, you would think, could only be a good thing. But, as only an antisocial, self-absorbed teenage boy could (I actually had a badge that said "I'm Antisocial", bought at the Melbourne Show, which I wore proudly, as if I knew what it even meant), I was sent into a silent, depressive rage the next morning in the year 12 common room when the girls were heard to be extolling, unqualified, the virtues of Talking Heads. Where were you when they released "Psycho Killer"?, I silently fumed. Where were you when "Fear Of Music" changed music forever? In other words, "GET OFF MY LAND!"

Reader, eventually I grew up. There are things of which I am not proud.

Talking Heads - Once In A Lifetime by hushhush112

2. Just how good an album is "Astral Weeks"?

3. Can anybody tell me how I came to own a copy of Thelonious Monk's "Brilliant Corners"? I honestly have no idea.

4. Of course, the real excitement of having a working turntable again (tech nerds corner: what I needed was a phono preamp: thank you, Rega; thank you, Duratone Hi-Fi) was that it enabled us to dig deep into the lounge-music end of the vinyl shelf, much to the horror of at least one of our children. (To be fair, V. Balsara's version of "Edelweiss" would strain any sane person's patience.) Here are some of the choicest cuts.

(a) "Soul Coaxing", by Norrie Paramor and His Strings.

(b) "Light My Fire", by Edmundo Ros.

(c) "House Of The Risin' Sun", by Herbie Mann.