Earlier this month, I had this post on the lifespan of compact discs. Turns out that we’ve been lied to about how long they’ll last. They don’t provide “perfect sound forever” as the old advertising promide promised. Turns out that they don’t even last as long as a good vinyl record. From CNET:
A lot of vinyl naysayers like to harp on the fact that LPs can “wear out.” Yes, the act of playing records does add a tiny amount of noise, clicks, and pops with each play, but my frequently played records, over very high-resolution speakers, still sound fine to me. I’m totally guessing, but I’d estimate some of my Rolling Stones and Motown LPs have been played 200 or 300 times, but I’d never replace them with new remastered LPs. Sliding an old record out of its cardboard jacket brings back memories; each LP has connections to the past.
Yes, LPs can wear out, but I own many hundreds of pre-1970s albums that still sound great, so as a practical matter it’s not a real concern. When I see well-worn, beat-up records, at least I can say that someone really played that music — again and again!
With that in mind, I think we need to create a list of the vinyl records everyone needs to have in their collection. (Full disclosure: I’m trolling for suggestions for an upcoming episode of The Ongoing History of New Music on the history of vinyl.)
Here’s my Top 10 (assuming you can get either pre-1973 copies–i.e. before labels started cheaping out with the raw materials–or new 180-gram or better reissues):
- Abbey Road – The Beatles: You need at least one Beatles record in the collection. This is my pick, but you also can’t go wrong with Revolver.
- Aja – Steely Dan: One of the most exquisitely recorded albums of all time.
- Avalon – Roxy Music: The CD version of the title track sounds slightly harsh to my ears. The vinyl version, however, is smoother than smooth.
- Elephant – White Stripes: An EXTREMELY analogue recording. You haven’t heard “Seven Nation Army” until you’ve heard it from a proper vinyl copy.
- Harvest – Neil Young: Glorious bleakness.
- In Rainbows – Radiohead: It’s worth tracking down the special mail-order edition with the double vinyl 45 RPM 12-inches.
- Kind of Blue – Miles Davis: If you own only one jazz album…
- Love Over Gold – Dire Straits: Recorded at 30 inches per second on two-in tape. “Telegraph Road” always gives me chills.
- Velvet Underground and Nico – Velvet Underground and Nico: Yes, it’s grotty and lo-fi, but that’s the point.
- Who’s Next – The Who: If you ever need to test a set of speakers to see how they can handle rock, play “Won’t Get Fooled Again” as loud as the system will allowed.