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Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Vinyl bores: please change the record!

Ah, the lovely crackle and hiss of the stylus on the vinyl. There's nothing like it, is there? 

Vinyl's where it's at. Fuck your MP3s, your FLAC files, your crappy CDs or, god forbid, your cassette tapes. No, real music fans like vinyl. And if you don't ... well I feel sorry for you. 

Such is the attitude among a fairly influential group of music critics, DJs and musicians. These days you can be made to feel distinctly second rate if you're not a vinyl man/woman. There are online forums dedicated to discussing the merits of vinyl. There are sites that feature DJ mixes of vinyl ("without mixing software"). There are numerous DJs who advertise the fact that their sets are "vinyl 7"s only". And of course there are simply people banging on about how great vinyl is in comparison to all other formats.

Papa's got a brand new pile of records

Well now. I'm no vinyl hater. I've got a little bunch of the bulky, heavy, dust-ridden things, and I regularly play them. I buy them as well. Not, perhaps, in the approved "vinyl junkie" way - picking up purchases on eBay or in connoisseur shops. No, afraid not - just a few ratty second-hand things from the odd charity shop. Nevertheless, my haphazard charity shop buys - no more than about 50p a time - have included The Rolling Stones' Satisfaction, The Modern Lovers' Roadrunner, and Simple Minds' Sons And Fascination/Sister Feelings Call. Hey, don't knock Simple Minds! Their early stuff is pretty good.

Meanwhile, I've got a friend who buys a lot of reggae 7"s on mail-order. Mostly on Jamaican pressings, some of it off-centre, crackly and all of that. There's some phenomenal music to be had from Dub Vendor et al and I appreciate that vinyl is often the best way to get the choice cuts. OK rasta, nah problem.

But still, modern snobbery concerning vinyl is ... er, clogging up my stylus man! Do we really need websites with titles like "Fuck CD DJs. Real DJs play vinyl"? No, I think we do not. It's about the music, not the format, fathead.

OK, I confess: I don't actually know whether vinyl's acoustic properties are generally - or always - superior to CDs or MP3s. Certainly I can hear the difference with lower bit-rate MP3s, but generally I'm agnostic about this (albeit that it's an article of faith for some).

No, give me The Butthole Surfers on CD rather than The La's on record. Or Lee Perry on MP3 over Zion Train on 12".

Vinyl fetishists are no more interesting than any other kind of elitist obsessive. They should put another record on their turntable. Here. Let me grab that stylus arm. Scr-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-tch!

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