So, as I continue to explore my boxes of vinyl in the loft, I think it would be nice to have some more up to date records to listen to and write about. Most of my collection stops around 1992 after the purchase of my first CD player and this means that there’s a lot of really great albums I own which I can’t really write about. DJ Shadow, Blur, The Beatles, Orbital et al all only exist on cd in my world.
That in mind I’ve been looking at how much new(ish) vinyl costs. And I’m astounded. It’s become a rich man’s play thing. The new Bowie album will cost £23 when it’s released (fittingly on April Fool’s Day). The Beatles stereo remasters are £20-£30 a pop, or £350 as a box set. Suede’s new one? £16 please.
Aside from its place in DJ’s flight case all these years, we’ve seen a complete reversal of the vinyl / cd relationship. Where once vinyl was the inferior option and priced accordingly, it’s now become the connoisseur’s choice. It’s a luxury item. A fetish.
Has the quality improved? Well, vinyl was so flimsy in the ’90’s was bordering on flexi disc quality and 180g vinyl certainly feels more robust. But judging from some of the Amazon reviews of the Beatles vinyl I’m not so sure.
And anyone wanting to “get into” vinyl (I’m thinking anyone under the age of 35 here) also faces quite an investment in the equipment to get them started. Unless you’re happy picking up a cheap deck from Maplins then you are looking at the thick end of £500 for a cheap, half decent deck and amp. Oh and you shouldn’t forget speakers….. That new iPod Touch & dock looks quite tempting now, doesn’t it?
One band veering toward a sensible approach is My Bloody Valentine. Their surprise release of mbv earlier this year gave fans plenty of options including download, cd and of course 180g vinyl. Buyers (like me) of the vinyl option were also given a cd version and a download (with a choice of bitrates and file formats) as part of the package, all for £18. I was effectively paying only five quid more to have the vinyl edition, one which was also a true analogue cut (I’ll be honest, I can’t tell the difference).
So what have I learned? A few things, really.
1) I was very glad I clung on to my ageing record deck
2) Buying new vinyl is a bit of a mug’s game.
3) Buying old vinyl is not far off the same nowadays.
4) You might wait 21 years for a My Bloody Valentine album but at least you don’t get screwed over when it arrives.
5) Charity shops are where Johnny Hates Jazz albums go to die.
6) Oxfam know exactly what they are doing.