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Mitchell’s Musings: Vinyl is back and even cooler this time around

Columnist Glenn Mitchell takes a spin around the revolving music industry and its tech
Records are back, or so it seems, says Black Press columnist Glenn Mitchell. (Ben Hohenstatt photo)

It’s hip to be square that great philosopher and pop star Huey Lewis, along with his News, used to sing.

And it might even be true, or at least when it comes to vinyl records and yours truly.

You see, like everything else, they keep changing the technology around recorded music: from vinyl to 8-track, to cassette, to compact disc, to downloads and who knows, someday, somehow straight to your brain by just asking for it.

With each change they proclaim it’s better, handier, smaller, less expensive, even free. All true, except in the end, not really.

You see, I’ve always preferred vinyl since that day as a young lad I proclaimed I was going to walk downtown to Freddie’s Records and buy an LP (long play album), proving I had graduated from 45s (or singles).

I remember I came home with Tom Jones Live at Caesars Palace and my older brother mocked me mercilessly.

Still, I had made the leap to sort of cool, and I can still defend It’s Not Unusual to this day.

Soon my brother and I pooled our Star Weekly money and joined Columbia House and got 12 albums for one penny, and agreed to buy 10 more at exorbitant prices, and we were on our way.

Add in a few K-Tel albums, a number of trips to A&B and A&A record stores on Seymour Street in Vancouver (where I spent my hard-earned money from my paper route to support the music industry in a store that advertised in that same paper, it’s called a circular economy that benefited everyone…heavy sigh) and my collection was getting into the hundreds.

Yet at the time I could tell you where I bought each album and why it was important to me – the songs of course, but the cover art and the part ownership of a cultural phenomenon in the ‘70s that was all about connecting and expressing oneself.

I sometimes feel bad for my kids who admittedly could get any song in the universe on their phone in a nanosecond, for free, growing up – but where’s the connection, the ownership, the cover art, indeed, the sound?

You see, with each new technology we were encouraged to replace our old with the new and be cool, it turns out vinyl had the best sound of all those buggers.

The good news is I still have my albums and play them, a couple thousand of them, and thanks to their revival they may be worth more than my RRSPs at this point. However I don’t think I could ever sell them, not even Tom Jones or the Partridge Family, let alone the Neil Youngs, or Peter Framptons, or Cat Stevens, or…

Maybe I can give them to my kids when I die. In fact, one of my kids already has a dozen albums or so, and hopefully Eminem and Dr. Dre will be with him forever. In fact, son, you can come and pick them up anytime, day or night.

Last November, I went to a Roger Hodgson, of Supertramp fame, in concert in Vancouver where they were selling autographed Crime of the Century albums for over 100 bucks.

That was one album I had on 8-track that I never replaced with vinyl, but I fought the urge to part with a C-note.But the concert, part of the Back to Vinyl World Tour, was fantastic, however.

Vinyl is, indeed, back as London Drugs has the latest LPs once again and there are at least a couple vintage vinyl stores in every self-respecting town of any consequence.

Maybe there’s hope for civilization after all and I just may be cooler than I have been at any other time in my life. Then again, maybe not.

Think I will take my Harvest album out of its sleeve and put it on the old Technics turntable for a spin.

Everybody…“I’ve been to Hollywood, I’ve been to Redwood, I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold….”

Glenn Mitchell is a columnist and former editor with Black Press.

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