Things I Miss: Record Albums

vinyl

This post is a natural follow-up to my earlier post, Things I Miss: Record Stores, in which I bemoaned the decline and near-extinction of record shops. Yesterday, I looked at a pile of record albums that Don had in the office and I pulled out a few favorites. I bought Don a turntable a few years back. It’s not near the quality of the one I had and threw out when we moved to the cottage. (What was I thinking?) But it will do. I started with the album on the left, The Kenny Rankin Album, which has always been one of my favorites. In fact, I have a copy out in the shed that lives with all my other albums – albums that are in bad shape because they’ve been housed in boxes in a place they shouldn’t be for far too long.

This particular record album is one of a group that we’ve picked up at yard sales and vintage/antique shops. I guess they are considered vintage now. I am most likely considered vintage as well. And this vintage girl misses record albums. Yes, I know there are still vinyl records being produced and the fact that some artists feel they should be recording on vinyl makes me happy. But they are being produced in very limited quantities and only by a few artists.

Back to Kenny Rankin. Obviously, this is a used album and with it comes the pops and extraneous sounds of a older vinyl record. I love it. I don’t know if this will make sense, but there is something more honest, more real about those sounds. If I had been lucky enough to hear Kenny Rankin sing live, I would have heard all sorts of extraneous sounds. It’s part of the experience. It keeps the recording from being too perfect. It keeps it from being botoxed into a false, flawless version of itself.

My listening ears also hear a warmth in the sound of vinyl that is missing from a CD or MP3.

I was able to hold the album cover in my hands, admire the artwork, read the liner notes. The artwork got the attention it richly deserved.

There’s something tangible about a record album. It honors the artist, the producer, the engineers in a big way. I have a lot of CDs and I like them, don’t get me wrong. But there’s something different about an album. It hasn’t whittled everything down to the tiny print and tiny artwork that will fit in a plastic CD case. It treats the music like what it is; a big idea, a dream come true, hours and hours of time spent writing, scoring, recording.

Sometimes, our quest for perfection leads us too far. LPs have been replaced by CDs. CDs are being replaced by MP3s. Is there anything tangible anymore? Anything you can hold in your hands and admire, just as much as you admire the music? Yesterday, as I listened to Kenny Rankin, I searched Amazon for his recordings. Some are available in very expensive used versions (on CD) and some are only available as MP3s. What?? I love my laptop and my iPhone, which have many of my favorites available for listening anytime, but it’s all virtual. I don’t always want to be tethered to my laptop or iPhone.  I want something I can hold in my hands, that is of the size that befits the music.

(By the way, in the other post I mentioned that even CDs are hard to find in stores nowadays. And I mentioned that Barnes & Noble still carried them but that the amount of stock was dwindling. The other day I decided to check out that department and was shocked to see that over 3/4 of the stock was DVDs and BlueRay movies. There were very few CDs.)

So, back to the albums. I have a friend who has saved every long playing album he has ever purchased. He has an unbelievably extensive collection that he treats with the care that one would give a fine antique. I should have taken more care with my large collection. So, I vow to hunt down my favorite albums in the years ahead; gather, accumulate and play them.

A better turntable is also on my wish list.

I saw a used record shop right near the Strand Bookstore in NYC the last time I was there. Guess where I might be heading on my next trip into the city?

Happy Monday.

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Congratulations to Tana, who won the copy of Into the Darkest Corner. I’ve sent your mailing address to TLC Book Tours. Happy reading!

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Comments

  1. susie says

    Finding a good album is great. Finding a turntable is like trying to find buried treasue. Wish we had saved ours…how were we to know they would be things of the past. I liked your bed throws Claudia. Wish I could go to NYC with you. xoxo,Susie

    • Claudia says

      I did some research, Susie, and there are all sorts of new turntables available. Some are the kind that DJs use, but there are plenty of others out there!

  2. says

    Claudia, your post reminded me so much of an old episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, where all of Frank’s old records were ruined in the basement (by Ramond, as a kid). So Raymond buys him a CD player and all of his old favorite albums on CD’s, to surprise him. He plays them and they sound amazing. Frank hates them. Robert, on the other hand, who was really the one who had damaged all the albums when they were kids, he had gone around to used record stores and found some, if not all, of Frank’s favorites. He puts them on a record player, you hear the static and crackling, and a look of pure bliss comes over Fank’s face as he’s sittening and listening to them, and he says, “No, that’s music,” or something to that effect.

    All of my old albums were ruined in a flood in my parents basement back in the 70′s. Even sadder than that were all the old children’s books my mom used to read to us, that were also stored down there. Those are what I’d really love to be able to hold and look through agian (sigh)…

    I hope the dog bed works out for Scout on your trip! To be honest, Mr. J us on the floor or a scatter rug way more than he’s on his bed! I think he was on the bed at that particular time becuase the sun was shining over in that corner! Have a great week!!

    Donna

    • Claudia says

      I forgot about that episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. I totally get it. There is a difference in the sound that makes me sit up and take notice! I’m sorry about your albums. Mine have been ruined due to a lack of storage space and my poor judgement as to how to store them. Sob.
      I have a feeling Scout won’t use the bed, but maybe…

  3. says

    Good Afternoon Claudia, It was lovely to see your LP’s. I still have quite a few LP’s which I have kept. My very first LP was a Christmas Gift in 1966. I was 14 years old and the album was called Autumn ’66 by The Spencer Davis Group. My second was Mr Tambourine Man by the Byrds and do you know, I still enjoy listening to them. I agree, I loved the information contained on the LP cover and the liner notes were wonderful because if you were lucky they included the words! Arghhh memories. Best Wishes Daphne

    • Claudia says

      Loved the Spencer Davis Group, Daphne! I can hear “Gimme Some Lovin’” and “I’m a Man” in my head right now!

  4. says

    I so agree with you about how album sleeves celebrated the artists and their music like a tiny CD liner never could (and forget about MP3s!). I remember poring over the pictures and stories that accompanied my albums, and what a thrill it was when the lyrics were included (because sometimes they weren’t!). Thanks for the musical nostalgia today!

  5. says

    Totally agree. I have most of my albums. I donated a few when moving. I love them just for the photos and artwork!

    I have an old journal/poetry book that I started a “Things That Aren’t As Good As They Used To Be” list decades ago. I’ll have to check, but I bet I put records on there!

  6. says

    I gave all mine to my SIL. I miss them and wish I had them back. There is nothing better than dancing along to a record album, scratches and all.
    Hugs,
    Laura

  7. says

    Claudia! We are twins! Many lifetimes ago I had the Kenny Rankin album with um, Silver Morning, I think it was? Loved him soooooooo much, what a voice! How about Tim Hardin, did you like him too? Sadly I gave away all my albums years ago WAH! Oh, all of a sudden names are returning to me … John Prine, John Renbourn …

    My dad passed away in 2011 (and my mom in 1996) and one of the treasures that we unearthed were old recordings. My parents had kept my dad’s sisters stereo HiFi console thingie when she passed away in the 70′s and we were able to play these wonderful old albums while going through 50 years of stuff at my parents house. Made me smile and cry. So many soundtracks from plays that my mother loved and she’d dance around the house singing.

    And you made me smile so big when you said you enjoy Wodehouse too and that your hubby did a one man show. What fun that must have been to do and to see! If he should ever do it again and in So. Cal., please let me know.

    Happy happy Monday to you!

    • Claudia says

      Oh, Tim Hardin left us at too young of an age – he was so talented. Don loves John Prine and has seen him in concert recently. What about Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins and Gordon Lightfoot (saw them all in concert and got to meet both Judy Collins and Gordon Lightfoot.)

      I doubt whether Don will do that Wodehouse production again – simply because he plays all the characters and there’s a lot of running around and changing costumes and dancing and I think he’d be aghast at the thought of it! But I got to see him do it in Northern California on the day before our wedding. He was incredible. xo

      • says

        I had to go and look up Tim Hardin … I had forgotten he died in 1980, only 39! So heartbreaking, so many lost to drugs (and alcohol). Which reminds me of Phil Ochs too, loved him so much.

        Joni Mitchell is still my favorite. I was so lucky to see her in concert twice and I got to see Judy Collins once. I adored Gordon Lightfoot, haven’t thought of him in a while – had several of his albums. Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. How wonderful to get to meet him and Judy Collins.

        How fun that you got to see your (soon-to-be) husbands performance the day before your wedding, that’s a lovely gift for you! Yes, when you said he did a one man of Wodehouse, I thought WOW and I wonder how he did it! I bet it was insane hard work and lots of fun.

        Happy Tuesday to you! xo

  8. Deb says

    Early on in our marriage – which is going on its 18th year – I told my husband we needed to get rid of his 3 or 4 boxes of LP’s that he had accumulated in the 70s and 80s. This is about the only time I can thank my (our) procrastination habit – those boxes are still sitting in storage! I cannot wait to open those boxes up and let my 12 year old son see and hear how his vintage parents used to listen to music! I still have my albums too – just not that many – mine are from artists like Lionel Richie, Shaun Cassidy, Captain & Tennille, Michael Jackson! I can promise you that my husband has a very different collection!

    One of my other memories of albums is how I used to acquire them. I loved to listen to the radio (AM, thank you) and wait for the DJ to announce – “Be caller #10 at 576-7200 and win ???? album”. I won many an album that way – and I’ll still be able to tell which ones were acquired by winning because an edge of the cover was usually clipped or a hole punched through to indicate that it was a complimentary copy.

    Ahh, such good, simple memories. Love your “Things I Miss” posts!

  9. says

    OH- I miss those old vinyl LP’s , too,, Claudia. I gave my collection to my son-he also loves them- I had a lot of the old Beatle albums and Marilee Rush..and The Doors and Bread…and on and on and on. There was something so satisfying about hearing those records softly”plop” down onto the turntable and then hearing the arm move into place and set down on the edge of the LP..and the sound of the “scritch” as it navigated over the blank edge and into the music groove.
    This was a great post- lots of memories here- xo Diana

    • Claudia says

      Marilee Rush – did she sing Angel of the Morning? Loved that song. Loved the Beatles and the Doors and I still swoon when I hear anything by Bread. You’ve described the sound of the record hitting the turntable and all the ensuing sounds beautifully, Diana.

  10. mary jane brown says

    Hi Claudia! I sure can relate to this post. Jeff was a musician. He was in 2 bands in high school and college. In the last 10 years of his life he played acoustic and electric guitar on our church worship team. I am the proud owner of close to 700 albums in GREAT condition LOL!! I have NO idea what to do with this many albums so I framed some of them. I got the album frames at Hobby Lobby ! The EAGLES were always a favorite to us, so I framed some of those and hung them in the home office. The art work on the covers is amazing. I wonder what happened to the artists who designed album covers??? Jeff was a HUGE Beatles fan. But unfortunately those were stolen out of his apartment when he was a single guy. I do have all of Paul Mcartney albums tho. I have the WOODSTOCK album!! It is 3 or 4 albums together. Talk about some wild art work on the cover!!!!

    Have you seen the bowls that people make out of old albums? I saw it somewhere on the internet. They melt them over something in the oven and form it while warm, and make a bowl.

    I have a 1965 VOX BUCKINGHAM AMP. That was the amp the BEATLES used on the Ed Sullivan show!! If you know anyone who is looking for Beatles amp I would be happy to sell that.

    OH!!!!! and 45′s !!!! Remember those??? I have about 250 of those too!!! LOL!! Jeff had taken the time and typed up a list of all of his 45′s!! He was so darned organized!!

    I have a big bonus room upstairs that was “his” room. I have been slowly going thru all his stuff and trying to decide what to keep. Its an overwhelming job. If I ever move I will have to seriously rid a lot of this stuff. I have a Taylor 12 string guitar, an electric guitar, an electric piano, the beatles amp, and on and on and on!!!

    Let me know who your favorite bands were and I will check to see if I have it in my collection for you!! I have kinda sorta pulled out the albums I want to keep and the rest I can part with !!

    Thanks for the music album post!! Great memories!!!

    Mary jane

    • Claudia says

      Oh, lucky you, Mary Jane. I think I had at least 500 that are now in terrible shape. It makes me so sad that I just can’t let myself think about it. Don is a musician, too, you know. He’s played guitar since he was a little kid and he writes songs to this day. He is a HUGE Beatles fan, as am I, but he is even more so. We love the Eagles, too. And we got to see Paul McCartney in concert a few years ago (Don knows one of Paul’s lead guitar players!) and it was INCREDIBLE. I used to have a lot of 45s but heck if I know what my mother did with them. One was the original “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Sob.
      Don has a a couple guitars. He used to have even more, but we had to sell them when times were tough. But he is borrowing his good friend’s guitar while he is out in California. I loved all the bands of the 60′s and 70′s – The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Beatles, any and all Motown, Jimi Hendrix, – the list goes on and on. Oh, and I loved Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Peter Paul and Mary, etc. And then I had a huge show music collection!
      xoxo

  11. Donnamae says

    Hubby and I still have all of our albums from the 60′s and 70′s! They are properly stored…we should break them out! Still have our turntable from the 70′s too…it even works! And, then there’s my parents 78′s….what are we to do with all of them? Suggestions?

    • Claudia says

      I’d say to hang on to them. But if not, I bet there are collectors out there who would buy them.

  12. Kim says

    I love Kenny Rankin! More people need to know about him. I still have quite a few of my albums. So many hours spent in my bedroom back in the 70′s, poring over the album covers and sleeves. My husband and I have a newer DJ style turntable, but I want an older one like back in the day.

    • Claudia says

      Me, too. My bedroom and all my record albums – it was my special retreat! My mom sure had to put up with a lot of loud music playing!

  13. Nola says

    Being a pack ray has its advantages. I have my albums and 45s along with my sister in law’s record collection. Of corse I inherited my parents 78s, too. As if all those weren’t enough, I’ve picked up some great vinyl at thrift stores and garage sales! Once or twice a year I pull them all out and make a day of it, playing all my favs.

    I hope you find all the vinyl your heart desires!

  14. Kathleen says

    I don’t know if you have Salvation Army or Goodwill stores near you or not but my husband has built quite a record collection from shopping there. They usually charge one dollar or less. Plus you get the thrill of the hunt.

    • Claudia says

      We’ve found a few at our local Goodwill and Salvation Army stores. Lots at our local antique store and Don found a several at a yard sale. I love the thrill of the hunt!

  15. says

    Being a child of the 70′s I had a huge collection of albums from the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who just about every amazing band who was big then (many still are) . I hated 8 tracks, never had any, did not like tapes because they broke. I held onto those albums, some 200 or more ( I also have all of my 45′s) . My husband kept his stereo in his workshop, we believed that albums would never die. Unfortunately the turn table did. We were without our beloved albums for about 6 months and one day my son was thrift shopping and picked up a mint condition stereo system for us for 14.99 (at Value Village). We are happily spinning again. Vinyl has been making a slow comeback the past few years and some bands do release limited albums on vinyl. I love the way you can open up an album ( the double ones) and have all of the words right there and you cannot beat album covers, so big and bold.
    I do have cd’s in the house and car but we will forever be true to vinyl in our studio’s.

    If you have a Value Village anywhere near you Claudia they always have a huge album selection and they are usually 99cents to $2.00.

    Have a great day,
    Sue

    • Claudia says

      I hated 8 tracks, too! Never used them – they were so big and bulky. Yay for your son! What a find! I think Value Villages are a Canadian thing….we have Goodwill and Salvation Army and I bet they have the same type of thing.

  16. says

    I do still have many of the albums I bought as well as some my kids bought when they were in highschool, altho I no longer have a turn-table to play them on, I still keep them. And speaking of B&N, I am missing bookstores…they are so far and few between now and I fear that someday they will all be gone.

    • Claudia says

      Me, too, Deanna. It really scares me. Will this simply be a virtual world? That breaks my heart.

  17. Missy says

    I got my first little stereo system for my 11th birthday. My mom bought the records for me too – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole. My friends were singing songs by the Monkees, the Beatles etc and I knew all the words to Try a Little Tenderness and Tangerine. She didn’t like that loud music stuff! lol I guess it worked cause as I got older I stuck with the one person ballad type songs. James Taylor, Carol King, John Denver – the soundtrack of my youth. And I still have my vinyl but my collection is small.

    • Claudia says

      I grew up with those guys, too, Missy. My parents played them all the time. Judy Garland, too. I always straddled the worlds of rock, folk, show music and standards. Still do!

  18. Judy Clark says

    You and John have a lot in common.. He has a huge collection of old LP albums and will not let go of any of them. When I use to teach art classes in the evenings, I’d come home and John would be sitting in the LR with the stereo blaring with the old albums and a roaring fire in the fireplace. He was in heaven

    Judy

  19. says

    That same tangibleness is why I will always prefer real books over the audio version or the Nook. I want to be able to hold it in my hands, look for the date published, the place, read about the author. There’s just no substitute for that.

  20. Linden Townhouse says

    Our son-in-law is rebuilding a turntable. He would tell you that it is true that the sound quality took a hit when music went from analog to digital. He tells us there are sounds on record albums that cannot be duplicated on a CD. For Christmas, we bought him some new-in-package record albums my husband found at Amazon. From what I understand, there is a kind of underground movement among music lovers (even young people) to embrace turntables and record albums once again.

  21. says

    We saved some of our old LP’s. Love the art work. Our local Record Exchange has quite a good selection of LP’s. Amazingly, lots of 20 somethings really love LP’s. Urban Outfitters sells Crosley portable turntables. We bought a turntable a few years ago to play the LP’s we still have. Don’t know what I would do without my music. I listen to my ipod when I walk and play cd’s in my office. Let me know if there is an LP you can’t find and I can always see if I can locate one here for you.

    Big Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

  22. says

    From what I’ve read in the newspaper here, sales for LPs are up, and the buyers are young people! Gives one hope, doesn’t it? And there is one store downtown that specializes in the albums. May be too late for us to start collecting them again and replacing the stereo that we got rid of decades ago but I’m so glad young people are wanting this experience.

  23. says

    Hi Claudia,
    I can see some of my favs in your album assortment. Simon and Garfunkle was the rage during my college days. I still love hearing their familiar tunes. When I was about five years old I remember my Mother decided to put several of her old, thick records in the oven to soften them so we could make a craft project. I thought making wavy edged bowls was just the oolest thing. Oh, to think all the vintage tunes we thrashed!
    I miss VHS because it never hiccupped like my DVDs do. I know they were big and clunky but they were so much more dependable.
    Thanks for sharing, my friend,
    Stay warm,
    Carolynn
    No baby yet…Mommy is ready to pop!

    • Claudia says

      Ah…I thought the baby had come! That makes it even more exciting – you’re all waiting for the big moment!

  24. says

    I think I might’ve mentioned in your post about record stores, that even my 22-year old son now wants a turntable! He has a friend who has a turntable and some albums, and he loves listening to them. He agrees that the sound is “richer”.

  25. sharron says

    My 14 year old aked for a turntable for Christmas. I reall wantedto get her an old one but did not find one so I researched and founda new one and got a great deal on it…anyway friends have been sending us old 45′s and albums and we have found a few on our own at local thrifts and our local record store too. This has been so much fun for our entire Family and brings back memories for my Husband & I too. Love that my girl is an old sou land easy to please. :)

  26. says

    I think vinyl seems to have made a bit of a comeback. We have a new record store in my town that just popped up a few years ago and there area always loads of college kids passing through the doors. I hope there’s always enough of a market for vinyl to keep it from disappearing – there’s nothing like that hissing sound and the motion of placing the needle.
    :)
    Jenny

  27. Noelle says

    OH Claudia! I was so lucky I got to see Kenny Rankin in person.. he had a concert on LI awhile back, but I just loved his voice, still do, when I saw that album off to the side on your post I was like wow that’s Kenny Rankin! And yes I got rid of all of my albums awhile back. Loved my turntable too though. Good luck with your trip Noelle

  28. Kim says

    Claudia, I have a new turntable that looks retro and I love it!! If you love vinyl, check out the radio show I listen to every friday night, it usually has a theme each week which is fun. It’s niteclub.listen2myradio.com and is on 8ish to 11pm. It’s out of Calgary, Alberta and he has quite a collection of albums.

  29. says

    I still listen to vinyl too, Claudia… classical, jazz, folk, early rock. I have most of the Joni Mitchell albums and all my father’s Johnny Cash albums, which I treasure. I remember spending a small fortune when I was teenager, ordering a Beatles album from England!

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