As I entered the room (a few minutes late) they were playing some early-70s rock music from Rod Argent. Shortly afterwards, they played some Captain Beefheart. “Oh dear, this is not my kind of music”, I thought to myself. But I decided to stick around, because I thought it was such a cool idea: a once a month vinyl records “party” in a theatrette at the National Film and Sound Archive.
Although I grew up with vinyl, and am aware of the recent re-discovery of vinyl by the “young folk”, I don’t really look back with fondness to the days of scratches, crackles and records getting stuck. I don’t remember thinking as a ten year old I love the sound of the scratches and crackles : it was the nightmare scenario that meant I would often buy two copies of a record I really loved: one to play and one to keep “for good”. I also don’t really buy the argument vinyl sounds better than CD. I don’t even think it sounds as good as a high quality mp3. But there are two things vinyl has going for it over modern musical formats: the large format album covers and the mesmerising quality of watching the album go around and around.
And that’s what I did for a while. And then the music changed: there was some Georgie Fame, there was some Louis Prima, there was Tina Turner singing “River Deep, Mountain High”. Now those albums really did sound good on vinyl. I suspect it’s because the artists and producers were working to the vinyl format, and thus their attitudes towards recording and production were informed by the format. That’s when I stopped watching the vinyl go round and closed my eyes and listened to the music being played a couple of massive old Tannoy speakers. They must have weighed a tonne.
I also really loved the passion evident in the room, as those attending (forty or fifty people) were asked to introduce their vinyl selection. Even though I really hated the Captain Beefheart track, you could hear from her voice that the young woman who introduced it really loved it. The woman who introduced Louis Prima wasn’t as articulate in the words she used, but you could also tell she really loved her track also. Canberra music legend, David Kilby was also there. I worked with David twenty years ago and would have loved to have said hi briefly, though I wasn’t sure if he would remember me, and he was pretty much surrounded by “groupies”, so I wandered on.
The last track to be played was one of my all time favourites, Rattlesnakes, a track from Lloyd Cole’s first album. The guy running the afternoon told how he had bought the album in a three way split with friends back in 1984. It was an album that accompanied me through my days at university. I still vividly remember lifting the needle and dropping it on that album, as I spent my days in a small room apartment on campus. I have the album on both CD and mp3, and it sounds much better now, to be honest.
So yeah, a sweet way to spend an hour this afternoon in Canberra. At the end of the event, the host said they’re moving to the first Friday of every month, with drinks from 5.00pm, and vinyl from 5.30.