Sunday, July 23, 2006

LP Records

I recently inherited my folks collection of LPs since they weren't listening to them anymore (don't even have their turntable hooked up). I've been getting my turntable back into shape, new needle and everything (apparently the cartridge and needle installed on the turntable had been discontinued 15 years ago--time for a new needle!). I'm not an audio analog purist, I just like the ritual of playing LPs. Anyway, I've been listening to Dusty Springfield's "Dusty in Memphis." I could say loads about how wonderful the album is, but actually wanted to comment on the inner sleeve. On one side it has recent releases from Columbia Records (Jerry Vale, Johnny Mathis, Ray Conniff...) and on the other this interesting list arguing why you should purchase records.

1. They're Your Best Entertainment Buy. Records give you top quality for less money than any other recorded form. Every album is a show in itself. And once you've paid the price of admission, you can hear it over and over.

2. They Allow Selectivity of Songs and Tracks. With records it's easy to pick out the songs you want to play, or to play again a particular song or side. All you have to do is lift the tone arm and place it where you want it. You can't do this easily with anything but a phonograph record.

3. They're convenient and easy to handle. With the long-playing record you get what you want to hear, when you want to hear it. Everybody's familiar with records, too. And you can go anywhere with them because they're light and don't take up space.

4. They're attractive, informative and easy to store. Record albums are never out of place. Because of the aesthetic appeal of the jacket design, they're beautifully at home in any living room or library. They've also got important information on the backs--about the artists, about the performances or about the program. And because they're flat and not bulky, you can store hundreds in a minimum of space and still see every title.

5. They'll give you hours of continuous and uninterrupted pleasure. Just stack them up on your automatic changer and relax.

6. They're the proven medium. Long-playing phonograph records look the same way now as when they were introduced in 1948, but there's a world of difference. Countless refinements and developments have been made to perfect the long-playing record's technical excellence and insure the best in sound reproduction and quality.

7. If it's in recorded form, you know it'll be available on records. Everything's on long-playing records these days...your favorite artists, shows, comedy, movie sound tracks, concerts, drama, documented history, educational name it. This is not so with any other kind of recording.

8. They make a great gift because everyone you know loves music. And everyone owns a phonograph because it's the musical instrument everyone knows how to play. Records are a gift that says a lot to the person you're giving them to. And they keep on remembering.

Now, such a list has some humor in the age of CD's and MP3s (selectivity? They're light and portable?), but what's interesting to me in this is why in 1969 Columbia/Atlantic feels a need to make such a hard sell for the medium itself. If everyone owns a phonograph, why argue the virtues of records at such length? Was the market leveling off? Competition from a new format? Curious.

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