Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Intimate Story of a Vinyl LP and Me

My first album and I have an emotional bond that has lasted longer than any other relationship I have ever had; 47 years to be exact; if we were married, we would be celebrating our sapphire anniversary this year!
Safe behind a pane of glass
The beginning of our life together starts sometime in the spring of 1964. At the time I was an insecure boy of 14; my home environment left a lot to be desired. My main escape from reality was into the world of popular music; where my idols were the Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones were the image of the teenager I wanted to be; they had long hair, wore stylish clothes, had sexy girlfriends, and above all, played great, rhythmic filled songs that made my heart soar! Besides which, they used to live in my neighbourhood, in-fact their first practice room was above the pub on the corner of my street. In 1964 The Rolling Stones had become as famous as the Beatles, and released their first album.

Even though I did not possess a record player, I wanted the album and I was going to get it no matter what! My mother and her husband, (who, thank the spirits, was not my father!), were not benevolent when it came to giving pocket money, so there was nothing left but for me to: 1. beg, 2. steal, 3. borrow, all of which I did till I had the £3 odd that an LP cost back then. As soon as I could I took the short bus ride that brought me to Kensington High Street, and to my then palace of dreams, a record shop! In those days record shops were usually small, but to my unaccustomed eyes the one I was in seemed huge, most of the albums in the store would be worth a small fortune today; Long Plays from the Beatles, the Animals, The Temptations, Dusty Springfield, Manfred Mann and many other artists of the day filled the racks; but no Rolling Stones! “Did you pre-order?” was the answer I got when I asked where the record was; in those days many fans used to pre-order their albums before they were even released. Obviously, I hadn’t reserved a copy and the LP had sold out! Disappointed I paid a deposit and reserved a copy with the next delivery, which was due the following Friday.

Friday couldn’t come soon enough. When it did, I sneaked off as fast as I could to collect my long awaited album. Holding the album for the first time was exhilarating. Giving me the moon couldn’t have taken me higher!  Here it was, mine, a flat 12 inch vinyl circle, that could turn at 33⅓ revolutions per minute, and give 40 minutes of music pleasure! I have bought thousands of LPs, tapes and CDs since then, but that first album is the only one that has accompanied me through the valleys and hills of my life. It now lays framed behind a pane of glass, hanging prominently on my sitting room wall; reminding me, as always, of the good and the bad times that have come and gone.

The Rolling Stones first album was recorded in five days! No mucking about in those days; get in, one cut and get out. Perfectionists today are still taking the album apart, too much of this, too little of that, out of tune here, a missed chord there-who cares; it was raw, down to the earth music vulgarity and we liked it! Besides a Jagger/Richard's early composition, “Tell Me” the 12 tracks were mostly covers of American R&B numbers. The striking album cover photo was taken by Nicholas Wright; who I had the pleasure of meeting years later, an amazing artist in his own right. The album bore no title, only the photo, which made the album stand out even more.

Downloads and streaming are some of the modern day ways of obtaining your favourite songs. It seems that even CDs are on their last play; but no matter what new idea progress brings in, nothing will ever replace the musical soul of a vinyl LP.


  1. Those of a certain age all have that exact story and emotion, regardless of the actual album, we all had that day.
    Streaming and MP3s can never raise goosepbumps 47 years down the line...

  2. I love this. Every jump, every scratch and every hiss of an LP can bring up a forgotten memory I find. I have Elvis' 40 Greatest Hits double album that I played and played and played and still to this day when I play it I am reminded of a certain long hot summer.

  3. First time I have read any of your blogs. I'll be back.

    It brought back memories of my first vinyl, Bowie's Hunky Dory, an album I still listen to regularly today.

    I had first heard the album in early '72 round a friends house and was blown away by it. I can remember my excitement going to my local record shop on the Saturday and eagerly parting with my money. One of the assistants in the store was blind and used to ask what album you were buying. He knew every track on every album it seemed and used to offer his opinion on each purchase.

    Nothing can beat the feel, the smell and the touch of the vinyl.

    And album covers. Another memory from the past lost to the younger generation.

  4. Fatfish,Who better to serve you! The blind have usually have a deeper soul connection to music than rest of us.

    Thatnaggingfeeling, My album reminds of not only of many summer nights, but also of many cold winter ones as well!! :)

    Spurssimon, many are reverting back to vinyl, that includes me!

  5. SpursSimon, Many are reverting back to vinyl, including me.

    thatnaggingfeeling, My album not only reminds me of many "hot summer"nights, but few cold winter ones too!

    Fatfish, Who better to advise on music! The blind,usually, have a deeper connection to music than the rest of us.

  6. Brian Jones finished off his Art A level at my school: until he arrived I had the longest hair.

    Let's spend the night together was a great track. The cool kids tried to play like Muddy Waters, Son House etc.

    My tastes still included Frank Sinatra, Brenda Lee, and some jazz.

    Music is the food of life: posing is part of it's comedy.

  7. Your last sentence puts it so well.You could say 'It's only rock&roll' but I love it! By the way my tastes also include talents such as, Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong. :)

  8. This is brilliant. I remember what it was like getting the vinyl out for the first time. It was shiny and it smelled so good. Then you put the needled down on the groove and hopefully there was no scratch at all.

    On the other hand, I have gotten rid of nearly all my vinyl and almost all my CDs. I don't own a turntable and have no desire to buy one. Come to think of it, outside the car CD player and my laptop, I don't have a CD player either.

    I've jumped feet first into a fully digital world, and I love it. I hated lugging the very heavy vinyl collection, and CDs were no better. I find the digital experience more immediate and more intimate. I love my iPod and the ability to have 25,000+ songs at my fingertips.

  9. When I bought my first album, it was in another world. Money was tight,especially for a young boy, it took a couple of months to get that lousy couple of quid together.You could compare buying that first album to having sex for the first time! :)
    Hope you checked your albums for collectors items before chucking them out.