19 May 2010

Record Club 1

When I was in high school, I learned of my father's record collection. It was not a huge stash (I think he had about 300 albums in total), just a collection of music he had accumulated since he was a teenager in the 1960s. He had no jazz albums, save for a few Return to Forever records, but his collection did include early pressings of Cream, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, and other sixties luminaries which I was heavily into at the time (and still am, of course).

Dad had an ambivalent relationship with his records. He kept them for a long time, mainly out of nostalgia, but never listened to them (I had to dig them out of a storage unit when I realized what treasures he had in his stash). None of the records were true collectors' items, they had been played too much to be considered mint. But they were one of the major artifacts of his youth, and he and I had some wonderful conversations sparked by discussing the records (eventually, when he finally decided to get rid of the records, he let me keep the hundred or so that I couldn't bear to see trashed).

After bringing the records home from storage one weekend during high school, I hooked up our old record player to the stereo in our living room, and began listening to my dad's old records after school. Shortly thereafter, I discovered that I could get old Blue Note albums on eBay for next to nothing, so I slowly began acquiring a few albums here and there every few months. When I went to college at the University of Florida, I discovered that Gainesville had a handful of great record stores, and I spent a good portion of my freshman year digging through crates at Sharpe's Music and Hyde & Zeke.

Part of my interest in vinyl was the album covers (which shouldn't surprise you). I discovered that album covers made great wall art in my dorm room, and I could hang them by taping a clear plastic sleeve to the cinder block walls. But I also loved the act of sitting down and listening to the record, experiencing the music the way listeners did decades ago. I also felt an extra sense of connection to this "old" music when I had to bring out a slab of vinyl to hear it. I'm no audiophile, and I really can't pick up on the differences between analog and digital sound.So when it comes to vinyl freakdom, I'm more of a dilettante than an enthusiast.

But I do have some music on vinyl that I like to throw on the record player, so when I moved to Virginia, I convinced my parents to let me take the record player with me (it did not take much convincing at all, actually). Of course, I could not hook it up to my modern stereo without an external preamp, plus I had to replace the cartridge, so the record player sat untouched for most of the past four years. But I've since bought a preamp and cartridge, so I can finally pursue my halfhearted hobby once more.

First entry in Record Club after the jump...

The Record: Bill Evans Trio, Since We Met
Acquired: I picked this up in the dollar rack at Amoeba Records in LA back in 2002. I was on a post-high school graduation trip to the West Coast to see some family, and my cousin Doug, a fellow vinyl hoarder, took me to what I now consider to be the greatest place on earth. Amoeba is the platonic ideal of a post-digital record shop. You can find almost anything there.
Thoughts on the record: I bought this record for three reasons: it cost a dollar, I liked the cover, and Bill Evans. It's not his greatest work, but lesser Bill Evans is still as good as anything. It makes a great soundtrack for doing chores on a Saturday, and I say that with the utmost reverence for Evans' trio work. Side two has some pops and hisses that detract from the record, but otherwise, a solid purchase.

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