Monday 30 September 2013

My 7 Simple Tips to improve your Listening Experience

While most of us dream of having the space for a separate listening room just for our music listening pleasure the reality of the matter is normally somewhat less dreamy. The fact is most of our sound systems are located in the lounge areas of our homes and this area normally also serves as a tv watching room, family congregation room, games room, chill out room, reading room, etc.

Few of us will ever have the same high level listening room as this one that was custom built by ModWright Instruments on their premises:

...but we can dream can't we? ;-)

"Behind the scenes" at Abbey Road - Vinyl Cutting

Things to do with old Vinyl Records # 3 - Clocks!

In the third post in this series we continue to explore the possibilities of things to do with your old records once they are too scratched and otherwise damaged to be used as a viable source of music listening pleasure. We have all thrown away old damaged LP's, but I am highlighting here that at our vinyl's retirement age we could turn that old friend into something more practical and beautiful, and it is even good for the environment folks! Recycle, recycle, recycle... now we can tell our lefty friends that we have done our bit for the environment!

My personal favourite, clocks!

Sunday 29 September 2013

Vinyl Feature: Readers Digest - Great Original Hits Of The '50s And '60s

I just spent a large part of my Sunday slowly listening my way through the Readers Digest - Great Original Hits Of The '50s And '60s Collectors Edition box set which I picked up a short while ago at Erikshjälpen in Åkarp for the paltry sum of 50 SEK. It offers a great walk down memory lane with a well chosen selection of hits from the 50's and 60's (yes, like it says on the box, stop being picky...) and packaged in a good quality sturdy box containing 9 discs. My copy is in MINT condition and looks as if it may have been played once. Maybe.

Front of Box

Neil Young Vinyl Quote

Vinyl Collecting As A Hobby - Video

Leonard Cohen interviewed by Jools Holland on Later (BBC2) 1993

Saturday 28 September 2013

Why Analogue Refuses to Go Away

I am currently at home recovering from a hernia operation that I had last Monday, and because of this I have a lot of time on my hands right now to sit and listen to music, read and think on such things as the meaning of life, which is the tastiest breakfast cereal and why the analogue medium refuses to go away. When I say analogue I am not only referring to music, but the whole range of “old” stuff that was set to be replaced by it’s newer, more modern counterparts years ago and despite all odds stubbornly refuse to disappear and in some cases, like vinyl records, are actually staging a measurable comeback.

Over the last 49 years since I was born the world has changed radically and quite beyond belief. In South Africa during the sixties we didn't even have television and had to wait until 1976 before it was finally introduced to an eagerly waiting public. Before my father acquired the large wooden cased floor standing television set that graced our living room we would sit down to dinner every evening as a family, and have conversations about our day, what was happening at school or work or with the ailing neighbour down the street. It was a time that I still cherish to this day and for me those were some of the happiest times of my childhood. However, the day that the new television came into our house I distinctly remember my father sitting down at the table, dishing up a plate of food and then departing, food in hand, for the sitting room. We never ate our dinners at the dining room table again, except on special occasions, and the relationship that we had as a family was never quite the same again. Progress had come, but was it really progress at all?

Friday 27 September 2013

Foreigner (the band) Interview

Caring for your Vinyl Records

Having spent a great deal of money purchasing your precious vinyl record collection you will certainly want to make sure that you take good care of them. I will give you my own suggestions and tips gleaned from 40 years of hands on experience. Please keep in mind that these are merely my own recommendations and many other opinions exist (especially on internet forums) so just take this as a starting point and then figure out over time what works best for you.


When storing records it is important to ensure that the place you store them is cool and dry. Vinyl records do not react well to heat and will warp if left in direct sun for even a short period of time. I had a friend once that stored a number of records directly on a wooden floor that turned out to have damp issues and the rising damp caused the record covers to mould and in a few cases even caused the paper sleeves to stick to the vinyl itself. The general rule for me would be to only store records on good sturdy shelving, off the floor and away from any direct sunlight.

Also make sure that your records are placed vertically, and not stacked horizontally, to prevent having weight on them that can lead to warping or buckling. Vinyl weighs a lot more than you think!

Thursday 26 September 2013

Do you want to own the world's largest record collection?

Paul Mawhinney, who used to own a store called Record-Rama, started his record collection over 60 years ago and in 2008 decided, for various reasons, that he wanted to sell his massive collection, today valued at $53 000 000, for a mere $3 000 000. In his collection is the first flat record ever made from 1881, and countless more rare and collectable records. The whole shebang is stored in a climate controlled warehouse.

However, to date he has had only one offer which turned out to be a hoax. Here is a short documentary that was made when he first decided to sell the amazing collection:

If you want to buy the whole collection (or just bits of it) you can contact Paul via the details on Record Rama's website.

Elvis Presley interview - 31 March 1972

Things to do with old Vinyl Records # 2 - Bowls!

After posting about vinyl record tables that various creative people had made to convert old damaged vinyl records into something useful, I came across what must be the easiest thing to make from an old vinyl record. A simple bowl. I found a whole lot of them when searching online and because it looked quite easy I couldn't resist and had to do one myself! I documented it with my cell phone, so please excuse the photography, but it is good enough to get the idea.

First step was to find a junky old scratched up record, and I had one of those. Then I found a stainless steel bowl in the kitchen that would serve as my "mould":

This one seemed about the right size so I drew a dot in the middle to make it easier to line up the disc when I put it on top of the stainless steel bowl like this:

Katie Melua - Ketevan - available for pre-order on Vinyl!

Katie Melua's new album, Ketevan is available for pre-order from Amazon. Nice to see that it is available on vinyl as well as cd. The link below is to the page for the vinyl copy, but if you prefer buying cd's (or even mp3's) then it is simple to navigate to those pages as well.

Even though I live in Sweden it is still cheaper for me to purchase my new music from Amazon in the UK, and have it posted here, than it is to purchase it locally. All from the comfort of my office.

Things to do with old Vinyl Records # 1 - Tables!

At some point or the other we have all had records that were just simply too scratched or damaged in some way that prevented us from being able to play them. Mostly we just toss them out and hope to be able to purchase another copy some time soon to replace it, but in this series of posts I will look at how other people have reused their old vinyl in creative ways. I may even try out some of these myself!

First up, Vinyl record coffee and side tables:

If you come across any other creative ideas, send me the link and I'll look at possibly posting or incorporating them right here on Vinyl Philosophy.

Johnny Cash's last interview - 'I Expect My Life To End Soon'

This interview was on 20 August 2003 and Johnny Cash passed on September 12 2003.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Vinyl Feature: Artie Shaw And His Orchestra ‎- did someone say "a Party?"

Clarinet player extraordinaire, composer, and bandleader Artie Shaw released this wonderful album of his typical swing style band music in 1956. It was produced by the Decca Record Company and Ace of Hearts Records as a mono album and my copy says it was printed in England by James Upton Ltd. Birmingham & London.

Front of Cover

The cover features a “pin-up” drawing of the “Petty Girl” by artist George Petty who was well known for his portraits of young ladies for Esquire Magazine between 1933 and 1956 as well as numerous calendars and other publications. Often reproductions of his drawings could be found decorating warplanes during the Second World War.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Interview with Eric Burdon of The Animals

Vinyl Feature: Pink Floyd - Animals

There is no other band in history that ever sounded quite the same as Pink Floyd, and with their largely experimental style of music they succeeded in becoming one of the stand out studio bands of their era. Their combination of progressive and psychedelic rock soon became very well known to many millions of ardent fans worldwide. Myself included!

The album featured here is Animals and in 1977 was the tenth album to be released by Pink Floyd in a long line of successful albums. The cover is a photograph of a pig floating between two chimneys at Battersea Power Station which was conceived by Roger Waters but photographed by an English art design group called Hipgnosis.

When released Animals made number 2 on the UK Albums Chart, number 3 on the US Billboard 200, number 3 on the Swedish album charts, and number 1 in New Zealand.

Front of Cover

How Vinyl Records Are Made

I am a sucker for these "how it's made" type videos, and I found this particular one very interesting. I'll never look at my LP records quite the same way as I did before knowing the incredible engineering that goes into producing these almost magical black vinyl discs of musical purity!

Sunday 22 September 2013

Paul McCartney interview in 1968

I’m not an Audiophile, I just listen to Great Music!

When it comes to music listening there are really only two categories of people, those that listen to music and those that are obsessed with the equipment for listening to music. It is a very human trait to want better and shinier things, and I have to confess that for a while I was distracted by the desire for the latest and greatest shiny new toy with all the bells and whistles one man could possibly play with, but thankfully that was just a fleeting and short lived phase.

I remember as a youngster growing up in a very typical middle class family in Pretoria South Africa, this would have been back in the seventies when I was young, carefree and ignorant of many of the realities of the world outside of my school, friends and neighbourhood. We were neither rich nor poor, there was always food on the table and my folks could afford a stereo system that was adequate to our music listening needs. We bought and listened to a wide variety of music and in our house there always seemed to be music of one sort or the other playing.

Saturday 21 September 2013

Top 30 Best-selling Physical Singles

Vinyl Feature: Count Basie & The Mills Brothers - The Board Of Directors

A gem of an album featuring a dream collaboration between the legendary Mills Brothers and Count Basie that is almost mythical in it's imaginings! From the very first note until the very last every moment of this album demands to be savoured, listened to with utmost attention, engaged on a personal level as one would pour over a newly discovered treasure that has finally been found. I really cannot fault it and it simply has to be heard by anyone who is a fan of either the "Count" or the Mills Brothers. Fortunately the quality of the recording is as great as the artists themselves and consequently every instrument and every voice is clear, full and real.

First released in 1968 it has carried its age well, and while the music will only really be appreciated by fans of this particular style of swing/big band music, the quality of the sound coming off the vinyl will satisfy even the most picky audiophile! It was recorded at A&R Recording Studios in New York on November 20th and 21st in 1967 and was released in 1968. The album featured the Mills Brothers with Count Basie and orchestra, but the arrangements and conducting were by Dick Hyman.

The great thing about these old LP's were that the covers were used to convey a lot of background info on the artists in a large enough typeface that one can actually sit and read it in a dimly lit sitting room while enjoying your third glass of wine. Who can do that with cd's anymore? Heck, I struggle to read the micro script that most cd's come with in good light, outdoors, at midday, during a sunny summer. They even list the entire orchestra, engineer, producers and still found space for a nice selection of photographs on the back cover of this one!

Front Cover

Sting - Interview on "Frost Over the World"

Top 30 Best Selling Albums of All Time

It has always been very difficult to track exact sales of music throughout the world, but this is as accurate a list as has ever been put together. With the advent of the online digital age, and mp3's being the modern medium of choice, tracking sales is even more difficult. All that to say that other sources may differ a little from this list.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

There is no such thing as "Free Music"

I was having a Facebook conversation with someone a couple of weeks ago and when reading more about the topic online I realized that a lot of people confuse the issue of internet privacy and music (or other copyright protected material) “piracy”. I use the word "piracy" in inverted commas here simply because it isn't really the right term that is being used. Piracy involves rogue sailors forcibly boarding and robbing someone of their ship or yacht at sea and doesn't really have anything to do with music, videos or the internet, but it has become the common term for the illegal online theft of copyright protected content and so for better or worse we use the word “piracy”. The use of this word was also probably helped along by the now infamous file sharing site “The Pirate Bay”. I think arguing over whether the word used should be “piracy”, or anything else for that matter, borders on the pedantic and is really just to obscure the actual problem.

I think it would be useful at this point to say that I am 100% against anyone, whether they are individual people, organizations or governments being able to read my personal and private emails, listen in on my Facebook chats or Skype communications and gaining access to my banking details. I am entitled to my privacy on a legal and moral basis and I object very strongly to anybody, I don't care who they are or what reason they have, being able to spy on the intimate details of my personal life. I am sure most people would probably agree with me on this point so let’s move on.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Vinyl Feature: Tom Jones - Greatest Hits

On a regular basis I will feature a "new" purchase that I have made in the previous week. Pretty much all of my vinyl purchases over the last few years have been from secondhand shops, charity shops, etc. where it is possible to get great records for a mere pittance! I hope to show you that building up a music collection via vinyl LP's is both fun and affordable!

Here in southern Sweden we have a chain of second hand stores connected to the Svenska Kyrkan, called Erikshjälpen, that use the funds generated from their sales to sponsor education, child protection and health related causes worldwide. So not only can I indulge my constant hunger for music related vinyl based bargains, but I am also supporting a worthwhile cause. Both of these things make me happy and ease my conscience at the same time. What a great deal!

First up is a wonderful copy of Tom Jones Greatest Hits. It has a modest collection of hits that we know and love and would expect to hear from Tom Jones and the quality of the pressing is top notch as well. The copy I got is 100% scratch free and sounds just as good as new. I am always very picky about checking every LP I purchase and if there is even a hint of a scratch on the vinyl playing surface I do not buy it. I am less picky about the state of the cover.

I'll start by showing some photographs of my purchase.

Front Cover

Monday 16 September 2013

Bought my first brand new vinyl in 24 years... not a great experience!

I first heard First Aid Kit playing on the radio here in Sweden and quite liked what I heard from this folksy sounding Swedish duo. They consist of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg and have been a hit in Sweden since they sent a tape of their home recorded song "Tangerine" to a Swedish radio station back in 2007.

Last year one of the songs from their "The Lion's Roar" album was used in a television advert and it was a really catchy tune! I found myself singing or humming the few lines used in the ad while sitting at my computer, taking a shower or cycling down to the beach. I then looked them up on the internet and found their website here: First Aid Kit, whereupon I was delighted to see that they offered their music on vinyl! Whoohoo! Instantly I was a fan because lets face it, very few bands actually release their stuff on the black medium of musical purity any more.

Sunday 15 September 2013

Why I prefer to listen to music on vinyl.

I can still remember as a youngster growing up in South Africa the thrill of going downtown with my mother and visiting the local record store in Belleville near Cape Town. She would allow me to pick out a single of my own choice and I would agonise over each and every purchase. I recall vividly the drive home, clutching my new treasure tightly in my hand, the anticipation being so strong that I would feel almost giddy with the excitement of it all! Finally we would get home, and the engine of our white Peugeot would hardly stop before I was out and making for the large "all in one" music center my parents had back then. It was a large wooden affair with separate speakers that seemed very big to me as a rather small nine (or thereabouts) year old. My mom would graciously let me listen to my music first, which largely consisted of some kind of pop song that happened to be my current favourite from Springbok Radio's friday evening "Top Twenty" show. (Remember Springbok Radio?) On the "B" side there was normally some much less desirable song that the band or maybe the record label put there simply to fill up the other side without giving anything worthwhile away, damn them!

Saturday 14 September 2013

This "painting" was sold for $43,845,000

I think this is a deeply thought out piece of critique on the social imbalances prevailing in our modern society which lingers between threats of war and a Utopian vision of peace that seems so elusive to us all in the short term.

The skilled strokes of the artist are resplendent in metaphors of righteous indignation steeled by cold hard reality as the faint chant of the disappointed mass of humanity cries for the right to a new and brave world of integrity amongst the political elite whose subversion of basic human rights and mores is anathema to the objectives we all yearn and long for like a fish longs for the cool refreshing waters unpolluted by man!

The uneven shades and streaky brush strokes hail to an incompleteness in every human heart as we bemoan the fact that indeed our own lives are severely lacking in the sort of spiritual completeness that used to define us as a species many years hence. Will we find joy in our meaningless existence once more or are we doomed to a life of increasing frailty, overshadowed by the dark side of our incomplete and unloved psyche?

"How long?", cries the artists voice from the deep empty darkness that defines the world of modern art, "How long before I can cash my cheque?"