Emmit Rhodes is an american pop singer who was active from 1969 to 197. He was considered by some to be a one-man version of the Beatles due to the similarity of his vocal and musical stylings to those of Paul McCartney. I’d never heard of him before Friday and I only sought out his music because I a saw a teenage boy carrying one of his LPs on the subway and I wanted to know what kind of music would prompt a fifteen-year old to buy vintage vinyl. Truth be told, his catchy Beatle-esque pop is not entirely my thing but, as an avowed music trivia buff, I was shamed at never having heard of him. Apparently, after a long hiatus (36 years), he we went back into the studio last year and we may be hearing new music from him in the coming months.
It’s not just vintage vinyl that’s selling. New LP sales were up 33% in 2009, climbing to 2.8 million units, and accounting for 1% of total music sales in the United States, according to Soundscan. The numbers weren’t stratospheric, with the top sellers moving tens-of-thousands of units rather than millions, but the market continues to grow. Although the top spot was occupied by the Beatles’ Abbey Road, followed by Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the year’s best-sellers included new and recent offerings by Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear and Radiohead, suggesting that vinyl sales are more than just a nostalgia trip for boomers.
I love the sound and feel of vinyl. My collection includes favourites that I’ve had since high school but also a lot of recently acquired garage-sale and vintage store finds. One such recent find was King Crimson’s USA live album, picked up for about 5 dollars at a record store on Queen Street East. I was also lucky to find a pristine first pressing of Yes’s Close to the Edge (my favourite album of all time) at a secondhand shop in Montreal for 3 dollars. I have yet to hear a CD- or other digital remaster that comes close to the original issue. The same goes for the early Led Zeppelin albums. When the Levee Breaks off Led Zeppelin IV does not sound anywhere near as bombastic on CD.
The above image is of my Pioneer P-516 turntable. I found this unit on a curb some 15 years ago. I brought it home, changed the belt and cartridge, adjusted the speed and Presto! It sounded fabulous! The belt and needle now need changing, but these are minor expenses and some 43 years after it was manufactured, this marvelous piece of gear is still providing outstanding service and amazing sound. By contrast, how many of you are still using your first generation iPods from 2001?