Henry Rollins: The Column! Is Here: Preview of the First Henry Rollins Column, Exclusive for the Print Edition of the LA Weekly
Their digital descendants don't sound the same and leave me wanting. I have had some of these LPs for well over half of my life. I know every crack and pop on them. Those surface noises are, to me, as much a part of the music as the songs themselves and give the music some textural perfection that digital sterility simply cannot achieve. I am now listening to Hawkwind's Doremi Fasol Latido LP, released on United Artists in 1972. Amazing! A masterpiece. I don't know how I am going to get to sleep tonight. I just want to stay up and listen to music.
I have a lot of compact discs. I need them for radio play, and convenience. Many bands and artists I am a fan of don't always release their work on vinyl, so I take what they feel like giving me.
Sitting in a room, alone, listening to a CD is to be lonely. Sitting in a room alone with an LP crackling away, or sitting next to the turntable listening to a song at a time via 7-inch single is enjoying the sublime state of solitude.
To burn a CDR of music you like to give as a gift to someone you wish to become closer to is a cold, moist-palmed, mouth-breathing bummer. A tape made from albums and singles, constructed in real time, every track representing a separate and careful needle drop, says a real heart indeed beats inside this body and, baby, it beats for you.
There may be, at the back of one of your closets, a stack of your old and forgotten albums. I suggest you rescue them from obscurity and reconnect with your inner analog self. The brain remaps, the ears quickly adjust, all of your cells wonder what took you so long.
Perhaps the mightiest slap in the face of music has been the music file, easily downloaded and put into a playback device. This format strips the meat from the bone. Imagine an orange, squeezed by a gorilla. It's still an orange, but in name only. If Otis Redding could hear his music on MP3, he'd wonder what hack was trying to impersonate him.
Thankfully, many bands and labels have brought back the LP. Labels like Dischord, Third Man, 4 Men With Beards, Art Yard and many others take vinyl very seriously and their releases are a dependable source of endless hours of happy happy joy joy.
I have seen some stunning vinyl collections in my life. Mine is not one of them, but what I have, I love as dearly as music itself and play whenever I can. Vinyl takes me to a very ecstatic place. My favorite day of the week is Friday. It's a throwback from school and how much I hated it. I would sit in class all day long on that day, knowing that if I could somehow get through this oppressive, time-suffocating hell, I would eventually be able to go back to my room and put on Zeppelin's IV. Do you know what I mean? Well, you should.
So, before your ears are too far gone, show them you love them and get a turntable plugged into your system immediately. Get some good records and get down with it! To those of you who never stopped playing albums or, like some people I know, absolutely refuse to listen to music from any digital source, I salute your purity. I fall woefully short in that department and listen to digitally processed impostor sounds on a daily basis. But whenever I can, it is vinyl all the way.
Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" is on deck!