Genuine CD sound quality drawing music lovers back

December 14, 2012

Genuine CD sound quality drawing music lovers back

to the Beatmerchant.

amywinehousesteveston.jpg

Frankie Neilson of The Beatmerchant Record Store in Steveston, which offers CDs and vinyls, such as this Amy Winehouse album.

Martin van den Hemel photos
By Martin van den Hemel – Richmond Review
Published: January 13, 2012 11:00 AM
Updated: January 13, 2012 11:47 AM
 
History has a way of repeating itself, and so it appears with the predicted demise of CDs since downloading music from the Internet became a multi-billion dollar industry.

 Big box music store HMV recently closed its store at Richmond Centre mall after gradually placing less and less emphasis on its music CD collection. And HMV tried to fill a void left by the closing of A&B Sound in Vancouver.

 But business has never been better for Frankie Neilson, owner of The Beatmerchant Record Store in Steveston, a specialty music store in the heart of the fishing village.

 “I think the big box stores…haven’t survived because they haven’t been giving people what they want. They stock all the same stuff,” said Neilson.

 Much like when CDs came on the scene in the 1980s, many pundits wondered how long it would take for vinyl albums to become extinct. And although vinyl albums aren’t being mass produced anymore, there’s no shortage of demand from audiophiles seeking the authentic sound quality they offer.

 Similarly, downloads from iTunes for play on iPods and other MP3 players doesn’t have the same quality and range of sound offered by music CDs or vinyl records.

 Neilson said one customer walked in after spending thousands of dollars on iTunes downloads, but had nothing to show for it and is now buying vinyl.

 Aside from better sound quality, having something you can hold, along with the signature artwork on CD jackets, along with additional content such as lyrics, that can’t be replicated by online downloads.

 Beyond that, people miss going to a store and chatting about music with people who are knowledgeable about it, he said.

 Over the past five years, Neilson said it’s a shame that the technology is becoming more important than the music itself.

 “The music is what’s important, not the technology,” he said.

 
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Unplug those iPods and Plug in your Record Players

December 28, 2011

Vinyl Experience ~ What a difference!

The long-playing record or LP as we know it began its life in the late 40’s as a replacement for the more brittle 78 rpm shellac discs and it clearly worked as the LP is still alive and well today!

The main benefit to the introduction of the vinyl LP was it helped improve durability and the capacity to play up to thirty minutes on each side of the record. However it wasn’t until the birth of Rock n Roll and Elvis that the sales of LPs started to escalate and the first stereo LPs started to appear.

Many albums from the 60’s were issued  in both Mono and Stereo versions, opinions are divided about which versions is the best, with both recordings offering a different listening experience. Early Mono versions do demand a higher price on the collector’s market and UK pressings from this period are highly prized.

With the release of the Beatles ‘Sgt. Peppers’ LP the sales of vinyl exploded in the world-wide market place with huge amounts of vinyl being sold right though  the mid 70’s and early 80’s, with acts like the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Peter Frampton and Michael Jackson selling big amounts, but in the 60’s we also began to see the LP artwork developed into its own art form. The album covers became  as important as the music itself taking on it’s own life  as the artists gained more artist control from the major record labels.

LPs became big business and the packaging became more elaborate often including printed inner sleeves with lyric inserts, posters and the beautiful gate~fold  sleeve design becoming great works of art and with the superior vinyl sound that is something the Compact Disc and the iPod with its more transistor-radio like sound has yet to match!

If you came through your teenage years listening to vinyl , then it is a hard act to follow, but the CD and iPod do have storage and mobility on their side.

During the 80’s the record companies kept finding new ways and gimmicks to help sell their latest releases and the collectable picture disc and the coloured vinyl became very popular also picture sleeves on the 45 rpm records and the great sounding 12″ records and remixes which had its big time in the new wave and disco era.

By the mid 80’s the record companies were ready to introduce the compact disc and push the new format into the market and almost overnight vinyl disappeared from the record shops as the record companies started not to release any big artist on vinyl let alone the smaller ones forcing CDs on the general public!

But the vinyl market would not go away and the record fairs became the place to buy and exchange vinyl during this period.   

Happily the classic albums from the 50’s and 60’s onwards are once again available today on vinyl along with the new releases.                                                                                                                                                           

Let’s see if the iPod is around in five years let alone fifty like vinyl.                                      

The great thing about the newer acts releasing vinyl is that some of them are including free downloads of the album as well so you can have the best of both worlds.

Many people come into my shop and tell me they still have their records and turntables and I urge you all to make room on your stereo units and plug-in your record players and enjoy again the unique experience of listening to vinyl through your hi~fi or headphones.

We will see what the future brings.

 

 

 


First Encounters of the Vinyl Kind

October 31, 2011

My first encounter with vinyl records was in England when I was 5 years old, the year was 1957 and rock n roll was everywhere. My Auntie Gwen had the 78 rpm record versions of ‘All Shook Up’ and ‘Hound Dog’ by Elvis Presley. I knew all the words to those songs as she played them so much and I loved Elvis’s voice, but it was the guitar solo and the machine gun snare drum fills on ‘Hound Dog’ that really caught my ear!

Christmas 1962 and my Mum (God bless her) & Dad bought me my first record player. It was a blue & cream Dansette player which was real hi~fi in those days! Along with the record player came five 45 rpm records that Christmas day and what a present they were!. I remember I stacked them up on the Dansette and watched in awe as they dropped down and played one after the other, down the record would drop and across the arm would come and gently drop down on the record. The pleasure I got from this player and the five records will always hold a special place in my heart.

Here are the records I received Christmas 1962

Elvis Presley was still dominating the British charts back in 1962 and this Christmas week he was at No. 1 with ‘Return To Sender’ on the RCA Victor label. At nine years of age I didn’t really know what ‘Return To Sender’ meant by I loved the record anyway!

 Britain’s answer to Elvis, Cliff Richard was at No. 4 with two songs from his film ‘Summer Holiday’ the A~side was ‘The Next Time’ but it was the B~side that I really loved and played to death, the classic ‘Bachelor Boy’ with Hank Marvin and the Shadows playing behind Cliff. Great words!

At No. 6 this week was Let’s Dance by Chris Montez with the spoken count~in 1 2 3 4 , then that driving back beat Indian drum sound and that memorable organ solo which still sounds great today!.

The big Christmas record that year was at No.9 ~ was by Brenda Lee called  ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’ with that raw Boots Randolph sax solo ~ brilliant and it’s still my favourite Xmas record.

At No.10 in the charts was the futuristic ‘ Telstar ‘ by the Tornadoes with the equally brilliant ‘Jungle Fever’ on the B ~ side. Produced by the one and only Joe Meek, this record was the first British instrumental to top both the British and American charts and started my love of instrumental groups.

The dawn of a new era was just around the corner ~ very soon the Beatles would arrive on the charts and take over the world and almost overnight any act that came before them was all washed up and out of date.

The very first record I went out and bought with my pocket-money was by the Kinks and called ‘All Day and All Of The Night’ for the huge sum of  money six shilling and 8 pence from the big department store in Gray, Essex.                               

Great days ~ Long ago and worlds apart                                                                                                                 

How I loved those records ~ still do!

  


45 rpm ~ A Single Pop Revolution

October 4, 2011

I love the 7 ” inch records that play at 45 rpm (which means ~ revolutions per minute). I have 4000 or so of the blighter’s and in the days before Sgt. Peppers and the then huge sales of LPs ( Long Players) these were the iPods of their day!         

Very simple, they are just an A side and a B side on a 7 ” vinyl record called singles and came  in a record company paper bag.   The big companies in the UK in the 60’s were Decca, Pye, EMI, RCA and  Philips

These records were played on pirate radio stations like Radio Caroline and at the Beeb, sold at local  record stores and their sales made up the music charts of the day in  the UK .

 Teenagers loved them!

On  Thursday evenings the whole family would sit down in front of the telly and watch “ Top of the Pops ” the weekly chart show with DJs (Disc Jockeys) like Jimmy Saville with his long white hair from out of a bottle and a cigar in one hand and a 45 in the other telling us what group or singer had moved up the chart that week. Other DJs on the show were Pete Murray, Stuart Henry and the one and only Tony Blackburn, also let’s not forget Pan’s People dancing up a storm.      

On Friday evening we would watch the stylish Cathy McGowan and the irritating Keith Fordyce present ” Ready Steady Go” with the slogan ” The Weekend Starts Here” and boy it did in one way or another! Cue theme music “54321 “by Manfred Mann and away we go! Essential viewing for any mod teenager who was a dedicated follower of  fashion in swinging London in the 60’s.

On Saturday evening we had the pleasure of  Brian Matthews and ” Thank Your Lucky Stars”  and the unforgettable teenager Janice Nichols of ‘ Oi’ ll give it Foive ‘ fame. and would it be a Hit or a Miss on ‘ Juke Box Jury ” with David Jacobs and how lucky we were to have all these TV shows showing us the best sparkle of the British beat groups and ballad singers. One night in December 63 the Beatles appeared on the “Juke Box Jury” show as the panel of judges and voted the latest Elvis Presley 45 a hit!

Sunday evening we finished it all off with Alan (not ‘alf) Freeman’s  Pick of the Pops ” radio show. After that it was all downhill as the depression set in that evening because Monday morning you would be back at school.                           

Some of the great artists that appeared on these shows were: Dusty Springfield, PJ Proby, The Searchers, Billy Fury, Stones, Sonny & Cher, Beatles, The Seekers, John Barry, Phil Spector and Marianne Faithfull and many more!

The first 45 that I bought was by the Kinks All Day And All Of The Night” c/w “I Gotta Move ”  on Pye Records. This was their second single after ” You Really Got Me’ but more about the Kinks soon pop pickers!


Beatles ~ Wow! It’s only the B side

February 18, 2011

Hey Beatles ~ Thanks for changing the world and to George Martin for arranging it!

One of the great things about the Beatles UK 45 rpm single releases  was the classic B sides that would appear on the flip side of their big hits, always different from the previous one and always brilliant songs and some would have been hits in their own write!

Like some of their hits some of the B sides didn’t appear on their LPs and here we will take a look at some of them. 

Let’s get back to 1963 for the fantastic ‘THANK YOU GIRL’ the B side of their third UK single ‘From Me To You’ with that signature John Lennon harmonica and vocal snarl. This track would have been a hit in its own right!

From the same year on the back of their million seller ‘ From Me To You’  we find ‘ I’ll GET YOU’  with the Oh Yeahs instead of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the boys songwriting talents start to shine through.

October 1963 sees the release of the fifth Beatle single ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ and Beatlemania is changing the world as we know it! and tucked on the B side is ‘THIS BOY’ with a superb three-part harmony from the boys and showing the softer side of the Lennon & McCartney partnership.

Christmas 1964 and ‘I Feel Fine’ hits the top of the charts and the Beatles are experimenting with the guitar feedback at the start of the song but equally as good is ‘SHE’S A WOMAN’  on the flip side with McCartney delivering a fine vocal performance and the whole band in rocking  form.

Next up issued on the B side of ‘Ticket To Ride’ on April 9th 1965 with another fine three-part harmony is ‘YES IT IS’ which was followed up in July ’65 with Paul McCartney’s blistering vocal tribute to Little Richard on ‘I’M DOWN’  which became a crowd pleaser on their live shows with John Lennon hamming it up on the keyboard in the solo at Shea stadium. Great stuff!  B side of ‘Help’.

Released the same day as the ‘Rubber Soul’ LP in December ’65 the classic ‘Day Tripper’ delivered a heavier sound from the Beatles as their music started to change, their hair is getting longer and they are spending more time in the EMI toilets! As a (joint) double A side release the other song to hit the ears of the world that month was ‘WE CAN WORK IT OUT’  which features a great vocal from Paul in the verses and together with John in the choruses.

My favourite Beatles 45 single is ‘Paperback Writer’ with ‘RAIN’ on the  B side the first Beatles song to feature a backward guitar effect , this record was released on June 10th 1966 one year before the Sgt. Peppers album. ‘RAIN’ is probably the Beatles at their best, the song has great interactive playing by the band and great words and vocal from John.

February ’67 and the start of the psychedelic period has arrived  and there is no going back now for the Mop Tops as they introduce us to ‘STRAWBERRY FIELDS’ a very delicate layered song with an amazing arrangement from George Martin. The start of the Pepper sessions. On the other side of the record ‘Penny Lane’.

‘BABY, YOUR A RICH MAN ‘ is full of eastern promise but you hardly ever hear this record today and it’s so good. Released in July 67 the B side of ‘All You Need Is Love’ which became the anthem for the summer of love and maybe should have been the world’s anthem as well!

Classic Lennon lyrics and vocals appear on ‘I AM THE WALRUS’  the Beatles at their best and didn’t they take us on a trip! I wonder if this one would have made number one, sure it would have been banned by the BBC. B side to ‘Hello Goodbye’ from November ’67.    

Step into the limelight Mr George Harrison with his first composition to appear on a Beatle 45 ‘THE INNER LIGHT’ was recorded at EMI studio in Bombay, India with Indian musicians under George’s guidance while the Beatles were there studying Transcendental Meditation . Issued March 15th 1968 with ‘Lady Madonna’ on the top side. A great  version appears on the DVD ‘Tribute to George’  which came out after his death and with Jeff Lynne doing the honours . Well worth seeing all the performances on this emotional night which are superb.

Swiftly released after ‘Get Back’ on May 30th 1969 ‘THE BALLAD OF JOHN & YOKO’ only featured two of the Beatles on this record, John on acoustic guitar, lead guitar and vocals and Paul on bass, drums, piano and backing vocals and it has a great live feel about it! This is John in his godly white period with  full beard, grannie glasses and madly in love with Yoko. 

Another George song ‘OLD BROWN SHOE’  appears on the B side with a great guitar solo from Mr Harrison not unlike his playing and sound on the Cream single ‘Badge’.

‘YOU KNOW MY NAME (LOOK UP THE NUMBER) was issued on March 6th 1970 as the B side to the glorious ‘Let It Be’ . Lasting more than four minutes this comedy number shows how much the Beatles were influenced by the Goons who were also produced by George Martin at EMI.

And in the end

The love you take

Is equal to the love

You make!

 

 

 


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