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.
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.