Our Coast Magazine 2018:OC18
Richard Moore of Play It Again in Gearhart among a few of the 300,000+ records in his collection.
And it’s more than a trendy throwback. As Billboard recently reported, vinyl saw the 12th straight year of sales growth in 2017, accounting for 8.5 percent of all album sales. The No. 1 vinyl record in the U.S. last year? “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The old is new again. In addition, a spate of deaths among musical icons, such as Prince and David Bowie, has helped spur record sales as people take another look at the late artists’ oeuvre. Lois Miner-Fleming, director of Bach ’N Rock in Astoria, said that, for a while, record buyers were “mostly older people who were sorry they lost their albums, or had sold them or thrown them away.” Things have changed. “Younger people are coming and starting to buy them more now, too.” Though demoted from staple to specialty item, vinyl albums never really went away; they just lay low. Some bands continued pressing to vinyl when most went digital-only. Enthusiasts kept collecting and caring for their stockpile. Meanwhile, a lot of good music was never transferred to CD. Now a new generation is finding something hip and fresh to love in the old and funky. “It was a novelty for a lot of these younger people to discover this different form,” said Greg Glover, co-owner of Commercial Astoria. Glover worked in the music business in New York for many years and remembers listening to his mother’s albums as a kid. “And, for some of us, it’s just never gone away.”
GROOVY Part of the appeal, of course, is that vinyl is … well … groovy, fashionable — a retro rush for young’uns, a nostalgia kick for baby boomers. Vinyl recalls the counterculture and cool lifestyle of the ’60s and ’70s. When Tom Schmidt, co-owner of Phog Bounder’s Antique Mall in Astoria, sees an album cover of the San Francisco band It’s a Beautiful Day — a group he saw at the Salem Armory Auditorium as a teenager — “my heart just goes, ‘Ahhhhh,’” he said, half sighing, half swooning. Listeners weaned on CDs often don’t know, and could never tell, that many vinyls sold today are basically CDs printed onto LPs — digital converted into analogue — rather than a reissue of the studio tapes. For discerning ears, though, the difference is plain. The sound of an original vinyl album, they’ll testify, is richer, deeper, fuller. “Vinyl captures all the undertones in ways that you can’t reproduce in a digital form,” Tim Fleming, Lois Miner-Fleming’s husband and co-director, said. For those who cavil about vinyl’s irksome pops and crackles, Schmidt has a piece of advice: “Get over it.” Better yet: Get a nicer copy and stereo, he said. With good equipment, treated honorably, the problem isn’t as pronounced. In fact, some music mavens consider those minor distortions part of the personal experience: The imperfections in one person’s copy — the scuffs and warps that make it distinct — won’t match someone else’s, Terry Erickson, owner of Christie’s Mallternative in Astoria, pointed out: “The whole thing is familiar; it’s like, ‘This is my record.’” A used record is like a used couch: comfortable precisely because the owner has loved it and worn it out. Our Coast 2018 • discoverourcoast.com • 15