WAXING NOSTALGIC

My Top Albums On Vinyl, Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

Those who have lived through the eras of music on vinyl, reel to reel tape, 8-track and cassette tapes, CDs and digital formats may tell you that the best of all was the vinyl era.  Yes, audiophiles will tell you that the best sound actually comes off of records, not the other formats.  As records and recording equipment, speakers and headphones evolved over many decades, the sound steadily improved.  Before the giant rush to tape formats, recordings on actual vinyl records became quite advanced.  When mono became stereo, and stereo advanced to multi channel sounds, people were piling columns of speakers around their rooms in order to make it feel like the music was being played right there in the room with you.

There were people who could tell you which albums had the best “channel separation” and would place speakers where certain instruments would appear in one place, while others could be heard from elsewhere in the room.  As recording techniques became sophisticated, so did the listeners’ equipment.  If you had a great turntable, receiver, speakers and headphones, you probably needed an equalizer so you could balance your sound perfectly.  I had a friend who loved classical music.  His many speakers were placed strategically so as to have the symphony orchestra placed perfectly.  With a little mixing magic on the equalizer, you might feel you were hearing the music live.

Those days are gone and no matter how much you insist the sound is better today, no one with a “sophisticated stereo system” in the 1970s will agree with you.  Why that diamond needle riding along groves in vinyl produced such a great sound is definitely a wonder I do not understand, but it did.  Every now and then I hear a CD in my car that impresses me with some channel separation that produces different instruments from different speakers, but that is rare.  It does not compare with recordings of older times.

Albums continue to be released on vinyl but they do not match the numbers from the eras before cassette tape.  I must remind you here that 8 tracks were a “flash in the pan” and I am pleased to say I never owned one.  In 2014 more albums were sold on vinyl than any year since 1991, still, the numbers are paltry compared to the decades before that.  I laughed when I heard the biggest selling vinyl album of 2014, according to Billboard.com, hit 87,000 copies.  It was Jack White’s “Lazaretto.”  If you said “Who?” join the club.  Apparently, 10,000 copies is considered a hit.  Like I said, the vinyl era is gone.

So, with that in mind I offer my eclectic selection of 5 vinyl albums I have for decades and still think worthy of playing often.  The first is from my dear departed mother’s collection.  Her collection featured show tunes, which I guess is appropriate for me, as well as Caruso and Mario Lanza.  I can not tell you how many Saturday afternoons were filled with Mario Lanza.  Perhaps that was to drive us out of the house to play outside, I am not sure.  I still have an album called Andy Williams Million Seller Songs.  They were not all his million sellers, but a few were hits for him.  I like the whole thing.  It was released in the fall of 1962 and hit Billboard’s Top LPs in January 1963 and stayed there for 43 weeks.


If I loved a group, I inevitably wanted their Greatest Hits album.  A lot of my early favorites were by The Hollies.  The group was formed in 1962 and have continued on with various members. They had so many early hits they actually put out a greatest hits album in 1967.  Some of the songs were co-authored by one of the founding members, Graham Nash.  He left the group in 1968 to form another group on my list.

One group I have mentioned before in The Time It Is Today.  The Association were known for songs with a message.  I just about wore out their Greatest Hits album as it is filled with my favorites from the late 1960s.

I actually had the next album on cassette first.  Later, someone gave me Willie Nelson’s Stardust on vinyl.  This 1978 album was a revelation to me as I heard Willie sing standards from other eras.  Willie picked his favorites and did them proud with his unique interpretations.  This is a treasured piece of my surviving vinyl collection.

In my humble opinion, one of the greatest vinyl albums of all time is actually a double album by a group formed of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young.  The 1970 album 4 Way Street was recorded live at the Fillmore East in New York, The Chicago Auditorium, and The Forum in Los Angeles.  All four individually wrote the songs on the album.  The harmonies were classic and enduring.  The messages were timeless.

Author: Rich Paschall

When the Windows Live Spaces were closed and our sites were sent to Word Press, I thought I might actually write a regular column. A couple years ago I finally decided to try out a weekly entry for a year and published something every Sunday as well as a few other dates. I reached that goal and continued on. I hope you find them interesting. They are my Sunday Night Blog. Thanks to the support of Marilyn Armstrong you may find me from time to time on her blog space, SERENDIPITY. Rich Paschall Education: DePaul University, Northeastern Illinois University Employment: Air freight professional

17 thoughts on “WAXING NOSTALGIC”

  1. OK folks lets talk. As a musician and recording engineer., and growing up with a dad who taught radio and TV electronics in two vocational schools, I’ve been through all of this before. While pretty young I learned tube circuitry, then transistors and now am wrestling with digital. There is some truth to the feeling that vinyl sounds better, but it goes deeper with many reasons for the type of sound obtained from a plastic record.

    Lets start by saying that Vinyl, cut today from modern recordings will sound different than vinyl of bygone eras. First off we used a lot of tube gear and tubes lean naturally towards an “even order harmonic” presentation giving a warmer sound, more pleasing to the human ear. We also recorded to “Tape” which saturated when driven hard, also leaning toward a warmer, more compressed sound. This might really be thought of as a type of distortion.., but pleasant to our ears. Vinyl is capable of wider bandwidth than CDs, upwards of 50KHz+, while CDs are limited to half the bandwidth of the 44.1KHz sampling frequency, or 22KHz. Some say we hear, or sense, frequencies far beyond this. The huge cutting lathes used to make vinyl masters were capable of frequencies as low as 2Hz, and extended out to, in excess of, 100KHz. However all of this had to be carefully controlled so as not to physically exceed the limits of the vinyl medium. The RIAA recording/playback curve was an industry wide standard to insure successful reproduction of records. And lets not forget creating mothers, stampers and finally what we hold in our hands as a “record”. I won’t go into the myriad devices, good and bad, designed to play records as well as the proper set up of a turntable/cartridge combination. Yeah, I agree, records should be included as the ninth wonder of the world.., and I have over 2000 of them.

    That being said, and being a big fan of vinyl.., digital recording is far more accurate as a process, but fraught with its own demons which are being dealt with daily and constantly improved upon as we speak.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. GO for it… play them on what you’ve got, but keep the gear and records clean. Grit in the grooves will destroy the record and the Stylus (needle). A clean record will last far longer.., some of mine go back to the 50s and 60s and still play pretty good. Of course I’m a fanatic and once got rid of a pretty hot girlfriend because she ignored my request that my records be put back in their sleeve after use. I didn’t say she couldn’t play them.., just put ’em away. She thought that was silly.., well I showed her by cracky!

        Like

    1. You really should consider letting me publish this as an article. I didn’t know a lot of this — maybe most of it — and it’s interesting stuff. AND stuff that’s disappearing from “common knowledge” because people like you and Tom and Mark and The Gang are all retired. The “new kids” know ONLY digital and sometimes, I don’t think they understand sound, period.

      Lately, Garry and I have been watching reruns of Columbo on Netflix. Garry commented how much better the balance is on the sound on the older shows than on the new ones (mostly). So much knowledge has been lost, or just ignored.

      Your comment, with a little bit of editing and a relevant couple of pictures, IS a post.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We just talked about it the other night. I remember buying vinyl records. There was a record store in a basement. I had money saved up and knew I wanted to buy one or two records. I spend an hour in the store, looked at the records, stood in line, so I could go into a booth for a test hearing. It felt so special listening to it with huge headphones. Then I made the final decision, bought the record and proudly marched out of the store. Today I have an ipod (which I love) but it’s not the same anymore, even my beloved operas are on it, it hold 80 gigabytes. Maybe I have too much music now and nothing is really special anymore?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Great post, Rich. Just catching up with stuff. Love your selections. Back in my college radio days, early 60’s, I wrote and hosted several music shows. My script instructions used to include the side, the band, and the running time of the songs. I’d spend hours because I wanted to bring the scripted shows in on time. My old LP collection includes stuff I “requisitioned” from places I worked. Marilyn had the temerity to steal some of the stuff I “requisitioned”
        Just returned from a cameo visit with my middle brother at the old family house on LI. My car lost its radio antenna when it was buried alive this past winter. So, I just listened to CD’s on my trek including lots of the oldies. I was singing along with the blasts from the past.

        Like

        1. I have an odd and interesting collection of albums, left overs from another era. They include mine, my mom’s and some a friend just gave up when he was moving and thought he might just throw them out. Nothing bad about singing along to the oldies.

          Like

Talk to me!

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.