The value of retro

Crosley turntablesOld things can be good. And sometimes twenty-somethings recognize that.

Heather and I went to a folk music concert. The 27-year-old songwriter told of how he was so proud to have his latest recording on vinyl. Cassettes killed vinyl about 15 years before he was born. And yet vinyl records have made a comeback.

I took this photo in Urban Outfitters, a store that’s so cool I should not be allowed inside. The average customer is about 20 years old. They are not selling anything that plays digital music, as all their customers have smartphones that play digital music.

They are selling record players because there is something warm and friendly about listening to the pops and background noise that is integral to listening to a record. Playing vinyl requires involvement. You can only listen to 25 or 30 minutes of music, and then it’s time to get up to turn the record over (unless you have a record changer). It’s a good exercise to turn the record over. You must decide if you want to hear Side B or put on something completely different. Record album jackets (and sleeves) offer more accessible information than a downloaded PDF. When was the last time you looked at any song’s lyrics? Records often include all the lyrics of the album’s songs. And many purists will tell you that analog sound beats digital, hands down.

What retro thing do you enjoy?

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11 Replies to “The value of retro”

  1. I bought up more than a hundred cassettes when Half Price Books was phasing them out for 50 cents each. I ended up with nearly a complete collection of Glenn Miller, several Nat King Cole, several Bruce Springsteen, numerous other bands that I wouldn’t afford at $6-$12 per CD. My trusty double cassette deck occupied the workbench in my Dallas garage, and I would listen to old music while I worked.

    I don’t miss the acoustic part of records, but I enjoyed covers and sleeve notes that I could read.

    1. Tim, I actually enjoy the sound of records, even though my hifi system is not high-end. But putting on a record is too much of a hassle for it to be part of my everyday life. Heather and I listen to a record about once every 3–12 months.

  2. My brother and I were just talking last week about records. We each have a collection of vinyl, but no turntable. Maybe we should visit Urban Outfitters (if they would let us in the door!).

    Recently, Rhino Records in Claremont (next door to Pomona) had a Cassette Day. They played cassettes all day, and posted the playlists on their Facebook page. They had cassettes for sale, including some new releases and some rare older ones.

    1. Love it, Deb! Rhino is a great label too.

      You and your brother would enjoy those Urban Outfitters turntables. I just looked them up. You can get a basic model for $88 or there’s a $160 model that will record your albums to digital, using a USB output.

      1. Just FYI — Rhino Record store in Claremont isn’t associated with the Rhino Records label (except maybe for selling their products). Not sure who had the name first, but they seem to co-exist contendedly!

      2. After I wrote that comment about the two Rhinos not being related, I got curious and dug a little deeper. Seems the record store in Claremont was opened by the record label in 1976, but was sold and became independent in 1981. I think it’s the kind of place you’d like, sort of a throw-back to the 60s-70s type of record store — lots of obscure stuff along with the contemporary music. Plus a large selection of used LPs.

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