Recently, I was having a discussion about vinyl and the fact that I have preferred genres to own in the format. I know to some it may sound weird that I have a preference, but hear me out. Whether it’s solely a nostalgic thing, or something else, certain types of music sound “right” to me on vinyl.
To me, Blues shouldn’t be a pristine experience. It’s a gritty, earthy style of music full of emotion that benefits from the tactile analog response of vinyl. It seems at home on vinyl, it just seems to breathe more. The pops, cracks, and hisses add to the experience and invoke a personality all their own. One of the very first albums I played when I borrowed my dad’s turntable was B.B. King’s Live in Cook County Jail. As soon as the needle caught that first groove I was grinning from ear to ear. This was how this album was meant to be enjoyed, at least by me. I came to a realization then, that I wouldn’t be trying to replicate my CD collection on vinyl, just choice titles.
Other styles of music like Jazz are a perfect match as well. I got a Prestige Records sampler for my birthday that I have on heavy rotation, and I can’t recommend it highly enough for any of you that want a good intro to jazz. Yet again, something about the analog presentation just goes hand in hand with this genre — it just fits. When this music was brand new, this is basically the listening experience those people had. I think that is definitely a factor in how much I enjoy these types of albums.
On to my biggest love, Hard Rock and Heavy Metal: here I lean towards bands that have a more retro sound or approach to their music. Baroness and Black Tusk are examples I covered in my first blog, and it’s their shared use of sludgy thick guitars and raw vocals that just work for me. I’ve also gotten quite a few Porcupine Tree albums so far, much to the dismay of my wallet. The textures and ambient passages that are trademarks of their sound, call back to the proggy 70’s, and the album as a complete work, not just a collection of singles. The bands leader, Steven Wilson has a soft spot in his heart for the format, and their releases showcase that. His passion is also a large reason I was interested in re-discovering vinyl.
No one can tell you what’s right for you especially since music is such a subjective thing. One man’s Lady Gaga is another man’s Beethoven (and I can assure you the former won’t be spending time on my platter anytime soon). I will say this, though: there’s so much out there for us to enjoy, and I discover new things every day mostly because listening to vinyl — because it’s not as convenient as MP3 or even CD — really makes me sit down and listen.