Record Store Day 2013 056Record Store Day Returns this Saturday April 20th and for Nashville that means long lines at Grimey’s, The Great Escape, Third Man Records and The Groove for special limited edition vinyl released in just about any vinyl format.

Record Store Day 2013 033Record Store Day was started by a couple of record store clerks just a few years ago to celebrate the format and give the last independent record stores something exciting to drive in music lovers to buy and enjoy music.

It was like the line drawn in the sand. It was the last final stand for vinyl. They knew they were right. That first year drew people to independent record stores.

Record Store Day 2013 036I bought a simple Sony turntable for $89 at the last chain record store FYE that was housed in the once beloved Tower Records Nashville before it closed and got tore down to enjoy some new 7 inch vinyl and a couple of long play 12 inch records I bought out of the back.


Can't Turn You Loose Side B recorded Live

Can’t Turn You Loose Side B recorded Live

I had a feeling it was going to be good. When I dropped the needle in the groove and the turntable was hooked into my recent generation Sony 6.1 100 Watt per channel receiver I expected to get that natural sound wave vibe back in my face. I kind of did. It wasn’t as great as I thought it was going to be. I chalked it up to a cheaper turntable; after all, I had a newer state of the art consumer Sony receiver and a pair of good ears.

Record Store Day 2013 034I started buying a lot of 7 inch singles new and old in anticipation of an eventual late 50’s Seeburg Jukebox purchase for the house. I figured they would sound better with the old tube circuits and the fat second order mids that digital cannot handle.

Well, last year the Sony receiver that I had got such a good deal on from Craigslist gave up the ghost and I was without raging CD and DVD quality going through my JBL studio monitors and unmatched Zenith subwoofer.

Record Store Day 2013 035I went back to Craigslist and found an old school first generation home theater Marantz SR780 from the early 90’s. This was a beast with heavy transformers. The Marantz cost $4500 back in the day and I picked it up for $75 after taking it for a test drive in the guys East Nashville living room. It didn’t come with a remote and there was barely a legible read out of whether it was a CD, Tape or wow… the new format, DVD! It was 100 Watts per channel as well and even though it was rated the same as the Sony my DVD Movies were sounding huge.

Record Store Day 2013 037I hooked up the entry level Sony turntable and threw on a 7 inch original Stax release of “ Time Is Tight” by Booker T. & The MG’s. The beef was back! It wasn’t the cheap turntable. It was the new Sony receiver that had newer generation lightweight digital transformers and was EQ’d for the weakling in the room: digital!!!

Now, it sounded like the four piece combo was in my living room. Steve Cropper’s Fender Twin was right at my feet. It was soothing. It was peaceful. It was medicine for the soul. It was the truth. A needle travelling through a sound wave is the most natural representation of what was recorded. If you want more truth, get bigger grooves.

Record Store Day 2013 039Neil Young said it best when he noticed something was missing from digital and he said,” It is like looking through a screen door. You can see what is going on, but something is missing and blocking everything from coming through.”

Record Store Day 2013 040Digital is incapable of completely reproducing the complexity of sound between 50 and 7k. It’s just not there. Music equipment and speakers are being designed to mimic what Digital is good at which is everything below 40k and stuff above 16k. It is stuff that our ears were not really designed for  and it is why we get listeners fatigue and become edgy after listening to CD’s and even worse…MP3’s.

Record Store Day 2013 045As far as Sirius radio, all out music deconstruction is going on. Every song sounds like Heart’s “Barracuda” ran through a cheap flanger stomp box into a Maestro Phase Shifter giving the effect of a cheap car stereo speaker being shaken not stirred in a half full Slurpee cup, round and round she goes what frequencies you get nobody knows!

Record Store Day 2013 046Another thing is going on. Digital music is a numeric algorithm going on to reproduce the sound. The algorithm itself is wearing us down. I think that is the real reason most people do not put the value in purchasing music that they once do. It is not soothing to the soul. The human brain is much more complex a machine than a computer and our brain is sensing the algorithm process going on constantly and micro nano seconds of each frequency are not locking together because of the math processing needed for each band in the frequency pool. The music is not locked together. The groove is gone. It may be only by microtonal variations, but, our mind and body sense it and eventually gives up on reaching harmonic harmony.

Record Store Day 2013 054Go buy some old vinyl where the band was recorded virtually live in the studio. Look for some vintage Booker T. & The MG’s or The Ventures records. The band is locked together solid. The groove is locked together. Get a 7 inch original of Parliament, “Tear The Roof Off The Sucker.”

Record Store Day 2013 043I played the old Parliament vinyl on Casablanca for a record company head that works with Funk, Soul and Jazz. He stood there for a while in amazement. He hadn’t heard a vinyl version of this stuff in a while. The brain can tell the difference. After all these years and HD Pro Tools, digital cannot lock the groove together. Even with a good engineer or producer sliding tracks around in Pro Tools or any other digital recording model, the groove is not there, it can’t. Groove is a community of musicians’ thing.

Record Store Day 2013 055One musician is playing slightly forward while the other is playing deep in the pocket. It is a group of musicians finding their space in the composition. A digital format cannot mimic that. It is too complex. They can design an algorithm called natural groove and create a numeric value for that, but, it is impossible.

Record Store Day 2013 057When Roland decided they had finally come up with a digital algorithm good enough that it could mimic the classic Electric Rhoads Piano they invited Ray Charles for a private test drive at West L.A. Music where I worked back in the day. He sat down and played for a minute and said, “It sounds pretty good, but, does it have stretch tuning?”

Record Store Day 2013 048Roland quickly packed it up and went back to the drawing boards and at least came out with a stretch tuning patch. It sucked. Digital cannot compensate for what a skilled music creator and a tuned set of ears can produce.

Record Store Day 2013 041Anyway, Record Store Day is upon us. There is a great list of stuff coming out. An employee at United Record Pressing said that they had not been this busy since they opened the doors in 1947 getting stuff pressed for Record Store Day 2013. Vinyl is on the rise. CD’s are on the decline and MP3’s are a rip off!

Record Store Day 2013 038Do yourself a favor. Be there! You better get there real early. If you haven’t bought a turntable, buy one after you get yourself a handful of vinyl. There are a lot of releases that never made it to CD. Do some research and you will find stuff to go out and look for.

Record Store Day 2013 058Also, they were not referred to as 7 inch, 10 inch and 12 inch vinyl unless it was a weird format like a 12 inch 45. They were 33’s, 45’s and 78’s. We referred to it by the speed brotha!

All photo © Brad Hardisty

–          Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN