Vinyl LPs have always had their champions. Ever since the point in the 80s when CDs became the dominant medium for listening to music, there have been people who swore the swore the sound was always better on a 33 RPM LP, and vinyl albums have often been priced at a premium to those little silver plastic discs.
This seems to have stepped up a gear since digital downloads knocked CDs off their perch, and there have been plenty of magazine articles, radio and TV documentaries exploring the enduring appeal of vinyl. A couple of weeks ago BBC4 gave Danny Baker three hour long shows to talk with various mates about what made the old LPs so great.
So far it’s been a minority interest, but this week I saw a sign that it’s a love affair that has obtained some weight in the mainstream media. On a platform at Baker Street Underground there was a large poster for the online dating service match.com, conveying a sense of expectancy with the words “I listened to her favourite album before the date so I could understand why she loved it so much”.
Alongside the words was an image of a vinyl LP, the stylus on the grooves of the first track. It was a surprising choice, as for the vast majority of people that moment would mean slipping a CD into a slot or pressing a button on an MP3 player, but it was obviously meant to convey that there was something special about the man, the woman and the prospects for their relationship. The message was that it would produce something better than most first dates, or whatever any other dating service could offer, because playing an LP produces something CDs or downloads can’t match.
You could argue over whether it’s a message that stands up to scrutiny, but when the advertising industry stars to use an idea it believes it is sufficiently widespread to seduce a large number of people. It’s betting that there’s a demographic with money to spend and a readiness to accept the association of ideas: in this case that a guy who listens to vinyl is worth a serious relationship.
It might amount to a load of old tosh, but it shows that listening to music on vinyl – or at least the idea of it – has become seductive to more than a few music geeks.
Mark Say's collection of fiction, Perversities of Faith, is available on amazon.co.uk and amazon.com. Also check out www.marksaywriter.com.