Those of you who are of a similar age to myself, i.e. you remember when there was no Internet and you had to talk to actual people, will likely have fond memories of saving up your pennies to go to the record shop and buy an album.
In those days albums came on vinyl or cassette, or even 8-track cartridge. We relished the album as a piece of art, the gatefold sleeve of vinyl was often taken beyond it’s standard form and became something to explore whilst listening to the music. Take “Led Zeppelin III” for example, with it’s revolving insert or “Yessongs’ which stretched to a full four feet.
Most importantly thought the album was something that you listened to in it’s entirety. You put the needle in the groove at the beginning of side 1 and listened to all of it, then you flipped it and did the same with side 2 (and 3 and 4 quite often). You made the time to listen to the music and let it sink in, you stopped what you were doing and gave your time to the music and because of that you appreciated it all the more.
You could not, for instance, just dip into ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’, play one track and then randomly skip to something else, it has to be all or nothing.
Downloads, shuffles, random plays, streaming, YouTube, Spotify. All these guys have done their best to destroy the album as a work of art, but for many of us it’s importance is still right up there. Now that vinyl is making a strong comeback (for some inexplicable reason) I want to make an appeal to readers to revisit the album and appreciate its value as an entire work.
This evening, stop what you are doing, switch the telly off, put your computer, tablet and phone to one side, get a nice cuppa or a bottle of beer, sit in front of the fire with your slippers on and your feet up, dig out one of your favourite albums and just listen to the whole thing, let it soak in, let it envelop you in it’s beauty and creativity.
I try to listen to at least one whole album each day, a bit later on this evening I’ve got a real beauty lined up, “A Major Fancy” by John Lees of Barclay James Harvest. BJH have always been one of my passions so I’m looking forward to spending some time with this album.
I hope you find time to spend with some of your favourite albums too, let me know what you choose and how you get on.