A-Z Story Challenge – A is for Album

When I was a Teenager… stop smirking… We had Singles and Albums. None of this new-fangled cd, dvd and mp3 junk! Ok, I use the term junk only to highlight that times were different. In fact, I can remember the time when cd’s appeared and various sections of the Hi-Fi world took a stance. The classical side in the shape of The Gramphone magazine leapt behind the new format whilst magazines claiming to represent real Hi-Fi pushed the continued use of LP’s for serious music! What they really meant was ‘serious jazz / blues’. Some artists in those areas found themselves new followings as a direct result of the internicene war between the different factions. The likes of Grover Washington suddenly found a new market along other ‘unknowns’who were thrust into the spotlight to highlight why LP was superior to CD.

Sitting in the middle were the ordinary music fans who just go with the radio plays that guide their purchases and the Heavy Metal fans who nobody was batting for at the time. As a HM fan I stayed with the LP – or Album. Through the 1970’s to the late 1980’s I bought some classics and I also bought a top end Hi-Fi to expose every possible quality of each album.

In the early years it was poor fare – the music was good but the recordings were lacking in the punch that the best Modern Jazz recordings had. Except, that is for a few bands. I’m fortunate to have been a Budgie fan for a very long time. They were signed to the A&M label by no less a person than Herb Alpert and the quality of their recordings was far above the norm for Heavy Metal at the time. They were, however, a fringe band because they walked the true blues line rather than the pure power approach of many contemporaries. Their music was, in my opinion, every bit as good as anything that Led Zeppelin did and I suspect that Burke Shelley may be one of the greatest Bass guitarists out there.

Ok – I’m waffling in the pains of the past… Lets talk about Albums. These were the things you saved up for when I was a teenager. An album had that great single and lots of other tracks by your favourite band as well. But… some Albums, whilst having great artwork (something else that is lost with CD’s and MP3’s) presented you with a good single and a good ‘B’ side but showed up the deficiencies of the band who had cut it. Other Albums were really something special and remained favourites for years. Any Album that you could put on the record deck and play.. then turn over and play the other side was a fantastic Album. Here, in no particular order, are some of those special ones for me: –

Altogther Now by Argent
Split by The Groundhogs
Impeckable by Budgie
Dark Side of The Moon by Pink Floyd
Wheels of Steel by Saxon
Can’t buy a Thrill by Steely Dan
Bridge of Sighs by Robin Trower
All about Eve by All About Eve
Power in the Darkness by Tom Robinson Band
Heartbreaker by Free
Foxgloves and Steel Strings by Walter Wray

I’m sure there are a couple more but hopefully you get the idea – Albums where the music was that good that you had to play them all the way through in one hit!

Must add a photo when I get the time 😉

But will play you out with some Tom Robinson…

…Lets hope it will be a long hot summer but of the sunny kind 🙂

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Comments

  1. your list is very agreeable, i would add Elastique’ – Stretch. Sense of Direction-Climax Blues Band. just a couple, could name more. 😉 good post enjoyed.

  2. Ah, albums, albums….I have started haunting charity shops where some great buys are to be had in that direction, Martin…great list!

  3. hi Martin,
    thanks for:
    “Lets talk about Albums…”
    my first album:
    “American Folk Blues Festival” with Sony Terry and Brownie McGhee.
    Then Elvis, THE BEATLES, Chris Barber, Django Reinhardt –
    music became the substitute for going into the church in the sixties …

  4. love your A story martin …. albums were wonderful weren’t they?

    • Thanks Christine – I still have a rack full of them.

      On a top range Hi-Fi an LP will sound superior to Digital media 90% of the time. Most people don’t realise that CD’s are produced using sampling very much the same as that used by the telephone network – levels taken 32 times a second. It’s basically the Pulse Code Modulation system. The issue is that it has to rely on our ears to fill in the gaps or it may try to oversample the information to try and fill in some of the gaps for us in much the same way as a JPEG fills in missing pixels in an image when we re-size. On top of that, the technology it is derived from was limited in the frequencies it would sample so as to ensure clarity down the telephone wire. Compare that with the analogue system where the needle tries to faithfully follow the groove continuously. For the analogue system to present it’s superior sound, extreme rigidity is needed in the arm holding the cartridge assembly and suitable damping must be applied to the platter to remove extraneous noises. If this is achieved then the full details of the original cut are made available to the listener. That’s a purist view to which I have subscribed for 30-odd years.

      For convenience, CD and MP3 win every time, but for pure sound quality it has to be LP. But times change and my life has changed to the point where now I find myself listening to MP3’s on a Sony Walkman for very close to 100% of the time. I still seek to get the best sound out of my equipment though – careful adjustment of the Graphic Distortalizer to achieve the sound I want through the Beats Headphones 😉

      Sorry – enjoying a long waffle 🙂

  5. I can understand the love for vinyl…
    and the advantages of the compact disk…
    It’s difficult to beat the convenience / mobility of the MP3…
    I don’t really miss the audio cassette, though.
    🙂

    • Hi Bob – yes, well, I’ve given my view above in detailed reply to Christine. As for Cassettes and 8-Tracks… well, there’s some real history. Got a pencil to hand to wind in the lost loops? 😉

  6. I abandoned records when cassettes came out. My sister stuck with records for a long time because her Bay City Rollers collection was all on vinyl. She still hadn’t updated to cassettes when I left home at 18 to join the Navy.

    • We all have to make choices don’t we Tony. I only ever used cassettes to put together compilations of favourite tracks for in the car. I guess the ‘Entertainments’ officer gets to decide what you’re going to listen to on ship 😉

  7. Absolutely love the albums! My very first, saved for with much penny pinching was a Led Zep Houses of the Holy. To this day there are certain songs from so many different albums, which I still have in my possession, hear one song and every other track follows from that.

    As for those screwy, jammy cassetes, ugh, but I do love my iPod with downloaded albums but I shall never part from my albums. Lifting that needle and watching/hearing it slowly slide across the vinyl . . . magic!

    • Ah yes, I remember when that came out to some controversy – a number of diehard Zepp fans thought it was too commercial. Perhaps that’s why it has tended to be overlooked alongside their obvious classics. But as a first album for your pocket money it must have been a fantastic buy 🙂 Altogether Now by Argent was my first one, followed closely by the Grounhogs album Split. There have been so many great albums over the years and I think a start in the Heavy Metal area leaves you open to the wider pastures of music. Nowadays I listen to Jazz, Blues, some Soul and quite a bit of Classical music too. Even the likes of OutKast have found their way into my collection as the ripples from the original stone tossed into the pool spread ever outwards 🙂 The irony is that many of those who I knew 30 years ago that were into the disco music of the 1970’s seem to have lost all interest in music – a job for Mr Freud to explain perhaps? Amen to watching the needle but also Amen to the convenience of MP3 players with good headphones – A different style of listening for a changed world!

  8. Great work Martin 🙂

    • Thanks Jake 🙂 I’m not doing well at keeping pace at the moment am I… 😦 Will try to pop by. Thanks for your visit!

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