Flipping through vinyl was an art lost when CD’s became the “new” medium for music in the late 80’s. Yes people – I’m talking about records; those black plastic discs with grooves on them we had to use in conjunction with a record player in order to listen to our favourite music back in the day.
Music singles were normally released in two formats. The ‘regular’ length track plus a B side on a 7 inch vinyl (7″) and if you were lucky an extended mix (or mixes) plus B sides on a 12 inch vinyl (12″).
The records had to be played at a different speed depending on their size. A 7 inch track was played at 45 RPM (revolutions per minute) while a 12 inch track was normally played at 33 1/3 RPM (the same as a full album). There was a little switch on the record player you could toggle the speed with depending on what you were playing at any given time.
During the 80’s, singles were highly collectable not only for the music but also for the covers. Taking this to a whole new level you could also get picture discs – the ultimate in collectable. A picture disc was a playable record with (as the name suggests) the tracks etched on top of a picture, logo, or photo on the vinyl record.
Extended mixes died a lot when CD’s became the norm, as did B-sides. Extended mixes of my favourite chart songs were my most pleasurable listening experiences as a teen. I loved the idea I had a choice and the chance to hear how an artist could redefine their own songs. I also adored listening to B-sides which were often an experimentation in music and song. Some of Tears For Fears best songs were hidden in their B-side tracks.
My tween/teenage years were spent flicking through vinyl at a number of record stores along Auckland’s Queen Street in the hunt for 7″ and 12″ records from my favourite artists as soon as they would release a single, or hunting for their back catalogue records in second hand record stores. At one time I had the complete collection of 7″ and 12″ records released in New Zealand by Tears For Fears, most of the Icehouse singles in 7″ and 12″ (including coloured vinyl – oooooh eeeeer) and a number of picture discs from other artists purely for their novelty value.
They’re all in storage between New Zealand and Australia these days, and truth be told I’m not even sure I could find a record player to play them on, but I would never dream of selling them purely because they are a piece of history and more specifically MY history.
Did you used to flick through records hunting for your favourite artists as a kid?