Proof my family is weird #567: My dad threw out all his records when cassette tapes became popular, instantly regreting it years later when the quality started deteriorating. And when CDs first appeared, he immediately jumped on the digital bandwagon, and re-purchased his favourite Gramaphone records.
This meant that from my teens onwards, all I used or bought were CDs, with the exception of lots of mixed tapes my friends would record for me. And when CD burners on computers became widespread (in my early twenties, I’m that old), the only tapes I possessed were specifically for P’s beloved 205, made in the pre-CD era (well, not really… I’ve seen 205s with CD decks; his was just the bottom of the range). They were critical for all long car rides beyond the reach of radio waves. (It was either Travis a million times per trip, or us singing Old Macdonald over and over again.)
And at some point during the dreaded PhD years, I bought a dirt-cheap Aiwa in a clear-out sale, which came with a record player. This resulted in my flatmate of the time buying me a few LPs from a charity shop for Christmas; possibly the first time I ever touched a vinyl record. The opening of an Oxfam music shop in Stockbridge fueled the fire, with good second-hand classical albums going for a quid each. A boxed set of the complete Beethoven symphonies could be obtained for under 10 quid!
Admittedly, a lot of the LPs I bought weren’t in tip-top condition (some even had mold!), but for someone who grew up with pristine, crisp, clean, digital sounds, the crackle of a scratched record playing some old jazz has its charms. Sure, not all of them continue to play accurate recordings, but I like to think of my second-hand LPs as aged wines. Different, with character. Perfect on winter evenings with the fire crackling and a glass of wine, or on cool bright summer evenings, dancing around the flat (again with a glass of alcohol in hand).
Now, of course, most of my CD collection lives as MP3s on the computer and MP3 player, and the hard copies, remnant tapes and vinyls sit in a storage cupboard. We left the cheapo Aiwa hifi out for the tenants to enjoy, but stored the turntable safely for our return. I guess you could say we’re retro-technophiles.