Rock Reads: Why Vinyl Matters by Jennifer Otter Bickerdike
Reviewed by Kevin Wierzbicki
There are few "back from the dead" stories that are as impressive as the tale of the resurgence of vinyl records. While the format's Baby Boomer-powered heyday will likely never be matched, today the resurgence is in full swing as labels and bands are constantly releasing new and vintage titles on vinyl, many of which are made all the more appealing by being pressed on colored vinyl. The fans gobbling up these releases as fast as they can will tell you just exactly why vinyl matters. "Why Vinyl Matters" though delves deeper into the relevance of the pop phenomenon as author Bickerdike seeks the opinions of more than 25 music industry movers and shakers, including producers, DJs, record label honchos and musicians like Metallica's Lars Ulrich, Steve Hackett of Genesis fame and Mike Ness of Social Distortion. Bickerdike pops the question early in many of her interviews and she gets some surprising answers to variations of the query "Why is vinyl important?" NOFX front man and Fat Wreck Chords owner Fat Mike states that punk rock sounds better on vinyl and deems vinyl recordings an important part of his family life; he plays records when the family sits down for dinner. Fat Boy Slim points out that maybe the question should be asked in the past tense, "Why vinyl mattered," and record label owner Julia Ruzick thinks the question should be "Who is vinyl important to?" The always loquacious Henry Rollins tells Bickerdike, "Vinyl is important to me because what's on it is real. It is what the musicians wanted you to hear. Whether what is on the record is to your liking doesn't matter. They were able to tell their truth, and you are able to evaluate it on a level playing field." There's similar meat to each interview and Bickerdike's roster of vinyl-related questions also allows for great storytelling, like Gaz Coombes' (Supergrass) amusing tale of the band's unauthorized use of a hospital MRI machine to create an album cover graphic. Some of the other luminaries profiled here include Clint Boon of Inspiral Carpets, DJ Rob da Bank, rapper Fab 5 Freddy and DJ Cut Chemist (Ozomatli, Jurassic 5.) A quick and fun read, "Why Vinyl Matters" will be of interest to music fans in general, not just those who prefer vinyl.
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