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Friday, 24 April 2009

A Vinyl Revival

At this time of year, as winter gives way to spring, thoughts turn to spring cleaning. For the past couple of weeks, my partner and I have been having a major clear out and de-clutter of the house, disposing of unwanted clothes and books and cleaning our house from top to bottom. This will be good experience for me when I start my new job as housekeeper for a nearby care home!

Like many people of my age, I have a sizeable collection of vinyl records, which although they are only listened to occasionally, I do not have the heart to dispose of. When I have the computer on at home, I like to listen to music in the background, so I find myself increasingly downloading various songs from Napster and Amazon. which I tend to prefer, since they are DRM free. How lovely it would be I thought to be able to listen to my vinyl collection in this way.

Usually this is only possible by purchasing an expensive USB turntable and cassette deck (I also have over 100 of these). A week or so ago while browsing the net as one does, I came across the perfect rather less costly solution to this problem, in the form of a recording kit called Vinyl 2 PC. This consists of a lead which comes in various lengths, one end of which plugs into the headphone socket on your stereo and the other into the microphone or line in socket of your PC, together with some editing software called Audacity. The software is very easy to use and I have been pleasantly surprised by the results.

It has been a joy to listen once again to so many of those fantastic records that I have, that I had forgotten all about. I grew up listening to jazz and soul, and have fond memories of Saturday mornings spent listening to the Robbie Vincent show on BBC Radio London before it became GLR, Greg Edwards on Capital Radio and Andy Peebles on a Radio One. Soul music as a genre no longer seems to exist as far as modern radio is concerned, being referred to now as R&B. This seems to me to be more an acronym for electronic dance music, which is nothing like the stuff that I know and love. This has its place for listening to in nightclubs (of which I have never been fond) and the gym, but you cannot beat a really good piece of old fashioned soul. I am talking about the greats like Jackie Wilson, Bobby Womack and Sam Cooke.

I have a lot by all three of these musicians in my collection, and also by more recent jazz/soul crossover artists (relatively speaking) such as Will Downing, George Benson and Angela Bofill, who sadly has not recorded for a while, and is unlikely to again, due to a series of strokes. I also have 4 boxed sets - including one of Motown hits and one from Philadelphia International.

It will take me hours to record all of this lot, but it will be worthwhile when the work is done, as I will be able to listen to this fantastic music anywhere that I like, at home on my computer, on my laptop when I travel, or my MP3 player when I go the gym or in the car.

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