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No. 179 April 2019

Robert Haagsma
PASSION FOR VINYL. PART II
AN ODE TO ANALOG

No. 00114 | Haarlem 2018

passionforvinyl.com

MADE IN HOLLAND

remember - and why wouldn't I since I regularly watch re-runs - my amusement accompanying the sentence spoken by one of the main characters of the Conversations at night, in which he reproachfully says he would like to write an ode to a potato (Rozmowy nocą, dir. Maciej Żak, Poland, 2008). Because, as he says, why not? And he has a point - on the one hand because he is the chef, and on the other because the potato is the basis of our European diet. It, therefore, deserves an ode.

And since we are good at something, we love it and want to write an ode to the subject of our interests and fascinations, then we definitely should write an Ode to analogue, like Robert Haagsma did:

Oh, how everything has changed in five years! When in 2013 I wrote the first part of the Passion for Vinyl many questions still remained unanswered. Where does this sudden vinyl come back come from? Who is buying all these albums? And probably the most important one: will it stay with us for longer, or is it just a short-lived "blip" that will pass over the next few years?

Five years later, we know the answers to most of these questions. Countless people, both young and old, experienced a deeper connection with music played from albums released on vinyl. And even the greatest skeptics - yes, they still exist - must admit that after ten years of continuous sales growth, vinyl will remain with us. At least for a very long time.

Robert Haagsma, Passion For Vinyl. Part II: An Ode to Analog, „No. 00114”, Haarlem 2018, s. 6

Robert Haagsma is a specialist journalist who writes about music for newspapers and magazines, for example for the "Aardschok" magazine devoted to metal music, as well as for the "Revolver's Lust For Life"; both magazines are published in the Netherlands. His articles are also published in various international magazines, eg "Record Collector" and "Ugly Things." He also wrote books devoted to Dutch and international bands: Golden Earring, Pink Floyd and The Beach Boys.

| PASSION FOR VINYL take one

At the moment, however, he is known mainly, as I see it at least, from the monograph on to the revival of the vinyl culture, entitled Passion For Vinyl. With a subtitle A Tribute To All Who Dig The Groove it was published by the company that boldly entered the market, the Dutch vinyl record company, Record Industry. I am sure that everyone who reads these words has seen its logo, and most of you have at least one of their albums - they are released under the brand Music On Vinyl. For more details, let me refer you to the article MUSIC ON VINYL; How the black disc conquered the world, which was published in October 2014 (HF | No. 126).

Back then Robert said:

Although I occasionally play music from CDs and DVDs, I still believe that vinyl is the best medium for music ever invented. It does not matter if we are talking about an audiophile pressing or a classic heavy vinyl release of some black metal band from Norway - when the stylus hits the groove, I am completely bewitched.

„High Fidelity”, January 2014, No. 117 | see HERE

Passion For Vinyl resonated strongly among vinyl fans, but also won hearts of a group of devoted fans and audiophiles (these are two separate groups with a medium-sized intersection). It managed to capture the spirit of change about it talks about and convey it in a beautiful form. The book size was the same as one of a 10'' LP album (225 x 225 mm) and a white cover with the Artone Records 45 RPM single record in it. The cut showed a pink sticker of the single.

The book consisted of interviews and articles. The author interviewed collectors, DJs, record label representatives, journalists and musicians (such as Henry Rollins), for whom vinyl is an important, if not the most important, part of life. One could learn from it about their first albums, discoveries, failures, about the records they already have and those they would like to have. Among those most interesting and memorable ones, I'd like to mention an article on Lewis Durham and the Kitty's band, Daisy & Lewis, who release their albums not only on standard discs, but also in the form of 78 RPM albums. In the XXI century!

| PASSION FOR VINYL take two

In April last year, the long-awaited second part of this monograph was released, with the subtitle Ode to analogue. Its form is almost the same as of the first part, that is, it has the same format, almost the same volume - the new release is a few pages longer - and was also prepared by the same pair: Robert Haagsma and Anouk Rinderjs, supervising the project as representative of the Record Industry. But there is a new element too, because they were joined by two people responsible for the visual side of the release – a photographer Tim Knol and designer Tessel Dekker. Also this time we get a single, this time on white vinyl and with a yellow sticker.

The publication contains forty-nine chapters, mostly short, two-three pages long, ones. We can again, "talk" to record stores owners, publishers, musicians, and record producers. Among the most interesting stories, at least for me, were interviews with Steven Wilson – a musician and sound director, Pet Hutchison - the owner of the Electric Recording Co. label, John Grado - Grado's owner, and Miles Showell, as well as the sound engineer in the Abbey Road Studios, who is responsible, among others, for mastering and cutting the acetate of the monophonic re-editions of The Beatles albums and for mastering and cutting the acetate for the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band remixed by Giles Martin.

Reading this publication reveals a very optimistic image of the audio market related to vinyl. Although it is and will be a niche, it has such a strong impact that it shapes popular culture. It is present in almost every area of life. Comments of record stores are now completely different from those from five years ago. They are full of passion, hope and do quite well - most of them declare the will to expand their stores.

Audiophile labels also found their own space on the market despite being much more expensive than regular releases. In an article describing the first part of the Passion for ... Robert said that one of the things that he didn't like in the revival of vinyl were high prices of some re-issues. Reading the interviews proves that most record stores owners have accepted the fact – obvious for us - that high quality has to cost more. And the quality of most audiophile re-editions is much better than that of regular releases and sometimes even then originals. Passion and quality are recognized and appreciated so up to 450 pounds per album re-issued by Electric Recording Co. does not seem to raise any doubts. And this is a huge change.

One more conclusion comes from reading this book: the latest success of the "VINYL" was possible largely due to the Record Store Day campaign. Which is not that obvious for everyone - some shop owners accuse the event of narrowing the sales season to one day, of rising prices for the occasion, of a monopoly. There is some truth to that. However, knowing how the publishing market works, it is difficult not to applaud those who see it as an opportunity that should be used.

The Passion For Vinyl. Part II: An Ode to Analog seems to be an even better read than the first part. It was created later, when the vinyl record industry stabilized, when large amounts of money were involved in it and some experienced people too. You can see it on every page of this book.

It is a beautifully release prepared by passionate people. You will find there a lot of interesting information and fan facts – such as, for example, that Steve Wilson, man responsible for re-mastering of King Crimson, Yes, Jethro Tull, etc. albums believes, that CDs can sound great, or that in the USA old-time sellers call records records, while all young customers use the name vinyls and comes of it. Let me recommend it to everyone for whom a black disc is more than just a music medium. It will become one of the most important items in your library regarding the world of audio and music.

Wojciech Pacuła
chief editor

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"High Fidelity" is a monthly magazine dedicated to high quality sound. It has been published since May 1st, 2004. Up until October 2008, the magazine was called "High Fidelity OnLine", but since November 2008 it has been registered under the new title.

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