openobject.org

T-T-T-Turntable

From Mod Mania

I have a turntable. It’s nothing fancy, a Sherwood PD 702 B. Mean anything to you? Didn’t think so. Its not like those chromed up, industrial looking decks that DJs stroll around with these days. It doesn’t have USB output, no iPod connectivity, and it definitely isn’t gold plated. I got it off some guys lawn at a garage sale for $5. It’s connected to a set of old computer speakers after going through an external pre-amp. When I play a record, there is the distinctive crackling even on a clean record with no dust. Sometimes you can’t hear the music for the crackling. When I was 15 my mum gave me her record collection. It blew my mind. Pink Floyd’s phenomenal Dark Side of the Moon has done so many revolutions on my Sherwood that I’m at risk of wearing down the grooves. When I first heard James Osborne howl on Black Sabbaths Paranoid I didn’t know what hit me. I once tried to scratch, as one does when they first come in contact with a record player. To be perfectly honest, Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited doesn’t need any wikki-wikki. Once, out of boredom rather than any other reason, I put the turntable through a few guitar pedals. I always thought Lou Reed needed a flanger in the chorus of Perfect Day, and some delay in the sax solo of Walk on the Wild Side. Janice Joplin’s voice doesn’t need any more distortion.

 I love the uncomplicated, analogue feel of playing a record on a turntable.  

I physically have to put the vinyl on the mat, if I only want to hear one song, I have to count the grooves and line up the needle. If I fall asleep and the side finishes, the needle will skate across the black face with a painful screaming. Then I hear mum yelling at me, “Look after my records!” There are about 3 in her collection that don’t have the covers held together with yellowing stickytape. The corners of the cardboard cover are all dog eared. My mums name, in biro on the back is crossed out and her sisters name is written above it. Funny, some things don’t skip a generation. I swear that half of my CD collection is in my sisters room. At least half of hers are in mine.

In the age of the mp3 and iPods, going back to analogue is refreshing. The cover art alone is something to appreciate. I love pouring over the cover of Sgt Peppers to find people such as Bob Dylan to Sherley Temple. Looking at the cover in the 1 inch box in iTunes doesn’t really do it justice.

In the last few years I have started rummaging through Op Shop record bins. Very rarely, it has happened about eight times out of the hundreds of times I’ve looked, nessled between Bert and Patty Newton Sing Lionel Ritchie and The Best of Genesis inside an old milk crate, a gem appears. I found an original Joy Division 7” of Love Will Tear Us Apart, in a Balaclava second hand shop for $3. Not sure if anyone thinks it’s as exciting as I do. No? Ok.

My parents had a Yamaha record player when I was growing up. I have early memories of Meatloaf screaming out of the bigarse speakers that he would do Anything for Love….But he won’t do that. Whatever ‘that’ is. At one stage we had a few ‘Playschool’ records. They aren’t with us anymore. The Phonograph was the most popular device for playing recorded sounds -the term music doesn’t include Peter Andre. Or the Macarena. Phonographs, also known as record players or turntables, fell out of popularity with the rise of cassette tapes, then CDs and now digital music. However these days turntables are making a rebirth. Nightclub DJ’s have gotten over the novelty of CD turntables and the ghastly concept of iPod turntables… with sampled ‘scratches’, so now it is rare to see a decent DJ not spinning vinyl.