My Obsession with Colored Vinyl

I have long harbored an obsession with collecting colored vinyl. The very first 7 inch I purchased, the amusingly titled "My Name is Erik Yee. My Favorite Band is Green Day," was on green vinyl, and I have been obsessed since then. While not the best record I own on any color, this record still gets played at least once a year. It reminds me of my roots as a pop-punk kid, who still has the goal of collecting all the Lookout! 7-inches on whatever color I can find them. I often dig through bins looking for interesting covers; if the record is on colored vinyl all the better. There is something primal and real about listening to records. You can listen to the analog recording straight from the needle without amplification, and, in a sense, feel closer to the recording process. The crackle and pop as the needle hits the record reinforces this sense of authenticity. When bands release limited color vinyl, not only does it look cool, but it also brings the listener closer. In one sense, the colored vinyl is a great marketing scheme -- a clear message to snap a limited LP up before it is gone. The collector prices for certain records on ebay support this. Yet it also works to thank the fans because they are often the first on the scene to grab them up, enthusiastically bragging to their friends about their rare score. Of course, that limited edition Metallica colored LP is going to draw a lot more attention than a colored flexi from the back of a cereal box.

Hi, My Name is Erik Yee. My Favorite Band is Green Day.Green vinyl for YOU!
At this point in my obsession with vinyl, I have scoured far and wide for different colors. Many of the new splattered vinyl records look far more extreme than what I was buying ten years ago. The demand for vinyl has grown even as record companies have raised the prices. That rock 'n' roll or punk rock LP that was only $8.99 ten years ago will retail for $18-25 now. But the junkies have been awarded with better audiophile options -- sound quality, 180 gram+ vinyl, swirly colors, nice packaging. So a reissue of that Peter Green era Fleetwood Mac LP is guaranteed to sound a lot better than your scratchy original issue. Even 80's punk recordings sound less like they were recorded in a garbage can, so perhaps audio fidelity is not always key. Sometimes colored vinyl doesn't sound quite as good as a purely black slab of greasy rock 'n' roll. Nonetheless, it is a good time to be a record collector, if you can afford the collector prices.
 Picture discs are another route towards vinyl nirvana. Although less common, and usually lower fidelity, they just look damn cool, and are, subsequently, hard to pass up for vinyl addicts. Typically, I see them framed on people's walls next to their rock posters. They are commonly purchased as art, much like the psychedelic posters of the sixties. They have become the ultimate playable artwork, and labels, such as Back To Vinyl, have been issuing classic rock LPs -- notably the MC5 catalog -- on picture disc. I don't have many in my collection because even though they look cool, I would rather be able to listen to the record with better sound quality. Plus, I just appreciate colored vinyl more.

There is no greater thrill for the vinyl junkie than to take a record out of its sleeve, hold it along its edges so as not to leave finger prints on the surface, and put it on the turntable. I love the feel and smell of vinyl, colored or not. I love the inside jokes that many minor labels leave on the run off grooves. (That's another blog post altogether, but so is my obsession with liner notes). These are like an inside gospel to the record collector -- a glimpse into the true workings of the artist's mind. Sometimes you forget to change the speed and you listen to the record for half a track on 45. It sounds like the Chipmunks bashing out a laundry list. Other times you notice an odd letter or photo in an old used record. Or you just listen to a great side that you haven't heard for years and realize why you keep collecting. These are the sort of common experiences that keep the record collector obsessed, and will continue to do so long after compact discs are discontinued. I plan on continually hunting the bargain bins, record store racks, and thrift stores for many more elusive finds. There is nothing like taking the plastic off the record and putting it on the turntable.



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