The last little rant I had on HiFi Pig concerned vinyl and my….ahem, ‘feelings’ towards it.
It did provoke a lot of comments and I was surprised by just how many people agreed with me, on the grounds of it needing so much tinkering and fettling to get everything sounding perfect.
I started out my life as a music fan doing what many, many of us did in the 80’s, making mix tapes and listening to them on my pride and joy…the Sony Walkman that was, almost, as big and heavy as a house brick.
Of course making a mix tape was an art form in itself.
In the early days I favoured the ‘taping Top of the Pops off the telly’ method…you may remember this, it involved getting your mono tape recorder as close to the lovely wood effect family TV as you could and telling everyone to ‘shut up’ so that you could capture the latest offering from Duran Duran or whoever else was top of the pops that week.
The end result would almost always have the added effect of a whooping audience with your dad shouting over it that you should ‘turn that racket off!’
I then progressed a bit, having been given a ‘ghetto blaster’ (though I imagine had I walked through any kind of ghetto with my pitiful Matsui offering the local inhabitants would have killed themselves laughing!!) with both double tape deck AND a built in radio….the luxury!
This of course meant that recordings could be done from other tapes or the radio, the mix tapes were still peppered with clunks and it was a desperate race to start and stop the tape before the DJ spoke, but there was a certain charm to it!
Of course tapes had their downside, who hasn’t spent hours trying to reel in a tangled web of C90 in their time?
When CD’s were launched they were the last word in indestructible, modern technology…..hmm, time has proven that they can actually be destroyed, quite easily, or at least ruined.  How many CDs do you have that jump or stick at the best part of a tune?
CDs were a lot ‘cooler’ than tapes though, and their covers looked like mini LPs so you still had that feeling of ‘owning’ the music
That’s quite a big thing for me, actually holding the CD in your hand.  Flicking through a wall full of discs when you want to find something to listen to….the whole thing about having great art on album covers (admittedly at its best on LPs!)
This is what I really do not get with music’s latest incarnation….digital.  I really can’t get my head around paying for music…then downloading it.  Never owning the actual disk and never holding it in your hand.  Doesn’t make sense to me!
Maybe I’m just a bit old fashioned, and perhaps all the involvement of actually having to go out and buy music for yourself from an actual shop (yes, there was a time before the internet) has left me only seeing the value in something tangible.
Downloads are really convenient and great for people on the move, how much better to have all of your tunes, in high quality, on a little music player than have to lug around a bag of CDs or even worse tapes that have decided to make a bid for freedom and end up like a bird’s nest?
But even so, despite the convenience and the practicality, maybe downloading is just too much like making a mix tape for me to comprehend actually parting with cash for the pleasure!
There was big talk in the music industry that digital downloads would totally kill off the sale of CDs and vinyl.
RIP CD? Not really, I think there are probably enough of us out there that still want to grasp what they have bought in their sweaty little paws.
Once you have actually got your CD it can be ripped and then played on whatever device you like…but you still own the original, still have a collection that can fill a wall.

What really got me thinking about this subject was the fact that Christmas, like it or not, is on its way. Having two teenagers in the house music tends to be a popular gift.  Both of them listen to music in virtual formats, but how on earth do you give a download as stocking filler?
It’s not going to be quite the same on Christmas morning when the usually bulging Christmas stocking is empty apart from a code for you to log into itunes and get your gift…its hardly festive is it?
I suppose we could just go the whole hog and stick a virtual satsuma and lump of coal in there too!
Horses for courses I guess, so I will keep buying my music on CD.  Mr Hifi Pig can rip them to play through the squeezebox, and I’m very happy to have my little digital music player to listen to while I am out and about.
The important thing is that sat on the shelf at home is a whole collection of CDs so that there is something real and tangible to show for it at the end of the day!
Linette Smith

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