Sunday, February 16, 2014
This month I’m breaking from critiquing music for a minute to pass along some interesting junk you can do with records. No, I’m not going to give instructions on how to turn those Perry Como LPs into soup bowls. I did manage to stumble upon some neat-o stuff that has the potential to entertain and / or improve a person’s enjoyment from messing around with those glorious plastic waffles.
Long before digital music revolutionized how people access music, vinyl records were the most popular format for music lovers to have their favorite music at their personal disposal. No matter what kind of equipment you had the software was the same. Or was it? United States residents who found domestically produced records lacking in quality (especially in the late 60s to the late 70s) would go out of their way to track down imported copies of albums – from the UK, Germany, Japan and other countries. The number one reason had to do with higher quality pressings from these countries. By the late 60s, American companies started cost-cutting measures at the pressing plants rendering some pretty noisy vinyl albums. Some practices involved recycling vinyl – you’d think it was a good idea, but not with the old paper labels thrown into the same mixture. This was known as the “Capitol re-grind” and resulted in records with extra surface noise. I’ve even found large paper chunks floating in records – take a look at this :
RCA, on the other hand, invented Dyna-Flex. Some of these records were so thin and wobbly you’d be afraid that looking at them the wrong way would damage ‘em. See what I mean?
By the late 70s, word had gotten around that some overseas companies were using superior vinyl pressing practices than the US-based companies were using. In West Germany, the Telefunken-Decca label was known for using a higher percentage of “virgin vinyl” in their pressings. One way to literally see the difference was to hold one of these up to a bright light. What the eye would behold under normal light as a black disc became translucent – of varying colors and intensities – when held to a bright light source. Theoretically, this would show the degree of virgin vinyl used in the process and reveal the reason why those records had a much lower surface noise than domestically produced albums. I have a few of these Tel-Dec records. Here’s a reissue of early Genesis from this company:
All of this might not seem too amazing for younger collectors who are currently besieged with LPs made from every color combination imaginable nowadays. Just remember - even though I'm a longtime collector - I never suspected these records to be anything more than regular black vinyl for all these years. Imagine my surprise!
Here's some more "Fun for Fools"..................
I'd been reading about advanced record cleaning methods for awhile now. I always used the good-old dry-brush for pre-spin cleaning to remove basic dust. For extreme cases, lukewarm water and soap in the kitchen sink was always the next step to revive mistreated records. Then I heard about.............GLUE. That's right! More specifically - WOOD GLUE. I had read that spreading glue like Titebond II onto the record surface and letting it dry THEN peeling the glue off the record can dramatically reduce bad surface noise problems and even reduce the effects of scratches.
So, I took the plunge...................using some Gorilla Wood Glue I used my old Henry Cow LP for the test.
Using a liberal amount of glue, I spread it over the surface of the LP and left it to dry for about 24 hours. Then I slowly started to peel the glue away from the surface and eventually got this:
Things are going to get a bit more interesting in the next segment with new advances on the horizon relating to my obsession with QUADRAPHONIC vinyl LPs. So stay tuned.........until next time! Happy gluing!