Your intrepid blogger is friends with a first-class dude that goes by the web handle Gaylord Meatface. He assures me that he picked the name because he wanted to be unique on the Internet. I’ll go out on a limb and guess that he’s got it all to himself.
After hearing that I picked up a turntable for my birthday, Meatface offered to bring by some 45’s for a listening party. Not just any 45’s either, but his mom’s vintage record collection. After throwing some steaks on the barbeque, and partaking in some warm-up beers while watching hockey, the Hermit and the Meatface started dropping the needle.
It quickly became evident that technology has come along quite a ways since the 1950s and 1960s. Vintage 45’s sound a lot different than modern audiophile vinyl. The principal differences are a LOT more surface noise, and a thinner overall sonic balance. Maybe that’s because today’s recording technology is better (stereo vs. mono, multi-track vs. live recording, and so on). Maybe it has something to do with how music is mixed and mastered differently today, with an overall “hotter” sound. It was also a lesson in protecting one’s vinyl – most of the records in Meatface’s collection probably hadn’t seen their dust jackets (much less their cardboard sleeves) since Lester Pearson was prime minister. Or Gaylord Meatface wore short pants, for that matter.
Despite all that, the evening was a grand success. A dust brush removed most of the surface grit on the records & markedly cleaned up the sound. Plus among the typical teenaged-girl staples in the collection, there were some gems. We enjoyed hearing Sun Records era Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two crackle to life with “It’s Just About Time”, backed with “I Just Thought You’d Like to Know”. We rediscovered Buck Owens with “Love’s Gonna Live Here” and “Getting Used to Losing You”. We continued in a classic country vein with Conway Twitty’s “What Am I Living For” and “The Hurt in My Heart” (wow, Conway should have been on suicide watch).
We got an education in proto-jangle guitar pop by spinning Buddy Holly’s “Listen to Me”, backed with “I’m Gonna Love You Too”. We got our folk on with The Kingston Trio’s “Tom Dooley” and “Ruby Red”. And we even got into the swing of things with Frank Sinatra’s “Just One Of Those Things” and “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”, with “Sunday” and “Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams” over on the flip side.
My personal favourite moment was reveling in the pure rock majesty of “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” by The Who, with “Anytime You Want Me” on the b-side. Somehow, the hisses and pops just added to Pete Townshend’s glorious feedback and Keith Moon’s calamitous drums. I can only imagine what a mint-condition single by The Who would fetch in a record store today.
Many thanks to Gaylord Meatface for spelunking through his parents’ closets to unearth these records and offering to share them with me. It was a great way to spend an evening. And happy birthday, Gaylord!