VINYLMANIA:WHEN LIFE RUNS AT 33 REVOLUTIONS A MINUTE directed by Paolo Campania (Italy, 2012)
Vinylmania is a lively, good-humoured documentary which was chosen as the official Record Store Day film in 2012 and is also being shown at many stores this year. When it comes to music, Italian director Paolo Campana passionately believes that there is no substitute for the analogue sounds of vinyl. At the beginning of this 75 minute documentary he rejects the digital alternative saying “a click is not enough”. CDs were originally marketed as offering a superior sound to the established format, something that even non-audiophiles now recognise as baloney. London-based DJ Eddie Piller puts the case in simple terms : “nothing sounds better than vinyl”. But the enduring affection for vinyl LPs is not just about sound quality. The products are also something to covet with distinctive artwork and gatefold sleeves adding to their appeal (and price). One contributor talks about having a personal relationship with these objects akin to a love affair. This level of intimacy is missing from compact discs or computer files. Compelling though all these arguments are, the drawbacks of vinyl in the digital age are many. Records are heavy to carry around, they take up a lot of space and are easy to damage or break. Nobody ever pretended that cassette tapes sounded better but these were very popular for the simple reason that people could listen to their favourite music on the move. This was also the immediate appeal of CDs and is even more true of MP3s or music streaming websites. The groove junkies in Vinylmania may be in the minority but they remind us that the term ‘technological progress’ is often an oxymoron. The longevity of vinyl discs shows that there are still many who value them as representing a tactile, human connection with music.