Skip to main content

In Box: Vinyl versus CDs, etc

Goldmine's letters to the editor column starts off with an ongoing debate about formats

Goldmine's letters to the editor (In Box) over the last few issues started off with an ongoing debate about formats and went on from there.


The great debate: vinyl versus CDs

At the age of 11, I bought my first record, “Dirty Water” by The Standells, in May 1966, and I got my first album, “Got Live If You Want It” by The Rolling Stones on Christmas morning of that year. However, I didn’t really start collecting seriously until 1968, when I discovered that records didn’t stay in print forever. In April 1969, I discovered an intense listing of records for ordering purposes that got monthly updates. These updates featured which labels were “active” and which labels were “reported inactive,” allowing me to realize that many of my records were truly “out of print” and some would become quite valuable, due to supply and demand. So having perhaps the last decent copy of a particular record made me want to take extra good care of my record collection.

The late ‘60s/early ‘70s was the golden era for us oldies fans. A current single would sell for between 66 cents and $1, until it faded off the current music charts. The unsold stock would later get bought out by some warehouse that would then sell them at three for $1. I got many great oldies this way. Now when a single goes off the charts, it becomes an “oldie” and will sell for even more than it did when it was a current hit. Gone are those oldies compilations that were released on independent budget labels like Pickwick, Alshire, etc. While budget labels like Harmony (Columbia) and Camden (RCA) already had access to their parent label’s catalog, the independents now release those horrible “new stereo recordings” that are performed by “one or more members of the original group. Read the fine print! If a release is too good to be true, it probably is.

The first CD I heard was “Fresh Cream” in early 1984, which was just incredible. The sonics were loud, the fidelity near perfect and the background noise was actually zero (or pretty close). But the early days of CDs weren’t much different from the early days of records, hype-wise. Mistakes were made.

I was given a free demonstration of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Greatest Hits” on CD. It sounded good, but not worth the $10 for the CD over the $6 for the LP. Then the vendor took the CD, tossed it up in the air and it landed smack on the ground. He then picked it up, grinned and said, “Try that with an LP!”

Back in the 1950s, dealers used to shuffle 45s around like cards and drop them on the counter, telling the potential client to “try that with a 78.” Many 45s had “unbreakable” on the label. These records survived, so it seemed, until their owners upgraded their sound systems and learned too late how horrible those 45s sounded with all that wear and tear and abuse. I never fell for the indestructability myth of the CD. Scratches may not affect playback today, but sooner or later, they would. I’ve always treated my CDs same as my LPs. So 26 years later, my earliest CDs still play like new. One has three skips that sound like LP skips. One has suffered “digital winter” and only plays a few tracks. Another “dead disc” that died after two years played flawlessly after it got a thorough cleaning. And not too many people knew that the CD lens needed routine cleaning.

A CD feature that fell out of favor is the “digital perfection” of the earliest recordings. One critic praises the clarity, while others complain the sound is too flat. Later CD releases have digitized the sound, but not to digital perfection because, with the elimination of the surface noise, goes into the ambiance of the sound. So a compromise has been made. By maintaining some of the surface noise, the depth in the sound is also maintained.

In closing, I would like to say that both vinyl and CDs have their advantages and their disadvantages. Each has made some big mistakes in the beginning. And both have done what had to be done to correct them.

— Michael McKenna,
Bobritzsch, Germany

My students devour their issues of Goldmine!

Goldmine is one of the best magazines for research purposes and collecting. I found Goldmine in a record store over 30 years ago and I ordered three records for the first time in my life by mail order, which was purchased through an advertiser in your magazine long before Amazon. I have not stopped since.

My students devour this magazine when it is published and use the facts in the articles to complement their radio shows. In addition, as a professor I have used many of your advertisers over and over again as I have found them reputable and having unique products that benefit music and broadcasting.

Thank you to your entire team for continuing to publish a great one-of-a-kind magazine.

— Jason Beaton, CRMC, CDMC

Professor of Media Arts & Broadcasting

Broadcasting & Vinyl Club Adviser

Valley Glen, CA

Rock Hall blues about Moodies

Goldmine, I have written the following letter to Gregory S. Harris, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation:

Dear Mr. Harris,

Before attending a Moody Blues concert in Connecticut, I went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website to see when they were inducted. I was appalled to discover that they are not listed. How is this possible? Why has one of the best rock and roll bands of all time been shunned all of these years?

I hope that you will share my comments and dismay with the powers that be who sit on the selection committee. This is an egregious injustice, and I hope that they will be honored soon while they are still alive!

— Rhonda Hawes, Hamden, CT

Doubles and triples

Dear Spin Cycle,

Could you, definitively and once and for all, tell us WHICH ARTIST put out the very first DOUBLE ALBUM?!!!

Zimmy? Zappa? Disney? Other?

What Month? YEAR?

How about the FIRST TRIPLE ALBUM, while you’re at it.

Thank you!

— Jack Pott, Austin, TX

Dave Thompson responds:


The first-ever double album was released in 1950, Benny Goodman’s “Carnegie Hall Concert” on Columbia. Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” was the first rock double, but classics and jazz had more than filled the shelves during the intervening 15 years.

Excluding compilations and live sets (the Woodstock soundtrack), the first rock triple was George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass.”

A Normal Who-a-holic


Dear Editors of Goldmine,

I understand how nearly every Who fan considers “Who Are You” as subpar and will go so far as to despise “Face Dances” and “It’s Hard” — but through the animosity of the fans, a few quality songs exist on those albums. For your No. 50 spot on the “50 Who Songs We Ought to Celebrate” by Dave Thompson, I would suggest one of the following — and I think if the fans would go back and listen, they might agree — ”Sister Disco” and “Guitar and Pen” from “Who Are You” (1978); “Daily Records” from “Face Dances” (1981) or “Cry If You Want” from “It’s Hard” (1983).

Oh, and as a fan of the OX ... kind of surprised you left off the semi-autobiographical, cynical and comic “Success Story” from the “Who By Numbers” (1975). I am also surprised you ignored “Dreaming From The Waist” and “How Many Friends” from the same album. I mean, if you are going to put “Waspman,” “Postcard” and “Fiddle About” on the list, consider better, latter cuts. Nice call on “Whiskey Man,” “La-La-La-Lies,” “Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand” (non-album version, I assume), “Tattoo” and “Our Love Was.” The early album non-hits are unfairly ignored.

Keep up the fine work.

Longtime subscriber and Who-a-holic.

— Eric Sweetwood, Normal, IL

Okay, Let’s get it over with

A letter for the issue, or a reply to the inevitable complaints...

A single evil gremlin entered the editing stage of my “50 Songs by the Who that We’re Not Yet Sick Of” story (published title: “50 Who Songs We Ought to Celebrate”) in which “The Who Sell Out” was described as the best of their 1969s albums. Of course, we meant to say “1960s,” so apologies to everyone who was confused by that. Later in the piece, however, when “Who’s Next” was described as the band’s fourth album, well of course we’re omitting “Live at Leeds,” because it was live, and “Tommy” because it was boring. So, no apologies to anyone for that.

— Dave Thompson

Somewhere in the U.S., via email

Letters to the editor are encouraged but cannot be responded to individually. Send your letters to: 

• E-mail:

• Fax: 715-445-4087, Attention: Goldmine In Box