Sunday, January 10, 2016

ABCs of My Vinyl Collection (Letter A, Part 1)

I made a new year's resolution that I wasn't able to act on until now. Beginning today through the rest of 2016 I pledge to go all vinyl on this blog. I can make this claim because Mrs. LTL got me a USB audio interface with a built-in phono preamp for Christmas. In other words, I'm finished with crappy USB turntables once and for all. I can finally use my Technics SL-6 linear-tracking turntable, circa 1984, to bring you the hits, and my kids can finally use the USB turntables to play pizza makers without fear of retribution. The only exception to this all-vinyl proclamation will be if I want to pass along news of a new release that only has streaming as a way for you to hear it.

I started playing with my new toy this afternoon, and I think I have it down enough to give this a go. The plan is to go straight to the letter A and work my way to Z, spending a week or two at each letter. Well, maybe not the Zs, but you get the point. I'll focus on bands that I want to take the time to transfer over to a digital format, ignoring most of the more embarrassing acts completely. Well, maybe not completely. What would be the fun in that? Speaking of embarrassing, technically going alphabetically, there is one act on the shelf that comes before today's selection, but it's a tricky one. Anyone have a guess who the first band is in my A section?

As you can see from the photo above, ABC's 'The Lexicon of Love' was a huge album in my youth. In fact, I only have a couple of pieces of vinyl from them that goes beyond 1982. The album has been hotly debated by our corner of the blogosphere. Our pal Friend of Rachel Worth called 'The Lexicon of Love' his favorite album on the day he retired his excellent blog. I believe George, CC and Echorich (and maybe the Swede) are on that side of the fence, but I seem to recall Drew and the Robster vehemently disagreeing with the rest of us when the album was featured on Charity Chic Music last year. I may have quickly lost the love for ABC, but I have never stopped believing 'The Lexicon of Love' is pop perfection.

One of my treasures from the ABC section is this twin 7" that came out in 1985. I thought Martin and Co. found the old magic with "Be Near Me," and many of us on this side of the Atlantic agreed. Only "When Smokey Sings" was a bigger hit here in America. Having said all of that, I really bought this single for the bonus remixes on the second 45. Here is what the back cover said:


People - People - People:

Through the misfits of time we bring you two ABC recordings from the year A.D. 1982 -- Poison Arrow U.S. Remix and the 12" Look of Love U.S. Remix (originally titled the The Look of Love Part V) -- 24 wonderful inches jam packed onto this 7" record.

Marvel at the earliest dawnings of the Big Scratch on vinyl. Groove to a jazzy flavoured Poison Arrow.

Both tracks were previously released on a D.J. only basis and exclusively to citizens of the United States. Three years later copies had been changing hands on the black market at vastly inflated prices. When this came to the attention of Neutron Records they agreed, in an act of crazed and unrepeatable generosity, to finally make this material available in the U.K.

You are looking at a strictly limited edition. Over and out.

Yours Alphabetically,

Spring -- 1985

No, this isn't my favorite remix of the song, but I'm still very happy to finally have a digital copy. I have to go thank my better half now. This is going to be fun. Back next time with another act from the A section.

ABC - "Poison Arrow (U.S. Re-Mix)"


TheRobster said...

My guess is you have an Abba album on your shelf. Nowt wrong with that mate. To be honest, I much prefer Abba to anything ABC put out...

The Swede said...

This is a bold move Brian. I'm looking forward to hearing what you might unearth from the depths of your vinyl collection over the next 12 months.
I haven't heard 'The Lexicon of Love' all the way through in probably 30 years, though I did play it an awful lot in 1982 & 1983 and still enjoy early ABC tunes when they crop up on the radio. I also greatly enjoy late period Abba whenever I happen to hear them - top quality pop. We should be told!
(If you don't mind, I might contact you off-line at some point, for a bit of impartial advice on your USB audio interface. I haven't got the first clue when it comes to this particular area of technology and would really like to digitise some of my records).

charity chic said...

I'm in the same boat as the Swede.Sounds like an impressive and useful piece of kit.Same adjectives to be used to describe your project Brian

drew said...

What audio interface did you get Brian? I bought a behringer one a couple of years ago but find it a faff unplugging my 1200 from my amp every time I want to rip something and end up using my crappy USB turntable which now I think of it isn't any less hassle getting it out the cupboard and out of the box and then plugging it into the laptop

I too am looking forward to what will be featured.

btw I am still as vehemently in disagreement with the rest of you.

JC said...

I think you'll end up getting dirty looks form Mrs LL the amount of time you are going to devote to this project. Good luck...really looking forward to it.

Oh and I'm happy with my crappy USB Turntable....albeit I did upgrade a few years back to a Sony model for a bit more quality. I omly ever make basic quality versions available on the blog with the idea if folk really like the songs they will look to buy them where possible.

I'll come down on the side that Lexicon of Love was a tremendous release and of course Look of Love remains a classic cut.

Oh and take no notice of Drew....he's a typically cantankerous but wholly loveable middle-aged Scotsman (and yup, it takes one to know one!)

Echorich said...

I'm looking forward to this Brian! I know there will be some twists and turns and "didn't see that coming" reactions over the following 50 weeks!

As for ABC - yes Lexicon Of Love is top form Pop Music made by a band that allowed all the pieces to fall into place to record it. There are lots of reasons why it took a few years for them to get back on track, and that is a well worn subject that requires it's own post to discuss/debate. But when How To Be a Zillionaire came out in late 1985 Fry and White had found the spark again.

The U.S. Remix (Jazz Mix) of Poison Arrow is a track very high on my list of Epic Remixes. It's sophisticated and undeniably masterful in the way it incorporates big bold, yet breezy, jazz instrumentation without losing the magical pop venom the band was able to achieve on the original.

Brian said...

Hi fellas. I'll end the drama. I said it was a tricky one. Abba is a good guess, but my practice of alphabetizing is that symbols and punctuation comes before letter. So, R.E.M. is the first of my Rs, and... yes, a-ha is the fit band in my vinyl collection. You can groan now. I have three 12" singles from the first album and the first album itself. Didn't think that was the best way to kick things off.

For those interested in the new equipment, the hardware is the USB Phono Plus Audiophile Preamp & Computer Interface by a company called ART. The software is Audacity. Getting started was much easier than I expected. I still have much to learn about manipulating recordings, but I don't really mind the pops. Warms the heart. I hope I didn't offend those of you using a USB turntable. I have two of them, and they are both low end. And I wasn't kidding that my kids got a hold of my first one when I left it out after a late night of transferring. I replaced it with a cheaper model that barely worked at all. Mrs. LTL probably got me this gift to shut me up. I have been complaining about my poor luck with that turntable for about two years.

Swede, feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions.

Drew, I think a proper space to make these vinyl rips is key. If I have to move my turntable between my stereo and computer, this isn't going to work. I have a music room. The plan is to have my laptop at a desk near enough to the stereo that the turntable will never have to move.

JC, Yes, it's a lot of work. My first go around through the alphabet will mostly be hitting the highlights. If I took it one album at a time I would be quite fatigued by the time I got out of the letter A. I hope I hit a few things you don't have, but I have a feeling you will find my vinyl is a mini version of your collection.

CC, Hope I can keep you interested. I think there will be a few you coming up you might like.

Echorich, I get the feeling we will never sway our pals Drew and the Robster. As you can see from the photo, I didn't need this 7" of the U.S. remixes, I had the twelves, but I really did like Be Near Me. I'll take the four part Look of Love 12" over the U.S. remix every time. Too many '80s bells and whistles packed into that one.

Hey Robster, How does the devil feel about ABC?

friend of rachel worth said...

I've been umming and argghing about starting the blog again and simply doing a to . You've beaten me to it , which means I can now sit back and just enjoy your journey

Brian said...

If that's true, I quit! You will get a warm welcome. Besides, I'm just doing a highlights. Probably about 5-8 per letter. Some stuff I want to convert. Hope you are serious!

George said...

I do like a bit of chat about hifi equipment. I've not bothered digitising my vinyl, I don't have an iPod so . don;t really see the point. And I am firmly convinced vinyl has a fuller sound than cds. Anyway, ABC's debut is indeed the finest "pop" album ever made, and anyone who disagres is wrong. By the way, no ABBA, I would be a bit disappointed to learn that you possessed any of their output.

charity chic said...

I went to check my A's on the back of this series and no Lexicon of Love! Major panic. Turns out it had been misfiled. My heart beat is just about back to normal

Brian said...

I understand, CC. My next featured record will be one slot out of place because I filed it wrong. Grr.