|FOR VINYL LP FANS ONLY
By Steven B. Roberts
As the MP3 and Compact disc continues to die a slow , and painful death, it is becoming more and more
evident that Vinyl like a phoenix, has risen from it’s ashes of death and is flying high across the musical sky.
People of this generation have discovered that music is not about technology. It’s about feeling. It’s about
emotion. It’s about creating memories and looking back on old ones. As every need in our daily lives has
been shrunken down to the size of microchips, the human element to products we purchase has fallen victim
to this theory.
What satisfaction is there in a white box the size of a cigarette pack that holds thousands of songs?
The realization that the fancy walkman known as an I-Pod is not all it’s cracked up to be? It’s convenient,
quick, easy to carry, but it’s also easy to lose, and it’s not uncommon for it to break down and become
useless. A mere slip from your pocket and your music collection can be gone.
Vinyl, as more powerful entities on planet Earth often are, is far harder to kill. Only floods, fire, tornados, and
an ignorance to jump into technology with little regard for our heritage can kill it. And even then, it still comes
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Once upon a time, there was a world without Elvis. Do you remember that? It was a very, very long time ago. There was once a time when there was no Elvis.
For us, Elvis has always been here, and he’ll always be here. But how was Elvis introduced? How did we get to know Elvis? It wasn’t in a catalog from his
estate selling him as a sink strainer or Mr. Potato Head. It was on brittle 78rpm records from an indie label in Memphis Tennessee depicting a golden sunrise
letting the people know (in the words of Sam Cooke) that “A Change Is Gonna Come”.
In 2010 at a time when Elvis is quickly becoming bigger than ever, teenagers and young adults are flocking to record stores to find him. The CD’s are empty
with no substance. The same songs repackaged over and over again housed in plastic cases and his face printed on magazine paper. These are
unappealing. The new generation of Elvis fans wants something new to them. And that , is Elvis on vinyl.
So what has Elvis Presley’s own label done to propel this interest? Basically nothing. They are trapped in the past. But vinyl is the past you say? No. Vinyl is
the present and always has been. It’s just that everybody else hasn’t noticed it yet. The past that Sony/BMG is trapped in is the recent one. Not realizing yet
that vinyl is the format which they will be required to adapt in the future. Once again pressing plants will be opened, cardboard stock will be purchased, and
physical human labor will be needed to produce the product on the assembly line.
At first they will assume it is just a fad. The need to prepare new analog masters will not even be considered. Instead, they’ll simply stamp out the albums
from the CD masters and house them in flimsy bendy sleeves. Throw a $20 price tag on them and say “They’ll buy em’, Elvis fans will buy anything”. They
are probably unaware on a wide scale that the Elvis fan club FTD has become more aggressive and is taking their own vinyl campaign with much more
seriousness. It is likely the suits in the office don’t even know what FTD is.
In Europe though, things are much different. Vinyl never really died there. It waned in popularity during the CD boom, but Europeans tend to take music
much more seriously and have prided themselves on quality since the beginning of the industry. Sure, they’ve cut corners here and there, but overall after
the 1960s the Americans have not produced the same quality that the Europeans have. This is true with everything from Chocolate, Cars, and Vinyl Records.
The European label Speakers Corner is a beacon of light in the otherwise dark Elvis vinyl landscape. Comparing a piece of vinyl made by Speakers Corner
to one made by Sony/BMG is like the difference between French Champaign and Thunderbird. It’s not just night and day, it’s just plain ‘day’. Much like the
golden sunrise on those early Elvis 78rpm’s coming out of Memphis. Filling the southern air with revolution in 1954 and 1955.
Speakers Corner is doing Elvis. And they’re doing Elvis very, very, very well.
Their respect for the Presley catalog is absolutely breath taking. It’s beyond refreshing to see their aproach and respect for this sacred piece of history is
nothing short of incredible. Their pressings not only equal the originals from the 50s and 60s, but might even surpass them. There is no dullness or flat
textures in the soundscape.
The albums are alive and if you listen close enough you can even hear them breathing. The heavy vinyl is not a promo trick to get you to buy something you
already have and listen too once. The heavy vinyl makes this music snap, pop, and shimmy bop with life. A life that in the physical sense, died on August 16,
1977 , but a musical life that will be with us forever. Speakers Corner has answered the call go give us quality Elvis, and they deserve a medal for their
The album covers can be described in one word, ‘beautiful’. It is all too common for manufactures of new vinyl to simply use the CD artwork instead of the
original album covers. All the elements of the originals are used by Speakers Corner. And they look & feel fantastic!
CD’s were always promoted with regards to their clarity. However, the dull flat sound devoid of real bass and treble was always ignored. The Speakers
Corner releases have plenty of clarity, bass, treble, and all around rich beautiful sound.
You may have the biggest, baddest stereo in the world. But if you don’t have turntable, then you are unaware of a serious difference. You can rock out to
digital music, no problem. But have you ever rocked out in the middle of the most beautiful thunderstorm of passion ever? This is the difference. Have you
ever heard Elvis brought to life? I ask you again, have you really ever heard Elvis?
It would be cliché to say that Elvis never sounded like this before. I think a higher compliment is to point out the fact that Elvis did sound like this before. A
long time ago in a musical galaxy far, far away. A galaxy that Speakers Corner has been too, visited, recovered the artifacts and brought back to share.
Instead of the old carny trick of jamming as many bonus tracks onto an album as possible, Speakers Corner leaves them alone. They don’t distract you with
singles and B-sides which often takes the attention away from the original album itself. Instead the thick beautiful grooves remind us of a time when Elvis
albums were just Elvis albums. A time before it was necessary to turn every Elvis album into a Greatest Hits compilation.
Do we really need every album to have 20 songs? Is longer always better? What about the simplicity of what a compilation album used to be? What about
the compilation album that was not intended to be a retrospective?
Forgotten long play compilations that were so important to Elvis fans such as “A Date With Elvis” and “For LP Fans Only” remind us that once upon a time,
music was music.
There was no need to know the exact date and time a record was made at. Who played on the record, which number was on the tape box, or what time Elvis
used the restroom between what take. Instead they are albums that just had songs on them. Good songs at that. In fact, some of his best.
It is also true however, than an album of monumental importance as a stand alone work of art like “Elvis Is Back!” or “From Elvis In Memphis” leaves the first
time listener desperate to find out more about it. The longwinded digital recreations are great as a time portal, but what about the experience of discovery?
Where has that gone? Apparently nowhere as the Speakers Corner releases re-instill the importance of the discovery. They capture that moment in time
when we first heard these simply as albums. And the excitement and satisfaction that went along with that.
If you are new to Elvis, one thing is clear. Elvis = Elvis on vinyl. But with so little quality new Elvis vinyl available, it can be an expensive and daunting task to
build a collection. Luckily, Speakers Corner has taken steps to fix that problem. For a fraction of the price of an original copy and (gulp! Sadly) sometimes
the cost of later re-releases, anybody can point and click and have quality Elvis vinyl on it’s way. And the word ‘download’ is nowhere to be found.