The Joys of Vinyl

Today Flying Nun releases its first record in over 15 years. Yep, today you can buy the Die! Die! Die! album ‘Form’ on vinyl. You know, a record. Flat round black things with grooves that can be played on either side when pulled out of its attractive 12” cover.

The A Side:

Wonderful things records. I grew up working with them when they were the dominant format for the reproduction of music. I immersed myself in a retail world of music totally based around the buying and selling of records. Records that came packaged in large square sleeves of glorious and outrageous design. Even the sleeve spines, the labels on the discs and the catalogue numbers could be of interest.

The Flying Nun catalogue number inspection team works in all conditions

But for me the sound was the key. That analogue fullness and warmth was what it was all about. All of which could lead to an expensive side hobby in hi fi. Of course when I started Flying Nun in 1981 it was called Flying Nun Records as it still is.

The B Side:

While working in retail I was well aware that there could be problems with making records. They could buckle. The spindle hole may not be centre. The sharp edge of the record could burst through the spine. And once I was getting records made myself for Flying Nun the experiences of what could go wrong multiplied.

The trip to the old Polygram pressing plant in Miramar, Wellington was meant to be educational. Instead, I left confused and totally doubting the technology that resulted in records producing music or any sound for that matter could possibly work. Often it did not. Records were cut at the wrong speed, tracks were left off and sometimes everything just sounded plain strange. We had to wait months for new release pressings to arrive and would send out review copies and start selling into shops all on the same day. Nothing could be planned.

A FN staffer attempting to make the Die! Die! Die! record. Where is his lab coat and protective eyewear?!

Records are frustratingly tricky things to make as well as expensive to both manufacture and ship. The Die! Die! Die! album was pressed in the US and we never had any control over the process. But the satisfaction of finally holding the actual record in my hands and the pleasure of hearing the vinyl version of a familiar and much loved recording makes it all absolutely worthwhile.


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2 Responses to “The Joys of Vinyl”

  1. Paul Luker Says:

    Ahhh…yes, a trip to the “Polygram pressing plant in Miramar”. I can recall being berated by the cutting technician for daring to squeeze 13 minutes (or so) on each side of a 45rpm, then admonished for how deep the bass cut when makinf the master for ‘This is Heaven – 200 Variations’. I liked the fact that its boundaries could be pushed!
    Polygram though – the rumours of re-used vinyl (rejects etc) for the independant labels may well be true, many of the 200 Variations had specks of shit embedded in them, I can also recall Brent Hayward waking me up at dawn, bitterly disapointed, to show me Smelly Feet’s first pressing – that clearly had paper (from old labels) embedded in the vinyl!

  2. rob Says:

    I have about a metre and half of the blessed-cursed things. Luckily we don’t move, for they are also surprisingly heavy.
    It’s an interesting collection, though a bit random, things missing I was sure I had; records that must have belonged to a flatmate or relative; dross and gems. Lots of Nunstuff: VD’s native waiter, fall in a- ahem [redacted], all sorts.
    But i just dunno what to do with them. We have the horriblest turntable, the needle tends to skate; don’t get to listen to the stereo much anyway.
    Occasionally I get them out and look at them 🙂

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