A dear friend gave me a gift certificate to what just might be the best record store on earth–Craig Moerer’s Records by Mail. Spend a few moments there, if you dare. I didn’t need to spend much time to find something special. Didn’t want to spend too much time. Could have, to be sure. They have roughly two million records.
My search was limited by my new rule. I only buy 180-gram vinyl (unless I can watch the record on a platter before buying it). I’ve received far too many albums of late that require my tonearm to constantly speed jump whoopty doos and in one case to develop sea legs in the face of groves inducing side to side shimmies. Warped records are not news. Most vinyl is just too thin. 180-gram vinyl solves this. Saddle Creek Records seems to press everything with 180-gram vinyl (and they give you a download coupon to boot).
The side to side shimmies were new to me. The grooves were not consistent arcs. They wavered side to side. On just one track! How did that happen? I sent the first record back and the second was the same. A pressing defect. Was it intentional? Had anyone ever played the record? The record store apologized and said they wished they could play albums before shipping them. They are busy folks, so there is no way that would happen, but they admitted that they didn’t even have a turntable hooked up to play anything! They even sell turntables! I am too embarrassed to identify the album. Not 100% bubblegum, but so close. We’ll see if in 20 years I am as willing to put it on the platter as I am my Jesus and Mary Chain albums (a band form 20 years hence that are very similar to the band with the shimmy disc).
I used the certificate to order a four album live recording from Wilco and it arrived yesterday. Wilco seems to release everything on 180-gram vinyl, so I am confident these pressings will be wonderful. Oh, and the music will surely please as well. The vinyl is even billed as High Performance. Not sure what that means. I hope it means virgin. Did you know that albums that are not listed as virgin are often pressed using recycled vinyl? Recycling is great, but not if you want an album without unintended noise. That’s what you get when the recycled vinyl has impurities. Save the recycled stuff for making recycling bins. We need lots of those as the recycling guys break the bins about every year. I honestly wonder if after adding the production of bins into the mix (as well as the impact of collection, processing and redistribution) if recycling helps at all. I sorta remember reading once that recycling is often crap, but I still do it. A ceremony more than anything.
Craig Moerer’s packaging was as impressive as his selection. Important that he has that down, as he ships some pricey and collectable albums. Check out the article that was neatly wrapped around bubble wrap and placed along two sides of the album. So well protected!
Can’t wait to listen to the new albums. Thanks for the certificate, pallie! Thanks also to my other friend who sent me a couple of Wilco LPs so long ago. I never listened to Wilco before then. Now they are one of my favorites! Music! Friends! Yeah!