Sometimes, if a sales rep was being particularly obtuse, Frank went through all the reasons vinyl was better than CD or cassette tape.
It wasn’t just 1) the ARTWORK and SLEEVE NOTES on the album sleeve. It wasn’t 2) the possibility of a HIDDEN TRACK, or a little MESSAGE carved in the final groove. It wasn’t 3) the mahogany richness of the QUALITY of SOUND. (But CD sound was clean, the reps argued. It had no surface noise. To which Frank replied, ‘Clean? What’s music got to do with clean? Where is the humanity in clean? Life has surface noise! Do you want to listen to furniture polish?’)
It wasn’t even 4) the RITUAL of checking the record before carefully lowering the stylus. No, most of all it was about the JOURNEY. 5) The journey that an album made from one track to another, with a hiatus in the middle, when you had to get up and flip the record over in order to finish. With vinyl, you couldn’t just sit there like a lemon. You had to GET UP OFF YOUR ARSE and TAKE PART.
‘You see?’ he would say. By this point he might be shouting. He could also be lumbering up and down the shop, in a glistening sweat. ‘You see now why you will never get me to sell CDs? We are human beings. We need lovely things we can see and hold. Yes, vinyl can be a pain. It’s not convenient. It gets scratched. But that’s the point. We are acknowledging the importance of music and beauty in our lives. You don’t get that if you’re not prepared to make AN EFFORT.’
And the reps would laugh and say yeah, yeah, they got it, Frank. But they had their jobs to do. They had their sales targets to meet. Phil the EMI rep, who had been coming since the early days of punk, warned that record companies would soon be fading out vinyl altogether. Production costs were too high. ‘End of story, mate.’ If you wanted to run a music shop in 1988, you had to stock CDs.
To which Frank would reply, ‘Get out of here.’ And possibly throw something. ‘I’m never going to change.’ (p 53~54)