Vinyl mining: Dig deep for classic treasures

A number of my friends received record players over the holiday. Seeing them prodded me to fire up my own turntable after months of disuse. I encourage all music lovers to own a record player. I'm not here to have a dispute over which sounds better: vinyl or CD. They are just two completely different ways of listening to music.

I own a pretty extensive CD collection and got into buying vinyl regularly only in the last year. I honestly didn't know what I was missing. Whereas CD's are digitally recorded and crisper sounding, they lack the subtle imperfections that make the music come alive.

For instance, a good buddy of mine was given a copy of Miles Davis Kind of Blue. We both have heard the CD a thousand times, but hearing it on vinyl was a whole new experience. Through the crackles of the record you can hear John Coltrane breathing in his sax, Miles Davis shifting in his chair, and numerous other subtleties.

Pick up any classic record and hear these same things. Bob Marley and The Wailers' live recording Babylon By Bus is practically a different album on wax.

If you're a vinyl lover and want to beef up your collection, you needn't go to far. Charlottesville has a few places you can go digging for great records. There's Plan 9, which hosts a modest few shelves of oldies and new releases. If they don't have something, they usually can order it.

But let's face it, no one wants to pay big bucks for records these days. Part of the fun of owning a record player is "vinyl mining." "Vinyl mining" was coined decades ago by dj's who would dig through stacks of unorganized records to find rare music. The 'ville has a few good places to go mining.

CD's for Less has crates of used records for dirt cheap. Don't get discouraged by the overwhelming number of Billy Joel and Dr. Zhivago re-releases. There are some real winners in there. Spencer's 206 also has a humble collection to rifle through. But, the best place to find great vinyl is friends and family. Everyone has a relative with a bunch of old records in the basement.

Do us all a favor; don't let them go to waste. If you can't use them, I know someone who can.