Listening to vinyl can be a tedious business. It gets dusty and greasy in the grooves, and if you really want that ‘genuine’ sound, it can get scratched and warped. Every time a new record is taken out if its sacred paper sleeve and awkwardly held between index fingers, a ritual of checking it for all possible maladies takes place, to ensure a smooth listening experience.
So when I thought I had bagged a bargain by purchasing a largely undamaged ‘Loco in Acapulco’ twelve-inch for 99p in Oxfam, I got a shock when I let the needle drop. Instead of getting the poptastic tones of Levi Stubbs, I got bounces and pops against the beat, and a Louis Armstrong-bass droning “Aaaccccaaapooollllcooowweee” over the top. I grabbed it, dusted and checked my needle. I tried again. The same unpleasant result.
I checked the album sleeve. Beneath four pineapples wearing sunglasses, supposedly representing the band, I saw “ph balance mix”. Aha! A remix I can rip into for the column! But then even for a remix, it’s pretty piss poor. I looked it up on SoundCloud, and heard something completely different to the shit coming out of my speakers. The saga continued.
And then suddenly I saw, there on the sticker in miniscule writing, “45 RPM.” Oh. This is not the discs fault. It’s not even ph balance’s. Feeling somewhat humbled, I switch the lever on the player from 33 RPM to the faster rotation, and finally get the funky tropical beats those pineapples promised. Clearly, there’s a reason we switched to CDs.