Streaming music services serve a purpose, but they can never replace the record as a piece of art. It’s not just music that makes records fascinating, it’s the whole deal: artwork, album design, packaging, hidden messages, and other gems.
Every music lover has most likely heard of backmasking: recording hidden messages which are revealed when a record is played backwards. Especially early rock and hard rock bands such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin or Queen were accused of hiding secret messages on their albums.
And some bands, like The Beatles, actually used backmasking on their albums.
As a kid, a rumor that there were hidden messages on some albums was probably one of the most fascinating stories I knew.
It didn’t matter that I never discovered any satanic messages on a Led Zeppelin or a Black Sabbath record. Just the idea that you could have hidden stuff on a release was far more important.
At some point hidden bonus tracks were a common thing on CDs. But there was no joy of discovery as CD players played the hidden tracks automatically. The only thing that made a song hidden was that its name wasn’t printed anywhere on the record.
Hidden bonus tracks on vinyls were always much more intriguing. When the needle reaches the locked groove the listener assumes that it is the end of the side. Some albums, however, contain songs after the locked groove. To hear that song one would have to lift the needle and drop it back to the vinyl just after the locked groove.
With CDs a real hidden bonus track could be a song placed on the pregap before track 1. To hear the song one would have to start rewinding from the beginning of track 1.
As much as I love taking music with me everywhere I go, it’s just never the same with .mp3-files and streaming services.
There’s no way to create that element of fascination that a track might contain something more than what is instantly audible. Besides, with digital music files one can, with a couple of clicks, check if a song has a backmasked message or not. There’s no joy of discovery.
And sometimes the best gems are not even on the tracks. A record is a piece of art with sleeves, booklets, the packaging, and the record itself, be it a vinyl or a CD.
There are so many ways artist can hide cool things in their records for music lovers to find.
Between February 2005 and March 2006 NOFX released a collection of 7” singles as part of their 7” of the Month Club.
In typical NOFX fashion each 7” was coated with humor, but by collecting all 12 singles one big hidden joke was revealed. There is a story etched on the runout grooves of the vinyls. A story that builds up side after side.
Gotta love NOFX!
A punk, a rabbi, and a Republican walk into a bar…
They seat themselves as far away from one another as possible…
The bartender asks the punk for his order: “One shot of whiskey.”
The bartender smiles and says: “One shot of whiskey coming right up.”
As the bartender walks back to the bar, the rabbi begins to chant a prayer…
The punk rolls his eyes and mutters under his breath: “Shut up old man…”
The bartender says: “You can’t speak to my customers that way…”
The punk downs his whiskey and says: “Sorry but the rabbi’s a fuckin’ douche bag…”
The Republican says to the bar tender: “Get that asshole outta here!”
The punk hears this and says: “I may be an asshole but at least I’m not a douche bag…”
The bartender turns to the Republican and tells him: “You’re the asshole…”
Then the bartender and the punk beat the shit out of the Republican…
Then they kick the Republican out of the bar…
The rabbi then asks: “Why did you kick that man out of the bar?”
The punk replies: “Cuz he’s a Republican you fuckin’ douche bag!”
The bartender slams a bottle to the bar and says…
I told you that you must respect my customers
The punk replies: “I do respect your customers.”
I’m just saying the rabbi was a douche bag
OK you’re out of here says the bartender as he kicks the punk
The bartender apologizes to the rabbi and says…
“Let me get you a drink on the house. What’ll you have?”
Rabbi replies: “I’ll have a vinegar and water.”