As my kids would call it, ‘back in the ol’ days’, before the internet and before ‘instant gratification’ was a term, people would go to a physical store to buy music.
There were record shops that sold vinyl albums or singles. Interesting that some audio aficionados today, argue that vinyl is superior to digital, from the greater depth and tone vinyl seems to provide. 8-Track tapes also appeared, making music more portable and robust. Scratching a vinyl over the grooves even lightly, meant there would forever be a skip or a blip in the music whenever the needle jumped over the offending scratch.
And, before CD’s and DVDs made their appearance in the early 80s, there was an era that cassette tapes swept the market. Early versions of players would require you to remove the cassette after the A-Side had played through, and re-insert to play the B-Side. Later, the player became a bit slicker and would play through both sides without turning the tape over. Every so often, my tape player was renowned for ‘eating up’ the tape. The tape would all spool out of the cassette. I always needed a pencil handy to wind up the tape.
Not so long ago, if you wanted to buy music, you had to buy it in one of these formats. When purchasing music, you could get the Top 100 songs in singles, or you could buy an album. If there was a particular song that you liked on an album that was not in the Top 100, too bad, buy the album. To be fair, singles became a lot more prevalent as online purchasing of music increased. But even then, the price was not that much less than buying the whole album, so I often ended up buying the album.
As a student on a meager income, with a passion for music, there was a way to get lots of the best music:
Greatest Hits albums.
Buying Greatest Hits cassettes and CD’s, I had most of the best music spanning over some years. It was fun having most of the greatest hits at your fingertips. My collection was a sure hit at any gathering, always pleasing the masses. But eventually, Greatest Hits become tired and worn out. That is where a full album by an artist or band stands apart.
A music album takes you on a journey. It has a start, a middle, and an ending. It is put together with thought. The objective is for the listener to consume the entire performance, not a slice of it. When you listen to an entire album, different songs elicit different feelings.
Listening to the B-sides, those tracks that didn’t make the Top 100, often evokes memories that we may have forgotten, and we’re happy to remember.
Perhaps Greatest Hits albums was an early flirt with ‘instant gratification.’ However today, I choose the longer journey of an album. Sure it requires more investment, but the experience is worth it.