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Retro music movement gives a new pulse to vinyl sales
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Vinyl records are supposedly making a comeback of sorts.

Indie-rock fans in particular are going bonkers over vinyl LPs. They believe - as some music purists do - that the sound quality is superior.

Perhaps, but all I remember is how incredibly easy it was for a vinyl record - 45s, 331/3s, and 78s - to get scratched and develop pits or grooves. (If you have no idea what those numbers mean, ignore any future column I may do on TV shows from the Dark Ages such as "WKRP," "My Mother the Car," or "That Girl."

At any rate, younger people have given the vinyl record industry a slight pulse this past year buying almost 8 million records. While that is up 49 percent from last year, it only accounts for 2 percent of all music sales.

Frankly, you won't find me heading down memory lane anytime soon. While I do not download music, I occasionally play a YouTube posting. I do so to trigger howls of politically incorrect laughter out of folks under 25 with such selections as "The Funny Farm" or introduce them to a timeless classical guitar rips such as "Wild Thing," "Jumping Jack Flash," and "School's Out" - yes, a Frank Sinatra fan like me likes Alice Cooper - I'm stuck on CDs.

Back in the day - meaning when I wasn't old enough to drive and wasn't too sure if I could do so as it required mastering a stick to use the family car - one of the biggest thrills was to go on a shopping trip into Sacramento with my mom so I could get lost looking at labels in Tower Records.

Tower Records was "the place" for a generation of music lovers. Not only could you find any song under the sun but they also had posters.

Now, of course, who needs posters of bands and singers when you can scan their Facebook page. Say what you want about Mark Zuckerburg but he has helped reduced the number of holes in bedroom walls while sending thumb tack sales to the bottom of the sea.

When you were 13 and the money you earned had to go first to buying clothes, you didn't have a lot of change left over for LP albums. Besides, LPs usually only had one or two hit songs on them. And unless you were into an artist, it was an expensive way to buy music.

I stuck with 45s that cost 99 cents. (Gee, I wonder where Steve Jobs got his pricing for music downloads?)

I was back in the enlightened era when there was no YouTube, no blogs, and not even MTV.

If you wanted to stay up on music and didn't want to wait until it was acceptable for American Bandstand or Lawrence Welk converted it to accordion music - I still say if Welk were alive today he'd be going, "a one, and a two, and play that funky music white boys" - it meant listening to Top 40 on AM radio.

Today AM radio is crammed with classical music, Spanish radio, talk shows, sports shows, and religious channels. But back in the day that's where the country's top disc jockeys and tens of thousands of wannabes plied their trade.

If you lived in the Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto area or were traveling anywhere from Salt Lake City to the Canadian and Mexico borders and were into country music, the DJ to hear was Joey Mitchell of KRAK in Sacramento. He was considered one of the hottest DJs in country music. Not only was Joey Mitchell a short Jewish boy from New York City but he broadcast from what was Sacramento's hottest shopping center at the time - Country Club Plaza. The shopping plaza, by the way, was kitty corner from the center where one of two Tower Records stores was located in Sacramento.

And if you were into Top 40, the number one rated DJ was Dr. Don Rose who handled the coveted morning drive on San Francisco's mega AM station KFRC.

If you lived in the Bay Area, you could get away listening to it before you went to school because KFRC was also the place to go to for traffic conditions for your parents. Now there is an app for that.

I digress.

Getting back to vinyl, it was maddening to keep the records dust free and not scratch them even if you had "expensive" diamond needles. Stereo record players that could produce the high quality sound that people seek typically were the size of a VW bus. That was before the dawn of the electronics stereo components revolution allowing you to buy system parts separately from the turn table to the speakers. It was when bigger was better meaning speakers sometimes were a bit of a challenge to get through doorways.

With the advent of silicon chips, you could squeeze Hugh Hefner's fabled music room set up in his mansion into your back pocket.

Hugh Hefner? He's the guy that apparently 60 percent of the Internet traffic has replaced.

And the odds are you won't catch the self-described man about town today popping in an 8-track tape let alone putting on some vinyl.

He'd probably tell you there's a reason why some old school stuff is just that - old.

This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.