Some like the warm sound — complete with all the pops and hisses — when they place a vinyl record on the turntable. Some like delicately handling the album sleeve like it's a precious artifact while they listen, soaking in all the album's details. Some enjoy the communal experience of sharing with friends. Some live to find one precious album after hours (and hours) of flipping through never-ending bins in the basement of an antique store. And some like that listening to an LP is a more active experience than selecting an MP3 with the push of a button.
From their homes, record shops and one of the area's biggest record shows, area collectors told us all about their collections and what they love about them.
Photo gallery: Faces of record owners
Mike Fratt's favorite records include first pressings of all of Big Star's albums and an original pressing of The Beach Boys' “Pet Sounds.” They're so vital to him that he rarely listens to them on vinyl.
For Fratt, listening to vinyl is a very interactive experience.
“When you listen to a record, you're actively listening instead of passively listening. A lot of people have earphones in all the time, and it's passive listening because it's a soundtrack,” said Fratt, the general manager of Homer's Music in the Old Market. “For us old farts, as you sit there and listened, you'd hold onto the record and read it.”
“Plus,” he joked, “you can't roll a joint on an MP3 file.”
Rachel Haas and John Rost, both of Omaha, pose for a portrait at the River City Record Collectors Club fall show at the Omaha Fire Fighters Union Hall. "You can turn on any music you want from your iPhone or whatever, but I just feel like you know putting a record on: it's the act," Haas said. "It's the connection to it," Rost responded.
Rachel Haas' most cherished experiences are the rituals of choosing a record and committing half an hour to listening to the whole thing. And doing it with her friends — where each person chooses a record after the other — is even better.
“It's a great way to share music with someone else,” Haas said. “And when you're picking through records at a record store, picking out something that you don't know or you've never heard of, it's a good way to discover music.”
“No one remembers the night they downloaded the first Strokes album, but you remember the day you went to the record store and found it,” said Casey Crawford.
And even if you have the same record as someone else, your memory of picking it up is different from anyone else's. It's how Crawford feels about his favorite record, a priceless 78 RPM single by Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, which he found after hours of digging through an antique store.
Record collectors' love of vinyl gives them an identity because listening to and pursuing their most-wanted vinyl records create memories, just like Crawford's.
Crawford knows all about record collectors: His master's degree thesis at the University of Nebraska at Omaha was on record collectors as a modern-day subculture along the lines of punk in the 1970s.
Jordan Delmundo can't pick a favorite record, even though he loves the rarest pieces of his collection, including first pressings of Sonic Youth's “Daydream Nation” and Metallica's “Kill 'Em All.”
Delmundo got into vinyl because the thought of listening to an analog album — Pink Floyd's “The Wall,” for example — in a digital format didn't feel right to him. As he got more into vinyl, the experience of collecting, consuming and listening to vinyl are what got him going even deeper into collecting.
“The experience connects the listener,” Delmundo said. “Sure, someone could cherry-pick albums off the Internet for purchase, but the satisfaction of finding something you've patiently searched for for years is unparalleled.
“I will always remember my records. I will remember finding them (and) listening to them. I doubt people 'remember' the last album they downloaded with as much joy as I do when finding a 'white whale' record I've long hunted and just captured.”
Stuart Kolnick spends his life among records. The owner of Recycled Sounds in Lincoln still finds ways to love them, including his copy of The Beatles' “Yesterday and Today” with the infamous “butcher” cover depicting the band covered in decapitated baby dolls and meat. He also has in the store a 12-inch single of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” signed by Nirvana.
Rebecca Lowry is new to collecting vinyl, but she's really into it.
She enjoys getting ready to listen to a record, starting with sifting through racks and racks of records and then “choosing what you want to listen to, taking it home — being mindful of temperature and pressure — getting it home and finding its place in your collection, then removing the record from its sleeve, brushing off the record, placing the needle just right, and repeating the process to get to the other side.”
Her most prized record is Ann Peebles' “Straight From the Heart,” a soul record from 1972 that she bought at the Imaginarium in Benson.
Lowry kinda freaked out when she found it.
“The kind of music I'm looking for seems to be pretty hard to come by. The cover is basically ruined, but the record is in perfect condition and plays like a dream,” she said.
In his time performing as DJ $pencelove, Spencer Munson has picked up a lot of records. His collection is downright massive.
The most interesting thing he's run across lately is a rare hip-hop record from Connecticut's Tootskee and Czar MC called “Does Skeezer Deserve a Chance.” For Munson, that record is a perfect example for what he loves about vinyl.
“It's an artifact of a odd moment in hip-hop culture. Connecticut is the last place you would think good hip-hop would come from, and (the record tells) a great story in the annals of music history,” Munson said.
It's even more special because he found the record among a collection he bought from an older DJ of 3,000 albums, which took Munson a long time to sift through.
Records have great art, lyrics sheets, liner notes and all kinds of things you usually don't get with a digital file or even a CD, Munson said.
“Buying a record is a sign that you either know the music is great and want to have it forever or that you are gambling on something new and weird that you found at a garage sale,” he said. “It's a lottery ticket with potential of music greatness.”