The Needle And The Damage Done

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It’s another XRT 4-D Flashback Weekend beginning this Friday as we explore the 70’s in all their lurid glory. Nothing but vinyl, cassettes, reel to reel and the occasional 8-track back then. Here’s how it changed back in the 80’s:

[photogallerylink id=72876 align=left]Although the decade began with the needle and the wheel, it ended in a burst of coherent laser light. The 80’s brought radical change to the way music was reproduced and recorded. At the beginning of the decade, analogue ruled sound reproduction. There were no digital audio files or folders. Editing audio was a laborious, mechanical process that involved crayon and razor blades. Virtually every song you heard on XRT was either a 45 or and LP. The DJ would remove the disc from its sleeve, taking care never to touch the actual surface with fingers, clean it with the DiscWasher, put the stylus in the groove and cue up the correct track by moving the platter of the turntable back and forth, set the proper rpm and note the track played and the time it aired on a sticker on the album cover and then replace it in the rack in alphabetical order. At this time your show was half over. And you had to wait for the Dj to tell you what songs had been played until after the set of songs was done. (I liked to do sets of train (not Train) songs.) Listeners knew XRT was live, because despite the care we took of our vinyl, sometimes the needle would stick and repeat the same passage over and over again (this is where ‘sounding like a broken record’ came from.) Hopefully the DJ was not in the bathroom or otherwise preoccupied at this time. However, as the 80’s marched on, technology came to our rescue in the form of the CD which now became a musical as well as a financial instrument. The fearful death ray of science fiction, the laser, was used, not to kill, but to scan the latest from Dire Straits or U2. Now that’s the sound of progress. As to what the future holds, I’m afraid it will involve surgical implants. Let’s hope they’re not mandatory.


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