T is for Thirty-Three and a Third

I put my LPs in full order in 2010, for the first time since we moved into our house in 2000.

As you may be aware, sales of physical manifestations of music have been dropping like a stone, in favor of digital forms. The Record Industry Association of America notes that from 2007 to 2009, the sale of digital music (i.e., downloads) grew from 23% to 34% to 41% of the market in the United States.

Yet the statistics also reveal a countervailing trend. The sale of long-playing, and extended play records (LPs and EPs), made from vinyl, has INCREASED over the same period, from 1.3 million units to 2.9 million to 3.2 million. These are minuscule numbers compared with the hundreds of millions of albums sold annually in the LP’s heyday in the 1960s through the early 1980s when compact discs were introduced. Still, it’s an interesting phenomenon.

Here are the Top Ten Selling Vinyl Albums of 2009:
#01 The Beatles – Abbey Road – 34,800 (#2 in ’08)
#02 Michael Jackson – Thriller – 29,800
#03 Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion – 14,000
#04 Wilco – Wilco – 13,200
#05 Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes – 12,700 (#8 in ’08)
#06 Pearl Jam – Backspacer – 12,500
#07 Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest – 11,600
#08 Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction – 11,500
#09 Dave Matthews Band – Big Whiskey… – 11,500
#10 Radiohead – In Rainbows – 11,400 (#1 in ’08)
Notice that big names such as The Beatles, Michael Jackson, and Radiohead share the pantheon with more obscure groups such as Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear.

And this is not solely an American phenomenon. Vinyl is also enjoying a renaissance in Great Britain as well.

Personally, I haven’t purchased vinyl since about 1989, a Ray Charles greatest hits album. The forces promulgating CDs made it too difficult for me to pass up the shiny objects by putting on an extra cut on the CD not present on the LP, e.g., Murder by Numbers on Synchronicity by the Police and This Is the Picture (Excellent Birds) on So by Peter Gabriel.

Yet I never gave up my vinyl. And when friends of mine did decide to get rid of their 12″ platters, they often gave them to me. I put my LPs in full order in 2010, for the first time since we moved into our house in 2000. I’ve discovered that I now have developed my collection of Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand, e.g. It’s also why I currently own multiple copies of Fragile by Yes; Deja Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and of course, Tapestry by Carole King, the longest-charting album by a female solo artist.

I think I’ll hold my LPs for a while. Some of them have tracks that I haven’t found anywhere. Maybe one day I’ll get one of those machines that turns vinyl into digital. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying playing my vinyl, looking at artwork that’s about six times the size of what you’d find on a CD.

(It suddenly occurred to me that younger readers may not understand the title. LPs are played on record players at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute, as opposed to singles, which are 45 RPM, and earlier vinyl recordings, which were 78 RPM.)

ABC Wednesday – Round 7


Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

45 thoughts on “T is for Thirty-Three and a Third”

  1. The interesting fact for me Rog is that whilst I owned the top selling L.P’s ie Beatles & Michael Jackson – I now want to know what the more obscure titles sound like and will infact find out by the end of today It will be an enjoyable activity to do on such a horrible, cold day here in NE Yorkshire where we are now into our 6th day of snow! Excellent postas ever! Happy ABC Wednesday

  2. Terrific post for the T day, Roger, and I did have a huge stack of LPs and nearly all of the top ten that you listed! Unfortunately, frequent moves about the country resulted in thinning out the collection down to nothing over the years. But I do remember them all! Have a great day!


  3. My husband has numerous LPs stored in the garage – we have no turntable to play them on but he still hangs on to them ‘just in case’.

  4. Bonjour sweet Roger!
    Wonderful memories today!THANK YOU so much!
    *** I love the LP picture – it reminds the collection of LPs of my father.
    *** I love Beatles!
    *** I love that little “cat”, he is cute!
    *** I love your ideas! 🙂

  5. Oh what memories you brought back today… I play CDs now when I listen to my favorite music. I was never a record collector, when I was young I always had the radio on my favorite station. Now days I can’t find a favorite radio station, so that’s the reason I listen to CDs.

  6. I still have a slew of these, but no turntable. I remember heating a few really old ones in the oven – draped over a jar to make a bowl. Whatever possessed us? Well, besides the fact that we were young and we could! 🙂

  7. The first records I remember were 78s, and the first I ever bought was a 45. I don’t remember who bought the first LP, whether my dad did or I did.
    My husband and I have a closetful of 33 1/3 LPs. We also have a turntable, but we can’t remove the little clippy-doodle that holds the arm down, so we can’t use it.
    We also have a kazillion cassette tapes.
    We recently discussed buying one of those players that puts music from LPs onto CDs, too, Roger. But what is going to take the place of the CD? Probably a memory card. I already have a memory card with soothing music on it in my eReader.
    And then what? How can we stay ahead of technological change? How many oldtime vocalists can dance on the head of a pin?
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  8. I didn’t realize they’re having a comeback! My former fiance has a collection of probably close to 500 LPs, but no turntable on which to play them anymore. I believe his collection is worth a lot of money and I agreed with him that he should keep them in storage until he figures out what to do with them. I remember that Carol King LP – actually have that one!

  9. I was listening to vinyl albums over thanksgiving but all my new music since the late 80s are CDs. That’s interesting about the comeback. I didn’t realize that was happening.

  10. Roger, Of course, the Beatles rule! My son-in-law is a vinyl collector – and he plays them all the time. I love the sound – so different and more authentic than digital. This was a great post – thank you!

  11. I bought some vinyl about two years ago. I got on a kick after buying my Ion turntable which with certain software you can turn them into MP3’s for your iPod or compatible. I went out and bought a few used LP’s of albums that I had wanted for a while, but had never been released on CD.

  12. I actually HAD a 33 and a third party. My birthday is in cold March, and that party was in JULY!

  13. We still have our collection of LP’s (what the children haven’t slipped out the door) and a couple of turntables. Also some large speakers that send the sound all over the countryside! It reminds me of when we used to turn up the sound, open all the windows, and work out in the orchard to Beethoven, or Chopin, – brought the culture of the whole neighbourhood up a notch!

  14. My maternal grand dad had the machine where you can turn the handle. We kids about 4 of us always fought to turn the handle, We were fighting so much, and Grand dad said nothing to us, but Mum came and banned us from even listening to it.

    Grand dads are fun, they never complain or tell us off.

  15. Great post, Roger! I still have some LPs and a record player. I have have a lot of music which I can’t find on CDs. They are very dear to me. I remember where and when I got them.
    Thank you for your visit and for what you told me about the Taizé services in your church. It’s good to know that their good deeds are spread all over the world, thanks to brother Roger( good name indeed!)

  16. I still have records from the 57/58th from Elvis and then a lot of others, but I didn’t have the player anymore. Now I see these players in the shops again, here in Belgium ! There must be quiet a lot of people like us in the same situation, although I won’t play my old records anymore. I keep them as a souvenir !

  17. I join the group who understood your title… sigh. I don’t, however, know all the top ten artists, and that surprised me, being a avid music lover. Terrific T post, Roger. I also have to acknowledge Kay with her, “How many old-time vocalists can dance on the head of a pin?”… too funny.

  18. Great post … and I understood it. Even though I have never been one to run right out and get the latest music. I do remember having a small collection of vinyl records. However,I’m not sure what happened to them, but I still have a small collection of my Mom’s 45’s from the 1950’s.

  19. Sometimes I wish we had taken more care of our vinyl records – they are very collectable now. It’s interesting that sales – and prices – are rising, but I guess that’s always the case with increasingly rare commodities.

  20. Spin those tracks Roger. A more rounded sound than digital, although not too good when you get a scratch, groan. I still have a collection of vinyl LPs and 45s, its like a memory box.

  21. I am so old, Roger, that your title made me laugh outloud! I was just looking at my collection yesterday, wondering what to do. On top is the Music from the Big Pink, somewhere in your neck of the woods, I think.
    As always, a great ABC blog!

  22. My husband used to have lots of LPs but when it get too difficult to get the ‘needle’ for the turntable, he decided to sell them off!

  23. Great post! When I moved 6 years ago I gave away all my albums! I can’t believe I actually did that! Soon it will be all the cassettes I have! lol

  24. Years back most of my Beatle albums were stolen during a move. I had recently alphabetized my albums so the Beatles were on the top of the pile that got swiped. I haven’t gotten over it yet. Don’t have a turn table any longer but that hasn’t stopped me from keeping the remainder of the albums. Nostalgia, I guess.

  25. I have that Tapestry album in vinyl and CD! One of my favorites. I too, have hung on to my records. Even have the turntable. Have considered getting one of those MP3 converters. But, if you do, let me know how that goes. I’m afraid that I’ll buy it and it will sit and collect dust and not get used due to the ‘not having enough time’ factor.

  26. When I was away at college, I had taken with me only about 30 LPs. a bunch of my albums, alphabetically A, B, then S-Z got stolen from my grandmother’s house, including the Beatles, Supremes, Temptations and Tijuana Brass. I had the Apple albums (white album Yellow Sub, Abbey Road, Hey Jude and Let It Be at school), but all my earlier ones were gone, save for Something New, which the thieves evidentaly dropped. Eventually, i replaced every single one of them on vinyl.
    My baseball cards went in the same robbery.

  27. Well, I’m old enough to rememeber vinyl and when our family bought the first recordplayer. My brother and I weren’t allowed to touch it. Just our father. My girls have no idea what a recordplayer is and don’t understand that there weren’t childrens’ television on all day when I was a child.

    Erika B

  28. You just reminded me that we have a box of vinyl LPs stored somewhere! Along with a turn table circa 1980! Now I’m going to have to go dig through storage and find them.

  29. Though one of your younger readers, I am aware of records. My father and grand father had them and I have listened to them. And since songs are now downloadable through the internet, people don’t buy CDs much. 🙂

  30. A great post for T day! Love the Beatles;o)
    I also kept my vynils but can’t listen to them anymore because my turn table broke down.
    Still, I’ve replaced most of them by CDs.
    Thanks for sharing, Roger;o)

    Have a beautiful weekend****

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