THE BLOG

Return of the Turntable

23/02/2016 17:23 GMT | Updated 23/02/2017 10:12 GMT

Among the paraphernalia assembled in the meticulously recreated 1969 'home' of the emergent proto-rock superstar, Jimi Hendrix, newly opened to the public at 23, Brook St, Mayfair, is a boxed Bang and Olufsen turntable, unopened.*

It is unlikely that Jimi would have predicted that, 45 years after his demise, the hottest piece of hi-fi 'kit' would be 'THE TURNTABLE'.

Evidently, in Christmas week 2015, retailer HMV were flogging one turntable per minute (that'll be 10,080, then), with the purple prose of the venerable NME gushing "the news is the latest in a string of statistics showing the resurgence in popularity of the format".

So, the Jimi Hendrix vinyl experience is clearly being enjoyed by a myriad of enthusiasts enticed by the novelty of vinyl and the gentle romance of the record player, or, more specifically, a 'portable turntable with built in speakers'.

Amazon's best seller, the Jensen 3-speed JTA-420, can be yours for $47.39 (£32.70) and while obviously not wishing to call into question the quality of this estimable product, the idea of some random assemblage of wires and knobs in a suitcase magicking up something resembling coherent sounds from any old piece of plastic is rather quaint, although not necessarily the zenith of decades of development in the Audio realm.

Impervious to qualms regarding such niceties as 'sound quality', once in possession of the coveted TURNABLE, the putative vinyl junky scurries off, rabid-eyed and salivating, scuttling down darkened back alleys in search of a dealer.

Record dealer, naturally...

If you want the GOOD STUFF, you will be drawn to the surviving 'specialists', who stock RARE records, sleeves displayed in much-fingered, serially re-used, proudly unhygienic plastic covers.

If you want the genuinely good stuff, the originals are likely to be way beyond your pocket, which is probably just as well considering these antiquities have survived a few decades and are arguably better off going to homes well-heeled enough to afford equipment manufactured by the workforce descended from Svend Olufsen and his superbly-monickered business partner, Peter Bang.

Jimi would turn in his grave (Greenwood Memorial Park, Washington State) at the thought of 'styli' fashioned from crudely-hewn slivers of flint excavated from the nearest available quarry gouging lumps out of his 'Electric Ladyland', an original copy of which would set you back comfortably more than you paid for your Christmas box of tricks.

The safest bet all round is in investing in new vinyl, which could be yours to desecrate at your leisure for around fifteen quid. By 'new' we're talking reissued albums from the vast reserves of back catalogue occupying the vaults of The Music Industry (RIP), the most enduring examples of which date from around the days of Hendrix and his unopened box.

Should you be feeling particularly fiendish, you could always take up the unheralded alternative 78rpm option offered up by your Jensen 'device' and track down some slabs of shellac with which to conduct your dissection experiments. Most actually predate vinyl (which, surprisingly was first introduced in 1931), and the last days of manufacture were over before Jimi released Hey Joe.

Playing such relics will put your stylus to the ultimate test and beyond and ensure pristine sound enhancement for your enjoyment of - for example - Kanye's 2010 smash UK Album Chart Top, er, 20 Smash, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, in all its limited-edition, triple-vinyl splendour.

So, the turntable is back. I knew my lucky pre-decimalisation pennies would come in handy. Again...

*Obviously we're taking it on trust that the Bang and Olufsen box in Jimi's pad actually contains a turntable. If any of you visit, why not give it a sneaky lift...!