I can’t help passing on a link to a short but very touching documentary about Paul Mawhinney, a man who has amassed what is surely the largest private record collection in the world. I’m not moved easily, but this genuinely made me sad. If I had 3 million dollars to spare, I’d help him out in a flash.
I had sympathy until 4:19, when he started repeating the nonsense about the sound of vinyl being better than CD. It’s bullshit. And I say this as someone who owns 3000 LPs. Yes, pop music is being ruined by the loudness war and being compressed to hell. But that’s a stylistic choice, and there are plenty of pop CDs that aren’t compressed to death.
You collect vinyl because you love the physical object.
You collect vinyl because that particular recording has never come out on CD.
But please, let’s not pretend that vinyl is inherently better than CD. You just look silly.
Well, yes. However, vinyl is inherently different from CD, which means that subjectively to some people they sound better. And, if you’re invested into vinyl as much as he is, it’s a bit difficult not to voice your subjective preference so strongly that it ends up coming out as though you’re making an objective statement.
However, that’s really secondary to the point about 80% of the pre-CD era stuff just not being available anymore. On one hand, I’m frequently amazed by all the stuff I can find out on the 'net. However, it’s easy to think that it’s all there, when in fact, most of the stuff isn’t there.
I’m hopeful that someone like Paul Allen will buy the collection. I’m sure every collector want to get in there and cherry-pick a couple of hundred LPs and 45s. But the wonder of this collection is it’s sheer size. Does he have a decent catalog of what he has, or is he resolutely analog in his database methods as well? Because even if you buy the whole thing, you’ll need several million to archive it. If I had dot.com wealth I’d buy it.
The comment about the National Archives comparing his collection to what is available on CD makes me believe he does keep some sort of database.
As a matter of fact, it seems you can browse the contents of his singles collection on-line, though his site appears to be down at the moment: