Have you ever heard a song and found yourself recalling memories, perhaps of friends or events or past loves or any number of things? Have you ever formed pictures in your mind of past times upon hearing certain songs? Sometimes you don’t even have to hear a certain song, you can have the same experience just by looking at a picture or even a painting. That is all part of the result of engaging with your music.
Another item of evidence beyond reproach for the fact that vinyl records offer a full engagement with music beyond just the listening experience is that information one can gather from just looking at the record and its jacket before even playing it.
Starting with the outer jacket, there are generally liner notes. These can contain information such as the musicians who play on the record, the name of the producer, the name of the studio where the record was recorded, the recording date, the name of the recording engineer, mastering engineer, etc. Sometimes there are paragraphs about the artist and/or album. Sometimes the lyrics to the songs or information about the songs are on the jacket. There is no end to what can be put on the album jacket.
Moving to inside the jacket, sometimes the inner sleeve can have information about the album printed on it. Sometimes the lyrics to the songs are printed on the inner sleeve and sometimes other things are printed on it. Some records will even have a separate lyric sheet inside, some will have a folded double sheet of info and others may even have booklets!
If you are one for cleaning your records and putting them in new poly-lined inner sleeves afterwards (and you should be) you can save the original inner sleeves if you want by just slipping them into the outer jacket along the new inner sleeve.
Finally, there is the record itself. This is where things get a bit challenging. There is a place in the run-out groove (aka “dead wax”) where one will usually find a string of numbers and/or letters and even symbols. This is what is known as the “matrix code”. No, not that matrix, it’s not telling you that you are living in a computer program. What it does usually tell you is information regarding the pressing such as where the record was pressed, what number pressing it is, when it was pressed and sometimes whom pressed it and whom mastered it. The problem is deciphering the matrix. I am still trying to figure out where to look to get the cipher to translate the matrices. It was Michael Fremer (master of all things analog) that made me aware of the matrices and the info they contain.
To a collector it’s very important. However, myself while not being a collector, I do have a level of curiosity of the codes just for knowledge and giggles.
Here’s a short video from Michael Fremer from one of his DVDs. (Still available by the way) on this whole thing.