I think the seven inch single may be my favorite medium for music. It’s perfect for the short attention span, with one song per side, and the A-side supposedly being the best the band has to offer. It is meant to hold your attention for about 2 minutes and 45 seconds. It also is highly interactive. Every three minutes your switching records, so while one plays your searching for the next one to put on. The seven inch single is nearly perfect. Or is it? As I was filing away records the other night I started to think about what bugs me about them. Most of these are minor gripes, but as I started to compile the list in my head I thought it would be fun to share it and see what other minor annoyances you might have with vinyl in general and the seven inch specifically. Here is my list of grievances.
10. Both songs are on the album
Ok, the A-side of the single comes from the album I can live with that, but under no circumstances should the B-side ever be found anywhere else. It’s a B-side fer chrissakes, that’s where it belongs, not on the album, and not on some compilation. Well, I guess it would be all right to put it on a compilation, but not for at least five years after which I’ll have forgotten all about it and be excited to hear it again, only this time on CD.
9. No plastic sleeve and/or no inner paper sleeve
Kramer (the Seinfeld one not the Shimmy Disc one) once said: “My boys need a home” and that applies to my singles. I don’t need both plastic sleeve to protect the cover and a paper one for the actual record, but I need at least one of them. Dust (along with direct sun and heat) is the enemy of records and cleanliness is next to perfect sound forever as you’re gonna get. I know that singles that come housed in both paper and plastic (I double bag at the grocery store) have come from a good home.
8. Free 7″ with the purchase of some ephemeral object
This seems to be a more frequent occurrence and it sucks. No matter how much I like your band I am not going to buy an expensive pair of headphones, jeans, sneakers or cologne to get your new single. If it’s really come to this, I will download it illegally.
7. Split Singles
I actually love split singles. but how in the hell do you file them? Do you pick your favorite band? Your favorite song on the single? What if you love both sides? Do you buy two and file one with each band? I file them all haphazardly as split singles then have to flip through all of them to find the one I’m looking for.
6. No indication of speed and/or no indication of A-side vs. the B-side
Really, how hard is it to label the record? If it’s 45 rpm I’m cool with no label indicating that, as I assume that all seven inch singles are 45, but if you dare make it a 33 1/3, you damn well better label it as such. And how hard is it to indicate what the A-side is? There are lots of ways to do it: A-side, Side 1, This Side/That Side, and song titles to name a few popular ones. I can’t believe the number of times I’ve had to try to read the engraving in the run-out groove to figure out what side of the record is playing.
5. $9 dollar singles & higher prices in general
I know releasing a single is probably a money losing proposition but anything over $6 is too much. If you’re going to charge more than that, then don’t press it. My prediction is that vinyl will become so costly one day that only rich collector types will be able to afford it and the rest of us will be buying the mp3’s. Hope I’m a rich collector type one day.
4. Color vinyl vs. black vinyl
I like both black and color, but what I hate is never being able to get a definitive answer as to whether or not black vinyl is superior to colored. I’ve heard that it sounds superior, and that it doesn’t wear out as quickly, but it’s always conjecture. For once I would like to see some scientific evidence one way or the other, I don’t care which. And for what it’s worth, I think clear vinyl sounds the best.
3. Large hole vs. small hole records
This should have been settled long ago like VHS vs Beta or Blu-Ray vs HD DVD but the battle seems like it will go on forever. Probably because most record players come with the 45 adapter, but it’s still a minor hassle to have to use it, especially if you you’ve misplaced yours. Have you ever lost your adapter and tried to perfectly place a large hole’d seven inch on your turntable? I never get it perfect and the needle always looks like it’s walking like a duck on the record.
2. The center hole is too small and will not fit over the spindle
What do you do? You force it down over the spindle of course, which is fine until you have to remove it. Then you have to coax it off, slowly see-sawing it back and forth off the spindle all the while hoping that you don’t snap the record in two.
1. 33 1/3 rpm (also One side pressed at 33 1/3 and the other at 45 rpm)
This annoys me to no end, especially now that I have one of those industrial turntables where you can’t change the speed at the flick of a switch. I have lost patience more than once when incorrectly guessing the wrong speed of a record that gives no indication about how fast it should be spun and taken it off the turntable without being arsed to change the speed and finding a record that will play at 45 rpm. The seven inch record is formatted for fast play that means 45 rpm, not 33. Also, It’s not supposed to have two songs crammed on each side at 33 1/3 rpm. If the song is too long to fit on the 7″ at 45 speed, either edit it for the single or put it on a twelve inch, just don’t make me have to switch the speed of my turntable to the speed used for albums. The 7″ is not an album, it’s a single.