"When Albums Ruled The World" BBC Documentary

I was alerted to a terrific BBC documentary currently playing on YouTube about the "golden age" of vinyl.

my new username's picture

and here's another copy currently on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Tx57wB8Kac

The resolution choices if watching via Flash stop at 360p (instead of 480p as in the link in the text above) but the picture is nevertheless a little sharper because it hasn't been cropped.


I appreciate that the documentary didn't romanticize the LP but instead offered tangible proof that many iconic bands wouldn't have existed without the long-playing format.

We also learned what exactly is meant by "formulaic" rock and why it came to be. No surprise that singles then made a comeback (I don't actually think they'd ever left ...) but in the form of music videos.

I never "left" LPs or albums but freely admit to sitting for long periods of time in front of MTV, watching it just as someone might sit and listen to the radio. Even when the same videos would appear again and again we didn't care. For a while it was "the" way to experience a hit song, even if you owned a copy of the song, especially if you were in high school '82-'84. That was easily and legitimately my generation's "Elvis/Beatles on Ed Sullivan" and yes you'd talk about the videos later at school.


Today I'd say YouTube serves the function MTV once did. Record label DMCA takedowns of videos or songs are haphazard at best; it's a prime way to find and hear something first or provide a quick reference for an oldie.

Think I'm kidding? I sometimes do a photobooth gig at a local college. For music at these parties the kids play YouTube playlists from laptops. Someone at the party wants to pick a song? Another browser tab or even a second laptop peruses YouTube and the next song is added to the playlist via the same logged-in account. Using a projector aimed at a wall as the monitor aids the group. Add a simple mixer and a mic and now you have karaoke.

Not even CDs or a hard disk full of MP3s can compete with YouTube. When they finally getting around to monetizing it better (and they will, beyond just the iTunes/Amazon links to songs) I think you'll see more and higher-quality videos appear there as well. (Either that or they'll dry up and become 30 second previews ...)

Paul Boudreau's picture

...for those who want to keep a copy, in better resolution, it can be downloaded at Hunger City.

Interesting about college kids & YT.

WaxtotheMax's picture

Really enjoy a good BBC doc when they try. This one was very very cool.

Martin's picture

loved it!!!  The first chunk I've just watched...

Will watch the whole thing this evening

Interesting comments about YouTube earlier. I would work on the assumption that it is a matter of only a few years and practically everything ever recorded and still available will be on YouTube or some similar service. Mostly free. With some bits and pieces in high quality costing something from specialty websites.

The thing with digital reproduction is, once you've copied it once, the marginal cost of subsequent copies is basically zero. Unlike LPs, CDs or any other physical media, which all costs X dollars or cents per copy. All that digital copies require is computer memory space. Which has become so cheap as to be basically free. Hence the cost of dissemination of information has now reduced to the point where it is basically free. For the first time in history. It is impossible to control the spread of information. Since the invention of writing to the invention of the printing press to the internet, the rule remains the same.

I can imagine Frank summing it up, "Well ain't that a kick in the head"

my new username's picture

Content creators historically relied on the pain-in-the-ass difficulty with physical media to protect copyright. With digital files, they can't.

But here's the thing. Copyright exists to protect intellectual ideas, innovation, and by extension the creation of a better consumer experience. (Well, it used to. Now it exists to protect corporate profits. The "better consumer experience" is dangerously assumed, for example when you see lossy files protected vigorously just as CDs or LPs are.)

If content creators want copyright to work they're going to have to figure out how to offer things --- like physical media, again? ... --- that offer a better consumer experience.

Shaffer's picture

The opening lines of the film brought a tear to my eye.

Jim Tavegia's picture

What might have been interesting if the long playing format had been 12" at 45 rpm.  Maybe there was a reason that our little 45's sounded as good as I remember.   

John G's picture

Love the video.  Here's an interview of Steven Wilson, a current artist who really gets it.  Enjoy!

my new username's picture

Steven Wilson (and Porcupine Tree) were all out of my radar until very recently. It's not surprising to hear him say '70s rock is a big influence on him.

The interviewer is a bit wince-inducing however and I don't say that because of the language difference.

John G's picture

I just discovered his music a few months ago and have been buying a lot from that genre recently.  

I like this interview where he talks about his record collection and his first record purchase.