Vinyl fans mark 70 years since first LP

It's 70 years since Columbia Records introduced the LP.
It's 70 years since Columbia Records introduced the LP.

In the basement of the British Library, curator Andy Linehan inspects the latest addition to a massive archive of wax cylinders, cassettes, LPs and CDs - a vinyl record that made musical history.

Released in the United States in 1948, Mendelssohn's Concerto in E minor, performed by violinist Nathan Milstein with the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, was the very first vinyl LP or long playing record.

The 12 inch 33 1/3 rpm format allowed longer pieces to be recorded, changing the way listeners enjoyed their music.

"The fact the long playing record came into existence was a huge step for music sound recording and for the listener," Linehan, curator of popular music in the British Library sound archive, said.

"Previously you could only get three minutes or so onto one side of a record and now because you had a narrower groove and a slower speed, you could get up to 20 minutes, which meant you could get a whole classical piece on one side of a record."

Thursday marks 70 years since Columbia Records introduced the LP and HMV and Sony Classical have recreated 500 copies of the concerto to give away, with one replica donated to the British Library's archive.

The record adds to the library's 250,000 collection of LPs, usually commercial releases in Britain, and artefacts going back to the beginning of sound recording, such as wax cylinders, patented by Thomas Edison in 1877, the first way fans could buy music to listen to at home.

Thursday's anniversary comes at a time when vinyl has been enjoying a revival. In Britain, while still only accounting for 7 per cent of album sales, it draws fans of all ages.

According to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), vinyl LP sales rose to 4.1 million last year from 205,292 in 2007.

Rock remains the best selling vinyl genre and last year, the biggest seller on the format in Britain was Ed Sheeran's Divide album.

Older titles such as Amy Winehouse's Back To Black and Fleetwood Mac's Rumours were also in the top 10.

Australian Associated Press