Space: the vinyl frontier

Posted by Anonymous
on Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Voyager albumIn my spare time, I collect vinyl albums. My collection mostly includes 45s and LPs from rock's early days and formative years. In my digging through stacks, I've found a few gems, but never a rarity that would compel a collector to sign for a second mortgage.

Although it isn't listed in most catalogs, I know where you can find the Holy Grail ā€” or Grails ā€” of record collectors. You'll have to go beyond eBay for these records. These gems are placed aboard Voyager 1 and 2. If you leave now, maybe you won't have to travel too deep into interstellar space to grab one of these presses.

In its December issue, the UK magazine Record Collector tells the story of this record's creation. Thirty years ago, a team of academics led by Carl Sagan developed a compilation to represent the diversity of human life. Some of the listings on the album include analog images, sounds of Earth, a message from then-United Nations President Lazar Mojsov, and classical music.

Encased in a solid cover with diagrams explaining how to play them, each gold record weighs 1.25 pounds and has an expected shelf life of a billion years.

During its creation, the team decided to include a single rock ā€²nā€² roll track. A battle ensued, as organizers lobbied for their selection. Eventually, Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" won out.

"I'm proud to have been the person to nominate Johnny B. Goode and to argue tenaciously for its inclusion," explains Ann Druyan, Creative Director of the Voyager Message Project. "I felt that we should have a true progenitor of rock and roll. Johnny B. Goode is a hymn to motion and a great American novel, too."

Who didn't make the Voyager compilations? Just a few novelty acts like the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, and the Rolling Stones.

Perhaps Sagan's group should have included the Stones. If an alien civilization ever contacts us after receiving this album, I can't imagine a better emissary than a perfectly-pickled Keith Richards.

 What rock composition should the team have included? Post your choice below. Chuck Berry is solid choice, but my preference would have been something from the "voice of God," Roy Orbison.

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