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Why is the Beatles’ Abbey Road the top selling vinyl album three years in a row?



The Beatles are No. 1 … again.

Abbey Road — the band’s eleventh studio album — was the highest selling vinyl album in the U.S. last year at 41,000 copies, retaining the top spot it won in 2010 with 35,000 copies sold and in 2009 with 34,800 sales.

In fact, it’s believed to be the highest selling re-issue vinyl of all time.

The work — recorded in the famous Abbey Road studios in London, England, and released in 1969 — beat out the likes of Adele’s 21 U.S. vinyl album sales for 2011 (16,500 copies) as well as Radiohead’s The King of the Limbs U.S. vinyl album sales (20,800 copies) for the same year.

Of course, comparing Adele’s album to Abbey Road is like comparing apples and oranges (yes, 21 on CD and download will sell more copies than Abbey Road over the next six months) but you can’t deny the band from Liverpool.

Although the Canadian figures aren’t broken down by year, Abbey Road has sold 1,600 vinyl copies since it was released in Canada in 1995. During that same period the CD version of the album sold 260,000 copies.

Since the album was released as vinyl in the U.S. in 1991, it has sold 151,000 copies as opposed to 4.1 million CDs for the same time.

Many are curious why the band’s iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band isn’t the top dog or perhaps Rubber Soul, maybe Revolver.

The answer is easy: the only vinyl Beatle studio album to be released — so far — is Abbey Road.

The day when the entire catalogue is repressed will surely come and — yet again — another surge of record buying will push the band’s total worldwide sales toward the inevitable 3 billion mark (take that Michael Jackson).

“There are a lot of reasons people are looking for vinyl,” says Jay Anderson, who works at Soundscapes record store on College Street. “For a younger person vinyl is more of an experience.”

He says some are attracted to the format simply because it’s old school with cover art and a sound most say is warmer and fuller than a CD.

Many audiophiles have insisted since the invention of the CD that anologue recordings (vinyl) have had better sound quality than digitized music.

Some say the primitive groove in the old-fashioned records where the needle runs through holds much more information than a pressed CD, giving a huge spectrum of sound not heard on any type of reproduction.

In many cases the younger generation has more appreciation for vinyl than the Baby Boomers who grew up with it.

Brendan Coughlin, 22, of Whitby, has about 80 albums — mostly pre-owned and used — and says he simply enjoys having a collection.

“You can hold them … you can see them,” he says. “It’s the way the artists wanted them produced. It’s the way they were initially released. They’re little pieces of history.”

Coughlin admits it just may be the power of suggestion, but that his vinyl sounds so much warmer than a lot of downloads or CDs.

It may seem a David and Goliath battle of vinyl versus CD with the latter being the giant, but figures show that the North American and U.K. markets have both shown an enhancement of vinyl sales in 2011 by more than 39 per cent over 2010.

As well, industry experts agree digital is the future of music with downloaded album sales up by almost 27 per cent in the U.K and 20 per cent in North America, and that the demise of the CD is unfolding.

A breakdown wasn’t available, but The Beatles have now sold more than 10 million songs and over 1.8 million albums worldwide on iTunes.

Who would have thought that when those shiny discs came out in 1982 to replace the old-fashioned and oversized vinyl they would eventually be obsolete with the “outmoded” 12-inch albums finding a new and growing niche market.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Paul permalink
    2012/03/29 9:32 am

    It is an amazing album.

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