Would I have known that Peter Tosh's Bush Doctor was released on the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers label without looking at the record's liner notes? Possibly, but I bet I wouldn't have known that Mick Jagger provides vocal accompaniment on "(You Gotta Walk) Don't Look Back" and that fellow Stone Keith Richards appears on guitar on several key tracks. Moreover, would these VVers have known that Cat Mother's The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away was produced by Jimi Hendrix? I'm pretty sure that is the reason we bought that album in the first place, it seems a little risky to just buy a random Cat Mother album without knowing anything about it. A record sleeve with liner notes is the tree of knowledge for music enthusiasts and the curious listener. It is also a source of entertainment - as previously reviewed, Men at Work credits one of the band members, "Russell Deppeler, on the telephone and calculator" on their liner notes for the album Business as Usual.
Do you think some of today's newer artists even have anything to write on the sleeve of an album? Do people even play music on instruments anymore? "Instrument and musician credits to my computer, who I've named Steve." At the risk of being too harsh, who wants to even read that? Unless you are programming your own music it's mostly a waste.
Album artwork is an often superior feature on vinyl than any other format. Why even bother having anything cool on your cover when people are only going to view it on a tiny little i-device shrunken down to 1/16th or less the size of the real deal? You see it once and then move on because it looks like a shiny matchbook. A great example of something that just does not translate to other formats, the Devo album Oh No! It's Devo has a cardboard die cut fold out so you can prop the album art up on a table like a picture frame! Classy. Let's face it. Musicians are often trying to create art, in sound, but often visually too. Many of these musicians play music in person and the visual element just shouldn't disappear because an mp3 is cheap. Having a large image to enjoy is simply fantastic part of the vinyl experience.
To be fair, here's a problem with records once they get too old...
Ravel's Bolero almost bought from an estate sale until the bottom half of it crumbled in my hands while pulling it out of its old packaging. Sadness.
All these reasons to appreciate vinyl and not even a mention of the sound of the actual music ... let's leave that for another discussion.