The grime in the grooves was invisible to the naked eye so my visual inspection was futile. It looked good but played like shit – like the needle was scraping across sand paper.
I love this album so I was disappointed and pissed that I couldn’t ever play it. So I had resigned myself that I’d probably have to spend big bucks on a reissue or on a minty used copy.
That is, until I ran it through one of the most miraculous units ever invented for the vinyl obsessive – the Spin-Clean Record Washer MKII.
The Spin-Clean system is basically a wash tub for records. Rather than using your turntable to rotate and brush LPs as they spin, you dip your record into the Spin-Clean unit. The thin profile tub has a reservoir that holds water (preferably distilled) that is the base for cleaning. There are two oblong brushes that face each other in between which you slide your record. But before doing so, you wet the brushes with Spin-Clean’s specially formulated washer fluid.
The wet brushes basically grip the record and once an LP is inserted, you manually spin it clockwise three times then counterclockwise another three times to remove any embedded dust or grime that may be impacting an LPs playability. The spinning action is kept steady via two side rollers that are adjustable for various record sizes (regular LPs, 45s or 78s).
The unit is bright yellow and is so for a reason – you can see the dirt that has been removed from your vinyl sitting at the bottom of the reservoir.
The Spin-Clean also comes with fluffy drying towels (which you should launder before using) and, gripping an album by the outer edges after running it through the system, you dry it using the towels by rubbing them around the LP in a circular motion. The first thing you’ll notice is how shiny the vinyl looks after drying it – like you just pulled it out of its sleeve for the first time.
My inaugural dip in the Spin-Clean was Aqualung. The Tull was one of my hard luck cases – one of the worst I owned when it came to extraneous noise. I figured this LP would be perfect to put the Spin-Clean through the paces. I placed the Tull in the tub and spun it through the liquid.
Once dried, I put the Tull on my turntable and placed the needle on the run-on groove and…
Not a pop or a click. Martin Barre’s opening guitar riff on Aqualung sounded right there in the room, loud and clean. The song’s acoustic break sparkled. Ian Anderson’s vocals were immediate and warm.
I couldn’t believe it was the same record – I was like I was hearing it for the first time.
After the Tull cleansing I proceed to clean Skynyrd’s One More
For From the Road, a double album set that was filled with crackles and pops. After a thorough washing, the end result was the same as the Tull – shiny and new.
Since getting the Spin-Clean, I’ve polished at least a hundred albums that are now renewed sonically.
Truly – the Spin-Clean Record Washer MKII is a miracle for the ages.
© 2017 Chris Barry