Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Dwindling List


After I posted my list of vinyl wants here a few days ago, I heard from eleven different friends with titles that I wanted.  As of now, this is all that remains of that list (and even one of these has been offered by a kind friend who said she'd get it to me the next time she's in town):

Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass - Whipped Cream & Other Delights, Christmas Album
Buckingham/Nicks - First (and only) album, self-titled (and I'm still trying to decide if I really want this one or not--it seems to be the most expensive disc on my list, and I pulled out the CD and listened to it and realized that there's not much on here that I really like other than the potential of great music to come once these two joined Fleetwood Mac)

Cream - Fresh Cream, D'Israeli Gears, Fresh Cream

I'm having a great time listening to a lot of these old albums the way I originally heard them, and I'm really appreciating the planning that went into structuring some of the albums. Putting an album together was much more than just throwing some tracks together; a lot of effort seems to have been expended to alternate tempos, tones, and overall sounds so that each track stood on its own. I had forgotten how much variety there was in the Rolling Stones' Exiles on Main Street, for example, until I listened to all four sides on vinyl. Many songs benefit from their juxtaposition with songs that are quite different; it's like following something sweet with something salty, in that it emphasizes the distinctive qualities of each.

My friend Tom was talking about this the other day, and he pointed out that it would be possible for an artist to recreate that on CD by simply making either one or two long tracks, each comprised of either the entire album or the equivalent of one side of an album. That way, no matter how the listener tried to randomize things, the album could not be easily broken down into a component any smaller than an album side. I know that Genesis did that with their DVD-A release of their albums in surround sound; it is impossible to jump to individual tracks. Same for Jethro Tull's recently-issued Thick as a Brick 2; I haven't tried the CD, but the surround-sound DVD mix mandates that the listener play the album straight through, with no track breaks.

I suspect that the main reason it doesn't happen, though, is that a single massive track makes it impossible to profitably sell the album on iTunes, Amazon, etc., in downloadable format. And like it or not, that's the direction in which music sales are heading nowadays...

No comments: