Yet, to those who "get it" there is no need to explain. For those who don't get it - there's always stuff to do like walking around looking at trees or something. For the music obsessives there is never a dull moment. Always something new to hear - to learn. As my interests and tastes have expanded over the years I have come to the conclusion that one lifetime just isn't enough. Here's hoping for reincarnation, as Roger Miller once put into song.
Kinda like last time, I wrote and re-wrote several attempts at a "new entry" only to find myself disappointed and confused about what to write. So, instead I'll do a "What I listened to Last Summer" kind of a report. And, as it happens - there's a few good vibrations to pass along...................
First of all, the new Ron Howard Beatles' Movie - Eight Days a Week - was really fun to see. I actually went to a movie theater showing with a few members of a great band I play with and we just had fun geeking out on Beatlemania in general. To get psyched up I played a few live Beatles albums:
Ditto for the Hamburg 1962 album. The sound quality was obviously funky as could be, but I really loved all the wacky antics, between-song banter and general sense of wild abandon captured before the Beatles hit it big across the world. As a kid, I also grew up hearing about my father's time in the army and how he was stationed in Germany in the same years as The Beatles' famous tenure there: 1961 - 1963 (or thereabouts). Of course, Dad was nowhere near Hamburg, but that didn't stop me from wondering what if he had taken a trip up there and stumbled into a club with those lads onstage who once would become famous. Instead, he went to Italy on his leave time and I never did get any good stories out of him about his time there. Oh well.
Anyway, all this Beatles hubbub got me thinking about Ringo again - what a great drummer. Obvious, of course. It is fascinating to consider how much Ringo contributed to the way drums (and music in general) sounded on record. Take a look at these photos of Ringo in the recording studio:
In those six years, the way popular music was recorded would cause ripples right down to the development of better home listening systems and hi-fi gear. A tell-tale sign is that microphone pointed directly at Ringo's hi-hat cymbals in the 1969 picture. As popular music gradually shuffled toward a modern, DISCO drum beat - the sound of loud hi-hat accents would play a prominent role in defining what that genre sounded like (apart from everything else). And, whether we like it or not - that dry, disco drum sound would dominate recorded music for years - maybe it still does.
Those loud, chirping hi-hats would, when cut to vinyl, give trouble for folks who hadn't invested in more sophisticated cartridges for their turntables. So, gradually people started to get the sense that their record players were bad and not compatible with modern music. If more people would have upgraded the stylus a few notches above what they had used for years, there might not have been so many who jumped at the Compact Disc as an immediate improvement in sound. Such was the case in my family. As much as my Dad loved music, he never upgraded that needle on his turntable. So, by the time I heard my first CD - it knocked me for a loop because the sound was so clean! I'm sure I was not alone, of course..........
When the Beatles albums started coming out on CD in the late 80s I was all psyched until I discovered the first four albums would be MONO only! To think of such a thing happening now is absurd. I grew up on the stereo albums and no matter how much I tried to convince myself to love those mono CDs I just didn't. It is astounding to realize this situation would not be rectified until 2009! In the meantime, it would also be The Beatles to lead me back to vinyl. In the mid-90s I ordered a stereo UK copy of A Hard Day's Night from a Goldmine magazine ad.
The sound blew me away so much I was literally jumping up and down in front of the stereo laughing like a fool! Now THAT'S what I'd been missing all those years! Yet, as I'd come to realize - the compact disc also brought in a flood of music that had no chance of being reissued on vinyl anytime soon - and with some fantastic surprises!
See, in the current climate of "everything is on youtube now" - the way CDs brought rare music back into the shops is something current listeners might not understand. Case in point: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.
So, CDs were a very welcome format despite some of the sonic limitations folks have been complaining about lately. Like any format, so many variables can determine how the music sounds. I have plenty of CDs that sound great and I wouldn't part with them for any vinyl counterpart. It just takes time and little research to find the best versions of music you might like. For instance, I've been making some headway with my 78 collecting lately:
The Judy Henske / Jerry Yester "Farewell Aldebaran" reissue is also not to be missed! Excellent sound and a nice package (complete with booklet with new interviews and pictures). For this title I do have an original copy and I can report this new reissue gives the original a run for the money. I think the CD version also has some bonus tracks so I reckon that will end up in the mail somewhere along the way too. Well worth the listening time to hear this excellent, groundbreaking quirky classic!
Magnetic Eye Records.
Skeeter Davis, likewise, is one of my favorite country singers. Of course I am biased a bit since she was a part of the NRBQ extended family (being married to Joey Spampinato for a good number of years). I really enjoyed reading her autobiography "Bus Fare To Kentucky" years ago and have a number of her albums in the stacks. RIP Skeeter!
And the last album pictured is the great John Hiatt comeback album of the late 80s. The story behind "Bring The Family" is so unlikely - he'd burned every bridge in the years leading up to this record and, newly clean and sober, was given one last chance at a record deal. Not only does he deliver, but he starts a run of albums with songs so brilliant it's mind-boggling. Like this one - if this song doesn't getcha you must have a HOLE in yo' SOUL!