Monday, February 23, 2004

Why I Miss Vinyl

I wouldn't call myself an audiophile. I have a pretty run of the mill stereo system. My ear, dulled by years of concert going, cannot discern the difference between the warm analog tones of vinyl in comparison to CDs, and in spite of Neil Young's statement that "MP3 is dog", I enjoy the convenience of my iTunes playlists, and am considering an iPod. But what I miss about vinyl is the structure it imposed upon artists. The A-Side and the B-Side.

Recently, I (re)purchased my favorite Roxy Music album, For Your Pleasure. Throwing this in the CD player and hitting play, I was enjoying the Ferry style pop numbers that start with the classic minor hit, Do the Strand and builds to the climax of Phil Manzanera's fantastic (Enosified) guitar solo on In Every Dream Home a Heartache. But then without pause the CD segues directly into the more Eno inspired experimental second side with songs like Bogus Man and Grey Lagoons. The first RM album, the self titled Roxy Music had a similar structure and truly benefits from the limitations that vinyl imposes.

Some things are better laid out in acts, others like a Jack Kerouac novel, should be seen as a stream of consciousness without pause. Certainly the advent of CD has changed how artists structure their albums. We get more music than we used to, but whether it is better is another question. It seems some artists pile the potential hits and singles at the front of the CD and the rest is filler. Other artists use a more random approach sprinkling the entire CD with quality work (of course those are the musicians that actually have the talent to sprinkle quality throughout). But what artists don't do anymore is structure their work into themes and acts. Sometimes an intermission isn't just an excuse to grab a drink or go to the restroom.

[Update: George Wallace comments.]

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