Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bob Dylan - Together Through Life

If you're trying to decide if it's worth shelling out for the new Dylan double LP versus the cheaper CD, these pictures might help you decide.

"Beyond Here Lies Nothing" CD Version

"Beyond Here Lies Nothing" LP Version

I've kind of burned out on talking about what these differences mean (see previous posts tagged "loudness wars" for my thoughts on this subject). On average the LP version of this track has about 4 dB more dynamic range than the CD. This despite the fact that technically (as I've mentioned before) CD is capable of around 30 dB more dynamic range than the LP.

The difference between the two versions isn't as dramatic as I remember it being with Modern Times, so perhaps we're seeing some progress. But at around -11 dB average RMS the CD, while not the worst offender in the loudness wars, is still (in my opinion) too loud to sound really good. By comparison, with the peaks normalized to 0 dB, the LP version is around -15 dB average RMS, which allows for a more exciting, dynamic presentation.

The pressing quality of my LP was pretty good with only a few stray clicks and pops. I could quibble with the packaging: shoving two 180 gram LPs into a single, flimsy cover will quickly lead to seam splits. For $26, a gatefold cover would have been nice, but at least the CD is included as a bonus (if you can call it that).

BTW, I'm really loving the music. Dylan just keeps reaching further and further back in time for musical inspiration. But you don't need me to tell you Uncle Bobby is great and that he's on a serious late-career roll.

A Request...

Sony/Legacy has a reissue request feedback forum. You can go there and request specific reissues. Users can also "vote" on other requests. I put in a request that Sony start using their original analog master tapes rather (or at least hi-rez DSD digital copies) for their LP reissues. I don't see much point to buying an LP that has been mastered using a CD resolution digital file (which is apparently what Sony has been using for their recent LP reissue series).

So if you agree that it would be preferable to master LPs from the original analog master tapes, stop by the Sony/Legacy forum and vote for this request. You must register, but the process is quite painless, you can even use your google/yahoo/AOL ID.

While you're there you can also vote for my suggestion to reissue Sly Stone's High On You and Heard Ya Missed, Well I'm Back. You can also put in a request for vinyl reissues of some of Bob Dylan's more recent albums, and a reissue of Neil Diamond's complete Bang recordings, or add your own suggestion.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Great Moments In Flexi-Disc History

While searching for the Kendra Smith flexi-disc, I came across this one, given away with a different issue of The BOB Magazine. I had totally forgotten I had this, but it's a good one.

The A-side "I'll Meet You Halfway" by Redd Kross is an outtake from 1993's Phaseshifter. It sounds to me like the boys were going for a kind of Neil Diamond vibe here (quite sucessfully, I might add). This also appeared on the B-side of "The Lady In The Front Row" 7" single (but not on the 10" EP that I own, go figure).

Side two has a then 48 year-old Moe Tucker performing "Teenager In Love" accompanied by her daughter Kate on violin and sax. Like everything else Moe touches, the results are completely charming.

The other B-side track, "So So Sick" appeared in a slightly different version (titled "So Sick") on Unrest's fantastic 1992 album Perfect Teeth. I believe this version also appeared on a limited edition Teenbeat 7" box set of the album. It's criminal that Perfect Teeth, one of the best albums of the 90s, has fallen out-of-print. It's not even available as a download, although a compilation of some of the better tracks and rarities from the same period, B.P.M. (1991-1994), is available at iTunes. "So So Sick" (possibly the same version as this one) is also available there, presumably sans flexi-disc induced distortion. Once again, I've done my best to clean up the sound without negatively impacting the music, I hope you enjoy the results.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Kendra Smith - Alle Morgens Parties

I'm still here.

I recently got a request to re-up Kendra Smith's German language version of "All Tomorrow's Parties," which I originally posted long ago. It's worth hearing again, but I thought I would also take the opportunity to re-record the track, and apply some of what I've learned about digitizing vinyl in between time. This was taken from a flexi disc given away with The BOB Magazine. It's never going to sound like the kind of recording audiophiles use to demo interconnect cables, but I think it sounds a lot better than the first time I did it. (Long time readers who downloaded this back in 2006, let me know what you think).

I don't have a lot to add to what I said originally, which wasn't much to begin with. It's uncanny how fully Kendra Smith and Steve Wynn were channeling The Velvet Underground when they recorded this track back in 1981. If I didn't already know better and someone told me this was an alternate take from the Velvets' session that produced the Norman Dolph acetate, I would believe it. Slavish imitation? Sure, but also great.

I'd like to apologize to my regular readers for not posting in a while. I've been suffering from a case of what might charitably be called writer's block. But I'm going to keep posting, if not necessarily at the rapid pace I once did.

Alle Morgens Parties (click to download)