Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School

It has always been my intention here to not only put up a couple songs from an album, but also to encourage folks to track down a hard copy, be it cd or vinyl (preferably vinyl), as the original always sounds way better than these compressed mp3's. I find mp3's too tinny sounding on the high end and thuddy and muddled on the lows. As far as portability and file size goes an mp3 can't be beat, it's the ultimate for taking your music anywhere, but the sound quality leaves much to be desired. A lot of the stuff I put up here is rareish or out of print, mostly leaving the new releases alone.

A week or so ago I heard on the news that as of the end of next year the record industry will no longer manufacture cd's because they will be going to a strictly digital download route for all music, thus rendering all music "out of Print". It wasn't specified whether this was only major label releases or the entire industry or if it's a gradual phasing out. Or did my local radio station report this as news when it may only be a myth? As an audiophile this bugs me tremendously, personally I don't pay money for a tinny, compressed version of a song. I might consider it if it was lossless, yet those files can be quite large. Then there's the, can you hold it in your hand and read the liner notes factor, which I always do. My vinyl and cd collection is huge and I don't apologize for that. I know some of the arguments for digital including the carbon footprints vinyl and cd leave. I rarely buy anything on cd anymore because if a release is available on vinyl I purchase it. So I could be said to be contributing to the cd's demise. If nothing new is ever printed on vinyl or cd, I guess I'll be spending more time in the used record stores as there is a ton of vinyl out there at pretty cheap prices and we can continue to watch music sales decline. Nothing better than a trip to the record store and flipping through the albums and stumbling upon a treasure that you've been looking for. I also wouldn't want to risk my entire music collection on a hard drive that could crash or an mp3 player that might accidently fall in a toilet or a sink full of water. Anyways would be interested to hear other people's take on this news.

Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School was Warren Zevon's 4th album released in 1980. The term Dancing School in the title is a euphemism for a brothel. This album was cut as Zevon was struggling to stay clean and sober after the success of his previous album Excitable Boy. Because of this the album has a strength of focus that was absent on that album. The album's rockers hit harder and cut deeper than any of his previous work, and on Wild Age Zevon addresses his own failings and expresses his need for a greater maturity in his life. Along for the ride are a zillion guest artists such as Joe Walsh, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Don Henley, and Glenn Frey just to name a few. Zevon showed again that the quality of his songwriting was no fluke. homercat vinyl.

A Certain Girl
Jeannie Needs a Shooter
Buy It

Funny Toon


Matthew said...

Great write up of this album, its a great piece of Zevon's life work. thanks for writing about it.

Rantmaster Rich said...

Wow, what discouraging news. It's been obvious for years that the recording industry has had its collective head firmly ensconced in a nether orifice but this tops them all. My own listening tastes run to classical music and consequently since I was old enough (and pecunious enough) to buy my own audio components my quest has been for fidelity - the reproduction in the listening room that came as close as possible to live performance. I guess I can say goodbye to all that. You're 100% right about the failure of MP3s to capture all the music with any kind of faithfulness (the actual meaning of "fidelity"). There are a lot of classical compositions that not even the expanded dynamic range of CDs can capture (Berlioz Requiem, Stravinsky's "Rite", etc.) and now we are going to take a giant step back to a fidelity or lack of it that predates LPs. Time to get out the windup phonograph and the massive albums of 78s?

I realize that much of rock and its many offshoots and related forms actually do not actually appear in recordings as they would in live performance, the studio magic being sometimes irresistible. (I remember hearing on a TV special actual live
performance recordings of the Beatles and experiencing a certain loss of innocence.) Even live performances now reach the recorded state by way of extended electronic massaging. In addition to this the widespread practice of releasing recordings with dynamics that rarely recede from extreme decibel output has produced a generation that will accept wild extremes of distortion with little protest.

I'm not a complete luddite when it comes to audio although I do have fond memories of an older friend demonstrating a multi-thousand dollar audio setup consisting of all tube type components and a single massive mono speaker system when I was in high school. Hearing Strauss' "Thus Spake Zarathustra" on this system was an experience that involved my entire body, not just my ears. Now in spite of the resurgence of vinyl it is really nearly impossible for anyone with less resources than a Donald Trump to hear vinyl in the presence of audio components it was originally designed for.

I guess that you know you are becoming a geezer when you start moaning about the good old days.

Mick said...

MP3 compression has allowed me to listen to, and share many different types of music which I would never have been able to access, let alone buy.
Yes, fidelity is important, but as I am now 53 years old, my ears are probably not good enough to 'hear' the full fidelity anymore, so mp3's are fine for me.