Signed And Sealed In Blood - Dropkick Murphys
Signed And Sealed In Blood - Dropkick Murphys
It is more suspensful when you don't know what's going on.
One thing I miss about those days is scouring music shops trying to find obscure and out-of-print music. Nowadays you just hit Amazon or Google, download what you want, load it on your MP3 player and you're set. Back then, we'd hit the mall shops for the latest albums; Meijer and Wal-Mart for cheap cassingles; a couple local music stores for more obscure, current bands; the eclectic music shop downtown that was the big vinyl hold-out but really didn't do much for us until we all made the switch to CD and could go there to find rare, insanely-overpriced imports; the big second-hand music shop that was our go-to place for oddball and out-of-print stuff; and the two little shops out in the boonies that specialized in bootlegs. Sundays were great because we could spend the whole day driving from one shop to another and listening to our new-found treasures in between. I'd usually let them burn in for a week or so then stay up till all hours a couple Sundays later making my newest mixtape.
As much as we liked CD's when they came out, none of us in my core group of friends made the switch at first because nobody had a CD player in their car. We all hated it when our one friend converted almost his entire collection of tapes to CD's over the course of a single weekend after getting his first big tax return. Since we spent so much time together, we looked on our individual music collections as something of a communal library and there were very few duplicates between the five of us. We all had all three Jane's Addiction tapes, Zeppelin IV and one or two others, plus a few that 2-3 of us each had, but otherwise we'd just share our tapes out and make mixtapes of the other guys' stuff we wanted to keep. The guy who switched to CD's first had a few albums we all really loved so until one of us could re-purchase them on tape, or someone bit the bullet and bought a portable CD player, those were lost to us for a while.
I think I was the second one to make the switch to CD's. I still didn't have a player in the car, but seeing as I was something of a mixtape wizard, that wasn't much of a problem. While most people we knew just threw a jumble of songs on a tape or, even worse, recorded whole albums onto a cassette, my one friend and I made actual productions out of them. I'd sit down with a notebook and plan them out. Once I had my general selection picked, I'd listen to each song all the way through, then listen to the beginning and ending of each one over and over again as I worked out which ones flowed best into one another. It got a lot easier once I had CD's. With tapes, I had to fast forward and rewind repeatedly just to hear the starts and finishes of the songs, then again to make sure I started the tape at just the right place. I used to buy jumbo-packs of the Maxell XL II 90's. They were the perfect mixtape tape as they gave you a full 90 minutes and were sturdy enough to stand up to repeated listens. My friend preferred some lesser brand's 150 minute tapes, but the extra hour of music didn't make up for the poor sound quality and fragility of the tapes. I'd suspect that most of his tapes no longer play, while all of mine can still be enjoyed in their hissy, analog glory.
When burning CD's, I also plan the setlists out. As you said, there has to be a certain flow to the songs within the CD. I want them to start out slow, build up midway through, and end softly.
I've been listening to a few tracks from Fits and The Tantrums. I may have to pick up their CD soon...
~ Jodo ~
One of the big difference between tape and CD, though, is that you two sides to worry about. So not only did you have to think about each side as a cohesive unit, you also had to take into consideration how the sides would flow into one another, especially if you had a dual play deck. CD also made things easier because if you didn't get the flow just right you could hit random play and not worry about it. MP3's have made that all but irrelevant for most because you can just throw a few hundred, or even a few thousand songs into a playlist, hit shuffle and take what the software deals you.
When I talk to people about making my Christmas CD each year, very few of them really get just how much work goes into it. The artwork alone tends to average 20-30 actual working hours (this year was much more, probably closer to 80). That's usually the easy part. I usually start on the following year's CD while working on the current one. Going into each one, I usually have a theme and/or title picked out, as well as a preliminary list of songs that I've added to over the previous year. I then have to finalize the overall theme or feel that I'm going for, then browse through my collection searching for songs that will fit. This usually includes listening to everything I downloaded the year before but never got around to playing all the way through just to see if I can find some hidden gems (a few of my favorite Christmas albums have been discovered this way). Once I flesh out the preliminary list of songs, I can easily have over 200 to pick from. I then start whittling the list down, deleting the ones that don't fit or aren't quite good enough. Once I get it down to 30-40 songs, I start playing the whole list, listening to each song all the way through over and over until I have a good feel for each remaining song. I then start working on the final cut as I trim the list to the best 40-60 minutes of music I can get. While I'll start considering how various songs work with one another at this point, it won't be until I'm down to about 70 minutes of music before I start putting anything in order. That's when I'm finally able to make the crucial cuts, getting rid of those last few songs that just don't flow as well as the others. Some of them will go into the folder for the following year, while others will go on the back burner until I stumble across them again. All in all, between the music and the artwork (not the burning or finally assembly), you're talking about a minimum of 100 hours of work each year.
I'm thinking about queuing up all my Billy Joel albums and listening to those later this week. I haven't listened to much Billy Joel in years, and haven't gone through his whole library since the late 90s or so. Does anyone have any opinions on what his best album is? Greatest hits compilations don't count, of course, including Songs From the Attic. An Innocent Man gets my de facto vote since it was the first album I ever owned on cassette, and even though it was a birthday gift, it was really the first album I ever consciously chose to own. I had been given a few on LP before that, but An Innocent Man was the first album I actually wanted and would have to be considered my first step toward developing what would become my adult musical taste, even though I was only 11 at the time (it came out right before my 11th birthday). I think this is the last album he released that can even count as one of his great albums, although I'll need to listen to all of them to refresh my memory and see if this holds up. While I may end up conceding that another album is better, this will still likely be my favorite.
We listened to Greatest Hits Volume 1 & 2 like crazy in college. I had it on tape and it ended up being one of the first CD's I ever bought when my tape wore out. If anyone had the tape, it was a single, long-play cassette with nearly 120 minutes of music. Columbia spared every expense on the cassette, using a much cheaper, flimsier tape than standard 120-minute tapes at the time. Mine got twisted and wrinkled quite a bit, while my best friend's copy snapped in several places before he finally threw it away. It was a great compilation even though it excluded the song Honesty, which had always been one of my favorites.
Not counting the Greatest Hits, the Billy Joel album we probably listened to the most in college was actually Cold Spring Harbor. That may sound like an odd choice, but I lost my copy of An Innocent Man sometime in college so all I had for the longest time was GHV1&2, while most of my best friend's Billy Joel collection was on vinyl. I found Cold Spring Harbor in the bargain bin at Meijer one day for 1.99. It sounded so different from the rest of his stuff that we played it quite a bit. My best friend had Storm Front, but I can't recall a single time when anyone other than him wanted to listen to it.
Just a couple observations on the little progress I've made on my Billy Joel-a-thon. I'm still not fully recovered from overplaying Piano Man back in college and I still hate We Didn't Start The Fire. Plus, I still contend that the Golden Age of Billy Joel ended in 1983.
ETA - Sleeping With the Television On is the best Elvis Costello song Billy Joel ever wrote.
Last edited by Big Red; 01-19-2013 at 12:07 AM. Reason: Amusing comment
Man, I can't stand Billy Joel!
I've been hitting up the White Stripes the past few days, but I can't stop listening to the U2 cover of Love is Blindness. Man I dig that track...
~ Jodo ~