Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Here's the "short, short" story about The Beatles' Sgt. Peppers - the vinyl version absolutely destroys the CD. The compact disc that we - my generation - has been listening to all our do I put it? It's shit. Absolute fucking shit. Seriously.

Vinyl was how Sgt. Pepper's was meant to be heard. There's a tremendous amount of depth and subtlety to the sound that's either suppressed or lost entirely on the CD. Were the Beatles' CDs ever properly digitally remastered? On my virgin voyage with Peppers on vinyl, I'm picking up all these sounds, little bits and pieces, that I'm hearing for the first time.

I'm a great lover of the Beatles. They're my absolute favorites, just ahead of Dylan and Jimi. I feel like I've just discovered them again for the very first time. It's a wonderful feeling. Like falling in love for the very first time. It's a miracle that's under our noses, and we're too suckered by commercialism and technology to ever notice. Ipod? Pulleeze. Sony should have stuck a turntable instead of a Blu-Ray on their Playstation 3. Would've saved them from oblivion. There's a lesson to be learned here, folks.

Good heavens, I can hear Ringo counting off in A Day in the Life. I can't hear the dog whistle, though. It's pretty evident on CD, so perhaps that sound effect was bumped up. I'm noticing, after going through my stack of records, that CD remasters often mess around with the original mixes. You're not getting the real deal. Someone's picking your wallet and selling it back to you, sans cash.

Here's a good comparison if you don't have a turntable handy. Go listen to the 2003 Dylan CD remasters, then compare them to the older versions. Get Blonde on Blonde, with the cardboard fold-out just like the gatefold record. Then get that old single-disc version, where whole chunks of the backing instruments were blurred out. That's a pretty good comparison to the difference between the vinyl and CD versions of Sgt. Pepper's.

This has been the best night I've had with music in years. I was beginning to fear that my days of explosive, ground-breaking musical discoveries - the kind you have as a teenager or in college - were behind me. I feared I had already mapped the globe, and all that was left was to fill in the blanks. Check out that final Doors album made after Jim Morrison died, even though you know damned well it fuckin' sucks. That sort of thing.

So, the moral to the story, kids - you ABSOLUTELY MUST LISTEN TO SGT. PEPPER'S ON VINYL OR YOUR ENTIRE LIFE WILL BE A FAILURE. Either that, or the terrorists win. It really is that simple.

Hey, look at this! My videogames blog is branching out into music. Same thing happened to my old zine. Wouldn't it be funny if I just started ranting about Bush and Cheney and my growing record collection. Hah! Sean Pettibone would be proud, I'd hope.

P.S. Here's one more thing I really love about vinyl, and analog recording in general - the way that sound bends during the fadeouts. It's the same thing as hearing the ambulance siren warp slightly after it passes you and drives away. I love that. It's something that's lost entirely on digital recordings. March of technology, I suppose, but I still miss that old sound. Sounds more natural. There's more to life than ones and zeros - am I the only one who sees this?

P.P.S. Why haven't any of the stoner or acid kids told me how psychedelic records are? Just look at your record when it's playing. Even if it's perfectly flat, there's this slight distortion in the reflections. I never remember seeing this when listening to records as a child. Another discovery, just tonight, just as I was listening to Sgt. Peppers. I think it was during Fixing a Hole, which is one of the more blatant wink-wink drug songs on the album. Hell, the whole album is on psychedelics. That's probably why I'm getting a contact high. Bill Hicks would be proud, I'd hope.

P.P.P.S. The run-groove loop at the end of the album still freaks me out. I can't wait to expose my three younger sisters to this album. They'll freak. Hah!! Never to see any other way...never to see any other way...never to see any other way....ARF! ARF! ARF!

No comments: