26 Mar

Ted Nugent – Cat Scratch Fever on Vinyl LP

Yes! You gotta love Uncle Ted. I love his music, and crazy enough, agree almost totally with his political views.

But this blog isn’t about politics, it’s about music, and I don’t think anybody loves playing music as much as Ted Nugent. From playing with The Amboy Dukes, solo, Damn Yankees, and then solo again, he has done nothing but put out great Rock & Roll.

Ted Nugent - Cat Scratch Fever Album Cover This is one of the greatest rock artists of all time. He doesn’t need drugs or alcohol to have a good time or to write great music. He writes what he knows.

Cat Scratch Fever was released in 1977, hit #17, and went platinum in September 1977. Although there are many people out there who do not like The Nuge, due to the sexual nature of his lyrics, or his political views, or his feelings about our 2nd amendment rights, or the fact that he kills and eats animals (“venison is the perfect food”), there are still enough out there to buy his albums and make him a successful musician for the last fifty years.

I picked up Cat Scratch Fever by Ted Nugent over at Musicstack (of course). This is pure American Rock. Play it loud, play it fast, and have fun. (I am not supporting the no morals lifestyle, just talking about it.)

Cat Scratch Fever Track Listing:

Side One:

  1. Cat Scratch Fever (MP3)

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  2. Wang Dang Sweet Poontang
  3. Death by Misadventure
  4. Live It Up
  5. Home Bound

Side Two:

  1. Workin’ Hard, Playin’ Hard
  2. Sweet Sally
  3. A Thousand Knives
  4. Fist Fightin’ Son of a Gun
  5. Out of Control

The title song ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ has been covered by a lot of people; Nitro, Motörhead, Pantera and even Homer Simpson. It is also the 32nd best hard rock song of all time according to VH1.

Ted Nugent is also a writer, from hunting (Blood Trails I and II), to cooking (Kill It and Grill It), to gun control (God, Guns & Rock and Roll), to politics (Ted, White, and Blue).

‘Ted Nugent for President – 2012’

10 Mar

MP3’s Sound Better than Vinyl or CD’s?

I just read this post on TechDirt about how young people prefer the sound of MP3’s to other types of media. They actually like the sound of MP3’s! Well, this is why ‘young people’ don’t have a drivers license or are allowed to buy alcohol. Because they can’t think!

The post author believes this is sort of funny because audiophiles are always complaining about how MP3’s will ruin music. I’m not sure it will ruin music, but I do believe that poor quality will produce engineers an sound people with a bad idea of what music should sound like.

By the way, this started well before MP3’s, it started with the consumers buying stereos with only a three band EQ.

I love this comment made on the post;

MP3 Sound “quality”

by brokeastunes – Mar 3rd, 2009 @ 8:30am

Believe me, you don’t need to have an expensive audiophile sound system to hear how obviously superior vinyl is. Even a crappy system will fill the the room with three-dimensional sound compared to the one-dimensional, tinny, transparent bass of MP3s. This post confirms what I already predicted-that after a few years of MP3s being the dominant medium, pretty soon people wouldn’t even know what recorded music was supposed to sound sound like. The dumbing down of our culture is nearly complete.”

Ha! That’s good. MP3’s are convenient. Extremely convenient. But that does not mean they sound good. Kids are just getting used to a certain sound, and then thinking that it is best. The same thing happens with those of us who listen to vinyl, we are used to that sound. To a point, even after not listening to vinyl for years, I still think it sounds better.

03 Jan

John Cougar Mellencamp – Scarecrow on Vinyl LP

I love John Cougar Mellencamp, or John Mellencamp, or John Cougar, whichever you choose. My wife loves him to. He writes great American rock music; music born in the heartland of the US.

This album gets its name from the title track “Rain on the Scarecrow”, which is about farms that have been in families for generations that are being taken away. You can buy “Scarecrow” at Musicstack.

Of course, “Small Town” is the biggest and most well known (but didn’t chart the highest) track off of this album. It charted at #6 along with “Lonely Ol’ Night”. “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.” hit #2 in the US Charts. The album itself also went to #2, was named #95 on Rolling Stones 100 Greatest Albums of the 80’s.

John Cougar Mellencamp - Scarecrow on Vinyl

I love the second track, which is just Mellencamp’s grandma singing along with a guitar. When artists do that, it says to me that they care about the music, and family, and not about commercialized and packaged music.

One thing about this album, is that the labels are on the wrong side. Side one label is actually on side two and vice versa. If only that made it rare and worth about $25,000 I’d be set.

Some of these songs are more applicable to America today than they were twenty years ago. For example, the lyrics of “Face of the Nation” are so appropriate to what is happening in the US today.

Track Listing:

Side one:

  1. Rain on the Scarecrow
  2. Grandma’s Theme
  3. Small Town (MP3)

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  4. Minutes to Memories
  5. Lonely Ol’ Night
  6. Face of the Nation

Side Two:

  1. Justice and Independence ’85
  2. Between a Laugh and a Tear
  3. Rumbleseat
  4. You’ve Got to Stand for Something
  5. R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.
13 Dec

Christmas with Johnny Mathis on Vinyl Album

Merry Christmas! Since it is now December and my wife has been playing Christmas music nonstop for almost two months now, I figured I should put up a Christmas album.

Christmas with Johnny Mathis

My wife loves Johnny Mathis. He does have a very distinctive voice and way of singing. It’s very smooth.

This was actually released in 1963 under the name Sounds of Christmas from Mercury Records. In 1971, it was re-released through Columbia as Christmas with Johnny Mathis. Although this version left out two songs from the original, “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Have Reindeer, Will Travel”.

Although I think the packaging is a little scary, this is a good album. As I said above, Johnny Mathis has such a unique voice, you can’t help but like the music.

This album will never be a collectors item I’m sure, but, If you like the traditional, family gathered around the fireplace and turntable type Christmas, then you should have this in your collection. You can get Christmas with Johnny Mathis on vinyl at Musicstack.

The track listing is as follows:

Side One:

  • The Sound of Christmas
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas [MP3 using a Flash Player]

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  • A Marshmallow World
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

Side Two:

  • The Secret of Christmas
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Carol of the Bells
  • Christmas is a Feeling in Your Heart
  • Hallelujah Chorus

If you love Christmas music like my wife does, and you don’t have this, then you need to go to Musicstack (link is above) and pick this up.

11 Nov

Tom Petty’s Mudcrutch Album on CD, Vinyl and Uncompressed CD

I’ve talked about sound quality between vinyl and CD before (see this post on why vinyl records sound better than CD’s), so this story really caught my eye. If you haven’t heard, Mudcrutch is getting back together. For their new album, they are releasing on standard CD, vinyl and uncompressed CD. What? I’ve never heard of an uncompressed CD.

Apparently, it is an audiophile version that is straight from the masters that the vinyl is recorded from. although compressed, it is not nearly as sqaushed as standard CD’s. This means that the sound is much better, more dynamic and more expressive. The following is a quote from producer and engineer Ryan Ulyate;

Standard CDs are designed to play back well on the many different systems which exist today such as iPod, car, radio, computer and home. To make it sound as good as possible on all these different systems, compression is added. What compression does is to make the CD sound louder. Too much compression can make the music sound harsh and distorted. Producers and artists today compete to make their recording sound louder and some have pushed the limit with as much compression as possible. Some have gone too far. On the other hand, without any compression, a CD would not sound as loud as other albums. This would be especially noticeable on iPods and other mp3 players and when played back to back with compressed music, uncompressed music would sound less impactful and not ‘jump out of the speakers’ which is the effect most producers are going for when they add compression. [You can see the effects of crappy sound and compression on the new Metallica album Death Magnetic.]

Great, so why don’t other artists and engineers do this? I believe that first of all, the majority of people don’t really care how their music sounds, otherwise we wouldn’t have such high sales of iPods. Second of all, there is a lot more money involved in putting out three versions of the same album. However, it seems that some people (like Mudcrutch) get it, and are willing to spend the money for their music to sound true to what they wrote.

17 Oct

Yes – Relayer Album on Vinyl

I pulled out some Yes yesterday. I really love prog (progressive) music, new and old. Yes is one of those bands that just broke barriers and paved the way for whole genres of music to come. As a musician, prog music gives me what I want, as it is technical, emotional, experimental, and a whole list of -al’s that make it much more interesting to listen to than ordinary pop music.

Here is my review of the Yes live album, Yessongs.

So I got out the Relayer album and gave it a spin. It’s been a while since I listened to this. Rick Wakeman had left the band prior to this album, and was replaced by Patrick Moraz. Although, Vangelis (wrote Chariots of Fire, member of Aphrodite’s Child) almost joined. That would have been pretty cool.

You can find Yes – Relayer at Musicstack.

Yes- Relayer Album on Vinyl

In 1975, Relayer went to #5 on the Billboard Pop album chart. Although there are only three songs (two that are nine minutes, and one that is twenty one minutes), there were three singles released that were taken from the existing songs.

Track Listing for Yes – Relayer

Side one:

1. The Gates of Delirium

Side two:

1. Sound Chaser

2. To Be Over

Singles:

1. Soon (MP3)

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2. Sound Chaser (Single version)

3. The Gates of Delirium (Studio run through)

This album is a lot different than some earlier Yes stuff. Patrick Moraz was using prototype synthezisers not yet released, and some of the percussion used were things out of junk yards like brakes and other metal car parts.

Relayer met with a lot of mixed feelings. Some said “This isn’t the Yes sound”. Other, more rational people, said “This is pretty experimental, let the band do what they want, it sounds cool”.

The main piece, The Gates of Delirium, is actually based on Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, so maybe that means you should read the book before listening.

10 Oct

The Tubes – The Completion Backward Principle on LP

I really like The Tubes. I do think that a lot of their later stuff was much more pop than their earlier work. I love the original self titled album. It’s very different and almost prog.

The Completion Backward Principle is a pretty good example of 80’s New Wave, leaning towards pop, and it does have some good songs on it. It was the 6th studio album put out by the band, and it made it to #36 in 1981. The single, Talk To Ya Later went to #6 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. You can buy The Tubes at Musicstack.

The Tubes - The Completion Backwards Principle LP Cover

This album is supposed to be a little stab at corporate America I believe. The back cover has all of the band members is suits, looking very professional and yuppie-ish, with important sounding jobs appointed to them. For example;

Bill Spooner – Analyst, Guitar, Vocals

Michael Cotton – Trend, Synthesizers

Fee Waybill – Motivation, Lead Vocals

Roger Steen – Development, Guitar, Vocals

Prairie Prince – Systems, Drums

Vince Welnick – Accounts, Keyboards, Vocals

Rick Anderson – Policy, Bass

Haven’t we all heard important sounding titles that really don’t mean anything?

The Completion Backwards Principle Track listing

Side One

  1. Talk To Ya Later
  2. Sushi Girl
  3. Amnesia
  4. Mr. Hate
  5. Attack Of The Fifty Foot Woman (mp3)

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Side Two

  1. Think About Me
  2. A Matter Of Pride
  3. Don’t Want To Wait Anymore
  4. Power Tools
  5. Let’s Make Some Noise

Overall, I don’t listen to this album very much. I really like The Tubes original and older stuff. It was much more experimental and almost on the verge of prog. This is a great album though, if you are into early new wave, and 80’s pop.

By the way, Fee Waybill has also appeared in the movies ‘Xanadu’ as a rock singer, a little known movie call ‘Ladies and Gentleman, the Stains’ as lead singer for the band The Metal Corpses, and also in ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ as one of the Three Most Important People in the World.

25 Sep

New Metallica Album is Too Loud. Many Say Unlistenable

A while back I posted “Why Vinyl Records Sound Better” which had some reasons why vinyl was better from an audio standpoint than newer CD’s. I saw a new article that has the perfect example using Metallica’s new album Death Magnetic.

The Wall Street Journal carried this post saying that even heavy metal fans are complaining that music is too loud. Following are some quotes from the article:

“…even though Metallica’s ninth studio release, “Death Magnetic,” is No. 1 on the album chart, with 827,000 copies sold in two weeks, some fans are bitterly disappointed: not by the songs or the performance, but the volume. It’s so loud, they say, you can’t hear the details of the music.”

“…audiophiles, recording professionals and some ordinary fans say the extra sonic wallop comes at a steep price. To make recorded music seem louder, engineers must reduce the “dynamic range,” minimizing the difference between the soft and loud parts and creating a tidal wave of aural blandness.”

“When there’s no quiet, there can be no loud…Louder recordings, with higher average sound levels, leave less room for such variation than quieter ones.”

This next one is amazing;

“…the critics have inadvertently recruited a key witness: Ted Jensen, the album’s “mastering engineer,” the person responsible for the sonic tweaks that translate music made in a studio into a product for mass duplication and playback by consumers. Responding to a Metallica fan’s email about loudness, Mr. Jensen sent a sympathetic reply that concluded: “Believe me, I’m not proud to be associated with this one.”” [Wow. Even the engineer who worked on the album isn’t happy.]

“Sound engineers say artists who insist on loudness paradoxically give people less to hear, because they end up wiping away nuances and details. Everything from a gently strummed guitar to a pounding snare drum is equally loud, leading to what some call “ear fatigue.” If the listener turns down the volume knob, the music loses even more of its punch.”

“But many musicians, producers and record-company executives “think that having a louder record is going to translate into greater sales,” says Chris Athens, Mr. Jensen’s business partner and a fellow engineer. “Nobody really wants to have a record that’s not as loud as everybody else’s…” [These are most likely the same people who think that people actually love to pay for crappy music.]

Thousands of fans have already started petitions to have the band remix and re-release this album to make it sound better. That to me is just crazy, when your own fans say your album sucks because of the sound quality, you might want to make them happy.

Below is a graphical representation of the wav files for …And Justice for All, and Death Magnetic. There is no dynamic range to Death Magnetic, which makes everything the same volume. That isn’t music.

There are play buttons on these, but they don’t work as this is an image, but please, go to the Wall Street Journal link above and click on the graphic and listen to the sound files. The new Death Magnetic is unlistenable.

Metallica's ...And Justice for All, and Death Magnetic Volume Comparison

18 Sep

Richard Wright – Wet Dream Vinyl LP

Since my power was out due to Hurricane Ike (even up in Ohio), I was unable to write about the passing of Richard Wright. I have the album ‘Wet Dream’ by him, and I agree with my old record dealer; Richard Wright’s album had more of that Pink Floyd Sound than a lot of the other members solo material. Then again, one of my favorite Floyd songs is Great Gig in the Sky, written by Richard Wright.

There is not a lot of information about this album, as it didn’t make much of an impact. It is out of print, although released on CD in the mid 90’s. However, you can find Richard Wright CD’s and vinyl records at Musicstack.

Richard Wright - Wet Dream Vinyl LP

Richard Wright - Wet Dream Vinyl LP

This album was released in 1978, my copy is a promo copy, so it is original, and 30 years old. What do your 30 year old tapes sound like? Rick Wright wrote and produced all of his own songs, except for the second track which he co-wrote with his wife.

Track listing for Wet Dream by Rick Wright:

Side One

1. Mediterranean C
2. Against The Odds
3. Cat Cruise
4. Summer Elegy
5. Waves

Side Two

6. Holiday (MP3)

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7. Mad Yannis Dance
8. Drop In From the Top
9. Pink’s Song
10. Funky Deux

If you listen to the entire album (hard to do when you have iTunes on shuffle), you can hear definite influences from different Floyd albums. I know this because I love Pink Floyd and have every album, most on vinyl.

I am very sad that I will never get to see the original Pink Floyd in concert.

09 Sep

Why Vinyl Records Sound Better

I read an article today that really annoyed me. I am always reading things about how CD’s and MP3’s are the greatest thing since fire, and that vinyl is dead and should stay dead. The following excerpts are an example:

“There will always be a very special place for vinyl albums. That place is called eBay.

There they rest in peace, alongside trashed DC comic books, used Pinto cars (read: moving coffins) and 500-pound Atari PONG systems.

But for the rest of the living, breathing and dare I say evolving world, the medium of choice is any of the latest supergadgets — may it be incredibly convenient iPods, laptops or BlackBerry phones…”

“…Vinyl lovers are thereby unavoidably left in the Stone Age…”

“…Many vinyl users argue that the biggest difference between the modern digital album and the outdated … er, “classic” … vinyl album is the feel. Vinyl “feels warmer” or has a special crackling sound to it. I don’t hear many people pining for the days of VHS’s poor picture quality or dial-up Internet’s molasses-like speed, but I suppose to each his own…”

“…In indie music, nothing screams shameless pretension quite like vinyl records…”

“…I ask that if you make modern music, get with the modern age. I understand Radiohead’s Thom Yorke is obsessed with the “complete album” experience, which I respect. But people who want that experience will do so without buying a $100 vinyl packet. I’ll keep my pay-what-you-want (in other words, free) digital copy and still listen to it completely and in copious amounts…”

“…Let’s face it, we may be currently looking at the end of compact discs. Eight-tracks and casette tapes are long gone. Vinyl is as dead as disco, and the music-loving community needs to respectfully move on…”

Those quotes were from Emorywheel.com where the writer obviously doesn’t like vinyl. He brings up the old argument about vinyl “feeling warmer” or having a “special crackling sound”. I’ve never heard anyone say they love the crackle on vinyl.

The reason these articles annoy me is that there is a big, definite reason why vinyl sounds better. Most people hear it, but don’t know what it is. Vinyl inherently has a lower dynamic range than CD’s or MP3’s. Which means that the volume can’t be too loud on vinyl records. Therefore the sound engineering and mixing that goes into vinyl records is much more precise and musical. In a CD every instrument is taken to the loudest point, then mixed together, then compressed to the loudest point overall possible. The difference in listening is that on vinyl the separation between the instruments is very easy to hear, but in CD’s ( and especially MP3’s) every instrument is as loud as every other instrument or voice.

To understand why this is bad for CD’s, check out what fans are saying about Metallica’s new album Death Magnetic.

Now there are exceptions, but not a lot. That is why record labels love CD’s, because they can increase the volume of the music, at the expense of the musicality.

That is why vinyl records are better than CD’s.