Friday, May 22, 2009

The Bomb!

There always seems to be an underlying idea that I must take everything with me. When I moved to England in 1990, I made dozens of cassettes (C-110 Type IV Metal cassettes) to take with me. Didn’t want to leave my tunes behind. Did I play them? No, I tried recording over them, trying to get stuff off of British radio. Barry Dransfield etc.

I continually return to the idea that I have a paired-down “Perfect Collection”, like I am preparing for a journey (my own death?). What gets on the list? Did I choose correctly? Who cares? So, what makes it on to these lists?

Not compiled to be representative of anything other than my own personal interests, my lists lean towards music from the year of my birth forward (1958 to the present, with emphasis from age 8 to age 30, apparently). 18,250 titles for 50 years – and I figure I’m at 2/3 of my journey – with 22,528 in hand. Never going to get to everything one more time before I shuffle off.

To make the theoretical possible, let’s imagine that someone gifted to me the highest-possible capacity iPod. What do I put on it? What am I going to want to listen to, for the rest of my life until I croak? (Or after I croak?)

My interaction with pop music has been nearly a life-long pursuit. How to pick a limited amount of material from a lifetime of listening? And wouldn’t it change? Well, at some point – it will no longer change. You discover my body on the floor of some Tokyo record store, there’s an iPod in my pocket. What's on the playlist?

When I have posted playlists on my other blog, that’s not what’s on my eternal iPod playlist. That’s just me listening to my record collection. And my eternal iPos selections will be selfish, too. Not trying to impress anyone else, I just want what I want to hear…again and again. Nice (of me) that I seem to think I will fill an iPod and then get to listen to it eternally! Boy, I sure hope it sounds good. I will miss my vinyl records and compact discs.

How much Elvis? What Beatles to leave out? Only 60’s Stones? First 3 x Magazine albums? How much Hermeto? Tachibana “H”, of course. Monochrome Set. And these are just what I thought of in the first 10 seconds! Dylan. Dury. Celentano. But it’s serious business deciding. I mean, I’m going to get to take it with me when I go!

Shame I never got that big Sony hard-drive recorder. That would’ve been awesome. But – my luck – the thing would’ve needed servicing about 5 minutes after Sony no longer supported it. So, iPod it is – for 2009’s rumination.

OK, what’s the biggest, baddest iPod I can get? Do you think I could get them to cook one up for me special – with even more bytes? I don’t really want to go for more tunes at a lower ‘rate’ – I want ‘perfect’ audio! That’s right, I want to dub my Elvis Presley “Shake, Rattle & Roll” RCA 7” EP right to my iPod! It’s gotta sound like that!

So, armed with my favorite reference works (almost any Joel Whitburn book and the Guinness LP/45 charts), let’s begin. What goes on my eternal iPod, henceforth referred to as “The Book”? And, like being specific with George Spiggott with ‘what you want’ – and, no, I won’t be using iTunes. I already have all of this stuff on CD / vinyl. That’s a whole ‘nother topic – what my perfect collection would cost on iTunes!

MAINFRAME – Five Minutes (Polydor UK 80’s 12”)

PAUL BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND – Born In Chicago (Elektra US 60’s album track, either the regular album track, or the version Paul A. Rothchild uncovered recorded earlier) (note: I am playing a Paul Butterfield CD in my car at present, hence him cropping up so early in the process – RK) “Paul Butterfield Blues Band”

MAGAZINE – Definitive Gaze (Virgin UK 70’s album track) “Real Life”

MONOCHROME SET – Fun For All The Family (Cherry Red UK 80’s album track) “Eligible Bachelors”

ROLLING STONES – Dandelion (Decca UK 60’s 45)

DONOVAN – Epistle To Dippy (Pye UK 60’s 45)

BOB DYLAN – Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again (Columbia US 60’s album track) “Blonde On Blonde”

RONNIE ROSS – Cleopatra’s Needle (Fontana UK 60’s album track) “Cleopatra’s Needle”

HERMETO PASCOAL – Little Cry For Him (Warner Brazil 70’s album track) “Slave’s Mass”

FRANK ZAPPA & THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION – Hungry Freaks Daddy (Verve US 60’s album track) “Freak Out”

So, those are the first 10 tracks on my heavenly iPod, “The Book”. I’m not even sure if all of those are on iTunes or not, as of this writing. I am willing to keep all of these songs. Let’s have another go!

CHARLIE RICH – Mohair Sam (Smash US 60’s 45)

ELI – Never Mind (Parlophone UK 60’s 45)

YELLO – Goldrush (Vertigo / Mercury DE 80’s 12”)

SPLIT ENZ – Maybe (White Cloud NZ 70’s 45)

LUCIO BATTISTI – L’Interprete Di Un Film (Numero Uno IT 70’s album track) “Io Tu Noi Tutti”

JIM PEMBROKEIsland Town (Love Finland 70’s album track) “Corporal Cauliflower’s Mental Function”

ASTRAL BODIES – Bad Vibrations (Megadisc NL 80’s album track) “Astral Beat”

THE NITS – Hook Of Holland (CBS NL 70’s album track) “Tent”

LIO – Amicalement Votre (Ariola FR ’80 45) also on her debut album “Lio”

LES DRELLAS – Serenades (Philips FR 90’s CD Single)

Wow, I got hung up on European music in the 2nd set, didn’t I? This is going to be an interesting process. Maybe I should restrict how quickly I add 10 titles at a time...?


Anonymous said...

You may want to wait a few years for storage technology to catch up. The current largest capacity iPod = 120 GB of storage. 1 minute of music at CD quality = 10 MB. The current top capacity iPod can store 120,000,000,000 bytes of data. A 45 minute (average) album = 450,000,000 bytes of data at full CD quality. That means your iPod will max out at 266.6666666 average albums worth of music to listen to at full CD quality. It might be an interesting intellectual exercise to pick the 266 albums you you keep on your iPod if that's all you could have. At least now you know the number of an iPod-centric "perfect collection" ca. 2009.

Anonymous said...

P.S. anything you already have on CD won't "cost" anything on iTunes. The iTunes software (apart from the iTunes store online, which sells music) will import the CD tracks into your library at a variety of quality settings from MP3/AAC all the way to CD quality AIFF. All you pay is time. You would need other software to do the same with your vinyl, though. The freeware/open source Audacity (available for PC/Mac/Linux) can digitize vinyl and make it a MP3/AAC or CD quality AIFF. One nice thing about software like Audacity, is that you have the capability to make recordings that go beyond CD quality!

CDs are 44.1 MHz in 16 bit data chunks. The 44.1 MHz sampling frequency is mathematically based on the normal human (peak) headroom on human hearing of 20-20,000 Hz. This has no doubt had declined as you pass the age of 25. The minds behind the Red Book (CD) standard picked a sampling rate that was fully capable of going ever so slightly above the mathematic threshold of (peak) human hearing.

Where things get interesting is in the bit-rate! The 16 bit rate was very advanced for the early 80s when the CD standard was created. PCs of the time were 8 bit machines. When you digitize on your computer, depending on your sound card/processor, you can go all the way to 96 KHz/24 bit sampling/bit rates like on DVD-Audio. At that point your 120 GB iPod will probably yield about 20-50 albums of music.

I've experimented with "beyond CD" audio sampling/bitrates. As a 45 year old male who has assiduously worn earplugs at concerts since some time in 1990, (possibly too late since this post-dates my only Killing Joke concert) 44.1 @ 24 bit is ever so noticeably better than 44.1 @ 16 bit. I CAN hear a slight difference. Therefore, when I master vinyl to digital formats, I do it at 44.1/24. I archive the raw files to DVD-ROM in case I ever need to "remaster" a title. I downsample the final edited files to 44.1/16 for CD burning. 44.1/24 uses data chunks that are 50% larger than 44.1/16 (or CD) so the resultant files are only half again as large as they would be on a CD.