Sunday, September 28, 2008

More on U2 remasters

I have had a chance to spend more time with all four of the U2 remasters that have come out in the past year (and I’m anxiously waiting for the fifth to arrive this week) and I realize that these are pretty much everything I’d like to have in a remaster series. Here is why.

  1. Don’t mess with the album. Good albums have a flow to them that, while it could theoretically be improved on, generally I get used to the album the way it is and I want to experience the original. By all means, improve the sound, but don’t add tracks. That just messes up the end.
  2. Add tracks to a second CD. What I really want is a second CD full of cool stuff like EVERY non-album single and b-side that connects to the album and unreleased live tracks from the era. I am a completist and I expect a good remaster to help me complete. I’m not looking for demos (although they can be fun,) I’m looking for something that I actually will want to listen to, not just have for historical purposes.
  3. Make the art count. I want to have the original album art but also let me see the covers of all the singles and what else was on them. Basically I want the complete story of this album and this era in the band’s life.
  4. Add cool liner notes. Include a critical essay, complete credits and a description, preferably by a key member of the band, of the b-sides. Lyrics are a nice touch too.

The U2 remasters delivers on all counts. And here’s what else they did to make it cool. The Joshua Tree has an extra deluxe edition that includes a video of a concert from that era. Since Under a Blood Red Sky is already a live album – and a really really good one – more live tracks aren’t really called for so they leave the album just as it is but added tracks to the live concert video, which has never been released on DVD. Yeah, U2 got it right with The Joshua Tree, Boy, October, War and Under A Blood Red Sky.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Jill Phillips - Nobody's Got It All Together

I have mentioned before but I recently listened again to one of the first albums I downloaded there, Jill Phillips' Nobody's Got It All Together. It's a really fine album and well worth the FREE download.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

U2 and word play

This morning I was listening to the Joshua Tree by U2 in the car on the drive in to work and looked out at the eastern sky as the sun was starting to make it purple and orange. I could see the horizon which, as a any good former math teacher knows, is the root of the word "horizontal."

That lead me to put the word "horizon" together with U2 and think about the rumored title of their forthcoming album "No Line On the Horizon." I thought more about the relationship between the words "horizontal" and "horizon" and wondered if there was a word which relates to "vertical" the same way.

Then the U2 connection came full circle and I realized the word I was looking for was "Vertigo."

Hello, Hello, I thought - I wonder if they were thinking of Vertigo and vertical when they decided to write a song about horizontal. hmmmm.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

the ipod album shuffle

When I got my new mac computer it once again reset all of the playcounts on my itunes back to zero making all of the carefully planned playlists that I used obsolete. This was the second time in a month so I was a little disconcerted.

So, on a whim, I changed my way of listening to music on itunes and my ipod. (This actually first occurred to me on an airplane during 3 and a half hours on the tarmac at Newark Airport.) I switched from song shuffle to album shuffle. Now when I listen to either my ipod or itunes it starts at the first song on a random album that I had not heard in x days (right now x is set to 150 but once I get through everything I'll reset it to a number that works better.) If I stop before the album is finished it picks it up at some other time.

This way I'm hearing albums the way that the artists intended but I'm also having the fun of randomly hearing things. This morning, for example, I turned on my computer at work and started playing Led Zeppelin II - not exactly morning music but it got me going! I would not have picked it but by the time I was up to the third song I was into it.

I have a lot of random songs that have been downloaded over time so I get individual songs interspersed with albums so I never really know what I'm going to get when I listen. I also mix newly acquired albums in more frequently.

I have completely embraced my inner geek - just in case you haven't figured that out.