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On Buying the White Album, Again

My sister gave me a Border's gift certificate for Christmas, and rather than do the conventional thing and buy some books that I would then be obligated to read, I bought some CDs instead. Among them are a remaster of Genesis's 1973 epic, "Selling England by the Pound" and Pink Floyd's last, and sorely unappreciated, "Division Bell." Now, I have both these on vinyl already, and although I'm in the process of thinking about the possibility of getting restarted on the vinyl-to-digital project, I felt it safer and most expedient to just buy the damn things and get them into my iPod post haste.

But even though 1/24th of my life is spent listening to the iPod (that's hour to work and a hour back, courtesy of the Belkin Tunebase in my car), there's nothing like sitting down and listening an uncompressed CD on a pair of kick-butt reference speaker like my Martin Logan Prodigy, but actually, they've been unhooked for a while and I'm listening to some small speakers that sound so much bigger than life, they should be an inspiration to other speaker designers (and no, sorry, I'm not going to tell you what they are in my blog.)

Anyway, the point is, is there really anything wrong with buying the White album again, so to speak, from a musically inquisitive perspective? One could argue that there are so many wonderful new bands out there these days (ask the guys are Stereophile, they know them by heart), that clutching desperately to the past is simply cowardly.

Color me yellow then. One thing that vinyl is not, is portable, and so much of the music I love is in them grooves. The days of hanging out in your bedroom waiting for Mom to call you for dinner, spinning records on a BSR mini-changer with two bits of tracking weight and listening in with a pair of brain-deadening Koss headphones are over. We hang different now. Our music needs to be portable so it can go with us on our commutes, our jogs and our jigs. Buy it, if you must, in some compressed artificial format off of iTunes from which true dynamic range can never be recovered, or go the audiophile way and get the actual CD like I did, but buy it, and enjoy it.

Besides, what you think you remember of a recording, and what a good stereo or home theater the likes of which you own today will reveal can be startlingly different! How's that for furthering the musical cause? Start with the bass, something that is strong and prominent on both the two CDs I just bought and just itching to meet a good home theater subwoofer. And, a home theater will play your music, even in two channel mode (plus sub) as I prefer it, with more dynamic range than the system on which you likely first heard these great recordings. Go ahead, crank it up and let the music wash over you.

So skip the guilt trip. If Franz Ferdinand is just a pale imitation of what a band should sound like to you, then don't beat yourself up over the fact that you're not supporting him, them, whatever. And by all means, keep looking for the next Dido, or Joseph Arthur, because they're out there, but until then, don't forget the ones that brung ya'.

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