The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

22 November 2007

One at a time

Quick, now: How many record albums (or the CD, or whatever, equivalent) do you have that have no filler tracks whatsoever? One, maybe two? Yeah, they got seven singles off Thriller, out of a possible nine, but has anyone played, say, "Baby Be Mine" lately?

Jermaine Dupri would question your judgment if you hadn't:

Every album is created for you to hear the next song, especially on rap albums. Rappers make intros on their records for a reason — they want you to listen it to set the mood and get ready for that second song.

I'm not saying that music can't ever be sold as singles. Not every album is equal and consumers are always going to try to cherry pick the songs they like. But that doesn't mean the people who [are] investing their time, money and sweat into a record shouldn't have the right to decide how it's gonna be sold, whether that's in single units or as a whole. My book, Young, Rich and Dangerous: The Making of a Music Mogul, came out in hardcover last month, but Simon & Schuster doesn't let the book stores tear it up and sell it chapter by chapter. A record is no different.

Remember, children: start at the beginning and work your way to the end, just as Jermaine Dupri intends. And he's quite serious:

Apple, why are you helping the consumer destroy our canvas? We don't tell you to break up your computers into bits and pieces and sell off each thing. When you go to the Apple store you may only need one thing, but you have to buy all their plug ins and stuff. You have to buy their whole package, even if you don't necessarily want it, or your equipment won't work. We're just saying, if you have the audacity to sell your products like that, don't treat our products as something less than yours.

Suggestions to Mr Dupri:

  1. Release albums with one track. There is precedent: Tubular Bells, Thick as a Brick. (Yes, there's the inevitable division into Parts I and II, but this was made necessary by the limited playing time of the LP record.)

  2. If you don't want the iTunes Store selling your stuff, don't license it to them. Simple as that.

Me, I take my lead from the late James "Shep" Sheppard, who put together a seamless set of songs telling a single story: the love affair from start to finish. What's more, he did it before Pet Sounds. And here's the kicker: he did it on singles, more than a dozen 45s, starting with the Heartbeats' "Crazy for You" (1955), passing through "A Thousand Miles Away" (1956) and its presumed sequel "Daddy's Home" by Shep and the Limelites (1961), culminating in "I'm All Alone" (1962). None of them made much chart noise except "Daddy's Home," which made Number Two, and it took six years to get them all into circulation, but it's at least as compelling a story as anything you're likely to hear from the likes of Jermaine Dupri. And you can get most of them at the iTunes Store — one at a time, if you wish.

(Suggested by the singular La Shawn Barber.)

Posted at 10:53 AM to Tongue and Groove

I've about made up my mind I'm going to have to find a way to graft "We Will Rock You" onto "We Are the Champions" on my .mp3 playlist so the latter follows the former, the way I always used to hear them both on the radio.

Posted by: McGehee at 11:07 AM on 22 November 2007

You got News of the World or some other suitable source? Rip the two tracks to two WAV files. Using something like Audacity, open "We Will Rock You," and paste "We Are The Champions" at the end of it. Save the entire five minutes as a single WAV, and compress to MP3 standards. Problem solved.

Posted by: CGHill at 12:47 PM on 22 November 2007

No, I have them as downloaded tracks -- originally .wma of course, but converted via temporarily burning them to CD.

I have a sound editor of some kind that enabled me to trim some extraneous audio from various downloaded tracks by The Who and Aaron Tippin, so I imagine I can probably figure out a way to conjoin two tracks into one.

I'll just have to wait until I get home to try it, is all.

Posted by: McGehee at 3:00 PM on 22 November 2007

...trim some extraneous audio from various downloaded tracks...

For clarity, read that as "...trim some extraneous audio from the ends of various downloaded tracks..."

A faux commercial from "The Who Sell Out" in the former case. For some reason whoever broke up the Tippin album into tracks for downloading left intros appended to the ends of the preceding selection -- so after one song I'd hear Tippin talk about the upcoming song, only to have it be, say, "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds" by Sons of the Pioneers, instead of "Call of the Wild."

Posted by: McGehee at 3:04 PM on 22 November 2007

I've had one instance of "extraneous audio" this week I can't even explain. The song: "Seven Day Weekend," by Gary "U.S." Bonds. At the very end of it, there was a two-second clip of Jigsaw's "Sky High." I have no idea where this came from. I did, at one time, rip a copy of "Seven Day Weekend" for the Web site (for the piece I did on the death of Frank Guida), but it wasn't so affected: only the copy I'd loaded on my work box had the extra clip. I have to assume I bumbled somewhere, but I can't imagine how, since I tend not to work on multiple tracks. (I don't multitask worth spit.)

I do have several CDs which are indexed questionably — one disc of Brit's Blitz, a British Invasion compilation of Canadian provenance, starts a couple of tracks about 1.5 seconds late, which could cause such a phenomenon — but this would not explain this particular instance, as I have no CD that contains both "Seven Day Weekend" and "Sky High," in sequence or otherwise.

Posted by: CGHill at 3:15 PM on 22 November 2007

When you send a digital master to the pressing plant to be turned into a CD, you include a separate, written cuesheet that listed the points (in minutes/seconds/frames) where the track cuepoints are supposed to be placed. Somewhere in the archives I have an off-brand Bing Crosby compilation on which the producer apparantly made a last-minute track order change without fixing the cuesheet. The result: Play it straight through- no problems. But every track point except [1] is in the wrong place. (Makes for fun on "shuffle".)

The Tippin material might have come from a disc that was cued for radio play, although I'd say it's more likely that it was just a sloppy transfer.

Posted by: Old Grouch at 12:37 PM on 24 November 2007

I'd say it's more likely that it was just a sloppy transfer.

The CD from which those tracks came is packaged as "with exclusive bonus interview," so it's unlikely it would have been sent out for radio play -- I gather there was a bonus-free version previously released that would already be available to radio.

I just did the graft of the two Queen tracks mentioned in my first comment, using Windows Movie Maker of all things. It's what I used for the Who and Tippin tracks, and I'd previously used it for one bit of amateur video editing a few months back. Except for the mystery of where to find the menu item for importing media to work on, it's surprisingly -- even disturbingly -- easy to use.

I wonder who Microsoft stole the fundamentals from?

Posted by: McGehee at 3:57 PM on 27 November 2007