The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

14 May 2005

Applied mixology

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was working on converting my Sixties mix tapes to CD, a process which involves a great deal more than hooking up the cassette deck to the sound card and pressing the appropriate buttons. On the off-chance that some of you might be curious as to How I Do It, here's what I went through this morning for Mid-60s Mania Volume 9 (cover art not yet determined):

1.  Review the track list and edit as necessary.
Which, of course, is always necessary in this project, since the tapes were crammed to within a few seconds of their 90-minute nominal capacity and sometimes beyond. The original tape here contained thirty-five songs; six were ruthlessly excised, and one very short one was added at the last minute because (1) it was short and (2) where it was placed made sense.

2.  Select the source material.
About half of these selections were dubbed from CDs I own, although I do own source material for every single one of them. Most of them appear on more than one CD, which means I have to pick the one I think is better. Sometimes it's easy: with "Kind of a Drag," I took the one from Sundazed's Buckinghams compilation, which is the only stereo mix in which the horns don't overwhelm the rest of the instruments during the break. On the other hand, the two CD versions of "Time Won't Let Me," both stereo, were unsatisfactory: the one on the Capitol (later Collectibles) Outsiders compilation has some studio talk, which can be fixed, and a weak remix, which can't, and the version on one of those ubiquitous Time-Life discs (I have three more-or-less-complete series) has the opening drumroll sliced off. Rather than splice the two together, I opted for the 45 version in mono.

3.  Determine the sequence.
In this case, I made no changes except for the deletions (and the one addition). This is not always the case, since I did those tapes to maximize tape utilization, which, given my penchant for auto-reverse units, means a very long Side 1 and a slightly-shorter Side 2. CDs have no such considerations, fortunately.

4.  Apply corrections.
Nero (version 5, anyway) defaults to two-second track breaks; I cut them in half. Two tracks ran much longer than their 45 versions and were trimmed back somewhat; two tracks (including, perversely enough, a Phil Spector production) were remixed for narrower stereo. I toyed with taming the hiss monster on "White Rabbit," but decided otherwise.

5.  Burn away.
This is, of course, the easy part, and it was done (at 8x) in about 10:45.

Artwork comes later, after I audition the final product. Time elapsed from printing the original track list to pulling the CD-R out of the drive: 78 minutes, which is coincidentally almost the playing time of the disc.

Update, October: It took long enough, but you can see the artwork and the complete track listing here.

Posted at 1:14 PM to Tongue and Groove

TrackBack: 12:34 PM, 15 October 2005
» Mid-60s Mania: Volume 9 from
The ninth in a series that isn’t even starting to slow down. The cover art (from Belle-Sharmeer) is slightly anachronistic, but not by much, and the appeal, of course, is timeless — much like these tunes. I wrote a piece on the compilati......[read more]