I was listening to one of my 90s CDs yesterday, and I was reminded of something we’ve lost with the move away from CDs as the primary source of music.
In the 80s, album CDs were just copies of the LP, limited to 45 mins. Then came the realization that a CD holds 80 mins and albums could be longer.
One of the side effects of this was the rise in the 90s of…hidden tracks! Songs not listed on the sleeve at the end of the album. These could range from a single extended track with minutes of dead air in the middle (I’m thinking of Endless Nameless on Nirvana’s Nevermind at the end of Something in the Way after about 9 mins of silence) to an extra numbered track that may be consecutive or even dozens away.
NIN’s Broken had the cover song Physical as track 98 on it.
I was listening to Cracker’s Low and after a dozen tracks you notice the CD says it has like 96 on it. You go through dozens and dozens and then get to one of their biggest hits, Eurotrash Girl. It wasn’t listed on the sleeve, but was also the only hidden track I can think of that got a music video!
Now albums are more just a label slapped on a song in addition to artist and name. It’s kind of sad.
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.
But in this Brave New World of spotify and youtube and bandcamp I’m hearing more diverse and more interesting music than ever before. So nyah.
…and this is where I start ranting about the very noticeable difference in sound quality between CDs (and vinyl) and most electronic formats… Followed by my rant about ownership of music, payments to artists as a percentage etc etc etc. I’ve actually shifted back to buying CDs more in the last decade, though I definitely use mostly Tidal and Spotify to discover and check out new artists before I buy their albums. But growing up with a dad who spent a lifetime working in radio, I’m kinda biased anyway.
Audio quality on CD already sucked, as do most modern speakers. If I want primo audio quality, say a full orchestra playing Mahler or Tchaikovsky, I rather go see it IRL. Can’t beat that for audio quality
Sorry if you’re not using a reel to reel or possibly an 8 track you’re not an aficionado…
Ribbing aside, I don’t get why so much digital music is streamed at relatively high fidelity when it’s going to be either blue tooth streamed to a pair of at best moderate fidelity ear buds, or run through a regular phono jack to a set of ear buds. I would imagine less than 1% of all digital music is ever listened to with anything capable of even moderate audio fidelity. Also if I’m listening to a podcast versus say music, I don’t need concert quality audio.
Yeah, this is why I’ve dated so many musicians…