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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Roger Answers Your Question, RK and Gordon


Hi! RK here! I've noticed that you have quite a few blog entries dealing with music. (Well, one has to feed the monkey, somehow!-- whatever that means!) And I suppose there certainly is a lot to be said about the political scene at present. But I do have a musical inquiry for you. Perhaps you've dealt with it in the past already (in which case I humbly apologize in advance).

Well, here's the thing. I recently picked up a book on the making of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon and afterwards, naturally, I went back for a listen. Now, I never was much of a Floyd fan, myself.
In fact, before reading the book, I knew virtually nothing about the group. Still, I must confess, it IS quite an album. So here are my questions:

a) What are your favorite "headphone" albums?

Pretty much anything I like to listen to at some volume: Who's Next (The Who); In the Court of the Crimson King (King Crimson); anything with a good bass line. Music that gives me a physical, as well as intellectual, reaction. There are jazz and classical albums that work well. But the #1 album has to be Abbey Road (the Beatles), because it was in a period (spring of 1975) that I didn't have a stereo or much in the way of anything, so I would go to the Binghamton Public Library and listen to albums to keep my sanity.

b) Which albums stand out for you in terms of production??

Never have been that much of an audiophile in that way, except when something sounds off - one example of that is "I Saw Her Again" (Mamas & the Papas) on "Farewell to the First Golden Era" on LP, where the lead vocal is mixed down and the background voices are more upfront, very different from the album on which it originally appeared. I've bought some cheap classical LPs that sounded like mud.

That said, I think albums can be OVERproduced to a point that the very lifeblood is sucked out of them. Couldn't give you a specific example.

And not that you asked: maybe it's because I've been making mixed cassettes and now mixed CDs, but it's a lot more noticeable to me NOW, the sheer drop-off in volume from one album to the next.
Gordon asks "What's the best part of being a librarian? Worst part?"

The best part is learning cool new stuff almost every day. It's also the case that, by and large, librarians are very collegial folks who help each other find answers to life's persistent problems.
I suppose the worst part is trying to answer questions, usually multiple-part queries 1) for which I'm pretty sure there is no answer and 2) for which if there WERE such an answer, I don't know how it would help them, the "How many left-handed, black, homosexual Hispanics with children drive a manual transmission on the Upper West Side of Manhattan?" questions. These folks are trying to define their market - a reasonable goal - but sometimes they parse it so finely that no one, even a paid resource, is going to have what they want. The librarian wants to please, so the librarian hates the dumb@#$% question that the librarian couldn't possibly give a good answer to.

(Scott, I'll answer your questions on Sunday. Gordon, I'll answer your other question when I review the book some West Coast blogger sent me.)

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