Monday, May 16, 2011
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: FLEETWOOD MAC - RUMOURS
Oh, what a treat. As the vinyl goes spinning around at super-speed, the familiar strains of Second Hand News, the opening cut of this mega-million seller fill the room with warmth. And it's real warmth, the close-up recreation of actual instruments and human voices as burned onto vinyl, not the inferior digital 1's and 0's that has passed for sound reproduction the past 25 years. Why this sounds better, and why all the world's great engineers have yet to make digital work as well is beyond me, but just listen to the ringing strings on Never Going Back Again, and you know your CD just doesn't cut it, and certainly anyone that has only heard it on MP3 is in for a shock.
Actually you're all in for at least a treat with this vinyl version, as it's an audiophile's dream. The pressing has been done on 180 gram vinyl and (wait for it)... it's a two-LP set, as it's at 45 RPM! For you non-audiophiles, this is great because with only 10 minutes per side, the grooves are wider and the sound is much better. Your old vinyl might sound good, better than the CD in many ways, but this kicks butt. Close your eyes during Songbird, and you are right in the Zellerback Auditorium at Berkeley College with Christine McVie, listening to her emotional, single-take performance, the echo of the hall all around you. Or you can marvel at the piano you never noticed in Don't Stop. It's the same with all these 180 gram pressings, I'm always amazed at the presence of instruments I've forgotten that come leaping back to life.
I don't actually have to review the music, do I? Or give you the back story of the British blues band that sprang back to life thanks to a near-magical infusion of California pop courtesy of Buckingham-Nicks? You know about the two couples splitting up during its creation, the hurt spilling out in the songs: "Now here you go again/You say you want your freedom/Well who am I to keep you down". It's all on Wikipedia, look it up, it makes Lady Ga-Ga seem like a Girl Guide.
While we mocked and clucked at the excesses of the day, with these coked-out superstar bands spending a year and hundreds of thousands of dollars in the studio, and days and weeks getting drum sounds, let me tell ya, it sure sounds great now. Yes, it's great that we can now does this on pro tools in the basement, but the whole point was to make it sound as fantastic as possible. After years of listening to the best music being made low-fi, why not treat yourself? That's why these 70's discs are so perfect for the 180 gram craze right now, and why I'm lapping them up.