Like music? Try this

Anybody else out there still like vinyl records? For those of you who weren’t born until after Keith Moon died, there used to be this thing, flat, about 12″ round, called a record. You play them on a machine called a turntable. They played music, and it sounded good, unless you had a bunch of scratches on said record.  Of course, the music was better when records were the only way to listen, but that is for another posting.

Anyway, now, there’s this neat program called Golden Records. I bought a copy – it’s a cheap download. You plug the tape outs on your receiver to your sound card’s mike input. And it will digitize your records and clean the pops and clicks as you play them.

How cool is that? I just digitized my entire Jethro Tull album collection. You rarely hear Tull anymore, and I had the unmitigated fun of charging to work today with the “Critique Oblique”, “The Foot of our Stairs”, “Overseer Overture”, “Lucifer’s Flight”, and “Magus Perde” movements of “A Passion Play”, absolutely cranked.  Yum. Look down and I’m doing 90 on an urban freeway on a Sunday afternoon. Whoops. No cops, thank goodness.

A few notes on “A Passion Play.” That is the Jethro Tull album, released in 1973, that falls between “Thick as a Brick” and “WarChild”. It is, for me, the Tull album that determines whether you’re a real Tull fan, or whether you just liked “Locomotive Breath” and “Bungle in the Jungle” when you heard them on the radio.  It’s a serious, difficult work of music, containing many changes of time signature, of instrumentation (you hear a lot more soprano saxophone than the normal flute you find on Tull records), and of unusual minor keys. The critics of the time slagged it to high hell,  none understood it, and indeed it is a work of music that is rarely understood on first hearing.  Lyrically, it is about an actor who dies, goes first to heaven, then to hell, then chooses to return to earth. The lyric line “I gave up my halo for a horn, and the horn for the hat I once had”, from the “Flight from Lucifer” explains the basic concept, but there’s a lot more to it than that.  Go down to your friendly local used record shop, or log onto Amazon and order the enhanced CD, and check it out. I doubt you’ll be able to steal it off Limewire.

While I’m on the subject of Tull, I discovered an album of outtakes from the sessions that produced the basic musical themes for “A Passion Play”, called “Nightcap.”  The band went as tax exiles to France, and recorded in a chateau that had been converted to a studio, and previously used by Elton John and Cat Stevens. It didn’t work for Tull, but the tracks contained musical themes that saw later use on a couple of albums, and the animal theme of the tracks would have made an interesting concept album, perhaps more accessible than “Passion Play” is for many. Ian Anderson refers to it as “the Chateau D’Isaster tapes”. I like them a lot, and have them in the disk changer now.

The years from 1966-1977 are, for me, the golden age.  Nearly all forms of music flew their highest then – great rock, fantastic classical performances, jazz fusion, “outlaw” country, classic soul and R&B, Motown, Stax/Volt, blues, folk, singer-songwriters…… it was all good.  There’s been some good stuff since then – REM, U2, John Legend, Pink, and John “Cougar” Mellencamp come to mind. But that was the golden time.

So, get “Golden Records”, and rediscover your vinyl collection. By the by, if your turntable isn’t working, there is a store on Baxter Avenue in Louisville called the “Magnetic Tape Recorder Company” that repairs them, and also stocks belts, cartridges, and styli for them.  Then pull the old albums off the shelf, and give them a spin. And smile a bit.


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2 Comments on “Like music? Try this”

  1. As a Tull fan, I am happy to hear that Ian Anderson’s music still has a “super fan”. But what intriuged me the most is you are playing your music on vinyl, that old prehistoric music format that is getting more and more popular each day. Why? As you know the music SOUNDS better on vinyl and many people are just figuring this out.

    If you would like to learn more about vinyl, visit my site and if you are so inclined, pick up a copy of my ebook “The Fascinating Hobby Of Vinyl Record Collecting”!

    Robert Benson

  2. While vinyl sounds better, I can tell you as a DJ I like having my collection on CD’s.

    It is a bear to lug 300 plus albums around, set the up, then break them down when the party’s over.

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