The CD’s that sound like crap, but the LP’s sound Great?
While playing with my record collection over Xmas break, two records stood out for me:
CRACK THE SKY – “Animal Skins” (1976)
JOHN MILES – “Stranger In The City” (1976)
Two pop albums that I got during my first year working in a hippie record store. These two were perhaps a bit of a stretch for me, as neither could be considered “experimental” or “Progressive”, my two predominant styles of the (pre-new wave) era.
The way I listen to my record collection is that I go into the LP room, I slap on a new 80 minute MiniDisc, select the record / tracks from those lying about and sit and have a listen. Then I write everything down on a psychedelic piece of paper, and ultimately type it up as a dedicated Word document (“Playlist”), then collate it into a larger list of, say, the last 60 – 100 “Playlists” that I have ‘generated’. Big list fun!
While vacillating near Cream and Cristina, I noticed that after all these years I still owned the first two Crack The Sky albums. “Animals Skins” was their 2nd album, and the better of the two titles that I own. I would’ve heard it for no other reason than what one did in a hippie record store when not ordering records, cleaning out the ashtrays and counting money – was that you tried to play all the new rock music records that came in, on any given week. “Animal Skins”, Side 1, is excellent – after all these years. The NY band based around singer / songwriter John Palumbo really was on to something here. “We Want Mine” sounds like it foreshadows Toy Matinee; “Animal Skins” is a missing Beatles’ song; “Wet Teenager” has a Cheap Trick sound (it was what was in the eastern seaboard water at that time, I think); “Maybe I Can Fool Everybody Tonight” – a classic pop song that happens to be 6 minutes long. Long story short: I got a two-fer CD of this magnificent album in ’89 simply because I could (it was in the not-so-hippie record store order book). Flat as a pancake, no high end – sounds like a cassette mastering job. After hearing that digital flatness, I went to the wall, pulled out my “Animal Skins” Lifesong US LP (pressed by Columbia?), whapped it on and – BANG! – the good sound, full dynamic range – still there! Maybe the band will sell me a re-mastered CD of “Animal Skins” from their website?
Essentially the same story for the amazing “Stranger In The City” LP by British singer / songwriter John Miles. Simply put, it’s brilliant mid-70’s UK pop music produced by svengali Rupert Holmes (yes, THAT Rupert Holmes) – I don’t know how / why, but… it’s a magnificent British 70’s rock album. “Slow Down”! As far as the US goes, this LP has been in the $1 bin for so long that I really made the guy at the record store smirk when I said I wanted to order a $20 British CD of it. The Decca / Deram ’89 UK CD = no high end, no dynamic range – at all! The LP? Smooth UK Decca heavy LP, tons of bass (I had to adjust the tracking force!) and all the high end you could desire (I even cleaned the LP properly before playing it). Gangbusters! So, I ran to the ‘puter and looked it up and – lo and behold – it has been re-mastered in England (Lemon Records via Cherry Red, same folks that re-did the Vinegar Joe debut album).
What are your favorite “CD Sounds Bad, LP Sounds Great” titles?