2002 Year End Thoughts
First, let me begin by saying that I’m sort of glad 2002 was such a shitty year for new music
irst, let me begin by saying that I’m sort of glad 2002 was such a shitty year for new music, as it gave me a chance to listen to lots and lots of old stuff. Specifically, this relates to my listening experiences for 2002 because I found myself listening to a lot more vinyl—in fact, a lot of vintage 1960s British pop vinyl, much of it in original mono. I had never really gotten into the “mono” sound before this year, despite the fact that I had tons of it in my collection—I guess always looked at it as somehow inferior to stereo for some reason, despite the fact that in most cases, the mono mixes were the originals, and the stereo versions were either “fake” stereo or recreated years later from inferior masters, without the original producer/artist, etc. Anyway, with the sparkling new CD masters given to the Who’s first album (the new CD is in stereo) and the Rolling Stones ABKCO catalog (mostly stereo mixes, if available, regardless of quality or origin), I was inspired to dig out my original vinyl and compare. In most cases, the mono mixes sound immediately more dynamic, more energetic and refreshingly closer to the general sound I grew up with, when radio was the way to go and mono ruled the air for the most part (and even if it didn’t, good stereo radio receivers were far and few between). Now, don’t get me wrong—those aforementioned CD remasters “sound” fantastic, light years cleaner than anything I’ve heard before, and I’m very glad to own them. But put on the stereo CD mix of the Who’s “My Generation,” compare it to the original 45 mono mix, and there’s just no contest. Ditto for the Stones catalog, especially on mid-period stuff like Between The Buttons or Aftermath, both of which sound especially wrong in their stereo mixes through headphones. I know this is an expensive habit (and prices go up every day for good-quality original mono vinyl), but damn, this year I really felt like my huge monetary investment and hours of geek-out time spent with Goldmine or on eBay finally paid off.
Oh, yeah—I’d be remiss if I didn’t revel in the irony that I paid for a lot of that stuff by selling tons of garbage promo CDs sent to me by labels seemingly blind to musical history and in desperate grasp for the next big teen “thing.” Thanks, guys—couldn’t have done without your awful business sense and lack of taste and originality!