Friday, June 26, 2009

Norton Records Hates CDs (still.)

Those vinylphiles (or is it digiphobes?) at Norton Records have released another winning amalgam of 45 rpm rarities, digitized it, released it for our convenience, and ironically titled the epic collection I Still Hate CD's: Norton Records 45 RPM Singles Collection Vol. 2.

I get what drives purists to hate CDs and other digital formats - the same cold, hard metallic data storage devices that are also great for holding (egad!) work references, educational software, spreadsheets, databases, and infinite other forms of anti-art. There's the impersonality of bits, the miniaturization of cover art, the burnability of digitized information, the deprived lack of a needle contacting a grooved rotating surface, this digital monoculture in which everything is turned way up and subtlety is crushed like brittle vinyl under a boot, the absence of organicness, of analogness, of warmth and romance...and that annoying mettalic rainbow that obscures your reflection on the back of the thing.

And so progress makes you want to, as Ione Skye so elegantly declared in her graduation speech in Say Anything, "Go back." There was a time when music came on something more substantial. But you won't get the heft of vinyl with this collection.

Still, for all the disadvantages of the digital format, what you CAN do with this collection hooked into your hi-fi that you CAN'T do with the cool, dusty individual 45's from which they were born, is to simply push play. There's no need to "shuffle" these, as they are already pretty much placed in a beautifully random order by Norton. You can go on to entertaining your summer partygoers, manning the grill, and you're good: no standing by the record player unsleeving and resleeving your records, no dirty barbecued kids' hands flipping through your collection. And taking it a step backward, Norton has already taken the pleasure, and I say that without a needle tip's worth of irony, of saving you the time and money involved in sifting through the dustbin detritus to find the hidden gems - from Gino Washington's "Are You Ready?" introduction in the smoking "Out of This World," to the Pleasure Seekers' swaggering declaration "well, I may not make it past 21, but...whew! what a way to die!" to Charlie Feathers' trademark twang in "We're Getting Closer to Being Apart," and I could continue 42 more times, but that would just make this a lengthy this begat that begat that exercise. All 45 - ALL 45 - are worthy of your deck, back yard, balcony, or - sacrilege! - the earbuds of your iPod.

Long live Vinyl rips, and Norton - thanks for the Easy Button.

Pleasure Seekers - What A Way To Die (mp3)

Also, check out the I Still Hate CDs Vol. 2 Sampler (mp3)

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