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View Full Version : The Lost Dimension of two sides



JON9000
12-11-2007, 03:51 PM
Back in the Crustaceous Era, before the CD was affordable for all (I got my first one in 1988), music lovers had to actually get off their cabooses and "flip"(!) the tape or record to hear the opposite side. Therefore, in addition to running times that did not exceed 44-45 minutes, albums were also composed with attention what would make sense based on sides. They created 22 minute short programs.

Now, with that physical break in the music gone, I feel as though perhaps something has been lost. For example:

Can you imagine what it was like as a kid in 1970 listening to Led Zeppelin III for the first time? All you have to go on are the first two albums, and the first side of III is right there with them- heavy as can be, bluesy and loud. Then, you flip the record and... what is this? All of a sudden you have a side of folk music that really doesn't sound much like what you knew Zep to be.

Dark Side of the Moon- the first side is clearly coherent on its own, with reprises in and out of songs, a crescendo and fade out. The second half is much the same. The songs even segue into each other, making each half a sort of exended medley.

A lot of albums from that era are the same way... Abbey Road, etc. Sometimes I get nostalgic for that form of composition, although I keep my ipod on shuffle so its a bit annoying to have songs cut off abruptly.

Does anybody else feel some of the traditional coherence of albums has been lost since the CD hit the scene?

El Chuxter
12-11-2007, 04:08 PM
Off-topic, but related: Full Moon Fever has a spoken part, only on the CD, where Tom Petty asks for a moment of silence in respect for the LP and tape listeners who have to get up and flip the tape over.

jjreason
12-11-2007, 05:14 PM
Ha! I was thinking of that exact same interlude, Chux, when I read the title of this thread. :thumbsup:

I think CDs of albums from this era should respect the flip - by putting an extra few seconds of pause (attached to the last track of the first side) in there for effect.

Exhaust Port
12-11-2007, 06:21 PM
I don't think the CD is to blame, it started with the cassette tape. Sure initially the cassette tape listening experience was the same as the LP but I don't think that lasted too long thanks to listeners making their own tapes and self-reversing players. Sure, I enjoyed the cassette "presentation" but eventually the songs would find themselves being played in a different order or with other albums or bands on my own tapes.

Prior to the cassette tape audiophiles were the only ones who could remotely reproduce a mix tape with real-to-real recordings. So the advent of the cheap and smaller cassette tape gave the average consumer the ability to alter their albums. Plus most cassette players evolved to include the ability to automatically change sides. No longer did we need to get up and flip the tape over, it would do that all by itself.

I think the only long lasting remnant of LP's that cassettes continued was the time limit of the 2 sides. Personally the CD eliminating that limitation is great and really freed up the artists. Sure, there's a little nostalgia for the old 45 minute albums where it seems a rarity that a "modern" album would clock in anywhere less than 60 minutes. Some artists though seem that it's their duty to fill every minute of a CD and as a result some albums seem to drag on and be filled with less than stellar work.

It'll be interesting to see where the explosion of digital music takes the "side" issue as there is no official "side" limit anymore. The only loss we'll see in the future will be the lack of album art. To this day, nearly every song in my collection gives me flashes of the album art while I'm listening. The album art is how I mentally sort each Led Zeppelin or Rush album and many others. I loved dissecting the images as I listened to the album for the first few times. That's a big reason why I still buy my music on CD's and not digitally.

Mad Slanted Powers
12-12-2007, 12:51 AM
My brother and I would always record albums onto cassette tapes. It saved wear and tear on the album, and you could listen to it more conveniently, take it with you in the car, etc. While it eliminated the need to change sides, there was usually a bit longer of a gap at that spot. Having the album to refer to made me aware of where that gap should be, so even though I didn't have to change sides, I still sort of got the effect of it.

There have been several albums that have put something in the middle of a CD to make reference to the changing of the sides. One such album that I have is Luscious Jackson's Natural Ingredients. It begins with someone saying "Put the needle on the record", followed by the sound of a needle going on a record and some LP crackles. In the middle of the album, there is some more LP sounds and someone saying, "And now ladies and gentlemen, let's get ready for side 2."

Some friends of mine in college were in a band. I got a copy of a demo they made. I rearranged the songs on my copy as to how I thought they would flow the best on two sides of a tape or an album.

JON9000
12-13-2007, 07:57 PM
I don't think the CD is to blame, it started with the cassette tape. Sure initially the cassette tape listening experience was the same as the LP but I don't think that lasted too long thanks to listeners making their own tapes and self-reversing players. Sure, I enjoyed the cassette "presentation" but eventually the songs would find themselves being played in a different order or with other albums or bands on my own tapes.

Yeah, but as MSP mentioned, on many albums one side is longer than the other so often you get 2 or 3 mintues extra on some albums. Auto-reverse was pretty late in the game affordability wise.


Prior to the cassette tape audiophiles were the only ones who could remotely reproduce a mix tape with real-to-real recordings.

Would you believe my dad rigged a reel-to-reel in his car back in the day? He proto-pimped his own ride!


I think the only long lasting remnant of LP's that cassettes continued was the time limit of the 2 sides. Personally the CD eliminating that limitation is great and really freed up the artists. Sure, there's a little nostalgia for the old 45 minute albums where it seems a rarity that a "modern" album would clock in anywhere less than 60 minutes. Some artists though seem that it's their duty to fill every minute of a CD and as a result some albums seem to drag on and be filled with less than stellar work..

This is very true. The 45 minute running time was pretty nice. I think it is ideally how long a solid album should last. That is incidentally my attention span.


It'll be interesting to see where the explosion of digital music takes the "side" issue as there is no official "side" limit anymore. The only loss we'll see in the future will be the lack of album art. To this day, nearly every song in my collection gives me flashes of the album art while I'm listening. The album art is how I mentally sort each Led Zeppelin or Rush album and many others. I loved dissecting the images as I listened to the album for the first few times. That's a big reason why I still buy my music on CD's and not digitally.

I think digital music is taking things back to the days of vinyl when singles were a much larger share of the market. There wil always be a place for entire albums if they are well made, but singles drive the digital world. If I want an entire album, I always get a hard copy. I have a pretty decent home stereo and cds sound better.

Mad Slanted Powers
12-13-2007, 08:33 PM
Yeah, but as MSP mentioned, on many albums one side is longer than the other so often you get 2 or 3 mintues extra on some albums.Actually, I wasn't thinking about that gap. I was referring to recording an album onto one side of a 90 minute tape. Unless I was trying to squeeze a longer album onto the tape, I would leave the tape running until the needle lifted and restart it before it dropped on side 2, just to be sure I didn't miss anything. What you mentioned about the different side lengths was one of the drawbacks of tapes. Sometimes they would alter the running order to even out the sides. After seeing a cassette of Led Zeppelin II, I recall being confused as to why they always played Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" and "Living Loving Maid" back to back on the radio. They were not together on the tape.



This is very true. The 45 minute running time was pretty nice. I think it is ideally how long a solid album should last. That is incidentally my attention span.It's a pretty good length. One of my favorite albums is Frank Black's Teenager of the Year, but it is 22 songs spanning 1:02:45, so I've never enjoyed the second half of the CD quite as much, though a couple of my favorite songs are from that part of the CD.



I think digital music is taking things back to the days of vinyl when singles were a much larger share of the market. There wil always be a place for entire albums if they are well made, but singles drive the digital world. If I want an entire album, I always get a hard copy. I have a pretty decent home stereo and cds sound better.I feel the same way. I was always someone who preferred to get entire albums. I didn't buy singles except for some local 7" vinyl and some tape and CD singles from favorite groups. In recent years, (pretty much since I got iTunes and started ripping CDs into it), my attention span for albums has waned a bit. I guess it seems like I just don't have time to listen to an entire album. With iTunes, I can get all those old songs that I like, without having to buy an entire album that I may not like as much as the single. However, if I do like an album, I'll buy the hard copy rather than download the whole thing. I like having the art work and liner notes.

El Chuxter
12-14-2007, 01:29 AM
The sound quality is, for now, still better on CDs as well. Many people may not notice, but if you're an audiophile, or even if you just listen to a lot of music, you will.

You can also get older albums cheaper than the downloaded versions. Yesterday at WM, I bought a Dio album for $6.88, with 16 songs. That'd be $10 or $16 on iTunes, depending on whether they charge for the album or for the number of songs (they seem to be a little inconsistent on that).

TeeEye7
12-16-2007, 04:26 PM
Whippersnappers! :whip:

Not only did I grow up flipping my LPs, but I had to get up from the couch and change the channel on the family 19" B&W TV!

Mad Slanted Powers
12-16-2007, 06:30 PM
Whippersnappers! :whip:

Not only did I grow up flipping my LPs, but I had to get up from the couch and change the channel on the family 19" B&W TV!

We did that until we got a new TV when I was 9. We were also able to get some of the Seattle stations that we didn't used to get. That's another thing we still had to do manually - go and tune in the TV with the device that controlled our big aerial antenna.