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ARSCLIST  February 2013

ARSCLIST February 2013

Subject:

Re: New MLP box set promo video now on YouTube

From:

Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 20 Feb 2013 07:12:04 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (87 lines)

Hi David:

You should buy recordings you like. Like everyone else, you're entitled to your opinions, most of 
which I do not agree with. I do not think you have a clear understanding of the economics of the 
record business, you seem to speak more as a highly-interested collector. Your perspective is 
important but your expressed wishes and complaints are unlikely to be heard if they don't match 
economic reality. This e-mail list is an interesting forum for discussion, but it really has no 
bearing on how bigger gears at the record companies turn. Basically, we're just flapping our gums, 
and this is the last flapping I will do with you on this subject.

Exact details like how far away a mic was placed 60 years ago, as written on an album liner note, 
are real minutia to most people. If that's the kind of thing you wish to obsess about and perhaps 
try a "gotcha" kind of dialog, go for it but I for one do not find it interesting. Who cares where 
the mic was placed, whether liner note text is 100% accurate? If you like the recording, enjoy it. 
If not, buy a different version.

The same can be said about commenting at length about edits and splices in a 50+-year-old recording. 
You say another recording has better splices -- then buy it and enjoy it. Do you think your 
complaining will lead to the "bad" splices being "fixed"? With today's budgets? Come on. The brutal 
truth -- that CD is likely never to be in print again, now that the first box set is sold out. I 
highly doubt there will be a third run for these products in a physical format. They've always been 
and will continue to be available as lossy downloads on iTunes and Amazon (which might actually make 
those splices sound better to you because lossy-compression kills off reverb tails). So, enjoy it or 
don't, but it's not a thing worth obssessing over because it is likely headed for obscurity.

As I've said repeatedly, if you don't like how a recording turned out, there are always other 
performances to buy. That's one thing with classical music, all but the most obscure pieces have 
been recorded many times by many people so the listener may choose his favorites. With a diverse 
catalog like Mercury, made over many years at many locations, and taking place in an environment of 
rapidly improving technology, a discerning person probably can't like every single title. In some 
(or many) cases, either the music or the recording won't be his cup of tea (exact same things can be 
said for any of the "golden era" labels). That's fine, buy what you like. Life's too short to obsess 
about recordings or music you don't like.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "DAVID BURNHAM" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 2:10 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] New MLP box set promo video now on YouTube


As for the organ-music edits, I would say that if they annoy you, don't buy the CD, choose a 
different performance. That's what was possible in the time and place, and the LP and CD sold quite 
well (although almost no solo-organ material sells as well as symphonic material).

-- Tom Fine

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Everytime you have decided to respond to something I have posted it is always tinged with anger, 
(including the first time you responded, (off-list), to tell me my comments were very offensive and 
would not be read by or responded to by anyone, and that was not even about a criticism but a 
complement I had given for a Mercury CD which unbeknownst to me had apparently been issued without 
your mother's involvement). You seem to have no tolerance for any less than a laudatory comment 
about any Mercury item.

Mercury's Living Presence recordings were legendary and the entire Mercury team, including your 
parents, obviously had very high standards; this team also included the respected and revered David 
Hall who, I understand, produced the record which first earned the epithet "Living Presence". While, 
as I've expressed a number of times, I have a great respect for Mercury recordings, I have the same 
high regard for many fine RCA, Columbia, English Decca, EMI, DGG and any number of other label's 
recordings. Another list member offered a clear explanation for what may have caused the poor edits 
on the Dupre Organ recording which made a lot of sense, (but that doesn't explain the noticeable 
edits on the orchestral CD I mentioned). You comment that "That's what was possible in the time and 
place....", and while there may have been extenuating circumstances in that particular situation, 
the edits on these recordings certainly don't represent the state of
 the art in the late '50s and early '60s. Flawless editing was definitely possible at this time, 
however I must confess I made an analog organ recording which was full of very poor edits which 
ordinarily I wouldn't have tolerated; but at the time of this recording the location, (Detroit Fox 
Theatre), was being prepared to be demolished and the organ had no working pistons. Every time a 
registration change was needed, the recording was stopped while the organ was re-registered, and 
then we carried on; smooth editing was impossible. Surprisingly this recording was praised by 
critics, including those who specialized in organ recordings, and the bad edits were never 
mentioned, (this record was also made with a single mike, an AKG C24).

Much more seems to have been written about Mercury's recording techniques than other labels and it 
is a fascinating read. However a number of 78 rpm sets recorded by Robert Fine contained the 
technical note that the recording was made with a single mike 30 feet from the performing artists, 
(the one I just checked is a string quartet). I can't imagine getting a decent sound from that 
distance and I asked David Hall, who I think was the producer on this recording, about this note and 
he said it was definitely not true; he said the distance was perhaps 15 feet but probably closer.

Hopefully we can make peace and be more congenial in the future.

db

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