Tuesday, March 13, 2012

cd annoyance: bad placement of divisions between tracks

I was listening to a CD I got through Freecycle. It's The Bobby Darin Story.

It's generally a good CD. Pretty much what you'd expect -- a compilation of Bobby Darin songs. As near as I can tell (though I'm not bothering to look it up), it was a CD reissue of an old compilation.

But my one big complaint concerns the first track: "Splish Splash." (As an aside, I'll note that for some reason whenever I think of that song I can't help picturing Anson Williams as Potsie Webber singing it at Arnold's.) It's preceded by a spoken introduction in which Darin talks of how he got his career started. Now I assume that the intro is there because it was on the record that was being reissued. What annoys me about it is that they didn't separate the introduction from the song -- it's one track with both.

In terms of ripping this into my iTunes library, there's the complication that I have three options:

  1. Take "Splish Splash" from another CD (assuming I have it on another disc -- I think I do, but I'm not sure offhand, and I'm too lazy to check my database);
  2. Take "Splish Splash" complete with the introduction. That's not the worst thing in the world, I'll admit. But it offends my sense of aesthetics; or
  3. Use software to edit the track and remove the introduction. But my anal-retentive side won't let me do that unless I also create a new CD with the intro-less version and enter that CD in my database.
By the by, this isn't the first time I've had issues with where the track breaks are placed on a CD.
  • On the first reissue of Nick Lowe's Pure Pop for Now People the break between "Nutted by Reality" and "36 Inches High" was placed a little to early, so if you listen to music out of the album order (either by shuffling a disc, putting it on a mix disc, or (as I do), by putting an entire iTunes library on shuffle play), "Nutted by Reality" ends abruptly while "36 Inches High" begins with a half-second of echoing guitar.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's album, Off The Deep End, has a hidden track called "Bite Me." It's a few seconds of cacophony after ten seconds of silence at the end of "You Don't Love Me Anymore," which is the last listed track. The idea is that someone who has the album on may forget to turn off the stereo after the final track. So, ten minutes after the album seemingly ended there is a sudden burst of noise. Of course, this was accomplished by making the final track last about 14 minutes.
  • On some reissues of the Monkees album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, Ltd. the spoken word "Peter Percival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky" is part of the same track as "Pleasant Valley Sunday," while in other rereleases there's a track break between them.
  • Lots of concert albums seem to have incorporated questionable decisions as to where to split tracks. If, for example, between songs X and Y, the singer talks to the audience, and says something along the lines of "Now, we'd like to do a number that has special meaning for me. It's called Y," then it's best to try to get that patter in as the beginning of the track for Y rather than at the end of the track for X. When you're listening on shuffle, it just works better.
Part of my issue with this stuff, I'll admit, has to do with my anal-retentive side and how I keep my CD database. I should probably post about that at some point. The short of it is that my database is relational, and any given track can appear on more than one album. Take, for example, "Tempted" by Squeeze. That track was originally on their East Side Story album. It also appeared on their compilation, Singles, 45's and Under. It's also appeared on other Squeeze compilations, and a bunch of various artists compilations as well. My database identifies these as all the same track. Aside from helping me to know what I have, it also makes it easier to avoid putting more than one copy of a given track into iTunes. Also, of course, it lets me fiddle with music and databases. Assuming, hypothetically, that some other album has an alternate mix of "Tempted," or a live version thereof, those are listed as different tracks. Note that it's not all science. If a remastered version comes out, I don't treat that as a different track if they didn't change the mix. Mea database, mea praecepta.

Now, the issue for me, is that if the mix is the same but there's some issue with track breaks -- the end of the song cut off on one issue (see first bullet), an additional thing that's not part of the song but part of the track on one album (see second bullet), or some other thing like it, that screws me up. It also bugs me with issues of deciding whether a track is what I call "mixworthy" (i.e., worthy of being ripped from my CD collection into my iTunes library.

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