February 19, 2007

I just wanna hold it

A while ago, I made my first itunes album purchase (it was the new Decemberists album, The Crane Wife). I find that I miss the tangibility of having an album cover in my hands - a pdf 'booklet' is just not an adequate substitute.

I want to be able to turn the pages, read the lyrics, refer to the track listing, pore over the artwork and credits. I don't want to do this on a screen. Nor does it seem practical to print out the pdf that came with the download. I want to be able to physically pass the disc to friends, take it on road trips, and put it on a stack on my shelf.

Is it me that needs to adjust? Is this what it was like when people had to get used to little cd liner notes, after decades of lovely big gatefold LPs?

Speaking of the Decemberists - check out the director's cut version of 'O Valencia!' And I'm really enjoying Calexico's Garden Ruin.



Blogger jb said...


for a whole bunch of us, migrating from LPs (with BIG inserts with all the lyrics, production stuff and miscellaneous artist ramblings) to CDs coincided with deteriorating vision, so we got stuffed on both accounts..
It's even more frustrating with mp3 blog downloads (check out jefitoblog.com for some seriously exquisite stuff, especially the Friday Mixtapes) - not even a pdf, darn it.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Paul Capewell said...

Good post.

I've been battling with that exact feeling for some time.

I find that iTunes is really useful for the odd track - b-sides, exclusive bonus tracks, that sort of thing - but I must say I have bought several iTunes albums. The most significant was the most recent Sigur Ros album - the CD has magnificent artwork. But I wanted it *now* and the iTunes one had two free videos with it, and the cursed PDF booklet.

I'm really torn. I love new technology and the instant downloading of music without the guilt, but it really isn't the same.

I'm amazed that someone like Amazon hasn't been able to sell you the CD, and as soon as you have paid, give you the MP3s too, so that you get the 'instant' satisfaction, followed a few days later by the big lovely CD with artwork to hold and keep.

Ramble ramble ramble. You have new photos on Flickr, so I'm gonna go pore over them/get jealous. :)


2:53 PM  
Blogger Jessie said...

Hi jb, thanks for the link. Looks interesting!

And Paul, I agree. In fact I've gone so far as to buy both - eg when Aluminium came out (avant garde orchestral remakes of White Stripes songs: winner!) I bought it on vinyl and by download. That's partly because I plan never to play the vinyl, which is numbered from a total run of 999. Ka ching.. But yeah. Your idea is a good one.

8:45 PM  
Blogger James said...

I kind of like the idea of a laser turntable (which doesn't wear your records) http://www.elpj.com/. On the other hand, it doesn't look as cool as a real turntable, more like a CD player. The other downer is that they're about ten grand US!!! However, there's also the suggestion that you could make an analogue scan of the surface of your record, and then play that, rather than re-reading it each time. So you could take your LPs (even scratched ones) in and get them digitized (but they'd still play analogue) to take home. Kinda interesting anyway.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

Wait, you can get a pdf file with iTunes downloads? Where? How? I kept wondering why they didn't offer something like that.

I've been adjusting to the idea of downloading for the instant gratification, but if it's someone I really like, I'll buy the physical CD. Actually, I'm hoping Age Pryor's new album will be available for download the first day the CD is available, because it will take a few weeks to ship to me from NZ, so I figure I'll buy the download while I wait for the physical CD.

4:11 PM  
Blogger owens valley tomatohead said...

I'm happy to lend you the guts to my CD's copy.

I think the coolest thing that happened last year was when Graeme Humphreys emailed the liner notes and lyrics to Humphreys and Keen's The Overflow. I guess they ran out of cash to put it in the CD.

Hope Taranaki was cool.

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Firewarden said...

I agree Jessie, great post – and I’m sure all the art/graphic designers out there would also agree, there’s a definite tactile feeling of being closer and/or relating to the artist & the music when one is able to hold the packaging that accompanies albums.
To that end Mr Capewell – you should check the vinyl edition of the recent Sigur Ros album – double gatefold with a solid spine, deep-embossed imagery, two 12”s and a one-sided 10”... The packaging gods have spoken thus! (Pricey? Oh, hell yeah..)

11:48 PM  

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