Music: February 2004 Archives

Copy Control

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Can I just say here and now that I think EMI are idiots. Complete buffoons. I foolishly made the mistake of buying the new Norah Jones album on Friday - but despite being a fine collection of music, I really can't recommend that anyone else should buy it.

EMI have been using their Copy Control mechanism on CDs for sometime now, and I've been avoiding buying any of their CDs that employ it. But I missed the large notice on the rear, and front spine on Friday.

The problems started when I tried to play it on my PC. I know, I know. But I still wanted to have a listen at my computer. I also wanted to copy it onto my minidisc player. The "CD" (it's not a CD) launches its own player which uses a pre-encoded soundfile at a massive 128k to play on the PC.

My Sony "Sonic Stage" software refused to read the CD - preventing me copying directly to minidisc. "Simple Burner" - another MD copying program - did it, but as once I listened to the resulting tracks I realised they clicked and popped throughout. Result - unlistenable.

The various bits of ripping software that I have scattered around, like dbPoweramp and CDex all read a ripped the CD, but they also read all the deliberate errors.

After much faffing around, I finally used a program called Easy CD-EA Extractor as suggested here and finally I had WAV files that were listenable.

Why on earth should I have to go to all this trouble to listen to some music that I've bought? This doesn't stop piracy. It positively encourages it. I like to think of myself as pretty clued on these things, but if even I have to jump through so many hoops to get audio off a CD I've bought and onto a portable listening device, then I feel for the average consumer. Save the hassle and download the album seems to be the message they're giving out.

Norah Jones is going to sell CDs by the bucket load. I look around my place of work and see all the people who've bought iPods, and despair at the thought of them trying to get their music onto their portable machines.

So that's the last EMI CD I buy until they ditch this stupid mechanism. And the more record companies that employ this protection, the fewer CDs I will buy.

The really stupid thing is that any CD can be pirated one way or another. I can record from the digital out of a CD player to whatever medium. And once it's out there, it's out there.

Supposedly, EMI are in trouble at the moment. Copy Control is not going alleviate this.

American Music


Off to the Annie Liebovitz exhibition at The Hospital for American Music exhibition. Lots of roots American singers having had photos done by Vanity Fair's no. 1 photographer.



I've moved onto Ennio Morricone at the moment - since I finally worked out that the theme music to the hit and miss Nighty Night is from the soundtrack to My Name Is Nobody.

Morricone is one of my favourite composers, with the soundtrack album to The Mission being one of my favourite pieces of music of all time. (For the record I was recently asked in a work survey what my three favourite albums of all time. Just to be difficult, and because it's kind of true, I named, The Mission, The Trinity Sessions by The Cowboy Junkies, and Fine Young Cannibals' The Raw and the Cooked. The last one of those will have certainly changed by next week).

Morricone will be 76 in November, and I guess that his output feels like it's slowed down of late. But a look at IMDB reveals plenty of Italian and other international work still coming through.

The trouble is, it's difficult to determine works for which his music is being reused (Kill Bill), where he may have only created the theme music (has he really scored 50 hours of Japanese mini-series Musashi? I doubt it), or full film scores (I have yet to catch Ripley's Game). I suspect that I need to spend more time surfing the net to find out this stuff.

Maybe I should get out to Japan to do a Lost in Translation tour, and take in Morricone's June concerts. That's a wonderful idea - if slightly beyond the bounds of reality just now.

Francoise Hardy


Today, I seem to have been travelling around with a background of Francoise Hardy. What brought this on?

Well I was watching the disappointingly poor Sea of Souls on telly last night, and frankly, by the end I was channel surfing. You really know that a supposedly thrilling drama hasn't grabbed you if you're seeing what else is on. I stumbled across a documentary that BBC 4 were screening as part of a Bernardo Bertolucci season they're airing in "celebration" of his new film, The Dreamers.

I only caught a little of the programme (taped the late night repeat), but they showed a scene in which one of the characters has to put Tous Les Garcons et Les Filles by Francoise Hardy on the jukebox. I just love that song. I spent a large part of the evening turning my CD collection upside down looking for a compilation that I bought on a whim a couple of years ago, as I visited one of those parts of HMV that others dare not.

Why should I do that? Well she must be one of the few musical influences I inherited from my parents. I was brought up in the seventies and eighties, and theoretically, my parents should have had a record collection to kill for. Well they didn't. It wasn't that they didn't like music, but their album collection was quite limited. I think that by the time my brother and I had reached our teens, we'd easily doubled their entire lifetime collections. It might be the fragile nature of vinyl, and the fact that my parents had travelled to the US and back so probably didn't absorb clutter like I do now, but I was generally disappointed with the music available. Of course there were some Beatles albums, a fair sprinkling of Simon & Garfunkel, and even some Monkies. But the rest was made up of musicals (my dad), and some popular European singers from the late sixties and early seventies like Nana Mouskouri and Hardy.

It's incredibly easy listening music, and while I can get reasonably excited by some of the new music coming through at work, you can always return to this sort of stuff to relieve stress, particularly when Blair and Bush are just about admitting that there was bugger all reason for going to war. [Calm deep breath]

It's just a shame that my French is not up to much, and I don't really understand the lyrics. Still, I rarely listen to the lyrics of English language songs so that's not the biggest issue in the world. I do sometimes think that I'm the only person in the world utterly oblivious to the written meaning of songs. I guess it's a voice against a melody that makes me like them. A discussion for another day.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Music category from February 2004.

Music: January 2004 is the previous archive.

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