Saturday, November 19, 2016

a shorter day of release

hello there

and yea, so it came to pass that the gods of music continued to giveth just as they taketh. yet another album of quality and note has been released in 2016, look you see, with this most recent one coming off of renowned metal merchants Metallica.

for it is, despite what you will read here, a very good album. it just did not, in a digital capacity, require the need for a release in the form of a double album as such. we shall get to that momentarily.

one of the most gratifying, welcome and pleasant elements of this release is that HMV, presumably in a moment of madness, ostensibly remembered that at heart they are a music store and actually went right ahead promoting some new music on its day of release.

oh yes, that's what i am talking about - a poster for a new record up in the front window of the store on the day you can actually first buy it, and not a couple of days later as an afterthought. as you can see, HMV considered a new Metallica record to be almost as important as one off of Bruno Mars, whoever that is, and decidedly more prominent that Craig David. nice one.

promotion of the record did not end there, but you shall, if you stick with this, see that across various images below.

as you can see, the standard 2 CD price is a hefty £14.99. there is a "deluxe" 3CD edition for £17.99. if you are going to purchase Hardwired....To Self Destruct off of Metallica, please get the 3CD version. the reasons for this were alluded to, actually explicitly stated, in some musings what i wrote yesterday, but more on that in a bit.

indeed that is Metallica's shiny new record sat at the toppermost of the poppermost of HMV's temple of what is new and what is trending in the world of music. a quite high placing, it seems - none higher, as point of fact. placing them above, as you can see, the latest mishmash of someone taking the fine vocals of The King, Elvis Presley and dubbing them over some orchestra.

we're hardly cutting to the chase at this point, but if your question is one of whether or not Hardwired....To Self Destruct is any good, the answer is oh yes. it's excellent. right across all 12 tracks and all 77 minutes and 30 seconds of it. and that latter bit gets to the heart of an issue with this release.

here's a rundown, then, of the technical specifications of the three disc set :

disc 1 - 6 tracks, 37 minutes 12 seconds
disc 2 - 6 tracks, 40 minutes 18 seconds
disc 3 - 17 tracks, 79 minutes 38 seconds.

conclusion - there was no good reason at all to make Hardwired....To Self Destruct a double CD release. the whole album would have fitted on to one CD with ease. and yet here we are, a double CD release, with the two disc standard version costing £5 north of what a standard one CD release would be.

make no mistake. i am aware that when it comes to vibes that quality is always, always, always more important than quantity. for example, a 30 minute David Lee Roth vocal record off of Van Halen priced at £10 would always be infinitely better quality and of immeasurably higher quality than a cheaper or even free Van Halen record that had Sammy Hagar doing whatever the hell it is he's supposed to be doing on it.

this is not, then, a criticism or dig or go at Metallica for not making it longer as such, but it is a criticism of them for fleecing the fans for a higher cost record than it needed to be. and yes, in fairness, in a somewhat commercially suicidal move i do appreciate that the band effectively gave the record away for free the day before release, putting on the internet as they did videos for each of the twelve songs.

in respect of the latter there is absolutely no point me putting snippets of the songs here as you can hear the whole thing across the net anyway. but getting to the main point of above, this is not quite the first time a double CD release has courted controversy or caused eyebrows to be raised.

the standard maximum capacity of a music CD is 80 minutes. there is a slightly bigger version that you can get 90 minutes on, but 80 is the main one used. this has not always been the case; when CD technology came along in the 80s the maximum you could get on one disc was either 74 or 76 minutes.

that copy of Tommy by The Who you can see is a double disc version. it's the first generation release, and features both sides of lp 1 on disc one, same arrangement for disc two. as and when CD technology allowed for more vibes to be placed on a CD, it was reissued as a single disc. the same is true for London Calling off of The Clash, which i have here somewhere. this is fair enough.

somewhere i also have a first generation copy of 1999 off of Prince. it is a single disc version, but omits the epic ways of D.M.S.R. in order for it to fit on an 80s technology single CD. i believe later issues put the song back on it. but still, it was released in a way to make it affordable during a time when record labels could charge whatever the hell they liked for music, as there was no such thing as "streaming" or downloads, unless you call taping something off the radio as downloading a stream.

when The Beatles got around to putting out their Red and Blue "greatest hits" records on CD, much in the way of complaint was raised of Red being a double CD. the two discs in their entirety run for just a few seconds over 60 minutes. with that being the case, many were critical, saying it was wasteful and that it should have been issued as a single disc. the argument back from The Beatles and the record label was that they wished to "preserve the way it was originally released". understandable as aesthetics are important to the art of owning music, but then again it's not like they made double sided CDs to preserve anything.

that is indeed me holding my £17.99 3 CD copy of the record, inside HMV no less. i very nearly bought just the standard 2 CD for £14.99 but thought no, let me splash the extra £3. just as well that i did, as if i had bought the 2 CD and discovered the things above at home this review would be a good deal more negative.

going back to aesthetics, and there's no excuse that Metallica can hide behind for making this release a 2 CD affair. as you can see in one of the pictures it's not like the discs have any special design on them. the packaging could have been the same with 1 CD in too. also, going on a couple of listens, there's no good "thematic" or content reason why the album should be split over two discs.

disappointingly, then, the only reason this has been split over a double compact disc set as far as i can see is so that they may charge us, the humble fans, £5 more than standard for it. there are those who would say such a move is "typical Metallica", but i'd say that's unfair - in my experience they've always been first rate with fans, giving some astonishing value.

that's the unprecedented second display inside the store what HMV have for the record, ensuring the fans and the casual vibes browser can spot it. mindful of the above, in terms of capacity and preserving audio quality yes of course it makes sense to release Hardwired....To Self Destruct as a double vinyl set. which is what they have done.

the most outstanding tracks on the record? well, the first two released, Hardwired and Moth Into Flame remain my favourites, but there's not a bad one. in regards of the "bonus" disc, the four extra songs are all decent (and if they had been shoved on the two discs of the album there would be no complaints about making it a double), whilst the live recordings are most splendid. splendid indeed, but then again don't forget the magnificent Live Metallica site, where one can get some outstanding quality official live recordings - ones that sound better than what is on this disc - for a good price. as in some of them are free.

in this day and age it's awfully trendy to refer to any artists' latest release as "their best and most important since....[randomly selected record]". the best example of this was David Bowie, when somehow the critics decided that both The Next Day and then Blackstar were "the best and most important thing" he had done since Scary Monsters. which overlooked some quality, but anyway. to this end, Hardwired....To Self Destruct is easily Metallica's best and most important album since Death Magnetic, which happens to be the last album off them before this. people claiming that Hardwired is a "return" to their classic sound clearly never heard Magnetic, for that was very much classic Metallica.

despite the gripe of the nature of how this has been released, make no mistake - Hardwired is a mighty fine and impressive album. i would suspect that any and all Metallica fans will have, like me, gone and bought this already. should you be reading this and have somehow forgotten that you quite liked the band, go right ahead and get this, in its 3 CD condition, and remember it all.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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