Just about a month away, HI-FI '98, The Home Theater & Specialty Audio Show, will interest thousands of audio enthusiasts when it visits The Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel in Los Angeles, California from Wednesday, June 10 to Sunday, June 14, 1998.
Remember when you weren't too busy to make your own cassette tapes to play in the car? How you could link one song to the next by genre or theme or beat or musical key? Remember how much more satisfying it was to listen to those tapes than it was to listen to the radio? No commercials, no announcers, no filler---and you liked every tune.
The next generation of streaming media technology was unveiled last week at RealNetworks' Conference '98 in Burlingame, California. The star of the show? "Bandwidth-friendly" RealPlayer G2, which promises to make noisy audio and glitchy video a part of the Web's past.
OLU DARA: In the World, from Natchez to New York Atlantic 83077-2 (CD). 1998. Yves Beauvais, Olu Dara, prods.; Danny Kopelson, eng. Tom Schick, asst. eng. AAD? TT: 47:03 Performance **** Sonics ****(But see final paragraph.)
My wife's cousin Steve used to sell antiques. Whenever he would display in his shop's window an impeccable (and expensive) item such as a Colonial pie safe, someone would inevitably walk into the shop and demand to know its price. He'd quote a staggering figure, and the browser would get excited. "Why, I have a piece at home exactly the same as that one! Do you think I could get that sort of money for it?" Steve, having learned his lesson the hard way, would be noncommittal.
Back in my bass-player days in the 1970s, I used to do a regular cabaret gig, providing musical support for sundry British stand-up comic acts. I flashed back on those days when I recently watched Fierce Creatures, the John Cleese/Jamie Lee Curtis/Kevin Kline/Michael Palin vehicle, on satellite. There, playing the part of a zookeeper, was pint-size comedian Ronnie Corbett, whom I backed a few times. (He always bought the band a bottle of Scotch—you remember stuff like that!) Ronnie used to open his act with the old "They said Thomas Edison was crazy...they said Henry Ford was crazy...they said Albert Einstein was crazy..." gag, which ends with "They said my Uncle Charlie was crazy...actually, my Uncle Charlie was crazy!"
Questions for music lovers: 1) Have you been racking your brain trying to remember who recorded Ruby Vroom? 2) Do you know how many Tim Hardin recordings are available on CD? 3) Which album featured Head East's "Never Been Any Reason," considered by some connoisseurs the greatest rock song ever?
Is it merely the tip of the iceberg, or a temporary diversion? Hard to say just yet, but a recent report from the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA) suggests that increasing numbers of folks are using their PCs in place of, or in addition to, regular audio systems.