"Here's somebody who just loves to sing." Over the telephone, Peter Guralnick sounds sad, incredulous. "But he's unable at the end of his life to force himself into the recording studio—the fear of completion, fear of exposing your untrammeled idea to execution. What a terrible thing to lose that ability, that faith in yourself."
It's the first rule of being a stereophile: sound quality is serious business. Simon Gibson, one of the engineers at Abbey Road Studios who worked on EMI's new Signature Collection of hybrid SACD/CDs, knows the drill: remaster and change the sound of a much-loved classical recording from the label's glorious back catalog and you risk becoming a target of blogs and forums. Gibson's aware that the more hallowed the recording, the more quickly knives come out at the mention of remastering.
The minidustup over Etta James saying she “can’t stand” Beyonce and was gonna “whip” or “whoop” her ass is a hoot. First of all, Etta’s legacy is in no danger. No one will ever top her rendition of “At Last.” That performance, her greatest single track, is in no danger of being superseded.
Many if not most of the world’s most admired albums attained their fame slowly. In the case of Exile on Main Street which was released forty years ago on May 12, 1972, it took years for its ragged, bluesy charms to percolate into the collective psyche and eventually emerge as if not the best, then one of the contenders in the Stones catalog.
Why rage against an ill wind? I realize that complaining incessantly about the ongoing plundering of rock, classic and otherwise, by Madison Avenue ain't gonna make it stop but is there no one who can resist the allure of cash?