Of all the gin joints in the world…
It looks like John Mellencamp is going to be among the first to release an album in HD-Audio using a new format developed by producer T-Bone Burnett. Mellencamp's album Life, Death, Love and Freedom will be released by Hear Music (Starbucks) on July 15. Burnett produced the record, in addition to bringing this new technology to the project.
We had Super Audio CDs and DVD-Audio, both of which delivered improved and enhanced audio. But I don't know that either claimed to be a High Definition format. This new format, called CODE, claims to be high definition. The theory behind the format is that high-definition audio files are created that are 'virtually indistinguishable' from the original masters.
It sounds interesting — and promising. The new Mellencamp record is going to be pacakged as a 2-disc set because it's possible not all standard CD players would accept the new CODE format pressed onto a standard CD. To get around this, a standard CD will be paired with a DVD that has the CODE version.
The good news? Plans now call for the album to be priced as a single-disc set rather. This is a good move. There are a lot of music listeners who won't give a toss about HD Audio and forcing them to absorb the development costs of a new format is a great way to tank an album.
I must say, though, I'm a little disappointed the HD-Audio is going to be tied to DVD. I wish I spent more time at home listening to CDs, but a lot of my musical consumption is done on the road. I'd love it if the new format was being offered in the more portable CD format, but I'm excited about this nonetheless.
We've been listening to pre-recorded music for so long we've taken the process of capturing sound for granted. It's a science and a miracle. The ability to transfer more sound and clearer sound and different elements of sound is a great thing for people who love music. Whether or not this technology is used to make better sounding records is still unknown, but it has that potential. This could be a great tool in the sonic toolbox for artists and producers.
John Mellencamp, though? It's funny, friend/antagonist Mark Saleski just wrote about Mellencamp and grudgingly coming around to respect the man. Mark and I are a funny lot. We seem to approach music very differently a lot of the time while at the same time agreeing on more things than we're ever likely to cop to. Mellencamp is a great example. While Mark was a few years older at the time — no, Mark, I'm not cracking wise with you here — we both held our nose where Mellencamp was concerned and then one day it changed.
That day? Scarecrow. Very underrated record, that. I'm on record as saying Mellencamp is not a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. I still believe that, but that doesn't mean I think he's contributed nothing. Scarecrow is a very nice achievement, and he's done good work since.
Still… of all the artists to test out a high-definition format on, why Mellencamp? There are a lot of artists who use the studio as an instrument and push the boundaries much further than Mellencamp. I'm not suggesting that giving added warmth, depth, and clarity to Americana rock and roll is a waste, but I'd love to hear this format presented by an artist who wants to push the limits.
Life, Death, Love and Freedom. Well, I guess he's calling his shot with that title. I wonder what's on his mind. You don't suppose Election 2008, George Bush, or Iraq might figure into that? Well, I might have to pick a copy of this up when I'm in Nashville before I go see Mark Knopfler.