The Final Rip: C

Here is where I talk a little about various artists whose music I own. (S/T means self-titled.)

Since MTV was a big part of my early music experience, I tried to find videos of one song for each band just for fun. Apologies in advance for some of the more lurid examples, I mostly picked them based on the song, not on the video content!

Complete(ish) Collections

CAKE (1994 Motorcade of Generosity, 1996 Fashion Nugget, 1998 Prolonging the Magic, 2001 Comfort Eagle, 2004 Pressure Chief, 2007 B-Sides and Rarities, 2011 Showroom of Compassion) — I totally love these guys; probably one of my favorite bands ever. Between the syncopated rap-singing, the great lyrics, the stripped down sound, the brilliant use of trumpet, and copious vibraslap, it all just works amazingly well. So many amazing songs to choose from, but the first I heard was “Rock ‘n Roll Lifestyle” which to this day remains awesome.

Cake - Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle

The Chemical Brothers (1995 Exit Planet Dust, 1997 Dig Your Own Hole, 1999 Surrender, 2002 Come With Us, 2004 Push the Button, 2007 We Are the Night, 2010 Further, 2015 Born in the Echoes) — 1995 was the year I first started to listen to techno (guess electronica taxonomists are calling this “big beat” now), and The Chemical Brothers, along with Orbital, was one of the first groups I got into. This is a genre of music where the individual albums don’t mean so much to me; I just like having a big pile to shuffle in a playlist, so I’m always happy to have more.

The Chemical Brothers - Go

The Crystal Method (1997 Vegas, 2001 Tweekend, 2002 Community Service, 2004 Legion of Boom, 2006 Drive, 2009 Divided by Night, 2014 S/T) — These guys are part of what I would call the “second wave” of techno bands that I started listening to in the mid-90s, also tagged as “big beat.” After fleshing out my Chemical Brothers and Orbital collections, I went in search of more similar fare and found these guys.

The Crystal Method - "Name of the Game" [Official Video]

Partial Collections

Cabaret Voltaire (1987 Code) — Late in high school I was given a mix tape of a bunch of electronic music, ranging from new wave to industrial, and a couple of songs from Code were included. At one point I had dug further into their catalogue, but I guess I decided that this one was the real keeper. It is also one of three classic industrial albums (along with Ministry‘s Twitch and Nitzer Ebb‘s That Total Age) that seemingly took forever to get their first CD release.

CABARET VOLTAIRE 'Dont Argue' video edit 'CODE' album version [HQ Audio]

Tracy Chapman (1988 S/T) — Great songwriter and an excellent debut album, just never took the time to keep up.

Coil (1987 Hellraiser Themes, 1991 Love’s Secret Domain) — I was initially intrigued by the creepy Hellraiser Themes but was completely floored by Love’s Secret Domain, which to me is a creepy, funky, drug-induced masterpiece (the initials are no coincidence, I’m sure). I’ve flirted with some of their other catalogue but never pulled the trigger. Plus they’ve been hard to find at a reasonable cost.

Coldplay (2002 A Rush of Blood to the Head) — Yeah, these guys were really big for a while there, and this ended up in my collection.

Coldplay - The Scientist

Creature Feature (2007 The Greatest Show Unearthed) — One of the opening acts when we saw Schoolyard Heroes. Light & cheesy horror-pop fun.

Creature Feature - Buried Alive (Official Performance Video)

The Cure (1981 Faith, 1982 Pornography, 1985 The Head on the Door, 1986 Staring at the Sea: The Singles, 1987 Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, 1989 Disintegration, 1990 Mixed Up, 1992 Wish) — Disintegration came out the year I graduated high school and I quickly fell in love with the atmospheric, moody sound. Then I discovered Pornography which was darker and moodier and became my favorite Cure. Since then, I’ve dabbled with filling out the collection, but it’s still far from complete.

Greatest Hits

The Cars (1985 The Cars Greatest Hits, 2002 Complete Greatest Hits, 2011 Move Like This) — Poppy and yet kind of moody as well. Yes, there are two GH collections because they don’t entirely overlap, LOL. Their 20+ year comeback album was pretty good too!

The Cars-Shake it up

Collective Soul (2001 7even Year Itch: Greatest Hits 1994-2001) — I remember hearing these guys all the time on the radio and yet not connecting the dots that all these songs were by the same band until I finally picked this up!

Collective Soul - Run (Music Video)

The Final Rip: B

Here is where I talk a little about various artists whose music I own. (S/T means self-titled.)

Since MTV was a big part of my early music experience, I tried to find videos of one song for each band just for fun. Apologies in advance for some of the more lurid examples, I mostly picked them based on the song, not on the video content!

Complete(ish) Collections

Beck (1993 Loser, 1994 Mellow Gold, 1996 Odelay, 1998 Mutations, 1999 Midnite Vultures, 2002 Sea Change, 2005 Guero, 2006 The Information, 2008 Modern Guilt, 2014 Morning Phase) — “Loser” was all over the radio when we first moved to the Bay Area, but when Odelay landed he really took off. Beck was one of a number of artists we got to see at the LIVE105 “Green Christmas Ball” in 1996. Overall I think I prefer his (currently) mid-career albums, especially Guero and The Information, but they all have their charm. I also like the way he mixes in downbeat, melancholy albums amid the more crowd-pleasing ones.

Bigod 20 (1991 Carpe Diem, 1992 On the Run, 1992 Steel Works!, 1994 Supercute) — In college and just afterwards I couldn’t get enough Front 242, so this Front 242 clone band was just the ticket. The wife and I still put on our fake German accents and quote “Carpe Diem” and “The Bog” at each other to this day. Pure fun. And their cover of Madonna‘s “Like a Prayer” is just perfect.

Bigod 20 - The Bog (Dance Mix)

Bill Carson & His Checkered Past (2004 The Copper Look) — Wow, so not even a Wikipedia article on these guys. Amazon lists it as “country” or “roots rock” but all I know is I love it. “Languid” is the word that comes to mind, just utterly laid back and calm, and so very different from most anything else in my collection. Wish there had been a follow-up!

Tracy Bonham (1996 The Burdens of Being Upright, 2000 Down Here, 2005 Blink the Brightest, 2010 Masts of Manhatta) — Another Bay Area discovery (note the 1995-era album), Bonham had a pretty popular hit “Mother Mother” that played all the time. Always felt like she should have had more success as the rest of her material is quite good.

Tracy Bonham - Navy Bean

Partial Collections

Babylon Zoo (1995 Spaceman) — Love this song so I picked up the single, but was never curious enough beyond that to check out this band. Turns out the version I’m familiar with is a remix (below). The original is notably different.

Babylon zoo - Spaceman (Extended, HQ)

Barenaked Ladies (1992 Gordon, 1994 Maybe You Should Drive, 1996 Born on a Pirate Ship, 1998 Stunt, 2000 Maroon, 2003 Everything to Everyone, 2006 Barenaked Ladies Are Me, 2008 Snacktime!, 2010 All in Good Time) — Like everyone else, I caught wind of these guys when “One Week” was all the rage, but digging into their back catalogue I found a lot to like, and their first three albums are all pretty brilliant. Haven’t been keeping up with them recently, but they’re on my list to get back to.

Tonight Is The Night I Fell Asleep At The Wheel - Barenaked Ladies

Jean Baudin (2008 Solace, 2012 Mechanisms) — A staple at California Extreme, of all places, this dude uses a custom 11-string bass and a unique playing technique to produce some incredibly cool and haunting sounds. Might be more classical than rock, but since it’s an amplified instrument, we’ll keep him in the rock category for now.

Jean Baudin - Frosty Acres - @ NorCal BASSIX Master Class

Beastie Boys (1986 Licensed to Ill, 1989 Paul’s Boutique, 1998 Hello Nasty, 2004 To the 5 Boroughs, 2011 Hot Sauce Committee Part Two) — Licensed to Ill (which is brilliant, don’t let revisionist history tell you otherwise) made me aware, but “Intergalactic” is what really won me over to these guys. In the end I’m probably most partial to Paul’s Boutique.

Beastie Boys - Intergalactic (High Quality)

The Beatles (1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 1968 White Album, 1969 Abbey Road, 2000 1) — Everybody’s gotta have some Beatles in their collection, right? Obviously I’m mostly into their later stuff, with the White Album being peak Beatles for me. Toss in the Greatest Hits collection 1 to cover the earlier bits and I’m good here.

The Beats - While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Björk (1993 Debut, 1996 Telegram, 1997 Homogenic, 2000 Selmasongs, 2001 Vespertine, 2004 Medúlla, 2007 Volta) — Quirky and a bit challenging at times but always interesting. Medúlla in particular, assembled almost exclusively from vocals and vocal samples, is a fascinating listen.

Björk - Bachelorette (Official Music Video)

Bush (1994 Sixteen Stone, 1999 The Science of Things) — Sixteen Stone is a cornerstone of the grunge era, even if you think they were just cheap Nirvana knockoffs. I honestly never really bought into that narrative and just enjoyed it for what it was.

Bush - Little Things

Greatest Hits

The B-52’s (1998 Time Capsule: Songs for a Future Generation) — Sure, there’s “Rock Lobster” and “Love Shack“, but the rest of their collection is pretty fun as well.

The B-52's - Private Idaho (1980)

Pat Benatar (2005 Greatest Hits) — Now here’s an MTV staple. Just an amazing collection of great songs. I can remember the video for practically every one of them!

Pat Benatar - You Better Run

Bon Jovi (1994 Cross Road) — Another MTV regular with a great collection of songs. I still say he probably regrets that last key change in “Livin’ on a Prayer” now that he’s older. Sadly this is an early hits collection and misses one of his better recent anthems “It’s My Life.”

Bon Jovi - Wanted Dead Or Alive

David Bowie (1995 The Hearts Filthy Lesson, 2016 Legacy) — Prior to his passing, I will admit to only owning the single to “The Hearts Filthy Lesson” owing to Trent Reznor‘s involvement and its use in the movie Se7en. Now I must edumacate myself.

David Bowie - The Heart's Filthy Lesson (Seven movie video)

The Final Rip: A (+Numbers)

Here is where I talk a little about various artists whose music I own, beginning with the A’s. (S/T means self-titled.)

Since MTV was a big part of my early music experience, I tried to find videos of one song for each band just for fun. Apologies in advance for some of the more lurid examples, I mostly picked them based on the song, not on the video content!

Complete(ish) Collections

Alice in Chains (1990 Facelift, 1992 Dirt, 1992 Sap, 1993 Jar of Flies, 1995 S/T, 2009 Black Gives Way to Blue, 2013 The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here) — When I was working at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland as a Research Assistant, I was sharing an apartment with a postdoc who owned a copy of Dirt. I picked it up out of curiosity and immediately fell in love with the dark, brooding sound. RIP Layne Staley, but also glad to see the band release new material.

Alice In Chains - Rooster

Fiona Apple (1996 Tidal, 1999 When the Pawn…, 2005 Extraordinary Machine, 2012 The Idler Wheel…) — Accidentally got a chance to see her in 1996 at the LIVE105 “Green Christmas Ball” when she was just an up-and-comer. Love her voice and the mix of melancholy and playfulness in her songwriting.

Fiona Apple: “Hot Knife” (Official Music Video)

Aqueduct (2001 Power Ballads, 2005 I Sold Gold, 2007 Or Give Me Death, 2015 Wild Knights) — “The Suggestion Box” was a big hit in the Seattle area shortly after we arrived, and the first album turned out to be quite enjoyably quirky, with interesting complex rhythms throughout and fun pop culture references in the songs.

As You Wish- Aqueduct

Arcadia (1985 So Red the Rose) — Famously self-described as the “most pretentious record ever,” I just don’t care. This is one of my all-time favorite albums, pretty much all the aspects of Duran Duran I loved the most amplified and stripped of all the other stuff. Moody, dark, complex, with some awesome videos and guest appearances by Sting and Grace Jones, what’s not to love? Only bummed they stopped after one release. (And sadly their awesome videos are not online.)

Goodbye Is Forever (2010 Remastered Version)

Jon Astley (1987 Everyone Loves the Pilot (Except the Crew), 1988 The Compleat Angler) — Wait, wait, this is NOT Rick Astley (unrelated) and this is NOT a rickroll. Jon Astley is a producer turned songwriter who dropped two albums in the late 80’s of droll British pop infused with great wordplay. “Jane’s Getting Serious” was his one hit, but the rest of his stuff is absolutely worth a listen, especially if you enjoy wordplay.

I'll Show You Bastards - Jon Astley - The Compleat Angler

Audioslave (2002 Audioslave, 2005 Out of Exile, 2006 Revelations) — Rage Against the Machine with Chris Cornell on vocals? As with many supergroups I think expectations were too high, and although I ended up buying all three released albums, I’m not entirely sure they hold up. Will have to revisit them.

Audioslave - Show Me How to Live

Avenged Sevenfold (2001 Sounding the Seventh Trumpet, 2003 Waking the Fallen, 2005 City of Evil, 2007 S/T, 2010 Nightmare, 2013 Hail to the King, 2016 The Stage) — When we got a new car in 2012 it came with Sirius/XM radio, so the wife and I started listening to the hard rock/metal station Octane, which is where I first heard these guys. It’s been a while since I added a new rock/metal band to the mix, but they hit the right mix of dark and epic for the most part. I even don’t mind too much when they get a little country in their ballads. Note that the video below is only for horror aficionados.

Avenged Sevenfold - A Little Piece Of Heaven [Official Music Video]

Partial Collections

2Cellos (2011 S/T) — Two dudes beat up their poor cellos playing vigorous covers of rock tunes. A fun novelty.

2CELLOS - Smooth Criminal [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

311 (1995 S/T) — These guys had a very interesting sound. I got hooked on a couple of singles from this album (“Down” in particular) and eventually picked it up. I always enjoyed the album but never quite got to the point where I wanted to do a full dive into their catalogue. A few years later they released my favorite tune, “Beautiful Disaster,” but I never picked up the album it was on.

311 - Beautiful Disaster

AC/DC (1980 Back in Black) — I owned a few early AC/DC albums as a cassette collector, due in large part to needing to come up with 11 stamps for the record club subscription. When I switched to CDs, I chose to leave these guys behind. Eventually I decided this was the one album I couldn’t do without. The opening riffs of “Hells Bells” and the title track are the standouts here.

AC/DC - Back In Black (Official Video)

Tori Amos (1992 Little Earthquakes, 1994 Under the Pink, 1996 Boys for Pele, 1998 From the Choirgirl Hotel, 1999 To Venus and Back, 2011 Night of the Hunters, 3 singles) — When we arrived in the Bay Area in 1995, Tori Amos was a fixture on the local radio. Loved a lot about her earlier stuff, but interest kind of petered out after a few albums. Her vocal shenanigans (more prevalent in her live and later stuff) can kind of drive me crazy! But she also has quite a collection of hauntingly beautiful songs as well.

Tori Amos - "Winter" (Official Music Video)

Greatest Hits

Adam Ant (2003 The Essential Adam Ant) — Adam Ant was a huge staple of the early MTV years. I remember (for perhaps obvious reasons) that they were playing the videos for “Goody Two Shoes” and “Strip” all the time. When I finally picked up this collection, I was particularly struck by how “tribal” his music sounded, especially the early stuff. Very unlike almost anything else.

Adam Ant - Goody Two Shoes

Aerosmith (2006 Devil’s Got a New Disguise) — While the treacly ballads that seem to dominate their recent output really don’t do it for me, “Dream On,” “Rag Doll,” and “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” are worth owning this. I actually paid to see Aerosmith when I was a teenager, but skipped the main concert because I really only went to see the opening band Dokken.

Aerosmith - Rag Doll (Official Video)

Art of Noise (1988 The Best of the Art of Noise) — I identify this album very closely with my college dormmate Brian, who was a total AoN nut. My MTV days introduced me to “Close to the Edit” and I was a huge Max Headroom fan so “Paranoimia” was by definition awesome.

Art of Noise - Close (To The Edit) Version 1 (ZTPS 01)

Asia (2003 20th Century Masters) — So many times I heard these guys on MTV. The videos for “Heat of the Moment” and “Only Time Will Tell” are permanently etched in my memory. Major nostalgia wave watching them again.

Asia Only time will tell

The Final Rip: Preliminaries

Since I feel like reminiscing about the CDs I’m re-ripping as I go through my collection, I figure it’s worthwhile to provide a little bit of background.

I began buying music — on cassette tape — in 1977. I remember picking up Styx‘s Cornerstone album from the local drug store. Then I joined the Columbia and/or RCA record clubs on and off over the years as a quick way to acquire more music.

In the mid-80s the Compact Disc was introduced and I was an early adopter. I rejoined all the record clubs to replace my cassettes with CDs and have been collecting ever since. I am also an avid shopper in used CD stores, always meticulously scanning through the piles of used discs, looking for a great deal or something new to try.

Over the years my tastes have wandered from American Top 40 (with Casey Kasem!) to MTV to hair metal to new wave to techno/industrial to grunge to 90s alternative to techno to now where it’s pretty much anything that strikes my fancy.

If there’s one common theme across all these genres, it’s that I particularly enjoy music that is dark, moody, epic, and/or minor. (Which contrasts nicely with my generally upbeat personality!) This is not a 100% hard and fast rule, but it is a pretty obvious thread when I step back and look at my favorites.

And so with that background out of the way, look for my next post where I’ll start in rip order (aka alphabetically) through the list….

The Final Rip: Intro & Tools

I have a massive CD collection, close to 1,500 titles, split about 70:25:5 Rock:Classical:Soundtracks (those being very broad categories).

Of course, being a good nerd, I had long ago ripped them all and stashed them up on a server for my Squeezeboxen to stream from, or to copy to USB sticks for playing the car.

Ideally I would have done all my rips losslessly at the time and been done with it, but 1TB of storage was not cheap back then (figure 1500 CDs times 60 mins/CD times ~10MB/minute), and so I went with decent quality MP3.

Fast forward to now, and 1TB ain’t no thang, so it’s time to revisit that decision and do one last rip.

Of course, the tools now are better than they were. Being a longtime adherent of EAC (Exact Audio Copy), I naturally began the process with that old beast. Super configurable, it works really well in most cases, and cross references the rips against online databases of known good tracks.

The issue is what to do when you can’t get a good read. EAC would try hard (often TOO hard in my opinion), but for some discs, it just wouldn’t happen. Later versions of the program suggest maybe trying something called CUETools to repair the damaged tracks.

Curious, I did just that. Although the repair process is implemented in a rather cryptic fashion, it does seem to work for a lot of situations. I also noticed that CUETools came with its own ripper called CUERipper.

CUERipper pales against EAC in terms of features, but its simpler interface handles the basics just fine, and it handles a few things (like multiple metadata entries) much more smoothly than EAC, so I’ve switched to that.

At the time of this post, I’ve made it alphabetically up through and including my giant Depeche Mode section and have been able to produce 100% verified copies for everything, so I think this will remain the plan for the rest.

Once ripped, I’m compressing them all with FLAC, in part because it is natively supported on the Squeezebox, and also because I like that it’s simple, open source, and independent.

Having set out on this project of course has made me nostalgic and wanting to revisit much of the collection, so I think I’ll follow this up with some random musings about what I run into….