Friday, April 4, 2014

Blood on the 8-Tracks, Track Four: Hello I Must Be Going

Although I found the idea of chopping albums from two into four parts, as 8-track tapes do, unnerving, what I didn’t know at the time was to what lengths some record companies would go to save a little tape (or, to be more charitable, to avoid having long empty stretches at the end of some tracks). The sequence of the songs would often be different between the 8-track and vinyl versions of an album.

If you already knew the album, this could drive you crazy. If you didn’t, it could infuriate you later when you figured it out.

As someone who believes that, when playing vinyl, it should be against the law to play side two before side one, 8-Track Resequencing struck me as an even more egregious crime, warranting the appointment of a special prosecutor.

I didn’t find out that Fragile was a victim of resequencing until later. Which made me that much more curious to get the CD version - to hear it the way it was meant to be heard.

A Misdemeanor:

One record that went through a couple of versions before I ended up with the one that was originally released was The Beatles Rubber Soul.
Rubber Soul.jpg

First there was the one I got from a high school “friend” who sold discounted - and obviously counterfeit - versions of albums. (I know, you’d think a Beatles fiend like me would have had the record already. More about that here.)  

As you probably know the American versions of Beatle albums were trimmed down from their original fourteen songs to about ten or eleven when prepared for release in the States. (What, you don’t know? Stop reading this blog. Now!) And what my friend gave me was a resequenced version of the American release.

So what I got was twice removed from original British version, and I didn’t know it. (Yeah, I didn’t know it either. Okay, you can read the blog again.) Now one might think that Beatles songs in any order should be just fine. But having heard how great Rubber Soul was supposed to be, now that I heard it, I was vaguely disappointed, and wouldn’t have rated it any higher than any other Beatles record. I’d still give it an A, but a weak A.

I eventually replaced it in the mid-80s with the vinyl American version. Short, compact and brilliant, it’s an A+ - one of the greatest albums ever released.  (That’s right, Bach! What of it?)

Strangely enough, the British version - with more songs, but missing “I’ve Just Seen a Face” (It’s on Help, you see.) seems a little diluted. Just a strong A, and better than 99% of any other albums I own. But still.

Bloody Murder:

Most albums didn’t fare so well. I think the most egregious instance of re-sequencing is Days of Future Past, by the Moody Blues, which, as you might imagine, is supposed to go in order of the f’cking day (ie, morning, noon, night, etc.,)!

Moody Blues.jpg

Well, DOFP (the acronym kind of looks like Doh! and F*cked Up, doesn’t it?) got absolutely massacred in 8-track.

Don’t believe me?  Well, here’s the correct song sequence:
1. The Day Begins
2. Dawn: Dawn is a Feeling
3. The Morning: Another Morning
4. Lunch Break: Peak Hour
5. The Afternoon: Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?)/Time to Get Away
6. Evening: The Sun Set/Twilight Time
7. The Night: Nights in Whte Satin

Notice how the MBs even idiot proof it for the...slower listeners, with helpful prefixes in the song titles like “Dawn: Dawn is a Feeling” in case you didn’t figure out that it might be about the FREAKING DAWN.

So I think you’re in my corner on this so far, right? It.Kind.Of.Makes.Sense.Right?

Well, here’s the sequence from my 8-Track, with a little helpful running commentary by yours truly:

Track 1:
1. The Day Begins 
So far so good, right? Everything is goind according to plan.
2. Evening: The Sun Set/Twilight Time (Part One)
Well, that was pretty quick, wasn’t it? But I suppose it could happen if you’d been out drinking the night before and were just waking up at 5pm. So, even though the MBs didn’t seem like the partying type,  I’ll try to keep an open mind.

Track 2:
3. Evening: The Sun Set/Twilight Time (Part Two) 
They were so anxious to cram in the Evening that it didn’t fit anyway. So here’s the rest of it. I hear the guy who did this owns a butcher shop down the block.
4. The Afternoon: Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?)/Time to Get Away  
Okay, now that we’ve already jumped almost all the way to the end, we’re going back in time, like that movie Betrayal or was it Momento? I don’t remember.

Track 3:
5. Dawn: Dawn is a Feeling 
Okay, now I’m completely lost. What day is it again?
6. Lunch Break: Peak Hour 
Now I’ve never been one to turn down a meal, but this lunch is coming right after dawn, which means I either just got up and was hoping for some bacon and eggs or, if I’m having a really good time, just got to bed.
The Morning: Another Morning (Part One) 
Oh, that’s right! As a big fan of breakfast, how could I forget?  Here we are three quarters of the way through our day, and it’s only morning. It’s reminds me of the Lou Reed song about “wine in the morning and breakfast at night”. I guess he had this 8-track, too.

Track 4:
7. The Morning:Another Morning (Part Two)  
That’s right, folks. It’s STILL the morning! At this rate, we’ll never get to the end of this day. There's really only one valid response to this.
8. The Night: Nights in White Satin 
What? Well, we ended up in the right place after all. So why do I feel like I’ve got whiplash?

It’s like listening to that friend we all have who tells you about a movie he just saw, but who has to keep going back to explain things because he keeps leaving stuff out:

There’s this girl Dorothy who say’s ‘There’s no place like home’. Oh yeah, first she kills a witch, but before that she meets a Wizard who gives her friends… oh I didn’t mention the friends?  Well, there are three, unless you count the Good Witch, who she doesn’t kill, and those munchkins. But definitely not those flying monkeys.”

Who, by now, are probably flying out of your butt.

Next: Self-Inflicted Resequencing

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