What a Difference A Disc Makes: John Cale's New Vinyl vs. CD


I really like John Cale's most recent album titled Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood, which came out in 2012. Its a fine addition to his catalog of challenging pop gems, funky weirdness, danceable dissonance and classically inspired compositions.  When it was released last year I was bummed that I missed out on the limited edition pre-orders that included three different one-track "mystery" 7-inch singles; given the price of the LP at the time -- it was going for $30 or more every where I saw it -- I decided to just go for the CD and leave it at that.

So, imagine my surprise the day after Record Store Day, when I found myself in Ventura, California at Salzer's Records amidst rows of radically reduced clearance sale vinyl and finding a copy of Cale's latest in there! Woo hoo, indeed!

Personally, I think that some of the stuff I found in those bins (and there was a LOT of great stuff!!) is more a reflection on the store not being quite as in tune with its local audience than a statement on the artists' viability these days.  I must say that many albums these days are indeed coming out way way way over priced for what the average vinyl fan can afford (a complaint I've been hearing lately from many friends and acquaintances on line, subject for another article entirely). (We're not all financially endowed hipsters, Dear Record Company Executive)


Thus, I was pleased to find Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood sealed, new, for $12.50! Heck, I would have paid $20 for it even (you can find it on Amazon now for less than $20). But I'm not complainin'!

I am feeling fortunate to have had this opportunity to hear this fine album on vinyl as it is a night and day experience! I liked the CD just fine for the music, but on the LP the music simply comes alive. The bass is much more defined and prominant. Cale's deep vocals are rounder on the album vs. the CD where they take on a very harsh digital edginess. The acoustic guitars sound fuller, more natural.

This is one of those no contest situations. Tracks like "Mary," "Face to the Sky" and "Mothra" really sparkle on this. The album opener (a collaboration with Danger Mouse) -- "I Want To Talk 2 U" -- really gives up the funk on the LP. The acoustic guitars on "Living With You" now make me hear this song in line with Cale classics like some of the tracks on his seminal early '70s masterpiece Paris 1919. Its that good.

The  dead quiet 150-gram black vinyl is dark, shiny and near perfectly centered on this copy I have, across all four sides. Each disc comes in a plastic lined protective slip sheet.


There is also a download card for a digital copy of the album in either 320 kbps MP3 or 16-bit / 44.1 WAV format. I went for the latter and they sound about the same as the CD, crisp and clean but a bit too gritty for my tastes for home listening now that I have the vinyl; for the car, these will be fine.

All this makes me want to seek out Cale's last full album, 2005's great Black Acetate, on vinyl if it exists... 

I sense a new journey beginning for me looking for late period Cale albums on vinyl.

And away we go!


Mark Smotroff is a freelance writer and avid music collector who has worked for many years in marketing communications for the consumer electronics, pro audio and video games industries, serving clients including DTS, Sega, Sony, Sharp, AT&T and many others. Mark has written for EQ Magazine, Mix Magazine, Goldmine/DISCoveries Magazine, Sound+Vision Magazine and HomeTechTell.com.  He is also a musician / composer who's songs have been used in TV shows such as Smallville and Men In Trees as well as films and documentaries. Mark is currently rolling out a new musical he's written. www.smotroff.com

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