Written by 6:20 am Audiophile Music • 2 Comments

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

Mark Smotroff looks at the CD and vinyl versions of John Cale’s latest and finds they don’t sound the same…


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


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


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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