The news of all of the recent deaths of rock ‘n rollers has had me examining my own mortality lately. It’s also made me try to not get too caught up in the daily badness that confronts me at the office. Of course, my favorite way to sort things out at the end of the day is to sit down with a pair of headphones and just get lost in a beloved chunk of vinyl. Last night’s piece was a long-coveted copy of Gorillaz 2005 effort, Demon Days.
I asked Santa for that very record this year. Little NH was even sweet enough to put it on her note to Santa for me. I told her that he’d probably not have any luck finding it. It was a limited run in 2005 and copies now fetch at least $200. Santa apparently couldn’t find it but a couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to snag a copy on Ebay. The vinyl in my set is brand new but a corner of the front cover looks like a cat or puppy had about 10 solid seconds to use it as a chew toy. Otherwise, it’s in great shape. It was listed on Ebay as having “never been played” and I have no reason to doubt this. It was clean and shiny. Because of its less than perfect cover, I got this copy at well below the going price. It’s still the most expensive record in my collection but I’m satisfied with the deal.
I’m not one to sit on “collection piece” copies of vinyl in my stash. I have a couple that are unopened but the majority I buy to play and enjoy. So, like driving a new car off the lot, my copy of Demon Days depreciated last night as the needle first hit the groove.
So, how did it sound, you ask?
It sounded like a top-notch, second hand, 10-year-old record. There was a tiny bit of surface noise but all in all, it’s a quiet pressing.
The one gripe I had was that side A seemed to be lacking a bit in bass. It was big and bold sounding but the low end just wasn’t as big as I had hoped it might be. But that was just side A. From side B on, things picked up considerably in the bass department. This makes me think that either the first side was pressed with less bass to save room or my ears just got attuned to this as the record played on. I had been listening to Atoms For Peace today on my commute through in-ear headphones so that may have distorted my idea of what to expect bass-wise.
Listening through headphones, I heard a lot on these records that I had never heard on digital copies before. Lots of little production flourishes and squiggles of sound really popped out. It’s a record mixed with a very wide stereo mix which is really pleasant to the ear. The other thing that I noticed was what I thought at some points was surface noise, was actually analog artifacts from the Danger Mouse-procured beats and samples that litter the record. “Kids with Guns” has such a sample and as soon as it finishes, the noise disappears. Cool to be able to hear that in such detail and it really points out the meticulous production that went into this album.
The part of the album that floored me was the one-two punch of “White Light,” the last track on side C and “Dare,” the first track on side D. I have heard “White Light” before but I have never actually heard it until now. What a great track. It’s just as crazy as anything Albarn has ever written, seemingly based on a sample he sang into his phone on the walk home after a night out at the pub. And it absolutely slays.
“Dare” is just the single it’s always been but it sounds fresh in this context – like the first chip out of a newly opened bag.
There’s really nothing I love more than sitting down with a quality record, putting on my headphones and rediscovering an album that I know and love. Demon Days did not disappoint and I’ll be excited to buy a copy of the inevitable reissue to compare it with this one. However, if for some reason that never happens, I’m glad to have this copy and see myself coming back to it again and again.
After I finished “Demon Days” there was a little time left on the clock before my normal bedtime so I decided to pull out the Doors’ The Soft Parade and listen to the title track. I have some weird repress that shows up as this on Discogs but man, it sounds great. Often maligned as one of the Doors’ weaker releases, The Soft Parade, has been given short shrift in my opinion. It’s a hazy, boozy, flipped out record of its era and is still brilliant. Especially the title track.