Tuesday, January 28, 2003

the piracy of need

got meself a handful of mint duplicated copyrighted [sic] CDs (no jokes, these jokers called Mash Music/Vanilla Music actually included a copyright message on the inlay for these melange CDs that transcend all barriers of recording company and all that irritating red-tape-ist musically uninformed decision-making). Not that these are eclectic CDs ... far from that. But they fill some gaps in my R D Burman collection. Have I committed a crime by purchasing these "not genuine bona fide 100% " items? Not really sure that's a black-or-white question. If these music companies had made an effort to make CDs accessible and a worthwhile (read below) purchase, I'd be first in line. Till I find the original item(s) languishing in a used bin somewhere, I'll make do with these.

Indian record companies have yet to gain business acumen in the area of converting old film soundtracks from LPs/EPs to CD, being faithful to the original recording and also being cognizant of the benefits and caveats offered by the new digital format. Remasters are unheard of. What you will have instead are one/more of the following:

simplistic trivial "kiddies can try this at home"-style conversion of a soundtrack (usually a proper subset thereof) from a dusty mouldy damaged LP (Preservation is again unheard of. Sidenote: the recent FTII fire). There's even a story of HMV executives trying to locate and convince a Delhi resident for permission to borrow/use (read: filch) from his record-breaking (no pun there!) record collection (ostensibly since they did not have the originals themselves, and wanted to make some moolah with tapes and CDs)

treble-engineered music: A lot of my favourite R D Burman songs won't sound right or satisfying on a music system lacking an equalizer. Despite his experimental temperament, what Pancham lacked was a talented sound engineer who was not bogged down by the internalized conventions of Bollywood (internalized for me too, so I can't even describe them). Perhaps this was on account of the fact that Bollywood's greatest[sic][double sic] voice was the Ultra-Falsetto Nightingale, Madame Lata Mangeshkar. All recording efforts on albums that had at least one song by her seemed to focus on a certain band of aural frequencies making the oodles of bass lines sound like taps on the side of a matchbox.

The dreaded HMV Revival Series: Connoisseurs only, I guess. Take a look at the fine print on any release in this new series and you'll realize it's just a corporate version of a remix, done mildly. Avoid at all costs.

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