Depending on which side you are on, this will either be great news or really annoying: Tom Petty’s recently re-united first band, Mudcrutch, will have their new (and first) album released on vinyl June 24, and it will include a CD pressed from the same mastering used for the vinyl, which means that it will not be burdened by the ever-worsening effects of compression and other bad stuff that is done to modern CDs. As they are touting, it is a “full dynamic range” CD – most people have never heard anything like this before, and it’s going to sound different than they’re expecting, especially if they listen to a lot of popular music, which is squashed to make everything roughly the same volume. In short, it will sound almost real – you know, “dynamic.” It will be quiet and loud, instead of just loud at all volumes – the very definition of the loudness wars.
Either you bought it already and feel ripped off, or you, like me, didn’t, and can now wait a few more weeks, or love the album so much and love high quality audio that it’s worth an extra $30. I watch some audiophile and general music forums and trouble’s a-brewin’ – some are very unhappy at this move. I find this pretty funny from the audiophiles, who are a bunch that will happily buy not only $30 pressings of just an audiophile CD from MoFi but will also buy 8 different pressings of some old Christopher Cross turds from around the world to find the very best sounding turds they can put in their ears. So I don’t get the complaint – either view this as a two-fer ($15 each) or BOGO. Either way, you’re not out anything extra. What’s more, you can sell whatever version you don’t want to those hungry for just whatever version they want. It seems to work out mathematically and financially to me.
The fact of the matter is that, unfortunately, audiophile music quality won’t work in today’s popular music market. If Mudcrutch is to even attempt to compete with anything else on radio (and this includes being played in stores) it needs to be loud and brash just like everything else. But the band and label are being thoughtful enough to include a CD with the niche vinyl release to hopefully satisfy people like me who have no need for vinyl but want the great sound. And perhaps a few curious “normal” people who own the regular release will buy the vinyl for the audiophile disc and “hear the light” when they compare them. Some people get it, others don’t, and if it starts a trend toward higher quality releases, I’m all for it.