I recently came across a fileshared version of Human Sexual Response’s second album In a Roman Mood. I don’t think this has ever been released on CD or in any other digital format; at any rate, the copy I found is a fairly clean vinyl rip…but one way I can tell that it’s from vinyl is certain characteristics of its sound that always seemed to typify the shortcomings of vinyl for me. I have never understood the enthusiasm of vinyl maniacs: all this talk of “warmth” and “depth” when, first of all, unless you safeguard your records and equipment like a nun in a jailhouse, all that warmth and depth will be overrun by crackles, scratches, and static. And who cares if a $25,000 turntable can reproduce godlike nuances from the recording: who can afford a $25,000 turntable? For $25,000, I’ll pay to sit in on a recording session, thanks. Or hire the band to play in my living room.
Anyway, here’s one of the better songs from In a Roman Mood, “12345678910” (which really should have been covered by Midnight Oil on 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1). Overall, the album isn’t as strong as the band’s debut: much of the latter half is dirgey numbers and painfully undergraduate pseudo-intellectual musings. But its best songs, including the should-been-a-huge-hit “Andy Fell,” are brilliant things.
But as I listen, I hear a certain vagueness in the soundstage, a certain disintegration among the subtler frequencies, and that irritating sibilance on “s” sounds and cymbals (this is very different from the artifacts you hear at low-resolution mp3 encodings): all flaws I remember from the years when vinyl was my primary listening format. Sorry, vinyl fans: I just don’t get it. (I should note that it’s because of that experience that I know what I’m hearing is inherent in the source LP, not in the mp3 rip – which is 192 kbps – not ideal, but not horrible either. By this point, I know the difference.)
Human Sexual Response “12345678910” (In a Roman Mood, 1981)