Andalucia Steve the dream

Thought for the night

Balance and Soul

I often wonder what it is that separates the good from the great.

What it is that makes Stevie Ray Vaughan better than say, Eric Clapton. Or why is George Best a better footballer than say Bobby Moore.

I use the examples specifically because clearly Clapton is a wise, professional and experienced guitar player and Bobby Moore one of the most gifted footballers an captains England ever had.

Yet somehow there is a difference. I argue on no other evidence than that of my eyes, that the difference is of talent over schooling.

No matter how hard you try, if you don't have the necessary soul as part of your make-up you will only ever be as good as Eric Clapton. Similarly in football, guys like George Best, Gazza or half a dozen Brazillians I won't name here, have balance as an innate quality. You can train as much as you like but without that inherited quality you'll only be as good as Bobby Moore and never make that legendary Pele status.

The important lesson here is not to give up. When I saw Stevie Ray Vaughan from the second row at Hammersmith Odeon on the last night of his final tour, I gave up on playing guitar because I thought, 'gee - I can never be as good as him' - it took me years to accept that fact and pick up the guitar again. But here's the thing. I can be as good as Eric Clapton or a million other guitar players out there. Just don't pick the best one to measure yourself against because you'll always come up short!

[Originally published 5 April 2013]

Hi-Fidelity and All That Jazz

Why the vinyl is best argument is wrong.

I've noticed a trend on YouTube lately for videos of old vinyl records, and not only just the sound of the original record but with a video of the record playing. While this has me nostalgic for my sisters pink Dansette (with integrated auto-changer) it really bugs me when people claim this sounds better or somehow more authentic than listening to a digital version of the same piece of music.

Firstly it IS digital version of the same piece of music. At the moment when the person recorded it on their camcorder, it was digitized through an analog-to-digital converter built into the camera. If they used some video editing software it was likely re-compressed again when saved to reduced file space. What you're listening to is a digital stream from Youtube. Another issue is that this was not converted to digital by an experienced sound engineer who knows what he's doing with state-of-the-art equipment. It was done by a best fit algorithm on a cheap camera and its video-editing software.

Also what you are also listening to is something that has been recorded coming from a domestic loudspeaker. That loudspeaker will have introduced further distortion above the original signal. And whereas electronic circuits are so refined now that the distortion they introduce is in the thousands (or hundreds of thousandths of a percent, even quite expensive speakers these days can introduce as much as a couple percent distortion because they are mechanical devices and far less easy to fine tune. 

If you prefer the sound of vinyl on Youtube, it's fine and your personal choice, but I think its rather like the difference between listening to a live Pink Floyd performance that has been recorded through the mixing desk, compared to listening to a bootleg recording on a tape deck at the back of the room. It's horses for courses but I know which one I'd prefer to listen to.


[Originally 23 May 2013]