Gathan Beaga

obscurity uncovered

I’ve been busy ripping all my CDs so that we can store them away for good. They just fill up shelf and draw space and just don’t get used, as all the music I actually listen to is now in digital format.

But the more CDs I do, the more a sneaking suspicion grows that I should have been ripping them at 320kbps rather than the 190kbps (with high quality VBR enabled so they come out somewhere between 205 and 220kbps).

That aside, the other problem is obtaining the cover art. With higher quality displays in portable music devices, and user interfaces like Coverflow in iTunes, decent cover art is becoming pretty important. I reckon that anything less than 300 pixels wide is just not good enough.

I’ve been using Marc Liyanage’s Album Artwork Assistant to find cover art; it searches Amazon and Google for the images. If that’s not sufficient you can use a web search hone your search down a bit. Once you’ve chosen the image it will copy it to the album of your choice.

I’ve picked up lots of good cover art this way. But there’s a few CDs that are either too obscure to have decent, or indeed any cover art. I spent a happy afternoon photographing some of these a while back, and I present the results here for Google to find. Hopefully then they’ll be useful for someone else.

With each of these I’ve have a roughly 200×200 pixel thumbnail linking to the 1000×1000 original.

angels with big wings: An Ankst Compilation Angylion Hardd: Adennydd Mawr… (Angels With Big Wings…) —At the end of a Super Furry Animals Gig in a tent in a park in Cardiff in 1997 (The Fall as support!), we were stumbling around in the dark when a chap pressed this into our hands. It’s a compilation CD for Welsh label Ankst, and I’m looking forward to listening to it again.

Beth Orton: Best Bit EP Beth Orton: Best Bit EP —This is a rather lovely CD of songs she did with Terry Callier – very soul-y but still Orton. It includes a nice version of “Dolphins”, a track that Billy Bragg had covered earlier.

Curve: BlackerThreeTracker Disc 2 Curve: BlackerThreeTracker CD2 —Somewhat embarrassing now, but I used to really like these guys. In 1992.

Kylie Minogue: Confide In Me Disc 2Kylie Minogue: Confide in Me CD2 —I surprised myself by actually buying this. I told myself, at the time, it was because of the St Etienne cover (“Nothing Can Stop Us”) on the b-side, but in truth I actually quite liked the single.

Deepgrooves compilationDeepgrooves: Deepgrooves —The “seminal” early ’90s compilation that really changed what we all thought was possible from New Zealand music. For some reason there were no hi-res versions of this cover available anywhere.

Therapy: Die LaughingTherapy?: Die Laughing —There’s nothing unusual about the music – it’s mostly album stuff – but the packaging is great. Like one of those cheesy greeting cards, it lets rip with a maniacal laugh when you open it up.

Curve: Doppelganger Bonus CDCurve: Die Like A Dog —Another Curve EP; this one was a bonus pack-in with their first album. Not sure if I’ll ever listen to it, but you never know.

Mazzy Star: Fade Into YouMazzy Star: Fade Into You —This song. It chills and burns, at the same time. I don’t have another thing by Mazzy Star, save this.

Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (NZSO Chamber Orchestra, Wellington, 2002)Vivaldi: The Four Seasons (NZSO Chamber Orchestra) —Back when I used to work for the National Bank, once upon a time, we all got given this CD. Light classical, but not to be sneezed at.

The Fall: Why Are People Grudgeful?The Fall: Why are People Grudgeful? —I used to have a lot more of the Fall, but over time its somehow evaporated. It’s a great single: four ace songs, one of them a cover of “Lost in Music”. Imagine that.

Jan Hellriegel: It's My SinJan Hellriegel: It’s My Sin —I feel bad saying this, but the only reason this is still in my CD collection is that I have a hard time bringing myself to sell NZ music.

Billy Bragg: Live In CanadaBilly Bragg: Live In Canada —This was a bonus CD with Don’t Try This At Home – four much loved older songs performed, uh, live.

Timeout: The Main Stage - the Ultimate Festivals Sampler 1997Daily Telegraph/Timeout: The Main Stage Festivals Sampler 1997 —Sadly, possession of this CD means that I cannot claim never to have purchased a copy of The Daily Telegraph. That aside, it’s a handy CD containing a few tracks that I like without having to buy whole albums of now irrelevant stuff. We never did get to any of these festivals though.

Jay Clarkson / Breathing Cage: MisericordJay Clarkson/Breathing Cage: Misericord —The album that emerged some years after Jay Clarkson and Breathing Cage won the Rheineck Rock Award and a rather large recording grant. It didn’t light many fires when it came out, but I’ve always liked it.

Goldenhorse: RiverheadGoldenhorse: Riverhead —A classic New Zealand pop album which occasionally reminds me a little too much of The Sundays and Harriet Wheeler. Still.

I like this, the older cover for this album, whereas all the covers currently available on the internet have the reissue version with a generic band photo instead.

The Independent: Sample A Taste Of IrelandThe Independent: A Taste Of Ireland —For some reason, in the late ’90s all the English broadsheets were giving away CDs. Only mindless and anal geekery can explain my need to photo “cover art” for this, and then put it online here. I am weird.

Beth Orton: She Cries Your NameBeth Orton: She Cries Your Name —The haunting first single. It’s still a bloody spooky song. After William Orbit’s Water From A Vine Leaf I was well pleased at the time to discover Ms Orton now had some shiny new solo recordings.

Flying Nun Records: The Sound Is Out ThereFlying Nun: The Sound Is Out There —This was a mid-nineties freebie compilation that may have been a pack-in with Flying Nun albums sold at the time. I can’t really remember.

Delta Lady: Swamp FeverDelta Lady: Swamp Fever —“Delta Lady”, like “Secret Knowledge”, was another pseudonym for Kris Needs and Wonder Schneider, part of the loosely connected scene around Andrew Weatherall and the Sabres of Paradise. After obsessing for some years about Weatherall and his remixes I became inclined to buy almost anything connected to him. Which, thankfully for my bank balance, wasn’t that much here in Wellington.

Björk: The Best Mixes From The Album DebutBjörk: The Best Remixes… etc —I can’t bring myself to type out the whole title. But there’s more Sabres stuff on here.

The Ukrainians: Pizni iz the SmithsThe Ukrainians: Pizni Iz The Smiths —As the title says – it’s the Smiths, but in a Ukrainian folk music style. Weird, but had some mid-90s indie cred due to the presence of some guy from the Wedding Present.

Grant McLennan: WatershedGrant McLennan: Watershed —I feel a little bereft as I look at this. A random memory surfaces: Grant McLennan in concert at Sammy’s, in Dunedin during the very early 90s, some sort of solo acoustic tour with Dave Dobbyn in support. Dave appeared to be completely trashed (those dark years before Dave became the undisputed, uh, national treasure he is now) and he was being comically disruptive and making Grant crack up.
… round and round, up and down, through the streets of your town…

Kitchens Of Distinction: When In HeavenKitchens of Distinction: When In Heaven —Nice swirly shoegazy type stuff with actual tunes.

Stand by – I may have some more later.