Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Is there a simple, non-technical explanation as to why vinyl sounds richer than the same music played on CD or in a digital format?
—Alex Rausch, Grapevine, Tex.

DEAR ALEX: The simplest, non-technical explanation is IT JUST DOES!

Okay, I suspect you want something just a wee bit more technical.

When plastic records are stamped, embedded in the grooves is the full reproduction waveform of the original master recording.

This analog waveform is picked up by a stylus-cartridge, or phonograph needle, then sent to an audio amplifier which drives the speakers.

In the simple analog process, virtually no information (sound) is lost, presumably making the output as rich and warm as the original session itself. From start to finish everything is analog.

Digital recordings provide several advantages over analog, especially when it comes to editing and restoration; however, faithfully reproducing sound is not one of them.

This shortcoming is inherent because the digital sampling rate is predictably unable to keep pace with the rapidly changing inks and oinks, or varying tones, of the recording.

Ultimately, the job of those digital players is to convert the signals to analog anyway, then feed it to an amplifier and speaker system.

The loss is even more understandable for audio originally in analog then converted to digital, only to be returned to analog for playback.

In summary, changing horses midstream is rarely a good idea.

DEAR JERRY: I have read online that the Beatles and Elvis both had No. 1 hits on Cash Box that perhaps only made it to No. 2 on Billboard.

I have the Billboard list, but would like to know their No. 1 songs on Cash Box only. Then the sum of the two would be the grand total.
—Roy McMillan, Lincoln, Neb.

DEAR ROY: Good question, one we have never been asked. Here they are, with Billboard's peak number in parenthesis:

For the Beatles, “Twist and Shout” (BB#2) and “Yellow Submarine” (BB#2), making their total 22.

For Presley, “Return to Sender” (BB#2); “In the Ghetto” (BB#3); and “Burning Love” (BB#2), making his total 21.

And there you have the all-time top two artists in almost every category.

DEAR JERRY: You recent column about answer songs got me thinking about two that I have never been able to find, or even get the details for.

They are the ones that came out in answer to “Big Bad John” (Jimmy Dean) and “Girl on the Billboard” (Del Reeves).

Any assistance will be appreciated.
—Gordon G. Sharp, Greenfield, Wisc.

DEAR GORDON: At the time “Big Bad John” was No. 1 (December 1961), “Small Sad Sam,” by Phil McLean (Versatile 107) made its chart debut. Eventually it would be in the Top 25, which is very good for a response record.

It may seem like splitting hairs, but “Small Sad Sam” is not really an answer song. Obviously inspired by Jimmy Dean's hit, and with similar orchestration, it is a completely different story and in no way answers anything. It is simply a parody.

In 1962, Jimmy himself issued two sequels to “Big Bad John.” In chapter two, “The Cajun Queen” picks up where John and Queenie left off. Chapter three is “Little Bitty Big John,” the first-born son of this happy New Orleans couple with 110 grandchildren.

Both a Pop and Country hit in 1965, “Girl on the Billboard” (United Artists 824) motivated Del Reeves' label mate Joyce Paul to record a real answer song.

A few months later, Joyce's reply, “I'm the Girl on the Billboard” (United Artists 902) came out.

IZ ZAT SO? The girl on the billboard in these songs is the young lady in widespread Coppertone suntan oil ads at the time, seen in the print media as well as on billboards.

Because a playful dog is pulling her shorts, or towel, down, the difference between the tanned and pale portions of her back side are unmistakable.

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column.  Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368  E-mail:  Visit his Web site:  

All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.

Copyright 2010 Osborne Enterprises- Reprinted By Permission

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