Shoutout to Join Together by the great Doug Adams

The great AppleScript iTunes master, Doug Adams, created an app a while ago that allows me to join together LP sides so they play in the sequence as originally released on vinyl.

For me, I use this to emulate listening to an LP in iTunes. Sometimes I only want to hear a particular side of an LP that I’m familiar with. I don’t want to shuffle it, I don’t want to hear the whole thing, perhaps I’m listening on my headphones while on my treadmill, or walking around avoiding carjackers or whatever.

In the pre-digital days, you put an album on your turntable, and only one side played. If you wanted to hear the other side, you had to get up and flip it. Or you could listen to something else. 

Producers or artists sequenced their albums accordingly. There were many heated discussions about which track came first on a side, which track closed the side, yadda yadda.

Of course, you can choose which tracks to listen to in whatever order you choose, even on a vinyl record, but it takes more effort.

The genius of Join Together is that once you create the music file, you can just queue that one file.

Here is my procedure, which works in iTunes1

1. Select the files which constitute a side of an LP. For instance, today, I used Glass Eye’s Hello Young Lovers2 – looked up the track order at Discogs.com, and copied the tracks that were on side A to Join Together.

Glass Eye - Hello Young Lovers

2. In Join Together, entered in the “Name” field, “Hello Young Lovers – Side 1”, and also added the phrase “JoinedTogether” to the Grouping field.

3. I personally make every digital file as large as possible so they sound better, so I chose 320kbps as the export.

4. After the merged AAC file is completed, it is added to my iTunes library. 

5. I use the Grouping field so that I can add all of these album sides to a Smart Playlist3, and also exclude it from certain Smart Playlists4

6. Then duplicate this procedure to create Side 2. Voilà!

Double LPs take longer, or triple LPs like Sandinista! give 6 files, or maybe even less

There are some LPs that I always skipped a certain song, this can be recreated in Join Together. For another favorite album of mine, Meat Puppets II, when I used to play it in my college years, I always skipped Side 1 track one, and started on the second song. Sometimes I would play the 1st track later at the end, but I felt strongly that the first song, Split Myself In Two – a punk thrash song – didn’t fit with the mood of the rest of songs. Later on, after some other songs played, it was ok to hear, but not as the first song. So when I created this LP in Join Together, I simply put Split Myself In Two at the end of Side 1. Perfect!

Same with some LPs that the CD version added new songs. They don’t always “fit”, so why play them? For instance, the LP of Sonic Youth’s Sister has less songs than the CD version. Skip ‘em! I felt they changed the mood, so why include them?  

Anyway, Join Together is well worth the $5 Doug Adams charges.

Footnotes:
  1. I haven’t upgraded to a Mac that requires the new version called Music, yet []
  2. which I had on vinyl when I lived in Austin and now own on CD []
  3. I have 10 sides that sync to my iDevices, based on not hearing them in the last few weeks []
  4. specifically, New Rips, i.e., songs that I’ve only listened to less than 5 times []

Join Together – A New-To-Me App to Recreate Spinning Vinyl Sides

The Replacements - Tim
The Replacements – Tim, on vinyl.

Yesterday I realized that iTunes 12.x doesn’t have an option to merge two or more music tracks into one. I thought iTunes used to have this functionality, but perhaps I was mistaken. I could have dug out my original CD, and merged the songs that way, but after briefly Googling, I discovered that Applescript master and long-time iTunes expert Doug Adams has built a (Mac only) app that performs this very task. Cool!

Join Together will create and export a single AAC or ALAC audio file from the audio data of tracks dragged from iTunes or files dragged from the Finder, leaving the original source tracks and files intact.

(click here to continue reading Doug’s Apps for iTunes – Join Together – v7.7.3 – Official Download Site.)

Or as Doug added on Twitter: 

Quality LP sides have their own internal logic & mood, as sequenced by the artist/producers. Each LP side can even have its own character. Breaking up albums into single songs in iTunes defeats the artist’s intent. I realized there were many albums that I owned that would benefit from being joined together like this. Mostly albums from before CDs became the default medium, I’m guessing in the early 1990s.1

An LP that has been played many, many times embeds itself in your brain as it is sequenced. Of course, thinking back, I often did skip a particular track on some albums if I wasn’t otherwise occupied, but usually I would play an entire LP side, and then maybe not even flip it over, but move on to the next LP. 

Wu-Tang Clan’s debut LP
Wu-Tang Clan’s debut LP

Albums that I loved on vinyl enough to replace on CD, aka Desert Island Discs; LPs like Highway 61 Revisited, or London Calling, or Kind of Blue, Electric Ladyland, individual songs that should be heard together in sequence like the Grateful Dead’s China Cat Sunflower and I Know You Rider, or even the short songs that make up the second side of Abbey Road; these are ideal candidates for Join Together.

Whenever I played the Meat Puppets 2, I always played the second side first, as I thought the first song on the first side2 was too jarring, and unlike the rest of the LP. When I use Join Together, I’m going to recreate that playing experience. I don’t need to hear Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” more than once or twice a year, so I’ll make a version of Led Zeppelin IV -Side 1 without Stairway3. Same with the Velvet Underground & Nico: how many times a year do I want to hear “European Son”? 

Big Star - first album
Big Star – first album

Footnotes:
  1. I was a late hold-out, and didn’t purchase my first CD until I couldn’t find a vinyl version of Sonic Youth’s Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star []
  2.  “Split Myself in Two” []
  3. I often would pick the needle up after hearing the first few notes []

The Silence of Vinyl Records

C.R.E.A.M.

Silence rules everything around me…

Recently, I was alone for an afternoon, without any pressing tasks to complete, so I decided to pull out my turntable1 and listen to a few records. I listen to music all the time, and have a vast, horder-esque iTunes library, but I’m often too lazy to play records. I sat in a room I call The Lounge, and spun a half dozen LPs. Some I only wanted to hear a song or two from, some I listened to in their entirety, both sides. 

Such a different experience, as I’m sure you’d concur. I won’t go into the debate here over sound fidelity, and warmth, and all that. In honesty, I don’t want to give up the convenience of being able to walk around with hundreds of my favorite albums in my pocket, or the ability to instantly play a song in my car. Vinyl does wear out, and there is that crackling, popping sound that does not exist in digital versions. 

The vinyl experience is different in other ways. I didn’t realize when I purchased my turntable, but it doesn’t have an automatic shut-off feature. In other words, I need to be actively listening or else the album will continue to spin for hours, wearing out the turntable’s needle. I’ve incorporated this negative feature into my ritual of listening to records. I put the needle down on the song I want to hear2, sit down holding the album jacket, study the cover art, read the liner notes, and listen with my full attention. I have the option of listening via3 desk top speakers, or a4 headphone amplifier with comfortable over-the-ear headphones.5

Curating playlists on my Mac is one of my hobbies, creating mixes of songs and albums based on topics and phrases, or genres, or concepts, or years, or events; but that means the music never stops playing. In contrast, when a record is finished, there is silence. Silence until the next LP is selected, or until the current record gets flipped over. I guess one could say listening to a CD would be similar, but my first (and only!) CD player was a six disc shuffler – again, when music was on, it kept going and going, filling up the nooks and crannies of available aural space.

I was surprised at how significant the empty spaces were, especially on a quiet afternoon. 

These are the records I played6

of Montreal - the past is a grotesque animal
of Montreal – the past is a grotesque animal

Otis Rush - Blind Pig records
Otis Rush – Blind Pig records

Leo Kottke, Ice Water
Leo Kottke, Ice Water

Songs of Kristofferson
Songs of Kristofferson

A Love Supreme - John Coltrane
A Love Supreme – John Coltrane

Otis Rush - Tops
Otis Rush – Tops

Footnotes:
  1. an Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable []
  2. or the beginning of the LP, of course []
  3. an Audioengine []
  4. Schiit Magni []
  5. Beyer Dynamic DT-880 []
  6. there might have been one or two more that I didn’t think to photograph []

Dirty Wurds 45 – Caped Crusader Records was uploaded to Flickr

Chicago Garage Rock

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http://flic.kr/p/q3wA91

I took Dirty Wurds 45 – Caped Crusader Records on January 30, 2015 at 10:51AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on January 30, 2015 at 04:51PM

Dirty Wurds – 45 – Not This One / Mellow Down Easy was uploaded to Flickr

Chicago Garage Rock

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http://flic.kr/p/qH5pDr

I took Dirty Wurds – 45 – Not This One / Mellow Down Easy on January 30, 2015 at 10:49AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on January 30, 2015 at 04:50PM

The Black Hippies was uploaded to Flickr

a vinyl re-release of the mid-70s debut album of a Nigerian funk band. From Reckless Records.http://ift.tt/1uKOabi

Rough Trade has this to say about it:
High quality reissue of great and unbelievably rare Afro Rock Lp. Appeals to fans of Psych, Fuzz, African, and Funk. Licensed directly from Pazy (Band Leader, Lead Singer and Guitarist). Pazy (real name Joseph Etinagbedia) started playing music in the Fire Flies in the city of Warri in Nigeria in 1973. The area was in the midst of an oil boom, and like most bands on that scene, the Fire Flies played American and European pop hits mixed with Jazz and Highlife for the largely expat audiences in local clubs. Along with an influx of foreigners, the oil boom also gave rise to an emerging Nigerian youth market, and soon Pazy formed the Black Hippies to play the uniquely African style of hard rock that was favoured by this new audience. They quickly found success and were appearing alongside other Warri-based artists such as Tony Grey. In short time, they came to the attention of EMI and their legendary producer Odion Iruoje, who recorded this album. By the time it was released in 1977, though, Disco and Funk were starting to take over and the hard fuzzy rock of The Black Hippies first album was somewhat behind the times. As a result, the album was barely released and is now virtually unfindable, unseen by all but a few of the most hardcore collectors. Pazy would go on to form a new line up of the Black Hippies that played mostly Reggae but this remains by far the best album. Featuring whiplash funk drumming, searing fuzz guitar, raw vocals and that uniquely West African organ sound, The Black Hippies first album is a definitive classic of the genre. Beautifully remastered with restored artwork, this release stands alongside our Ofege and Psychedelic Aliens releases as restored gems from a largely unknown but incredibly vital Rock scene in 70’s West Africa.

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http://flic.kr/p/nTy4go

I took The Black Hippies on June 07, 2014 at 02:46PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on June 07, 2014 at 08:37PM

Greatest Folksingers of the Sixties was uploaded to Flickr

Vanguard Records.

As a Gen-Xer, I cringe over anything that plays up the “Sixties” as a descriptor, regardless this is a damn solid LP.

The playlist includes such luminaries as Odetta, Cisco Houston, Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger, Doc Watson, John Hammond, etc. etc.

http://ift.tt/1n8iNVL…

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/nJVWJB

I took Greatest Folksingers of the Sixties on May 23, 2014 at 12:42AM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 23, 2014 at 05:54AM

The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz was uploaded to Flickr

– maybe the best ten bucks I ever spent!

track list:
http://ift.tt/RZOqWg…

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http://flic.kr/p/noBWow

I took The Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz on April 27, 2014 at 09:02PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 28, 2014 at 02:05AM

RCA phonograph was uploaded to Flickr

Some musical equipment store on Lincoln Avenue. Maybe Mystery Street Recording? maybe not, my memory is faulty.

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http://flic.kr/p/kZoEjc

I took RCA phonograph on March 08, 2014 at 01:31PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 13, 2014 at 05:51AM

Truckin’ My Blues Away – Blind Boy Fuller was uploaded to Flickr

Yazoo Records

http://ift.tt/1gSlGUw

My photo doesn’t do this cover justice…

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http://flic.kr/p/niYuWM

I took Truckin’ My Blues Away – Blind Boy Fuller on April 23, 2014 at 05:58PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 24, 2014 at 03:10AM

Flowing Fancy Free was uploaded to Flickr

Double exposure via Hipstamatic

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http://flic.kr/p/ndJDbd

I took Flowing Fancy Free on April 18, 2014 at 03:48PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 18, 2014 at 09:11PM

Browsing on Record Store Day 2014 was uploaded to Flickr

At Groovin High inc. – I browsed a bit, but didn’t want to fight the crowds.

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I took Browsing on Record Store Day 2014 on April 19, 2014 at 01:01PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 20, 2014 at 04:31PM

Standing In Line on Record Store Day 2014 (Explored) was uploaded to Flickr

At Groovin High inc. – I browsed a bit, but didn’t want to fight the crowds.

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http://flic.kr/p/ndFZf5

I took Standing In Line on Record Store Day 2014 (Explored) on April 19, 2014 at 01:01PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 20, 2014 at 04:24PM

Put That Needle Down was uploaded to Flickr

No sound like the sound of a record starting to play…

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http://flic.kr/p/nbgasx

I took Put That Needle Down on April 15, 2014 at 10:50PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on April 16, 2014 at 07:22PM