Timeline Restorations, Entry 3: Distilling Dangerous

Eddie Van Halen passed away this last week, which left me feeling much the same way I did back when Michael Jackson passed in 2009. These were two larger-than-life individuals and the world feels quite a lot emptier without just one of them around, let alone both.

Eddie Van Halen performing alongside Michael Jackson. [Formatted]

Like a lot of people, I formed a close association between these two musicians when they briefly crossed creative paths back in 1982, with Eddie contributing a shred guitar solo on the song Beat It from Thriller. This was my favorite song as a kid, and greatly influenced my musical tastes later in life. The album 1984 came out shortly after and was a potent blend of 80s pop mixed with hard rock/heavy metal. It also made a strong impression: there is no question that heavy, guitar-driven music infused with synthesizers is my happy place.

It just so happens that I recently ordered a pair of new JBL 308p monitor speakers for my music room and, in a wistful moment after setting them up, decided Beat It would be the christening song. I have always tried to not be an audio snob, but the audio clarity of these speakers is really is a cut above your average audio system. One thing led to another and I found myself binging Michael Jackson albums, particularly Dangerous. To say the album is wonderfully mixed would be an understatement—it has oodles of ear candy sprinkled on every track. (See if you can spot the use of silence as an element of percussion in the main riff/beat of Can’t Let Her Get Away.)

Music room desk and DAW. [Cropped/Formatted]

Something I have always noticed about this album is that eight tracks have the same general orchestration, aural presentation, and attitude/vibe, yet these are interrupted by six very different songs that are comparatively “out of left field,” as the saying goes. Heal the World, Will You Be There?, and Keep the Faith are uplifting songs but stylistically clash in pretty much all ways with the rest of the record; Gone Too Soon is a slow pop ballad with completely unique instrumentation; and Black or White and Give in to Me are two guitar-driven rockers.

I started to wonder how Dangerous would sound if these sonically incompatible songs were made absent during another spin of the album. I was surprised and pleased to find that removing them resulted in a “new” Dangerous that is made up of the following eight songs:

Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" album cover. [Formatted]

  1. Jam
  2. Why You Wanna Trip on Me?
  3. In the Closet
  4. She Drives Me Wild
  5. Remember the Time
  6. Can’t Let Her Get Away
  7. Who Is It?
  8. Dangerous

The result is a leaner, meaner, and much more potent album that appropriately highlights the new sonic frontier that Michael Jackson was exploring in the early 90s. What’s also interesting is that these eight tracks weigh in at 43:47, which quite nicely fills out a 46 minute vinyl record. Perhaps with the growing popularity of CDs, Jackson’s record company pressured him to arbitrarily inflate the size and scope of the Dangerous project? (Note that the actual length of Dangerous is 77:03, and a CD is capable of holding 80:00, so this seems quite plausible.)

How much more musically impactful would this era of Michael Jackson have been if the “extra” tracks were released as EPs instead: the three uplifting tracks for one release, and the two rockers for another? Maybe Gone Too Soon could have been released as a single, or honestly… just released as a B-side to a single for Will You Be There?, or discarded outright. It’s not a bad song, but also doesn’t really offer anything on its own.

One thing is for certain: I’m never listening to Dangerous in its original presentation ever again.

Also interesting is that Dangerous: Expanded Edition was planned for release some time back, but somehow never surfaced. It makes me wonder if there are other tracks in the style of the eight above that have never seen the light of day. If so then this would be incredibly unfortunate, and hopefully would be fixed in the future.

Anyway, sorry Eddie—I’m gonna miss you and you certainly deserve the spotlight right now. For some reason this peculiar digression was necessary for me to deal with your loss, but I will atone tomorrow by blasting Fair Warning and 1984.

Hopefully the other side is as dazzling to you as you were to us here. @

Eddie Van Halen's "Frankenstein" guitar. [Formatted]

Another (Small) Brick from the Wall

I spent my entire afternoon and evening adding CD information to the online MusicBrainz database for two Motorhead albums, one Squares/Joe Satriani album, and one Converge album.

What does this mean?
It means the next time somebody tries to rip these albums to a computer, album and tracklist information will populate automatically when the person would have otherwise needed to enter all of this information manually. (Or possibly have the abcde command-line program crash, which is what happened in my case.)

Why did this take so long?
Because it was done using the MusicBrainz Picard and abcde programs within the new version 8.2 of CentOS Linux.

Why is this relevant?
Because the new digital world spearheaded by Spotify sucks—a lot—and it could be so much better. In the meantime, I will keep my music to myself, thankyouverymuch.

Anything else?
Sometimes when working with Linux, a person feels a very peculiar twinge of productivity mixed with nonproductivity. This can happen when a lot of time and effort is spent performing what would most likely be a routine task on a commercial operating system such as Mac OSX or Windows. On the bright side, there are always important and valuable lessons to be learned on technical excursions such as this one. Plus, a glimpse is occasionally stolen of how things might actually work better.

Configuring abcde on CentOS 8 to Utilize MusicBrainz CDDB

If you’re anything like me, you regard Spotify, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, etc. as giant steaming piles of horse shit. If you’re more like me, you also still buy your music on CD and then rip it in a lossless format to your computer (or purchase albums from Bandcamp icon-external-link-12x12 or Soundcloud icon-external-link-12x12 and download FLAC versions of the songs). And if you’re even more like me, you also run Linux as your primary operating system and refuse to grant conniving technology companies like Apple and Microsoft dominion over your music library.

Modified Spotify logo surrounded by a red circle with a red strike through it. [Formatted]

Enter the command-line utility abcde, which is an acronym for A Better CD Encoder. This program previously defaulted to FreeDB to obtain CD artist, album name, and track title information, but sadly this service shut down back in June. This leaves MusicBrainz icon-external-link-12x12 as the next best alternative, but unfortunately abcde hasn’t been updated yet to reference this different database, which effectively renders its music database lookup features unusable.

So if you’re running CentOS 8, follow the steps below to activate the MusicBrainz database for abcde. (These steps will be similar for previous versions of CentOS and other RHEL-derived distributions.)

Also, if you haven’t done so already, delete Windows and install Linux. You’re going to have to do it eventually—yes, really—so might as well get it out of the way now. Don’t worry… it’s free, and also better in every conceivable way except for handholding….

  • Install the major repositories (epel-release, elrepo-release, rpmfusion-free-release, and rpmfusion-nonfree-release)
  • Enable the AppStream and PowerTools repositories by issuing the commands dnf config-manager --set-enabled PowerTools and dnf config-manager --set-enabled AppStream, or by editing the files CentOS-AppStream.repo and CentOS-PowerTools.repo in /etc/yum.repos.d and setting enabled=1.
  • Install the flac-libs package.
  • (Optional) Install the libvorbis and libogg packages.
  • Install the abcde package, or download the latest version from https://abcde.einval.com/wiki/ icon-external-link-12x12 . If downloading, install into /opt, chown -R root:root /opt/abcde-2.9 (or equivalent folder), chmod -R 755 /opt/abcde-2.9, ln -s /opt/abcde-2.9/abcde /usr/local/bin, ln -s /opt/abcde-2.9/cddb-tool /usr/local/bin, and ln -s /opt/abcde-2.9/abcde-musicbrainz-tool /usr/local/bin.
  • dnf install cdparanoia or download from https://xiph.org/paranoia/ icon-external-link-12x12
  • dnf install cd-discid or download from http://linukz.org/cd-discid.shtml icon-external-link-12x12
  • Download and build https://musicbrainz.org/doc/libdiscid icon-external-link-12x12 , which installs into /usr/local/lib. Issue cp ./libdiscid.pc /usr/lib64/pkgconfig from within the build directory to prevent the Package libdiscid was not found in the pkg-config search path. error when issuing perl Makefile.PL for MusicBrainz-DiscID-0.06. This will be installed into /usr/local/lib which must be added to the library path by editing /etc/ld.so.conf and adding the text /usr/local/lib. Finally, update the libraries cache by issuing the ldconfig -v command.
  • Download https://metacpan.org/pod/MusicBrainz::DiscID icon-external-link-12x12 and issue the following commands: tar -xzvf MusicBrainz-DiscID-0.06.tar.gz, make Makefile.PL, make, make test, and make install. (Check README.md.)
  • Install the perl-Mojolicious package.
  • Download, build and install module https://metacpan.org/release/WebService-MusicBrainz icon-external-link-12x12 .

Also, make sure your ~/.abcde.conf file is updated to reference MusicBrainz and configured for FLAC output (or Ogg/Vorbis if you prefer).

# Specify the method to use to retrieve the track information,
# the alternative is to specify 'musicbrainz':
CDDBMETHOD=musicbrainz
CDDBURL="http://freedb.musicbrainz.org/~cddb/cddb.cgi"

# Specify the encoder to use for FLAC. In this case
# flac is the only choice.
FLACENCODERSYNTAX=flac

# Specify the path to the selected encoder. In most cases the encoder
# should be in your $PATH as I illustrate below, otherwise you will 
# need to specify the full path. For example: /usr/bin/flac
FLAC=flac

# Specify your required encoding options here. Multiple options can
# be selected as '--best --another-option' etc.
# Overall bitrate is about 880 kbs/s with level 8.
FLACOPTS='-s -e -V -8' 

# Output type for FLAC.
OUTPUTTYPE="flac"

And now you’re ready to roll! Piece of cake, right? No..? Well, it’s still worth all the hassle because you will be able to burn CDs to your Linux machine in glorious lossless quality, with full album details, and also keep the grubby fingers of the many crooked schemers at Apple and Microsoft off of your precious music.

I’m guessing the code icon-external-link-12x12 for abcde will eventually be updated to reflect these changes, which would make the instructions above obsolete. If not then I might be writing a related but very different blog post in the future.

Trolling the Interweb, Volume 1

So one of my favorite things to do back in the day was go to the Megadeth.com forums while knocking back a couple of beers and post zany shit to see how people would react. The idea of so-called rock ‘n rollers and metalheads spending a bunch of their free time talking to each other on an Internet forum always struck me as funny and odd, and I just had to do something with it.

In general, heavy metal forums were (and probably still are) one of the many cesspools of the Internet, but the Megadeth forums were well moderated and had an unusually high number of quality members. It was never allowed to sink into the standard free-for-all for numbskulls and degenerates, which was happening pretty much everywhere else. My guess is that bandleader Dave Mustaine was hip to the Internet and paid more attention than most rockstars to technology and the connection it created to his fans—pretty cool stuff.

There were A LOT of quality posts from me on this forum—wowie zowie did I have some fun! I was also “in character” 95% of the time, and only occasionally posted serious responses to serious topics that deserved authentic input. Some people were able to piece together what was going on, others were in on the prank immediately, and a small handful got upset, but it was astonishing to me just how many had no clue.

I am sharing two threads here—floyd rose piece of SHIT and angry faces practicing—because the second is directly related to the first. Both were in the “Musicians” section of the forums, hence the musician’s-talk that’s going on in almost every post. I’m pretty sure these are among the first contributions I made after joining the site, so at this point I hadn’t developed a history on the boards and the other members had no frame of reference.

My handle is Ghidra. All posts were reformatted to fit here, but are completely unedited aside from a mostly accurate translation of emojis.

Oh, and can you spot the Newheart reference? Yes? Good… fortunately someone else did too.

Topic: floyd rose piece of SHIT

Ghidra

Hi. I replaced my low e string of my guitar with an e string from a bass guitar. I thought it would be kind of fun. When I was in the middle of playing angel of death the floyd rose shot off the guitar and knocked me out cold for two hours. Ive been smoking weed for 16 hours straight now cause my head hurts fukcing bad!!

just wanted to make sure no one else tries that… it aint god damned worth it@!

Manimal

Well, then don’t do that. 😉

Actually, I have a Floyd Rose on my old Kramer Baretta and I hate that thing. It sits too high and I just don’t like it. I’ve played on Kahlers that felt more natural and had a lower profile and didn’t make my strings feel loose as the Floyd did.

SeanM

Wow. That would’ve looked really weird.
Anyway, since you were knocked it, you may wanna go to the minor injury clinic or ER just to get a quick check of your head. The weed you’re smoking could be masking an injury, which could be a bad thing. Especially if you’re in some serious pain.

😡 headbanging 😡

-sean

CreepingDeath84

How the fuck did the Floyd come off the guitar??

CD84

chaoslord

Are the three of you really this dense ? A bass low E wouldn’t fit in the bridge saddle or the tuning pegs of a guitar. Much less have enough force to rip a bridge off.

As for the retard who posted this, take your worthless crap elsewhere.

Mike Linkletter
SOLE SURVIVOR

Holy Warhead

Take it easy dude.

So what if it was a lie, as long as he only included himself in it. Who says the string even went through the tuning peg? Maybe he tied it around the entire headstock…

That must have looked funny though 😉

BriWarsco

Yeah…I use all 4 strings from a bass on my Rose….of course i had to get 5 industrial strength springs and beef up the spring connector and put some heavy duty bolts to replace the adjustment screws…..just gotta watch those divebombs as the tremelo shoots back into place with the potential of causing broken wrists and forearms……I also clamp 3 large 10 pound C-Clamps to the head adding a beefy 30 pounds to the head of the guitar and giving me some outragesouly long sustain……actually, I cannot get the axe to STOP sustaining now……and talk about intonation problems, had to file out the grooves in the saddles and put longer adjusters in them just to get it close..of course I play way down in A….let’s not even discuss the extreme action….(gotta do hammer-on’s with a real fucking hammer and shit…..string bends are accomplished via crowbar….)

King V 1

It’s getting deep!

Hey Manimal, What about the Baretta? Is the Floyd not level with the body or do you just prefer a recessed mount? Do you know what year it is? What about graphics?(they are the only bolt-on guitars I own)

King V 1

loner92

That’s what you get for putting a bass string on a guitar. What the hell were you thinking?

MegaGoo

you crackhead. you’re not even supposed to put slightly different gauge strings on a floyd rose without adjustments and resetting intonation

and how would you be playing with the bridge (probably) about to snap off even when its not being played. and why would you even WANT to put a bass string on a guitar. i would think the string would sit right along the neck and not be able to be played. or at best, rattle heavily on every note. if you “played” angel of death like that, i’d use another word or rephrase. like maybe made noise on some kinda of stringed instrument while listening to angel of death.

man
hahaha

eddie

Thief

quote:
——
Originally posted by chaoslord:
Are the three of you really this dense ? A bass low E wouldn’t fit in the bridge saddle or the tuning pegs of a guitar. Much less have enough force to rip a bridge off.
As for the retard who posted this, take your worthless crap elsewhere.

Mike Linkletter
SOLE SURVIVOR
——

Yup agreed Methinks this little boy wants to impress us with his lil ol guitar and the fact that he smoked weed..

Ghidra

quote:
——
Originally posted by chaoslord:
Are the three of you really this dense ? A bass low E wouldn’t fit in the bridge saddle or the tuning pegs of a guitar. Much less have enough force to rip a bridge off.
——

the same thing happened to my cousin darryl when put he bass strings on his giutar. accepot he didn’t have a floyd rose and it didn’t hit him in the head.

lucky little prick

ImetMegadeth

Does your cousing Daryl have a brother named Daryl?

Topic: angry faces practicing

Ghidra

i was wondering how to get the best pisst off look for when Im playing my guitar. I was sitting in front of my mirror with my guitar and trying all thise diffrent face poses-orwhatever. I couldnt get any good ones!

My bruise on my head from my floyd rose makes me look pretty pissed off already-so at lest that helps.

GSoloist

Ok, this is what you do… Take a pair of wire cutters, ok? Stand infront of the mirror… Now! That the wire cutters and cut as many of your guitar strings as fast as you can… Ok, this is the important part… Remember who told you to do this… You’ll be making some of the best angry faces ever!

L8r!
GSoloist

Ghidra

They wouldnt cut! Now there all jagged and crooked and I cant play on them anymore. God damn walmart scissors.

Mechanic502

LOL…you actually sit in front of the mirror with your guitar making faces? That is fucking lame! LOL!!!!!!

noiseterrorist

Genuine anger usually helps.

😄

GSoloist

Ok, this works everytime… If you have a girlfriend, pay a complete stranger to have sex with her and watch… Do this in front of the mirror if possible… (Hell, if you have one and she’s hot, email me, I’ll do it for free…)

L8r!
GSoloist

P.S. I’m kidding of course… I wouldn’t do it for free…

Ghidra

quote:
——
Originally posted by Mechanic502:
LOL…you actually sit in front of the mirror with your guitar making faces? That is fucking lame! LOL!!!!!!
——

How do you think James and dave look so pissed off when there playing guitar?! Everyone who plays guitar does this..I did come up with a cool face yesterday. if I cann get 2 mroe ill be happy and then I can start kicking ass!!! I just wish my forehead bruse wouldn’t heal. Than no one would fuck with me!

GSoloist

Actually, a forehead bruise just makes it look like you got your ass kicked… Not too good, bud…

L8r!
GSoloist

Xipe666

A good wall-mirror is every guitarists best friend. 😄 (Especially for the solo-monkeys – ever seen Zakk play? Alot of mirror time there, I betcha! 😄)

I haven’t done it myself, but once I start playing more gigs I’m sure I will find myself in front of a mirror now and then training poses (don’t know about angry faces though 😄).

As they say,
It’s not how you do it, it’s how good you look while you’re doing it. 😉

‘banger

Dude, why do you have to post shit that obviously didn’t happen? Your floyd didn’t pop off your guitar and bash you in the head, and you didn’t fucking attempt to cut your guitar strings just now. It’s bullshit. I’m sorry if I’m the first to tell you, but this is not a roll playing board. You don’t make shit up just for the sake of posting.

Andy Oliphant
Sole Survivor

ImetMegadeth

I know sitting on your own testicles will put a mean look on your face

GSoloist

quote:
——
Originally posted by ‘banger:
Dude, why do you have to post shit that obviously didn’t happen? Your floyd didn’t pop off your guitar and bash you in the head, and you didn’t fucking attempt to cut your guitar strings just now. It’s bullshit. I’m sorry if I’m the first to tell you, but this is not a roll playing board. You don’t make shit up just for the sake of posting.

Andy Oliphant
Sole Survivor
——

Dude, I hope this doesn’t piss you off, but is this your board? Last I checked, it was Megadeth’s… I mean come on, part of human communication involves humor… If the guy wants to come on here and joke around, that’s his right unless somebody in charge says otherwise… Instead of getting pissed off about it, why don’t you join in with something whitty? Besides, it’s not like EVERY post on here is like that…

L8r!
GSoloist

Sinistas

I think it’s because of the passing off of humor as fact.

‘banger

This is the second thread he’s started that’s obviously a lie. That kinda pisses me off, yes.

Andy Oliphant
Sole Survivor

Anyway, this was a regular thing for quite a while, and I saved only a fraction of it all. I really hope there are backups out there somewhere.