August 17 felt like just any other day. With all of the commotion surrounding the 30th anniversary of the death of Elvis on the 16th, it is understandable that we would be too tired and hungover from celebrating the King'’s life, grieving his death, and gorging ourselves on fried peanut butter and banana sammiches to realize that we missed a crucial consumer and pop culture milestone. Lest we forget... the first commercially available Compact Disc was manufactured 25 years ago on August 17! Happy belateds!
After the failure of video discs, Sony and Philips joined their arms like brothers (remember this... this is foreshadowing) to further develop a more sensible disc product using laser technology. There is your moral; if at first you don't succeed, make it smaller. This nugget of wisdom works for everything, from ritzy cars to Ritz Crackers.
Here are some facts about CDs, how they came to enslave the free world, and also some tidbits on one of our most revered recording artists: PJ Harvey.
- Philips actually began work on a laser audio disc system back in 1970 after stealing the idea, er, sorry, being inspired by Antonio Rubbiani’'s rudimentary video disc system that he introduced in 1957.
- PJ Harvey releases CDs and will be issuing her 7th album on this format (not including her demo releases and collaboration with John Parish) September 24 through Island Records. Produced by Harvey, master knob-twiddler Flood, and the aforesaid Parish, White Chalk contains 11 songs and features guest contributions by Eric Drew Feldman (Captain Beefheart, Frank Black) and Jim White (Dirty Three, recent Nina Nastasia collaborator). A single, "When Under Ether," will be out September 17 on 7-inch single and download (take that CDs!), featuring a previously unreleased track recorded by Harvey way back in 1988 called "Wait."
- Way back in 1988, the CD celebrated its 6th anniversary (1988 - 1982 = 6).
- Way back in 1988, I was celebrated for making the “Remedial Mathletes” (C-Squad) team in high school on my third attempt.
- White Chalk is the first solo PJ Harvey album in three years, which is actually refreshing. We don't need every artist we love to release an album or two every single flippin'’ year. While we realize that these are the days of pushing yourself toward an early grave by squatting in studios and flying half way across the world to record a 30-second guitar part for some dude you've known since kindergarten, it doesn't impress us much. We appreciate good albums even if they take longer to write, record, and release than Chinese Democracy.
- The first commercial CDs pressed were The Visitors by Abba and a recording of Herbert von Karajan conducting the Alpine Symphony. In other words, GOOD music. In 1985, Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms (hey? hey?) was the first fully digital (DDD) CD released. It was the first CD to sell a million copies and is still the biggest selling CD of all time. Don't fret fans of The Eagles; Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 still holds the distinction of being the best selling album ever.
- I still find this hard to believe that Brothers in Arms is the biggest selling CD of all time, but keeping this supposition here is far easier than fact-checking it, yaknowwhaImsayin’? PJ Harvey is better than Dire Straits and all of Polly Jean Harvey'’s songs are better than all of Dire Straits'’ songs, except for "“Twistin’ by the Pool,”" which, I've been told, is better than "impending apocalypse sex." It's easier to understand the selling strength of The Eagles because that album contain the awesome lyrics "I've been runnin' down the road tryin' to loosen my load..." -- a truly universal activity. Breathing, eating, sleeping, running down the road, and loosening loads are the five essential body requirements according to health scientists.
- Some early product names tested were MiniDisc, Compact Rack, and Mini Rack. "Mini Rack" has managed to live on in infamy and is used widely by the gutter press to describe the beautiful carpenter's dream Keira Knightley.
- CDs are supposed to be unscratchable, yet every CD that has really ever meant anything to me seemed to get a knick at the best part of a song or ended up clawed to shit underneath a car seat alongside a couple of McFries and a glow-in-the-dark soiled safe. Sigh.
- The date for Polly Harvey's only live show announced so far is September 29. It is a sold-out affair at the Royal Festival Hall in London, so you will have to claw your way through more than a couple of McFries and soiled safes to get in that night. The 25th anniversary of this show will be September 29, 2032, long after the anniversary of the death of the Compact Disc.
1. The Devil
2. Dear Darkness
3. Grow Grow Grow
4. When Under Ether
5. White Chalk
6. Broken Harp
8. To Talk To You
9. The Piano
10. Before Departure
11. The Mountain