Turned out I did have The Who album Endless Wire already. Sort of. (See yesterday’s Rockin’ & Shockin’: I’d listened to Endless Wire several times already, by the way.) I’d been invited to download it by Universal Records. Yes, you read correctly, in finally catching up on weeks of press release e-mails, I learned that I had been invited to download the new Who album by the same major label that has been demanding payment from YouTube for copyright infringement – and which is receiving royalties from sales of the brand new Microsoft iPod imitator, the Zune. Universal is among the companies using the Promo Only MPE Player, which allows me, as an accredited journo, to play new albums over the Internet for review purposes, and also to download them as MPE files, convert them to AAC files, burn them onto a CD and then import them back into my iTunes so I can rip them onto my iPod.
Why, you might ask, would I not simply import the AAC files straight into iTunes? I did do, I reply. It’s just that the songs from Endless Wire then came up without track numbers. And if there’s one thing that an 11-song mini-opera deserves, it’s to be played in the right order.
If there’s another thing it deserves, it’s to be played without 2-second interludes of silence between its segued songs, something I could not control. This is a constant downer with iTunes and the iPod (and, I assume, the Zune, too): the fact that a ripped album no longer plays as an album, but as a collection of songs, with pauses pre-determined by the Preferences pane, not the musician. It may be that, despite suddenly owning Endless Wire in four formats, I’ll have to buy it after all just to permanently hear it as Townshend intended.
Talking of whom, and to celebrate the first new “Who” album in 24 years, I’m finally going to be posting an unedited transcript of my interview with Pete Townshend from Jamming! Magazine 28, originally published all the way back in 1985. Look for it as early as tomorrow.