Progress on my kentburn Project
Updated Monday 14th October 2013 at 8:47pm
Some of you out there may be aware of various projects, which are attempts of compiling an historical archive of every charting hit. The initial project started in the late 90s which back then was called the Whitburn project. It was and still is an effort of compiling every song that has charted on the Billboard charts. The idea was named after Joel Whitburn himself, who has released a number of books containing Billboards past charts, and much music chart research information - These books are bloody awesome - I have some of these books in my own collection.
With the rise of the internet, the collaboration started as an effort of some folks pooling there mp3s through a discussion board. With this a data sheet was compiled that would contain all the songs ever charted in Billboard's hot 100 chart since the late 1890s. Yes you read that correct, from over the last 100 odd years. I got to say, these guys must suffer from some obsessive compulsion disorder, but what the hell, why not, it sounds like a fantastic thing to do.
These groups have grown over the years and now have formed into sub-groups such as whitburn.mp3, whitburn.lossless, and other charts such as britburn which covers the British charts, and OzBurn which kind of takes care of the Australian charts, the operative words being "Kind Of".
Apparently OzBurn is only doing the Australian tracks, which is fair enough, why duplicate someone else's work from other groups. Unfortunately as great as OzBurn is, it only is being done in mp3, a file format I loathe, because in simple english it degrades the quality of the files severely. Those who defend mp3 state that 320s sound as good as the original, but that's an argument I'm not going to get into. Simply put, mp3 is inferior to flac and wav, because it is not a bit for bit identical copy of the original rip.
Back to Whitburn however - In many to most cases, the files are rips from CDs and CD singles. Unfortunately there is still a lot of material from the 60s 70s and 80s that hasn't seen a release on CD, thus many of the gaps have to be filled in by converting vinyl to digital, or as some say in the group - ripping vinyl, and I don't mean literally. Many of the vinyl rips sound quite good, it seems like they've been done properly, but they are those that sound plain shocking. The ripper has drowned the recording in tons of noise reduction, clipped the levels to loud, or just has used a worn stylus.
Even worse are those rips done on an USB turntable. Many USB turntables can do a direct needle drop to wav, which is fine - if the unit is hooked up using standard RCA chords to a soundcard. However, they are those who use the USB plug from the turntable to the USB port of their computer. As the record is playing, the turntable is converting the audio into mp3, which is then fed to the computer. Even if the software is recording in WAV, the USB input from the turntable is mp3, thus the WAV will contain an mp3 stream of the vinyl being ripped.
The last 50 odd years (1950 - 1999), has seen a huge body of musical work that needs a place in our history. The pop music of the 60s 70s 80s and 90s was unique in its own form - its melodies, variety of styles and genres, legendary artists, and a spectrum of wonderful music talent that this world will never experience again. This era was the goldilocks period, a time when technology was advance enough for the creation of memorable pop hits and quality distribution such as records and CDs.
This was before technology evolved to the point of lossy mp3 formats, brickwalled mastering, and inferior amateurish pop, which had changed music for the worse. This generally started happening around 2001-2002. Chart music has now deteriorated to a point of ugliness with the abundance of grunge, hip-hop, and screaming teen groups filling today's charts. But then, that's just my opinion, and can respect those who like today's music.
The above project such as Whitburn, Britburn, and OzBurn strive to build a library of every charting hit from every era and decade, but this is where it ends in one way, and starts for me in another. Already, over the last five odd years, I've amassed a huge digital music library, that has been compiled using the best available copies of every track, and taking particular note of the quality of each and every file. The originating purpose was to build a library for my radio station, but with that I'm becoming pretty damn close to having every charting single from the 70s 80s and 90s from Australia's Kent Music Report.