Happy Birthday, Compact Discs -- Reflections on the Format

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 1, 2012 05:09pm | Post a Comment

Billy Joel 52nd Street

On this day (1 October) in 1982, the first album released on CD came out -- Billy Joel's 52nd street

Carmen RiveroOn the day of that occasion, I still hadn't really discovered music for myself yet. My dad played '50s, '60 and '70s jazz records on the rare occasions that he mustered the paternal energy required to make his children grilled cheese sandwiches. My mother was more likely to play Carmen RiveroJohann Sebastian Bach, Bill Monroe, Aretha Franklin or Otis Redding records that she'd purchased back in the ancient, vinyl 1960s. We also had a Victrola which was fun because you had to crank it if you wanted to rock out to some Earl Rogers or other shellac 78.

It wasn't until 1983 that I finally turned on a radio and explored the dial. I also started going through my mother's (by then my parents were divorced) records -- discovering that I loved The Beatles... and that didn't love Three Dog Night. Gene Vincent and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack became favorites too and I when I begged for my mother to buy me Luciano Pavarotti's heavily-advertised-during-Tom &Jerry compilation My Own Story (1981), I knew it would be on vinyl.

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out this week 8/31 & 9/7...blu-ray...blu-ray...blu-ray...I can't get enough of blu-ray!!!

Posted by Brad Schelden, September 9, 2010 06:20pm | Post a Comment

I have really fallen in love with the Blu-ray. I tried to resist for a long time but I have given in! I am not proud of it. I often give myself a couple of years before I succumb to a new format. I was still buying cassettes in 1993 -- I didn't really trust the whole CD thing! I loved my late 80s and early 90s cassettes and wasn't really ready to jump to compact discs yet. I couldn't really afford it, really. I had spent years putting together my collection of cassettes, and I owned every Depeche Mode album on tape, as well as every Cure album and every album by The Smiths and Morrissey. I did finally switch over in 1993, long after most of my friends had moved on to CDs. One of them got me Staring at the Sea by The Cure as a gift, my first CD. I was, of course, hooked now. I loved that you didn't have to flip over the cassette! Most exciting was that you could skip to whatever track you wanted. And it did sound amazing. No more hissing of my old cassettes! This was still a while before digital music so I was still making tons of mix tapes, but it was now so much easier to make mix tapes from CDs. I remember how it was always hard to get the cassette to the right spot for each song when making a mix tape. I could now even program my CD player to play certain songs or play at random and I loved my new CD player! The same thing happened with DVDs. I was a big fan of VHS -- I still actually really like it. I grew up on VHS! Most of my first time viewing of some of my favorite movies was on VHS. I loved going to rent movies from various rental stores in all the different places I lived. I even worked at a VHS rental shop in San Francisco in the 90s. I loved buying cheap VHS from swap meets and thrift stores. I am a collector of my favorite things; I like to glance at my bookshelf and see all my favorite books alphabetized in front of me. The same goes for my VHS, cassettes, and vinyl. I never really gave up on these old formats. I just added the new format to the list of one of the things that I collected.

vhs rewinderAudio CDs were first commercially available in 1982 but they didn't really become popular until the early 90s. It took me about 10 years to finally catch up. DVDs were first introduced in the United States in 1997 but they didn't really take over VHS until 2003. This was the year when DVD became the more rented format. VHS was officially on its way out. I held out for about 5 years. I got my first DVD player in 2002 and my first DVD was the Muppet Movie. I was a bit sad to leave my VHS behind but I knew that it was over and I also knew that I would never forget it. I quickly fell in love with the DVD, with its directors' commentaries and all the special features. They also looked a lot better on my TV, and the packaging has so far lasted longer than VHS. Some of my VHS was getting worn out and the lines began to appear on the screen, sort of the same problem I had with my overplayed audio cassette tapes. And I really was over having to rewind my VHS tapes when I was done. Remember those rental store fees for not rewinding your VHS tapes? I always wanted one of those rewinders that some of my friends had. I really wanted the one that was a replica of a car. You just took your VHS out of your VCR and put it in the rewinder and it rewound it for you! I guess it was better since it didn't wear out your VCR, and you could start watching another movie right away while your finished VHS was being rewound. You didn't need to rewind DVDs. At least audio cassette tapes could be flipped over -- some stereos even flipped them over for you, but you couldn't flip VHS tapes overs. This was one of coolest things about DVDs. They also had fancy menus and you could skip ahead to different scenes or change the languages!

The first Blu-rays were introduced in June of 2006. The format war between HD and Blu-ray ended in 2008. Blu-ray had won. I felt bad for HD but I really didn't want to get involved until the battle was over. I also wanted to wait a couple of years to make sure the format was going to last. Once I got a new High Definition TV I soon realized that I was going to have to get a Blu-ray player. My old DVDs just didn't look as good. My first Blu-ray was The Dark Knight. It looked amazing and I was hooked. I haven't exactly given up on DVDs yet; I still have my alphabetized audio cassettes, I still collect LPs, and I still have all my VHS. There are some movies that I own on VHS and DVD and Bluray. I sometimes also have the soundtrack on cassette, vinyl, and compact disc. I am lucky I was too young to get into the Laser Disc scene. I don't buy any new movies on DVD if they are available on Bluray but everything is not put out on Blu-ray yet.

It has been fun being able to watch some of my old favorite movies on Blu-ray. It is like watching the movie for the first time, especially if you have never seen it in the theater. There are plenty of movies out there that I have only watched on cable or VHS so I get really excited when an old movie comes out on Blu-ray. Movies like The Dark Knight and Casino Royale look amazing on Blu-ray. These are the sort of movies that you would just expect to look great in High Definition. I just watched Silence of the Lambs on Blu-ray a couple of months ago. I have probably seen that movie more than 30 times but I noticed stuff that I had never seen before. It looked fantastic! The movie seemed to come more alive on the screen. Heat and The Professional are also amazing on Blu-ray. Showgirls is another essential on Blu-ray. Planet Earth narrated by David Attenborough is probably the first Blu-ray that everybody should watch! Even movies like Howard's End and A Single Man look amazing. Days of Heaven also looks fantastic, along with Interview with the Vampire and Lost Boys. It really is like seeing these movies again for the first time! The picture is so clear and it looks 3D. You feel like you could just jump into your TV. And TV on Blu-ray is also fabulous! Mad Men and True Blood are both shows made for Blu-ray. They look amazing. There are some great releases around the corner for Blu-Ray and I am gonna start saving my money now. George Lucas just announced that the Star Wars movies will be out on Blu-ray next year. The Lord of the Rings movies are coming out individually next week. I just watched What's Up Doc with Barbra Streisand on Blu-ray for the fist time this week and it was so amazing to see San Franciso in the early 70s! The costumes and sets and everything looked great in high def. Seriously amazing. I have a long list of things to watch that are already out on Blu-ray. Bullitt is at the top of the list. The Shining, Escape From New York, The Thing, Evil Dead, Dirty Harry, The Bourne Trilogy, Ghostbusters, Sons Of Anarchy, Unforgiven, Traffic, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Goodfellas, The Godfather, Casino, Heathers, & Halloween are all on the list.

Here are the awesome Blu-rays coming out in the next couple of months that I am excited about...

The Evil Dead
Sons of Anarchy: Season 2
Red Riding Trilogy

Forbidden Planet
The Office: Season 6
Mars Attacks!
THX 1138
The Player
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown


The Twilight Zone: Season 1
Return of the Living Dead
Breathless (criterion)
Jacob's Ladder
Star Crash (Roger Corman)
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Big Bang Theory: Season 3


Spartacus: Blood & Sand: Season 1
Charade (Criterion)
Robin Hood
Being Human: Season 2
Modern Family: Season 1


The Thin Red Line (Criterion)
King Kong (1933)
Iron Man 2
Get Him to the Greek
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (Criterion)

Grindhouse (Special Edition) Planet Terror/Death Proof + all the trailers!
The Exorcist (Extended Director's Cut & Original Theatrical Edition)
Beauty & the Beast
Troll 2
Maltese Falcon
Bad Lieutenant
Robocop Trilogy
Secret of the Kells
Blair Witch Project
The Year Without A Santa Claus
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer


Apocalypse Now
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Psycho (50th Anniversary Edition)
Moulin Rouge
Romeo + Juliet
Please Give
Seven Samurai (Criterion)


Alien Anthology
Back to the Future Trilogy
Winter's Bone
House (Criterion)
Elf (collector's edition)
The Girl Who Played With Fire

Toy Story 3
The Sound of Music
Goonies (25th Anniversary)
The Wiz
Bridge on the River Kwai
The Pacific

Metalocalypse: Season 3
Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World
Antichrist (criterion)

Metropolis (1927)
The Twilight Zone: Season 2
Night of the Hunter (Criterion)
Modern Times (Criterion)
Avatar (collector's edition)


Deadwood: The Complete Series
America Lost & Found (criterion)

Waking Sleeping Beauty
Meet the Parents
Meet the Fockers


Lost In Translation
Videodrome (criterion)

Family Guy: It's A Trap

I am patiently awaiting the release of some movies on Blu-ray. I have not found release dates yet but they can't be too far in the future I hope...

The Abyss, Dead Alive, Short Cuts, Pulp Fiction, Safe, Taxi Driver, Munich, My Own Private Idaho, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Ice Storm, Jaws, Woman Under the Influence, Rosemary's Baby, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Manhunter, Legend of Billie Jean, Valley Girl, Sid & Nancy, Six Feet Under, Sex & the City, Twin Peaks, & all the John Waters movies!

also out 8/31...

Best of Soul Train on DVD

Minotaur by Clientele

Fission by Film School

I'm Having Fun Now by Jenny & Johnny

Familial by Philip Selway

Music from Yo Gabba Gabba Vol. 2

also out 9/7...

Seeing Eye Dog by Helmet

Interpol by Interpol

O by Oval

  Old Punch Card by Sam Prekop

Personal Life by The Thermals

My So-Called by Venetian Snares