I LIKE SHORT SONGS
So I was sitting around, like you do, pondering the nature of communication and how, in the modern age of 60-second news and blipvert fast-cut media overload, the only sure way to get a message across is to disseminate it as completely and concisely as humanly possible, before your audience gets bored and wanders off. (By way of a guide, for example, the average under-25 lost interest in this page halfway through that sentence.)
Brevity is the soul of wit (which is one of the reasons burping is so funny), but it's also the soul of communication, and that maxim applies to music as well as to any other form. At the time, I happened to be listening to a Big Black album (featuring Steve Albini, the Spartan king of surgically-precise rock'n'roll), specifically the lean 1m 40s of prescription-drug paean "L Dopa" and for no particularly obvious reason it suddenly occurred to me to wonder: "Could you fit 100 songs onto a single CD?"
Of course, that sort of thing has been tried before by rubbish thrash-punk bands and death-metal noisecore outfits like Napalm Death and Sore Throat - invariably, each "song" would be about five seconds of incoherent bellowed grunting and aimless squalling racket with no discernible lyrics, structure or tune, mistaking puerility and pointlessness for extremity. But compiling 100 of those would be no challenge, and would produce nothing worthwhile. The question was, did there exist 100 "proper" songs - and more importantly, good songs - that were so short they would fit together onto a single 80-minute disc, which would actually be worth listening to? And if they did exist, could I find them?
In keeping with the spirit of the venture, I won't keep you hanging around for the answer. The answer is "Yes". It took two solid days (save for a couple of irritating real-life work commitments which had to be squeezed into spare moments amidst the frenzy of enthusiasm and excitement) of intense research and tracking-down to find 100 short-but-good tracks, and then another day to find 30 more when the first 100 turned out to take the CD a mere 29 minutes over the maximum length. (A brutal excising of anything over 1m 30s at this point tragically put paid to the inspirational "L Dopa", along with many more excellent tunes.) Another day's editing, equalising and deciding on the order of the tracklisting, and the challenge was completed, with a full one second of disc space left over.
And the results?
Better than I'd ever dreamed, to be honest. This is a great
album, stuffed with ace tracks covering pretty much every modern
musical genre from Chumbawamba to the Beach Boys to Huggy Bear to
Public Enemy to the BMX Bandits, but still hanging together into something that stands
up easily to repeated play. Don't believe me? At the bottom of this
page you can find - RIAA and BPI be damned, worthless parasites that
they are - all the downloads you need to create this cultural
masterpiece for yourself, but firstly:
DOWNLOADS AND INSTRUCTIONS
And so to the ingredients. Here you'll find the cover artwork (front and back, already correctly sized for 100% printing) in PNG format (1.78MB).
And here, recommended for broadband users, are the songs themselves in one big zip file for ease of downloading (a whopping 96MB, so 56K-ers will probably be better just finding all the songs individually with a P2P program, or setting the download going overnight or something). Note that CDs don't actually let you have more than 99 tracks on one disc, so the last two tracks have been joined together. They're numbered, so if you just drop the whole lot at once into Nero or your own preferred burning proggy they should automatically arrange themselves into the right order, but check against the tracklist before you burn. (The order matters, the first arrangement didn't sound half as good. Also, remember to tell whichever prog you're using to record it with no gaps between the tracks, or it won't fit.)
Burn the disc, print the cover - NB it is not recommended to read the tracklist while listening to the record, as it tends the listener towards waiting for the next song instead of paying attention to the current one and spoils things a bit - and then sit back and enjoy, using your ears. And spine.
Meanwhile, Volume 2 is under way. Think you can do better? Think you can come up with 100 quality tracks of proper songs, not just aimless 15-second noodling instrumental fillers? Let's hear it, then.
STOP PRESS: Some, though not
all, people who downloaded the zip file have reported problems with
tracks 32 and 68. This may, research suggests, be due to the fact
that both tracks have commas in their titles. The zip has now been
fixed to remove the commas and should work fine, but if you
downloaded earlier and appear to be
missing those tracks, they can be downloaded separately and
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