There’s a lot of older music fans out there who would give anything to “bring things back” – whatever that might mean to them. Bring it back to the days of radio hits, record stores and so on. Optimistic though we may be, we’re pretty much resigned to the fact that most things aren’t going to revert back to the way they were.
One notable exception exists in the catalogue world, though: it’s a simple four-letter word that is quite literally changing the way we listen to our older music. It’s something that, in our rush for the best surround sound and audio fidelity, we may have forgotten about.
The subject, of course, is mono.
Listeners buying reissues at a steady pace may have noticed the rise of mono in recent years. These days, finding a dedicated mono mix of an album on CD is like finding part of the Rosetta Stone. Records by The Who, The Velvet Underground and others have been reissued in mono and stereo to vast acclaim. The Beatles remasters of course represented the peak of the trend with The Beatles in Mono box set from last year. Other mono releases are still sought after, including several of the albums in Jimi Hendrix’s catalogue (such a release may have increased excitement over the latest batch of reissues).
There’s something really interesting about seeing mono albums come back in a kind of big way. As someone who grew up in an age where most entertainment was already in stereo (where available) and FM radio was king, it’s a great trend to help new listeners gain a fresh, informed perspective on familiar music. Sometimes you miss a run of notes or a particular instrumental part if it’s buried in a stereo mix. And it’s little things like that which make listening to songs over and over again over time such a fun experience.
What are your mono memories? What one-channel sets would you like to see released on compact disc? Your thoughts are, as always, graciously observed below.