The fourth distinct cycle of recording documentation during my lifetime seems to be in full swing, or at least I would like to appear for once not to be dragging behind by saying so.

When the third cycle initiated, the compact disc was considered a worthy manner in which to document an entire recording career for posterity. As a result of this push something like 75% of the material I had released prior to the third cycle was in one way or another made available on compact disc, especially once the CD-R came along.
The latter aspect of the third cycle was particularly exciting to me. Like the second cycle, the cassette, it allowed the performer total freedom in what could be on a release, but bore a much more vivid resemblance to the master recording, notwithstanding the rampant arguments about analog, digital, low fi, hi fi, stereo, mono.

The higher price demanded for compact discs could inevitably only be justified by the opinion that the consumer was getting something quite close to a matter disc. Further duplications could be made without much loss in audio quality. The higher price also led consumers in many other directions for getting their music, many involving no expense at all. The ensuing impact on the big music corporations is almost Biblical, or would be were the executives led out into the streets and stoned--and I am not talking about skunk weed.

Recording artists today who are controlling their own material also have to keep these developments in mind and many I talk to have already given up on compact discs entirely. My obsession with handmaking packaging has helped maintain interest in my releases, but not to the point where I want to totally ignore the compact disc’s topple in stature.

One of the main reasons is obviously the price that has been set for these items in the marketplace, which artists who manufacture their own releases can sometimes combat by asking much lower prices. Predictably, some CD buyers become suspicious if an item is too cheap! More commonly, listeners aiming to create a well stocked larder of back catalog become intimidated at the price of even a scaled down selection of works by an artist who has been around two, three, four decades or more.

Sadly there are many still pushing for further price increases in compact discs, arguing that the customer base is well heeled and can afford it.

My reaction this year will be to scale down the size of the compact disc catalog I offer, acknowledging that the medium is no longer considered the last word in documenting a recording career. The new catalog represents not only what I presently feel are personal favorites but releases that seem particularly pleasing in compact disc form.

In contrast, there are instances where the compact disc versions of releases from the first cycle, vinyl and second cycle, cassette, were not really improvements or an even match on the original. One of my goals in the current period is to investigate better ways of re-releasing material from previous cycles in the fourth cycle in a way that can be both economic and incredibly expansive. Memory cards and memory sticks are obvious possibilities that for example might be excellent ways of issuing big chunks of both previously available and non available material from periods such as the New York City 70s and 80s scene or the Camper Van Chadbourne studio and live recordings.

As the compact disc fell from grace in the last few years, I bridged the philosophies of CD-R and cassette, creating limited edition collections of live performance and ongoing studio projects such as Adrift and the Island of Three Shreeves. I plan to continue this practice. Rabid collectors or so-called ‘normal’ people interested in only one item can be assured that I am not destroying masters or making items completely unavailable. Feel free to ask for any item from the back catalog, at very worst a good CD-R can be made of it. Leaders of the 21st century such as Mike Schafer continue to digitize, analyze and even reissue on their own items from my cassette catalog, so in some cases even that phase of dementia can be considered “available.”

Admitting that I in no way have any idea what is coming next, I am happy to receive suggestions or requests for material to be issued in whatever format somebody thinks they would like, as well as suggestions on the best way to create a saleable item, let alone a catalog, in a format such as a memory card. In terms of packaging it is interesting to think of moving from a format in which customers had to figure out unique ways of shelving in their homes to one in which decade’s worth of recordings could be smuggled about inside a cigarette pack.

E.C. @ the European Jazz Jamboree 2009:

A good recent article on E.C. from our good friend Steve Wildsmith @ the Daily Times in Tennessee:

Check out the amazing video footage of the FAMOUS E.C. on our

Video Links Page


Biel Switzerland 2010

Berlin based artist Ursula Dietz w/the Doc & her original painting done from a 2009 show in Berlin

E.C. & JOHN RUSSELL @ PHONOMANIE IX - Paul Lovens VERMOEGEN, 60th birthday party tribute to
the drum maestro in Ulrichsburg, Austria - thanks to Hans Reichel for the picture!

Doc & David Doyle @ Mack & Mack, Greensboro NC 7/3 2009
Photo: John Davis

Eugene with Han Bennink
Photo: Femke van Delft

Doc, Tatsuya Nakatani & John Davis
11/13 2009 @ Mack & Mack
, Greensboro NC
Photo: Scott Crowder
Doc & Tatsuya Nakatani
11/13 2009 @ Mack & Mack
, Greensboro NC
Photo: Scott Crowder
Doc & John Davis during solo gig @ Mack & Mack, Greensboro NC  10/10 2009
Photo: Scott Crowder

E.C. & Paul Lovens @ PHONOMANIE IX -
Paul Lovens VERMOEGEN, 60th birthday party tribute to
the drum maestro in Ulrichsburg, Austria -
thanks to Hans Reichel for the picture!

Eugene with Han Bennink
Photo: Femke van Delft

Jack n' Jim

E.C. & Webmaster Ben
Photo: Christina Larrick
E.C. Kitchen Table Nirvana
Photo: Christina Larrick

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Eugene Chadbourne. All rights reserved.
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