The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Grant Us an Extension

with 8 comments

The other day I was talking about how us catalogue fans can sometimes end up wanting that one missing track to add to our collections. I used the 45 version of Billy Joel’s “Sometimes a Fantasy,” which runs well past the fade-out on the LP, as an example. Interestingly enough, I realized that the track also adhered to another concept I realized I’m enamored of concerning music in general.

When I was a kid, I was always interested in the idea of a fade-out. You’d be listening to a song, getting all excited, and then gradually the song quiets down to nothing, even though the music was still going. That drove me nuts! I frequently risked hearing damage to listen to as much of those fade-outs as I could, quickly turning the sound back down before the next track blared in.

As I became more well-versed in the world of catalogue music, I realized that some artists and compilers seemed to share my opinion on the fade-out. As I got more and more into 12″ remixes, where other bits of the master recording could be utilized, I was hooked. Michael Jackson could be good for that sometimes (notably the 12″ to “Billie Jean,” which is just an unedited version of the song). So could Prince – the grossly underrated “Mountains,” off the Parade album, lets you hear another six or seven minutes of jamming. (This didn’t always work for The Purple One, as anyone who’s heard the 26-minute version of “America” or the unreleased half-hour jam on “I Would Die 4 U” – later edited to ten minutes on the 12″ single – can attest.)

I’ve also earned some vindication from the Rock Band series of video games. I could write a whole series of posts on how it’s opened me up to new acts and let me rediscover songs I’d heard a million times before. But one of the simplest pleasures in those games have been hearing a song that usually fades out come to a complete stop instead. Sometimes the goal is met through obvious editing, but sometimes a concrete ending, or otherwise unheard material, can be unearthed. (Cases in point: Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up,” Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69,” Squeeze’s “Tempted” and David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.”)

So the next time you hop up to turn up your speakers to get those last sounds out of a song, don’t feel bad – you’re in good company. And what fade-out songs do you find yourself turning up? Let’s talk in the comment section.

Written by Mike Duquette

February 9, 2010 at 11:58

8 Responses

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  1. Taking us back full circle to Billy Joel, it was nice to hear a longer fade out on “Zanzibar” released on the “My Lives” boxed set. Always a favorite song of mine.

    “The Motown Box”, while containing a lot of well-meaning, but bad sounding stereo remixes (Tom Moulton must not have been granted access to any of the multi-tracks and tried to re-matrix mono masters), it also contained many tracks with extended fade-outs.

    I’ve also heard the undubbed basic track of Steely Dan’s “Green Earrings”, which goes on for another four minutes after the fade. Stellar jam.

    I’ve read there are many surprises to be found on the Beatles Rock Band game as well in terms of mixouts and alternate endings. There are torrents “out there”.


    February 9, 2010 at 12:15

    • Not to advocate such a thing, but finding torrents of stuff from Rock Band is a dream come true. Unless you have actual access to the original multitrack masters (and come on, who does), it’s a fantastic resource to hear things buried in the mixes of your favorite songs.

      Mike Duquette

      February 9, 2010 at 12:29

  2. One I can think of right away is Hold Me by Fleetwood Mac. I love John McVie’s playing and his work on this one is no exception. He throws in a sweet bass run on the fade out of the song that I crank up every time. It’s just one of those musical passages that is not the most technical thing ever but it just sounds awesome to my ears. That would actually be another cool post idea. Sections of songs that may get overlooked by the casual listener but make the song great for you. whether it is a background vocal, some horn passages buried in the mix, etc…

    Ray Judson

    February 9, 2010 at 13:23

  3. I remember the joy I felt the first time I heard the album version of “Hello It’s Me” by Todd Rundgren. Instead of fading out like on the single it goes on until it basically falls apart at the end. Great stuff!

    Glenn S.

    February 9, 2010 at 14:42

  4. Supposedly on a UK cassette version of Bob Dylan’s “Desire”, there is an unfaded version of “Oh Sister”. According to the Dylan collecter site “Searching For A Gem”, one can hear “an uncensored exchange between Emmylou Harris and Bob”, but neglects to add further details. (scroll down)


    February 9, 2010 at 17:35

  5. The fade out has always been a curious notion to me. Schooled as a radio DJ of the 60s and 70s, the fade was actually a tool urged by broadcasters so that announcers could start their patter at the end of a song without totally ruining the artistic integrity of the song. And DJs were quite liberal in manipulating their own fades on songs that might not even be recorded with one. Those scoundrels!
    At times the fade could be used to optimum artistic effect by the band themselves(i.e.-The PIE/Sutherland Bros.). I’ve always felt that the fade told the listener that the song still floats thru the cosmos, but is now just out of range of your mortal ears. The song goes on forever, as it where. In this day and digital age, I miss the fade from time to time. Nobody fades anymore. Not fade away!
    Recent listens of extentions of fades…Good Day Sunshine on remastered Beatles, especially the Mono cut. Paul keeps on keeping on and it’s mighty good; and Hey Bulldog off Beatles Rock Band set. The start and stop of the tune are wonderful, reportedly the last time JPG&R really had a fun rave up in the studio. You can audibly hear the love and giggles!
    And last but not least, remember the Small Faces’ use of the fade out…and then the fade back in again. Brilliant! Oh, let us not forget our rascally Raspberries giving tribute to that Faces’ fading trick on a mid-career tune or two of their own.

    Sean Anglum

    February 10, 2010 at 12:49

  6. “Life During Wartime.” (The reissue of Fear of Music is a bit frustrating, providing a version with no fade but with Robert Fripp noodling over it.)

    Also, regarding Rock Band, the new mixes provided at least one moment of frustration. On the track “That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate” by Mission of Burma (who I was absolutely floored to see on Rock Band to begin with), screaming that was in the background was made louder… and made mandatory for the singer. Ugh.

    (Any discussion of fading should include the inexplicable fade-out at the BEGINNING of the Smiths’ “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others.”)


    February 26, 2010 at 01:58

  7. Mike, THANK YOU!! How the %$#@! did Sony not put the long version of “Sometimes a Fantasy” on the My Lives box set?? Unbelievable! Of course, that wasn’t the only screwy omission or alteration on that Billy Joel set…

    The original, longer mixes of songs from Cold Spring Harbor should’ve been there, and they sure messed by using an alternate version/mix of the awesome B-side (of “We Didn’t Start the Fire”) “House of Blue Light.” The original featured some sweet Hammond B-3 from Billy, but on My Lives that got wiped and replaced by a harmonica instead. It’s not nearly as good. Thankfully, I have the original version on one of those old mini CD3 singles (with the plastic adapter ring around it).

    Some great still-unreleased Billy songs that didn’t make the cut either… “Long Long Time,” “Josephine,” the instrumental “Handball,” and several more. Sorry for getting off track here, but since you’re a Billy fan too I just had to get all that off my chest.

    Of course, I’d just love to know why those longer versions of “Zanzibar” and “Sometimes a Fantasy” weren’t the versions on the albums to begin with!


    April 22, 2010 at 22:43

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