Listening to early demos of famous bands is a fantastic way of discovering how they sounded without all the grooming of commercial agencies. When we hear the early work, before the expensive studio and conceptual art, we get to hear that raw ingredients which attracted the fans in the first place. It's good to know that when unpolished, the bands of our dreams sound just like regular people playing instruments. Even more so, when we go back a few years and listen to work which would no doubt have been made using simple tape decks and possible DIY recording booths, popular with single or duet artists., we discover that their delivery is crisp, on time, and yet raw and still carrying that back room feel that just disappears as soon as someone gets signed.
Further on from this, we can then listen to their first professional release, and compare the two sounds. We can listen for that element which the record company decided to keep, and the element they decided to drop. Sometimes the difference in sound is profound, and other times, not so much. Always though, something in the original sound is grabbed and amplified until it forms a unique twist that the marketing people hope, will become associated with the brand of that particular group. The band brand.
Youtube is a perfect resource for music research. Although not with the same quality we get from CD, the basic quality is good enough for a simple listen over and most of the factors are still there. In fact, only in studio quality recordings, do we tend to find there to be a recognisable difference at all in digital compression. As the nature of Youtube is to deliver video, and album usually consists of an image alone, the entire bandwidth is reserved for sound, meaning there is no compromise apart from in original compression.
It is possible that if the album is accompanied by moving images, that the sound is further reduced in quality to make room for this. When listening to rare and difficult to find music such as demo versions, Youtube is almost as good as the real thing. The hard copies are out there and yet contain so much material value which increases all the time and so listening to those directly is not advisable anyway. Some bands offer special represses of early work, especially to fan club members. These nearly always come with a heavy price tag, on top of the membership fee, and the money spent on the regular merchandise, listening for free doesn't feel so bad.
Here's some demo albums from famous bands.
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