With My Friend Beside Me… or The Black Keys – Brothers

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Brothers travelled the roads between Peterborough and Toronto with me as if this album was a best friend. Entertaining me, making me smile occasionally, and telling me outrageous stories as the hours passed. Back and forth I went and so did The Black Keys. After one particularly nasty life experience, the first thing that had me laugh in over two months was the video for “Howlin’ For You.” I mean, how cool is (Sir) Todd Bridges when he does that Samuel L. Jackson badass thing.

Released in May of 2010, Brothers quickly became The Black Keys best selling record, and by that November I knew I wanted to see it spin on my turntable.

Fortunately, the band provided several vinyl options for their fans. The first two are separate but almost identical releases. For North America, a regular 2 disc vinyl copy was put out with a CD and poster in a black gatefold cover. In Europe, it was a 180 gram audiophile 2 disc vinyl set with the CD, poster and same cover. However the big limited release came on Black Friday/Record Store Day when a limited edition became available.

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3000 copies all machine stamped and numbered in an alternate white gatefold cover hit the independent record stores. Brothers contained two 180 gram vinyl discs that played at 45 rpm, an additional 10 inch record with unreleased live material, the CD and a variant of the same poster contained in the other vinyl releases.

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The significance of the 45 RPM should not be understated in this case; vinyl 12” records play at higher speed, have wider grooves and allow the vinyl to carry a bit more sound. Audiophiles claim it gives a greater frequency response, while the rest of us hear an enlarged bass and more dynamic guitar.

When I play my vinyl against the CD, the wax sounds so much warmer and… well, whole. If you ever get the chance you should play a CD or download up against the vinyl and give it a test, I believe you will hear a difference.

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Copies of original vinyl editions of Brothers can still be purchased at all your favourite record retailers. As for the limited edition, you would have to go to the re-seller market on that computer thing and likely pay about $100 plus shipping. But… really, can you put a price on friendship?

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