I've read this from top to bottom. Thanks for the great discussion.
Now, for my two cents:
I find this volume war to be juvenile. It's like a bunch of kids at a mega-bass competition, and it's not just on CDs.
I work in live sound, but I can't stand going to concerts unless I have to work them. It's like they're trying to see how many people they can get to soil their pants with bass beyond the threshold of feeling.
I used to spend hours listening to LPs, but the sound of CDs, even those by the same artists, gets annoying after just a short time. And, don't even get me started on iPod and MP3.
Analog recordings, even on CD, are so much denser than digital. Everything is so big that it doesn't need to smash the volume ceiling in order to sound huge.
Another reason folks seem to need 96 tracks to record four instruments?

"Take 276, you know this used to be fun."
John Entwistle