Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I found this very interesting and I thought I would pass it along. It is an explanation of how a record works (or plays)



Monday, August 27, 2007

Album Cover Art

In 1939, Alex Steinweiss was employed at Columbia Records as the first art director for the company and decided to spruce up and repackage vinyl records. We all know the result, album cover art has become an important part of music and pop culture. Many prominent artists have been commissioned to add their expertise and ideas for album covers. (Prior to Steinweiss’s creative influences, records were generally stored in plain, undecorated packaging).

For collectors, album cover art can sometimes be as valuable as the vinyl record it holds. For instance, one of the most famous album covers of all time, the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” cover was one of the most inventive at the time and included cut out inserts and lyrics. The price one would pay for a copy of this album is influenced by whether or not it has the original contents and they are intact. There are many album covers that included posters of the band as well and other “perks” for the buyer and all these elements factor into the resale price and collectiblity.

There have been many dynamic and world-famous album covers. Consider the Beatles’ album “Yesterday...and Today” (1966), also called the “butcher block album” because the Beatles were pictured on the front cover wearing white butcher coats surrounded by bloody meat and cut up dolls. The album was quickly pulled by Capitol Records after the company received numerous complaints from reviewers and DJ’s. The company recalled the issue and ordered a new cover but did not want to waste the several hundred thousand that had already been printed. Capitol then hired part-time helpers to remove that photo from the cover and paste on the new photo for the cover. But, it seems that there were many lazy employees and to save time, they just pasted the new cover on top of the old cover and the one that was supposed to be removed. The result is three different versions of that particular album and a collector’s dream, the different versions of the album are worth several thousand dollars (prices vary-check a record price guide to ascertain exactly what album you may have to get the exact price).

Album cover art has also spawned numerous web sites in which to view famous covers and designs, readers’ favorites and top ten lists. One such site, www.superseventies.com offers a comprehensive look at some of the most famous covers from the 1970's including the Sex Pistols “Never Mind The Bollocks,” the Eagles “Hotel California,” Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon” and the Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” among others. Additionally, www.superseventies.com offers their reader’s favorite seventies album covers (more than 300) with detailed descriptions and reviews of each specific release. This is a great way to spend a rainy day, as you discover some of the best album cover art of the 70's.

Album cover design is an art form and allows the musicians greater control over the content and another important avenue in which to express themselves. In my humble opinion (and I share this opinion with countless others), with the advent of the CD, the music buying public lost a national treasure, album cover art. It is part of pop culture and recorded music in general. Sure, Cd’s offer you a “stripped down” version of the original cover art, but it certainly pales in comparison to the real thing. I am sure Mr. Steinweiss would totally agree with me.

As I stated previously, many famous artists have been commissioned to design and produce album covers. For example, the Rolling Stones and pop artist Andy Warhol are famous for the cover art on the Stones’ album “Sticky Fingers.” As the story goes, at a party in 1969, Andy Warhol casually mentioned to Mick Jagger that it would be amusing to have a real zipper on an album cover. A year later, Jagger proposed the idea for “Sticky Fingers.” But, there was a flaw in the shipping process, the zipper would press onto the album stacked on top of it, causing damage to the vinyl record. The solution? The zipper had to be pulled down before the album was shipped, then it would only dent the album covers. However, they never figured out how to keep the zipper from scratching the other album covers. Additionally, some department stores refused to display the album, feeling it was risque and not family oriented because of the model’s snug jeans and the zipper display. But this album is historic because it broke new ground and also saw the debut of the now famous Stones logo: a caricature of Jagger’s lips and tongue.

If you are a Janis Joplin fan, then you would probably know that the famed cartoonist Robert Crumb designed the cover for Joplin’s album “Cheap Thrills.” This revered, yet misunderstood artist, drew the cover as a favor to Joplin, who he befriended in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood where they both resided. He was paid $600 for his work by Columbia Records, which later sold the artwork. Crumb was asked to do a cover for the Rolling Stones, but refused because he did not like their music. Crumb is also the artist for the “Keep On Truckin’” poster and “Fritz The Cat,” and has more than seventy covers to his credit.

The Internet is full of sites related to album cover art and is just too numerous to list. There are sites devoted to fan favorites, the weird and unusual, particular decades and so on. Many users have turned to ebay to find lost art treasures from their childhood. But I want to share a website and album cover artwork finder that is not only convenient, but a must have for any art lover.

I recently spoke with Richard Nicol, the program designer and owner of “Album Cover Finder.” (www.albumcoverfinder.com) The program has been available for more than two years and is a godsend for anyone interested in album cover art. “Album Cover Finder” allows the user to not only find specific searches for interesting album cover art, but also allows the user to download selected songs from the release. I asked Richard about his fascination with album cover art.

“I’ve always been interested and loved album cover art and wanted to create a database where the users could not only look at album cover art, but experience it as well. The program allows the user to browse through the cover art of a particular band and also lets the user to download particular songs through iTunes as well. The main feature is convenience, you can utilize iTunes and not only get more of an experience for the music, but the great artwork involved with the music and artists.”

But, “Album Cover Finder” is more than just iTunes and album cover art. The program allows users to look at different art work from different countries as well. Some of the art work involved in a US release may be different from that of a UK release or German release, only adding to the experience. The program also allows users to review artist biographies, read reviews of a particular release and add the artwork to their iTunes library and an iPod. “Album Cover Finder” also allows users to find additional cover art from a particular artist or band, copy the artwork to a clipboard and has artist videos and applicable tour information. “Album Cover Finder” is a fully functional way to search for album artwork and includes free updates for registered users and is available at www.albumcoverfinder.com.

Now, I have only had the program about a week, but I have to admit spending literally half a day looking at historic artwork and listening to the songs associated with the acts. This software gets a hardy “thumbs-up” and is a “must have,” affordable program for album cover art connoisseurs and anyone with a fascination with art and music.

Needless to say, there can be a lot more written about album cover art and the impact it has had upon music and pop culture and cannot be summarized in an article. There are countless books, (I actually own one that talks about and illustrates naked vinyl and the images used to try and sell albums!) That detail album covers and the impact upon pop culture and music. I have a short list below for you to explore:






Additionally, there are so many web sites and blogs associated with album cover art, they are to numerous to list. Why there are even web sites devoted to preserving this treasured art and frame it for display. Do you know what album cover is the favorite of all time?

I spoke with Gary Freiberg, owner and operator of www.rockartpictureshow.com, a site famous for it's framing of album cover art. We also spoke about the “Sgt. Pepper” cover and Gary related to me that the album “broke new ground and challenged the industry.” Gary and I talked about album cover art and the influences it has had on our culture. He also told me of a recent poll conducted by www.vinylrecordday.org that voted the “Sgt. Pepper” album cover the favorite album cover of all time.

Gary is world renowned for his work in the album cover art industry with his patented record album frame and his work has been cited and used by the Smithsonian, Home & Garden TV, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and thousands of satisfied Internet customers. And if you are interested in getting your great album art framed, you may visit www.rockartpictureshow.com and tell Gary you heard about him from Robert at www.collectingvinylrecords.com

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Find Your Vinyl Here!

Looking for vinyl records to buy? I have a new resource to tell you about and one I am sure will help out anyone who is a serious vinyl record collector. They are reputable, take PayPal, and grade their records according to the Goldmine Grading System (which is perfect!). For quality vinyl, you will be pleasantly surprised at the vast selection including thousands of vintage vinyl records at great prices. All your favorites. Funky, Jazz, Blues, Rock 'n' Roll.


Check them out today!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

TEAC Multi Music Player/CD Recorder

As I discussed yesterday, I convert my vinyl to CD in two ways. We discussed the program "Spin It Again" and now I want to discuss a unit (TEAC Multi Music Player/CD Recorder) that I purchased that also converts your record albums to CD format. Here is the unit:

TEAC Phono CD Recorder

I have coverted over sixty albums to CD so far, and I must say that this is an easy machine to operate. There is no set up involved, just take it out of the box, plug it in, add a vinyl record on the turntable, add a CD to record on and press the appropriate button. This unit is very user friendly and anyone could operate it. It more than pays for itself, as you convert your precious vinyl records to CD!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Convert Your Vinyl Records To CD

I have been asked about converting vinyl records to CD and what is the best way to go about doing this. There are two ways that I do it. I recently bought a great program called "Spin It Again." This computer application works wonderful and it is very easy to set up, is user friendly and menu-driven. Here is a snapshot of the program in action:

Buy Spin It Again

The program allows you to "edit" and remove unwanted hiss and crackle

Buy Spin It Again

Here is the sales copy that the company uses:

Transfer your old 45's and 33's to CD or to your new MP3 player or iPod(tm)! This dedicated record and tape conversion software makes it child's play to record and edit your old albums. The wizard driven process guides you through connecting your hardware, getting the correct recording level, and splitting your recording into multiple tracks. The software automatically removes clicks and pops and that unwanted tape hum and hiss. Convert your recordings to MP3s or burn them on to an audio CD! Spin It Again is a dedicated LP and tape recording conversion software application designed to make the process as simple as possible.

Buy Spin It Again

Now, some may wonder, if you are a vinyl record collector and love vinyl so much, then why would you "convert" your vinyl to the dreaded CD? Fair question. I convert my vinyl for several reasons. CD's are certainly more portable than records (you can't play a record in your car!) and this allows you to take your vinyl records anywhere, without really taking them out of your house.

Another reason I convert my vinyl to CD is to safeguard my records. Let me explain. If, for instance, I am invited to a party and they want to hear some of my "rare" vinyl, I can just make a recording of the particular record and take that instead of the record. This saves it from being lost or stolen, or anyone asking to "borrow" a valuable record. I can rest easy because I know where the record is at (in it's respective sleeve locked up at home!)

Then there is the damage factor. There is an issue of over use, but from what I have read, it is almost impossible to "wear out a vinyl record". Now, I suppose if you just played it over and over again for a year, you could do some damage, but you don't wear out a record just by using it. (obviously make sure to take very good care of your stylus) But, having a record on CD will save the record from the possibility of being damaged and getting dirty. (via fingerprints, dust or the occasional beer spill)

And by converting your vinyl to CD, you help to preserve the record, remember, vinyl records are historical audio documents. (An interesting fact is that only 5% of music on vinyl has been transferred to CD...that is an awful lot of music out there in the world that is only available via the vinyl record!)

So pick up your copy of this marvelous software and start converting right away!

Buy Spin It Again

Tomorrow I will discuss another way that I convert my records to CD!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mr. Completely .....complete mastery!

As previously mentioned, I write band bio's for indie bands for http://www.ilike2rock.net and I have hit the jackpot...I actually have spent a very enjoyable afternoon with a splendid band from Canada called Mr. Completely. Check them out ASAP at: http://www.ilike2rock.net/bands/m/mr_completely.html

Mr. Completely

Hailing from Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada, the aptly named dynamic rock and roll band, Mr. Completely adeptly mix classic rock/pop sounds with a blues swagger on their consistently inventive CD “Twice On Sundays.”

With songs like the classic rock sound of “Walk Away,” an everyman song of love gone bad that anyone can relate to (blended with a rootsy refrain we have all felt) that is set smartly to a melodic accompaniment, a funky riff and lead singer’s Jamie Robertson’s distinctive voice, the cut has all the elements of a hit single.

Another moving cut is the stripped down acoustics that evolve with musical emotion as the lyrics tell the story of the song “Without Warning.” The authorative singing of “Never Be The One,” with its wish-like lyrics echoed by emotional guitar work, is powerful and expressive.

Robertson is quoted as saying, “music fills my soul with energy” and he proves this with the slowed down acoustic precision of the cut, “Before Too Long,” an expressive song that says all the things you wish you could say-or should have said, accompanied by an intoxicating melody and a lead guitar that expresses the lyrics elegantly and with a keen passion.

Other cuts like “Rich Man Poor Man,” a heavy blues-rocker with sophisticated guitar work reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan (funky, rhythmic and lead). The straight up, no frills harmonic sound of “Never See You Again,” only tells you that the best is yet to come from Mr. Completely, because as the name implies, all four members are complete musicians and play not only from the heart and soul, but with immeasurable passion that a listener can actually feel within their music. That means, they get it, and are experts at passing it along (the music can give the chills). It would be a shame for you to miss out on their musical mastery.

Mr. Completely are:

Jamie Robertson - Lead Vocals/Guitar
Richard Spencer - Lead Guitar/Vocals
Rod Campbell - Drums/Vocals
George Milutinovic - Bass

Stop By For A Visit: http://www.mrcompletely.ca/

Friday, August 3, 2007

National Record Show

National Record Show heads to Rock Hall Hall Of Fame

The sixth annual National Record Show will be this weekend August 4-5 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, in Cleveland Ohio. Dealers from around the country will appraise, buy and sell vinyl records, CDs and other rock memorabilia.

Co-presented by
Goldmine magazine
the event runs 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Admission is free. Festivities include performances by Poobah, Liecus, Greyface, the Deadbeat Poets and Joe Bouchard, formerly of Blue Oyster Cult.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

As I stated in an earlier post, I am enjoying writing band bio's for bands for the Internet Radio station www.ilike2rock.net and I want to tell you about a couple of new bands that I see a bright future for. Here are the band bio's:


Saara Jarvinen’s influences can be heard in the song “I Remember You,” (The Cranberries) and Deborah Harry (in the song “You Should Have Seen”) as band mate Dean Belcastro (and many friends) combine the elements of transcendent and lucid guitar work with a mixture of ambient synth-folk rock and sensible backing instruments to create their distinctive sound.

With intelligent lyrics, the music weaves through life’s journeys with flawless instrumentation to accompany them. Angel-like vocals with sweet emotion gain steam in the song “Universe Inside” and the dreamy beat and perfectly placed vocals accompany the song “Apathy.” “All Of The World” evokes an acoustic-laden dreamy pop sound that is as infectious as it is intellectually stimulating. One can actually feel what Saara is singing, an intrinsic trait that only brings her music to the forefront and a gift not many song writers possess.

Although the band has persevered through many line-up changes, the core of the group, the duo of Saara and Dean created a masterpiece with their debut CD “Luna.” Put your ear to the ground and remember the name Hyske (pronounced High-Sk), as the sky is the limit for this angel of songs.

For more information please visit: http://www.hyske.com/


A new artist out of L.A. named Jeriko brings a refreshing sound and a sweet attitude to match her catchy pop-rock melodies in her new EP “From Me To You.” Finding her inspiration on an extended trip to Europe, she has hooked up with the Swedish brother team “The K-Bros” and has produced an EP that is quickly turning heads.

The hit single and title track, “From Me To You” is a hard edged, Debbie Harry-like track that probably has her giving a wink to everyone as she sings the retaliatory lyrics. “All Thumbs Up” is a song with a quirky Lou Reed-like riff and is something that Pat Benatar could have easily released in her prime. The tune “Happy” is pure, seductive pop complete with reflective lyrics and infectious rock riffs.

Internet Radio is blasting this sultry pop-rock goddess’ music at full-throttle and MTV has licensed the entire release for their catalog and it is just a matter of time before Jeriko and her masterful music is a household name.

For more information, visit http://www.myspace.com/jerikozone