Friday, December 12, 2008

Music News & Notes

Kiss Decides to Cut First LP Since 1998

It has been announced that, beginning next year, the iconic rock and roll band KISS will hit the studio to record their first new album of material since 1998’s release “Psycho Circus.”

Even the reluctant bassist, Gene Simmons is on board although his opinions about the music industry are well documented.

“The record industry is in such a mess,” he told Billboard in November of 2007. “There is nothing in me that wants to go in there and do new music. How are you going to deliver it? How are you going to get paid for it if people can just get it for free?”

But with Paul Stanley producing and in complete control of the project, it will be an exciting new avenue for the rockers to explore.

“I would consider doing it if I could do it the way I wanted to do it,” he explained, adding that his 2006 solo album “Live To Win” confirmed how he’d “like music to sound that I’m a part of. To do another KISS album, I would not e willing to compromise my point of view perhaps as much as I have in recent years.”

Still unresolved is just how the band will distribute the new album which will feature longtime members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons alongside guitarist Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer on the drums.

KISS is also expected to embark on a North American tour at some point in the New Year, but no dates have been announced at this time.


John Fogerty Returns with “Blue Ridge Rangers” Project

Seminal ‘swamp’ rocker and former Creedence Clearwater Revival front man John Fogerty is putting the finishing touches on a new project appropriately called: “John Fogerty: The Return Of The Blue Ridge Rangers.”

The Blue Ridge Rangers were originally a one-man band in which Fogerty released a set of country and roots cover songs. Although the Blue Ridge Rangers concept allowed Fogerty complete artistic control (he played all the instruments), this project will be different, as he explained to Billboard.

“I’ve known for years that if I ever did a Blue Rangers album again I sure didn’t want to play all the instruments. I had long felt that was probably something that was wrong with the first album.”

The project was recorded during a 10-day session at Village Recorders in Santa Monica, California, with T-Bone Burnett and Lenny Waronker as co-producers. Among the musicians contributing to “The Return Of The Blue Ridge Rangers” were Greg Leisz, Dennis Crouch, Buddy Miller, Kenny Aronoff and Jay Bellerose. The set includes fifteen songs that were recorded from a list of about forty titles that Fogerty, Burnett and Waronker had assembled.

“My pre-requisite was that I didn’t want to get into the realm of trying to be really hip and obscure,” explained Fogerty. “I’ve seen people get really out there, and it’s stuff nobody’s heard of or maybe it’s stuff nobody wants to hear of. For me it just had to be a good song, a great song, ‘cause great songs will carry you a long way.”

Fans of Fogerty and of the classic rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival can expect a quality release, although there has been no definitive release date.


Decemberists’ New LP Is Concept Oriented

Indie-Pop rockers the Decemberists new album from Capitol Records should arrive in stores near the end of March 2009. The 17-track effort will chronicle a twisted love triangle, mixed with fantasy, with a woodland queen playing very heavily into the storyline.

However, this is not the first time the Portland, Oregon Indie-Pop crew has waded into the concept album territory. Its predecessor, “The Crane Wife” (2006) included a retooled Japanese fairy tale as its central theme.


Indigo Girls Team With Vanguard For New Album

The Indigo Girls have started their own label to release their next album. "Poseidon and the Bitter Bug" is due March 24 from IG Recordings, with distribution through Vanguard.

The double-disc set includes the album as well as a second all-acoustic version, the latter featuring the bonus track "Salty South."

"It's basically like two perspectives of the same song," group member Amy Ray told Billboard of the Mitchell Froom-produced project. "It gives everybody both sides of the equation."

The Indigo Girls spent most their career on Epic before shifting to Hollywood for 2006's "Despite Our Differences."

Grunge Rockers Pearl Jam to Reissue Their LP “Ten”

Pre-orders for the reissue of Pearl Jam’s 1991 debut album will be available March 24from their former Epic Records label (also pre-orders have already begun on the band’s website

In fact, four different editions of the legendary debut include a host on previously unreleased tracks and special surprises from the vaults. Each version will include a digitally remastered version of the original as well as new remixes and was done by longtime producer Brendan O’Brien (who did not work on “Ten,” but produced the band’s next four LPs). Additionally, bassist Jeff Ament and designer Andy Fischer have teamed up to revamp the artwork.

The music produced by O’Brien for the project includes six previously unreleased cuts including early versions of “Breath,” “State of Love and Trust,” “Brother” (with vocals- not the instrumental version from the 2003 rarities release “Lost Dogs”), “Just a Girl,” “Evil Little Goat” as well as a Stevie Ray Vaughan-inspired jam session with improvised vocals from Eddie Vedder.

Band members have been coaxing O’Brien to take on the remixing project for years and he relented after he had remixed the “Ten” cuts, “Once,” “Black” and “Alive” for the band’s greatest hits release in 2004 called “Rearviewmirror.”

“The original ‘Ten’ sound is what millions of people bought, dug and loved, so I was initially hesitant to mess around with that,” explained O’Brien. “After years of persistent nudging from the band, I was able to wrap my head around the idea of offering it as a companion piece to the original-giving a fresh take on it, a more direct sound.”

The seminal and groundbreaking album has sold more than 9.6 million copies in the US and certainly vaulted Pearl Jam to mainstream superstardom worldwide.

The ‘Legacy’ edition of the reissue includes a DVD of the band’s previously unreleased “MTV Unplugged” performance in 1992. Fans could also choose a double-vinyl version that features the original “Ten” on one LP and O’Brien’s remix on the other.

However, the package that is sure to appease even the most die-hard fans of the group will include two CDs, a DVD and four vinyl records. It will all be housed in a linen-covered, slip cased clamshell box as well as a replica of an item that is second to none in Pearl Jam Lore.

Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, who served as the art director for the original Ten packaging, reprised his role for the reissues collaborating with designer, Andy Fischer, of Cameron Crowe’s Vinyl Films (Into the Wild soundtrack LP, Vanilla Sky soundtrack LP, Harold and Maude anniversary edition soundtrack LP).

"The goal was to assemble the ultimate fan-piece,” explains Fischer. “Something Pearl Jam lovers could pore over as they experience an indelible record all over again, in an entirely new way."

“The original concept was about really being together as a group and entering into the world of music as a true band...a sort of all-for-one deal,” says Jeff Ament. “There were some elements of the original Ten artwork that didn't turn out the way we had hoped, due to time constraints. With this reissue, we’ve been able to take our time and invest resources into making the design the way we had originally intended.”

Pick up a copy of “Ten” here:


1. Legacy Edition (2-disc set in mini-LP style slipcase):
• Disc 1: original Ten tracklisting digitally remastered (original mix)
• Disc 2: original Ten tracklisting digitally remastered and remixed by Brendan O’Brien, plus six bonus tracks: “Brother,” “Just a Girl,” “State of Love and Trust,” “Breath and a Scream,” “2,000 Mile Blues” and “Evil Little Goat”
• Re-designed packaging

2. Deluxe Edition (2-disc set plus DVD specially designed hardbound package):
• Disc 1: original Ten tracklisting digitally remastered (original mix)
• Disc 2: original Ten tracklisting digitally remastered and remixed by Brendan O’Brien, plus six bonus tracks: “Brother,” “Just a Girl,” “State of Love and Trust,” “Breath and a Scream,” “2,000 Mile Blues” and “Evil Little Goat”
• DVD of Pearl Jam’s previously unreleased 1992 MTV Unplugged performance including never before seen bonus performance of “Oceans” with 5.1 surround sound audio remix

3. Vinyl Collection (2-LP set)

• LP 1: original Ten tracklisting remastered for vinyl
• LP 2: original Ten tracklisting remastered for vinyl and remixed by Brendan O’Brien

4. Super Deluxe Edition (2-disc set plus DVD, 4 LPs and replica cassette in linen-covered, slip-cased clamshell box):

• Disc 1: original Ten tracklisting digitally remastered (original mix)
• Disc 2: original Ten tracklisting digitally remastered and remixed by Brendan O’Brien, plus six bonus tracks: “Brother,” “Just a Girl,” “State of Love and Trust,” “Breath and a Scream,” “2,000 Mile Blues” and “Evil Little Goat”
• DVD of Pearl Jam’s previously unreleased 1992 MTV Unplugged performance including never before seen bonus performance of “Oceans” with 5.1 surround sound audio remix
• LP 1: original Ten tracklisting remastered for vinyl
• LP 2: original Ten tracklisting remastered for vinyl and remixed by Brendan O’Brien
• LP 3 & 4: Drop in the Park – Live at Magnuson Park in Seattle on September 20, 1992 (audio mixed by Brendan O’Brien)
• Cassette: replica of original “Momma-Son” Pearl Jam demo cassette featuring “Alive,” “Once” and “Footsteps”
• Package also includes an Eddie Vedder-style composition notebook filled with replica personal notes, images and mementos from the collections of Eddie Vedder and Jeff Ament, a vellum envelope with replicated era-specific ephemera from Pearl Jam’s early work and a two-sided print commemorating the Drop in the Park concert

Deep Purple Issuing Deluxe Edition of Stormbringer

Legendary rockers Deep Purple and EMI have announced that they will release a special edition of the album "Stormbringer" on February 23.

The album, first released in November 1974, peaked at #20 on the US album chart and was considered a bit uneven after "Machine Head" and "Who Do You Think We Are." At the time, the band was made up of Ritchie Blackmore (his last album with the group), David Coverdale, Glen Hughes, Jon Lord and Ian Paice.

The album will be issued in a CD/DVD combo with the CD having the original album plus five bonus tracks and the DVD containing an original Quadraphonic mix album as 5.1 DTS 96/24 and the original album Quadrophonic mix stereo 48/24 with on screen images. A 2-LP vinyl set will also be issued with an additional three bonus tracks.

The track listing for the CD/DVD set:

Love Don’t Mean a Thing
Holy Man
Hold On
Lady Double Dealer
You Can’t Do It Right
High Ball Shooter
The Gypsy
Soldier of Fortune
Holy Man (Glenn Hughes remix)
You Can’t Do It Right (Glenn Hughes remix)
Love Don’t Mean a Thing (Glenn Hughes remix)
Hold On (Glenn Hughes remix)
High Ball Shooter (instrumental, from Listen Learn Read On Box Set)

The track list for the 2-LP set:

Love Don’t Mean A Thing
Holy Man
Hold On
Lady Double Dealer
You Can’t Do It Right
High Ball Shooter
The Gypsy
Soldier Of Fortune
Holy Man (remix)
You Can’t Do It Right (remix)
Love Don’t Mean A Thing (remix)
Hold On (remix)
High Ball Shooter (instrumental)
High Ball Shooter (quad)
You Can’t Do It Right (quad)
Soldier Of Fortune (quad)

Deep Purple has always been near the top of my list of favorite rock and roll bands and I am excited about this release!

What to do with those old records?

Those of us of a certain age will no doubt remember playing music on vinyl. I remember getting my first "hand-me-down" record player, spending my pocket money on 7" singles, later on hunting down picture discs and other limited edition records, and generally having fun with my music.

Time passes however, and the scratchy old black discs have been replaced by shiny silver coasters. I've not been able to face the thought of ditching my old records and so they've been languishing in storage for the past decade. At least they were until I got the bright idea of trying to transfer them onto my computer.

Now a lot of it I've already re-bought on CD (or in some cases bought MP3s online), but some of it just isn't available in any format other than vinyl. It would be nice to get these lost classics (or old crap as my wife puts it) in an easy to use format. Of course, I've still got a stereo stacker system (remember those?) which I've hooked up to my PC and recorded off an album or two.

There are some disadvantages to this.

One is that the stereo is large, heavy, bulky and pulling it over to where the PC is also means that I'm tripping over the damn thing whenever I'm trying to record from it.

OK, so thats more of an inconvenience than a real problem. So do things get easier once you've plugged the earphone socket of the stereo into the soundcards line-in?


The sound levels can be a bit tricky to set up correctly. Once you've set up the graphic equalisers on the front of the stereo to a nice level, found the right volume to avoid clipping when you're recording it back and finally managed to record the album you STILL find an annoying hum (from the stereo's built in amplifier).

Now you can remove the worst of the hum, hiss and crackle from the records using Audacity (or whatever other audio software you use) but sadly the more you need to clean up, the more the sound quality of the final track suffers. (Before any audiophiles get in and start telling me about resisters that need to go between this, that and the other, forget it. I'm trying to record some music, not take lessons in soldering.)

The final results were passable, but still contained a bit of hum, which was certainly noticable when playing them alongside regular MP3s.

So what are the alternatives? Well, these days you can get hold of USB Turntables reasonably cheaply. These plug directly into your computers USB port and allow you to record directly from there. If you shop around you can normally pick up a cheap one from just over £20 (or less if you can get something in the sales). I picked mine up for just over £11 which was a bit of a bargain. They're also small enough to fit on my desk next to my PC when I'm in the mood to transfer some of my music.

If you are using Windows then you can just plug in and go (* see the notes at the end). There is a "drivers" disk supplied with the turntable, which doesn't actually contain any drivers. Instead it installs a copy of Audacity for you. The accompanying instructions take you through recording, cleaning up and exporting your tracks using Audacity.

Using it with Linux was just as easy. I plugged it in, installed Audacity using the package manager and from there on in the provided instructions were fine.

Recording using the turntable is much more straight forward than using the stereo. Firstly there are no levels or volume to adjust, you just plug in, select the USB device to record from and that's about it.

The instructions probably won't be needed for most of us, but it's always nice to see how other people do things. Personally after recording the track I normalise it, use a low level noise reduction to remove the worst of the hiss and clicks, manually split it into separate tracks and then save it to MP3. You can, of course, save to WAV, FLAC, OGG or whatever else floats your musical boat.

For those of you who may be interested, I tested this out with what is probably the oldest album that I've got - Baby Grand's self-titled first album from 1977, which was the first album I owned (I'd won it at a fairground).

The annoying hum from the stereo was totally absent when recording via USB and the overall sound quality on the final tracks was surprisingly good. All in all a good solution to the problem of transferring my old music.

SOURCE: posted by Dano at

Sony PS-LX300USB USB Stereo Turntable System - Black

Classic Rock Videos

Eric Burdon & The Animals - When I Was Young

Album Cover Art

We're almost to the top ten of's list of the sexiest and dirtiest album covers, here is #11 (Gigwise comments in quotes):

11. Jimi Hendrix Experience: ‘Electric Ladyland’ –" Unhappy with his record label’s adamant snubbing of his proposal for the 968 album to picture band member Linda Eastman posing with children at the foot of a statue of Alice In Wonderland in favour of a blurred image of his head, Hendrix took drastic action. Instead, the original UK pressings featured a gaggle of naked women – a decision that was steeped in controversy."

Electric Ladyland is the third and final album by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, released on October 16, 1968 on Reprise Records. Written and produced by Jimi Hendrix, the album is seen as the peak of Hendrix's mastery of the electric guitar, and is frequently cited as one of the greatest rock albums of all time. It is not only the last of his albums released as the Jimi Hendrix Experience, but also the last of Hendrix's studio albums to be professionally produced under his own supervision. After Electric Ladyland, Hendrix spent the remaining two years of his life attempting to organize a new band and recording a breadth of new songs.

Alternate Cover

Released as a double album, Electric Ladyland is a cross-section of Hendrix's wide range of musical talent. It includes samples of several genres and styles of music, including the psychedelia of "Burning of the Midnight Lamp" (previously a UK single in the summer of 1967), the bluesy guitar jam "Voodoo Chile", the New Orleans-style rock and roll of "Come On", the epic studio production of "1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)", and the social commentary of "House Burning Down". The album also features a cover version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" that was widely praised by many, including Dylan himself, as well as "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)", a staple of both radio and guitar repertoire.

Electric Ladyland was first released in the U.S. in October 1968 and became a massive hit; it was Hendrix's only #1 album. The UK edition reached #5 upon its release amid considerable controversy. A letter Hendrix wrote to Reprise described exactly what he wanted for the cover, but it was mostly ignored. He expressly asked for a colour photo by Linda Eastman of the group sitting with children on a sculpture from Alice in Wonderland in Central Park, NY, even drawing a picture of it for reference. The company instead used a blurred red & yellow photo of his head, taken by Karl Ferris. Track Records had its own art department, which produced a cover depicting of several nude women lounging in front of a black background. The original UK & German CD release from the 1980s features the UK artwork cover, while the Allan Douglas' re-master CD issue features the U.S. version by Ferris, which has since become the official worldwide cover of Electric Ladyland. The company Experience Hendrix, which owns the rights to the album and most of Hendrix's catalogue, has stated that the original UK nudes cover will not be used any longer, since Hendrix himself did not like it; nonetheless Hendrix's own choice, the Eastman photo, is still ignored. A dispute nearly happened with the album's title. In the final stages of production, a studio technician renamed the album "Electric Landlady." The album was almost released under this official title until Hendrix noticed the error, which upset him considerably. Kirsty MacColl later used this alternate title for an album of her own.

In 2005 Q magazine readers voted Electric Ladyland the 38th greatest album of all time; in 2003 the TV network VH1 placed it at number 72. In 2003, Rolling Stone declared it the 54th greatest album of all time. The album is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.