Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Twisted Sister - Oh Come All Ye Faithful (I love f**king Christmas Music)

Turn, turn, turn: Music lovers young and old rediscovering the beauty of vinyl

Music lovers young and old rediscovering vinyl


Where once Goliath record chains such as The Warehouse and Sam Goody have folded, small-fry Mike Lunt, owner of Recycled Records in Monterey, still stands with a vinyl record in hand and a slingshot in his back pocket.

That's because while the CD has slowly faded into the background due to the popularity of digital downloading, vinyl records have reclaimed their relevance among music listeners, locally and nationally.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, while CD sales continue a double-digit decline, sales of vinyl albums have doubled in the last year to 6 million, and turntable sales increased 80 percent over the same period. The resurgence is being led not just by baby boomer nostalgia for gatefold album sleeves and those pops and scratches on favorite records, but by college-age consumers discovering the elaborate artwork of vinyl-album packaging for the first time — and entranced by the grittier, less-artificial sound quality.

Lunt and his fellow record store owner, Bob Gamber, owner of The Vinyl Revolution down the street on Lighthouse Avenue, each acknowledge the bump in business at their shops.

The reason is simple: In the digital download age, people still long for both a physical product and quality sound. Vinyl fulfills both needs.

"Records sound so much better," said Lunt, working in the cramped booth at the end of his store, surrounded by stacks of used vinyl records he carefully rubbed with D4+ fluid to remove smears and fingerprints.

"(With records) you're actually buying something. A lot of the download stigma is you don't actually get anything for your money. Sure, you get the song, but there's nothing there to show for it."

It's gratifying for Lunt and Recycled Records, which marked its 33rd anniversary this year. Lunt plans on celebrating the anniversary in February to honor 331/3 years, a nod to the revolutions per minute setting on some older record players.

At his store, business has steadily improved over the past couple years, although he and Gamber both said the recession has slowed some of the momentum.

A lot of Lunt's customers come in looking for special orders, but a significant portion of his product has included new releases.

Major label recording artists such as Metallica, Radiohead and Wilco have recently issued special vinyl editions of their latest releases and include bonus download codes.

"It's the best of both worlds," said Lunt.

Down the road at Vinyl Rev, Gamber's been busy stocking his shelves with new vinyl releases as well as major record label re-issues. Album re-issues from classic rock artists such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd are plenty popular.

"You can't keep them on the shelves," said Gamber.

The 51-year-old Gamber is a classic rock relic of sorts, albeit a heavy metal rocker. A former Metallica roadie before the band hit it big, Gamber has owned stores in Santa Cruz and San Francisco. He opened Vinyl Rev in 1994, drawn to the ocean and quiet community.

"When I opened up in 1994, people thought I was nuts," said Gamber. "They said 'What are you doing? CDs are the future. Nobody wants records.'"

He's seen vinyl go through different stages of popularity, from mostly the realm of hip-hop DJs during the mid-'90s to dance music DJs seeking drum-'n'-bass, jungle and acid jazz records during the latter-portion of the decade and into the 2000s.

The sales log at Gamber's shop recently offered a varied array of artists, from experimental rockers Mars Volta to hardcore band Leftover Crack to rap icon Tupac Shakur.

Likewise, Gamber's customer base is varied. From punk rock 'tweens looking for classic black metal re-issues to older heads marvelling over the original MC5 pressing.

"The younger kids are getting into vinyl. They know this format sounds the best because it is the best," he said. "The older guys, they know what's on those old records so they're looking for that stuff they grew up on."

Lunt sees some business from tourists as well, particularly business travelers who have discovered his shop while in town.

Michael Calvert, a 29-year-old Web designer from Portland, Ore., was sifting through the shelves at Recycled Records one December afternoon. A former Santa Cruz resident, he picked up the hobby from his older brother, who was a punk and heavy metal fan. He was drawn to the sound quality.

"Vinyl has a more natural sound," he said. "Plus, having a record is a lot cooler than having a CD."

Alex Griffin, 36, of London, was also digging around at Recycled Records. His collection dates back to the early 1980s, and includes originals from The Doors and The Moody Blues.

His prized possession: a collection of original Bob Marley pressings he picked up on a trip to Jamaica. The albums cost him a few hundred dollars.

"If I like it, I buy it," he said.

While the popularity surge has lifted Lunt's spirits, his bottom line is simple — enjoy the music.

"It's the music that really matters, not the format," he said. "Obviously, I'm pro vinyl. But in the end, whatever you enjoy listening to music on is the most important thing."

SOURCE: http://www.montereyherald.com
Reprinted By Permission

The Format That Refuses To Die; Vinyl Records Alive And Well

Written by Mike Duffy

Even with all the advances in audio technology and the digital craze, one format has withstood the test of time: vinyl records.

The evolution of personal audio playback is an interesting tale: from paper cylinders to records, records to 8-tracks, 8-tracks to cassettes, cassettes to CDs, and finally, CDs to digital MP3s, only one "primitive" format has managed to not fade away into history. Records were introduced way back in 1877 and are still being widely used across the world, and it's not just DJs who are using them.

Thanks in part to high school children who are just discovering vinyl records for the first time, and baby boomers who are looking for a taste of nostalgia, the vinyl record market has exploded in recent years, with sales increasing about 35 percent in 2007, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. People are once again snatching up vinyl records as quickly as they are produced, and record label executives are taking notice.

As a result, more and more labels are choosing to press their new releases on the format they once considered obsolete, even going into their catalog and re-pressing some of their older albums. Labels are still catering to digital savvy consumers though, as many new vinyl releases often come with download cards, which can be redeemed online to receive MP3's of the album. Online retailers have also taken note, and are now offering more vinyl records for sale. An influx of new websites specifically catering to vinyl enthusiasts have also been popping up, selling vinyl and record accessories.

There are several reasons why vinyl sales have taken off in recent years. Any purist (or audiophile) will tell you that vinyl sounds better than any other format available today. You will hear things playing a record that you won't be able to pick up on when playing that same album in CD or MP3 format. Vinyl also comes in different weights, which is measured in grams, and ranges from the standard 140 grams all the way up to 220 grams. The heavier a record is, the better sound quality you will get. Some people will only settle for the best, and some younger folks are tired of the high compression rates found in CDs and MP3s, which steals the quality of the music. And some have sought out alternative methods of listening to their favorite albums.

Most records released today come in elaborate packaging that features liner notes and larger artwork than their CD counterparts. Vinyl now comes in various colors, patterns, shapes and styles. There's the standard 12 inch LP, which supports full length albums; seven inch singles, which are often used for only one or two songs; and all sizes in between. Records have also strayed from the standard black vinyl circle into elaborate shapes and bright colors. Records are being pressed on every color found in the rainbow and then some, as well as almost every shape known to man. The variety and bigger size attracts many buyers.

One more reason why vinyl sales have taken off is their collectability. The market has never been better for someone who is in possession of an original Beatles or Led Zeppelin LP. These days vinyl is often pressed in one time limited runs, or presses, compared to an almost infinite amount when records were the dominant format. This makes some records highly sought after. Multiple colors are also pressed, leading to many variations of a single record, which also leads to collectability. Some records released for the first time in 10 years can fetch as much as $200 once they go out of print. For example, a record of only 1,000 total copies were pressed: out of that 1,000, only 100 were pressed on red vinyl, and 500 were pressed on blue. A red record would be worth more to collectors than the blue record, and could fetch a hefty sum on eBay and other online outlets.

For whatever reason - whether it be for their superior sound quality, the larger and more detailed artwork and packaging, or just for old time's sake - vinyl records are here to stay. And they won't be going anywhere anytime soon.

SOURCE: http://media.www.pioneertimeswpu.com/

Music News & Notes

Plant Says No One More Time

Robert Plant told Britain's BBC Radio Wales that he will not be doing a Led Zeppelin tour. Among other things, he said that he was getting too old to to perform in two-hour rock shows all over the world.

"I'm doing very well with Alison and I'm enjoying that.

"I still see Jimmy quite a lot and he's very complimentary and supportive of what I'm doing, but we are in different places now and you have to go on to do different things."


Rick Wakeman Reviving Six Wives of Henry VIII

Rick Wakeman is in the process of reviving his 1973 album, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and will perform it in its entirety this spring in London.

The May 1 and 2 shows will be at Hampton Court Palace's West Front for an audience of 5,000 each night. Joining him on the dates will be the English Chamber Choir, a full orchestra and a guest narrator.

The Six Wives album was Wakeman's first solo project outside of Yes and is heralded as one of the forerunners of progressive rock. The album was totally instrumental with Wakeman playing the Moog, Organ and Mellotron. He studied the personalities of each of the wives and wrote a separate piece to try and capture each of their spirits. Joining him on the album were Yes members Chris Squire, Bill Bruford and Steve Howe along with the Strawbs' Dave Cousins.

In the U.S., the album peaked at number 30 on the album chart. The press release for the London shows claims that, over the years, the album has sold 15 million copies around the world.

Wakeman has also written three new pieces for the performances, Tudor Overture, Defender of the Faith and Tudor Rock.


Count Five Singer Dead

John "Sean" Burne, the lead singer and guitarist for the Count Five (Psychotic Reaction), passed away last Monday (December 15) from cirrhosis of the liver.


Drunk Lennon Recording Sold For Big Bucks

A recording of John Lennon performing Lloyd Price's Just Because was sold at auction on Monday for $30,000. The recording, made in 1973, includes some improvised lyrics and was, reportedly, made while Lennon was drunk.


Jacko Not Sicko

Michael Jackson's spokesperson has denied claims that the singer is in ill health.

Dr. Tohme Tohme (really!) said, "Concerning this author's allegations, we would hope in the future that legitimate media will not continue to be exploited by such an obvious attempt to promote this unauthorized 'biography.' The writer's wild allegations concerning Mr. Jackson's health are a total fabrication."

Classic Rock Videos

Procol Harum - A whiter shade of pale 1967

This Date In Music History-December 23


Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen was born in 1940. In 1970, he formed Hot Tuna with the Airplane's Jack Casady.

Iron Butterfly drummer Ron Bushy (1945)

Iron Maiden guitarist Dave Murray (1955)

Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam-1964)

They Are Missed:

Songwriter Tim Hardin was born in Eugene, Oreegon in 1941. His songs include "Reason to Believe" and "If I Were a Carpenter." He died of a heroin overdose on December 29, 1980.

Eugene Record of the Chi-Lites ("Oh Girl") was born in 1940.

"Little" Esther Phillips ("Release Me") was born in 1935

Dan Hamilton, of Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds, suffered a stroke and died in 1994.

Jackie Landry of The Chantels died of cancer in 1997 at the age of 56.


Elton John and Bernie Taupin began writing songs together in 1969.

In 1959, Chuck Berry was arrested for transporting a minor across a state line for an immoral purpose. Berry claimed he was only giving a young lady a ride to her job as a hat-check girl at his St. Louis nightclub. Unbeknown to Berry, 14 year old Janice Norine was working as a prostitute. Although he will be convicted and given a five year sentence, the charges were eventually dropped.

In 1964, the Beach Boys made their first appearance on Shindig. The group performed "Little Saint Nick," "Dance, Dance, Dance," "Johnny B. Goode," and "Monster Mash."

In 1968, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus, distributed presents to the children of Apple's staff.

George Harrison released one of his rare Christmas records, "Ding Dong, Ding Dong" in 1974.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience's "Foxy Lady" was released in 1967.

John Lennon's film "Imagine" premiered on national TV in 1972.

Rod Stewart's idiotic song "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" was released in 1978.

In 1972, former Grand Funk Railroad manager Terry Knight arrived during a concert by the band with a court order to seize $1m in money or assets. Police informed the ex-manager that he couldn't take anything until after the show.

New records making their first appearance on the US record charts in 1979 included: Rod Stewart's "I Don't Want to Talk About It", Anne Murray's "Daydream Believer", Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker" and Neil Diamond's "September Morn".

The Police were the highest earning touring group in 2007, bringing in nearly $132 million The band's 54 gig North American trek generated almost double the total of the second-placed act, Country star Kenny Chesney.

In 1985, Judas Priest fans Raymond Belknap and James Vance shot themselves after listening to the Judas Priest album ‘Stained Class.’ The two had drunk beer, smoked marijuana and then listened to hours of the album. Afterwards they took a shotgun to a nearby school playground where Belknap shot and killed himself. Vance then blew away his jaw, mouth and nose but lived for more than three years before dying of effects of the shooting.

In 1964, pirate station 'Radio London', started broadcasting from the former US Minesweeper 'Mv Galaxy'.

1966-BBC-TV broadcasted Ready, Steady Go! for the last time, after the Musicians Union enforced a ban on miming. The weekly program was the UK's most popular Pop music television show, helping many of Britain's finest musical acts get their start. The special guests for the farewell show are Mick Jagger, The Who, Eric Burdon, The Spencer Davis Group, Donovan and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich.