Saturday, January 24, 2009

Record Collectors Videos

Just For The Record

The vinyl revival is not only in the US and the UK. Read this great story about the vinyl comeback from 'down under.'

Just for the record

written by Bernard Zuel

THEY will never compete with compact discs when it comes to pristine sound, or MP3s when it comes to convenience. They don't hold photographs or feature films, and the bargain bins in Asian street markets are not exactly bulging with knock-offs illegally reproduced in secret sweatshops.

But figures released in the US last week showed that vinyl albums sales nearly doubled last year, with 1.88 million sold - up from just under 1 million in 2007. In Australia, unofficial figures show an increase of more than 50 per cent over the same period.

When U2 release their new album, No Line On The Horizon, next month they will do so on vinyl, as well as CD.

Last year Elvis Costello released his new album on vinyl alone for its first few weeks on sale, before releasing a CD version, and Radiohead offered a $100 vinyl option of its album In Rainbows - which fans could otherwise download for whatever price they chose. It sold more than 100,000 copies.

At the other end of the age market, the White Stripes sold 12,000 copies of its 2007 album Icky Thump in the US, and Metallica sold all 5000 of the $150 vinyl boxed set of 2008's Death Magnetic album.

At the even more cost-conscious level - the local independent scene - Sydney band Cog plan to release two albums on vinyl. The Drones, previous winners of the Australian Music Prize, recently did well with a picture sleeve, 12-inch vinyl mini-album, and teen favourites the Grates are one of scores of Australian bands to make their albums simultaneously available on CD and vinyl.

Still, the clearest indication that there is money to be made from vinyl is that the world's largest record company, Universal Music, has embarked on a massive vinyl album release.

While rival EMI has released vinyl versions of 15 to 20 major acts, such as Jimi Hendrix, the Beach Boys and Coldplay, and Sony Music has a program of about 30 back-catalogue vinyl releases for artists such as Bruce Springsteen (all only available through imported copies in Australia), Universal, using the little-discussed 60th anniversary of the long-playing vinyl record as its hook, is releasing 76 remastered-for-vinyl albums for worldwide distribution.

The so-called Back to Black program has classic albums from the 1960s and '70s (from James Brown, Velvet Underground - with peelable banana sticker - and John Coltrane to Thin Lizzy, Stevie Wonder and Abba), big-selling '80s albums (by the likes of U2, Def Leppard and the Police) and some contemporary albums by artists with many fans who were born after the emergence of the compact disc (Amy Winehouse, Bjork and Ryan Adams).

What you get are the albums in their original sleeves, often including gatefold covers, the record made of 180-gram vinyl (new, rather than recycled plastic and considerably thicker than standard), so the sound is improved, and an access code to download all those tracks as MP3 files.

Liam Dennis, Universal's back catalogue product manager, says vinyl is not only being bought by ageing collectors or audiophiles who have argued for 25 years that only vinyl sounds right.

"Three distinct people buy these records," Dennis says. "Firstly, an older generation who may have purchased the album in the era of its original release, wanting to revisit the album in the warmth of vinyl, who may also be new to digital downloads.

"Secondly, a younger generation for whom CD or even digital downloads are the norm. Their childhood experience of vinyl may have been limited to their parents' copy of Hot August Night - my personal experience - but they are now wanting the retro cool factor of vinyl. It's not just the music but also the touchy-feely physical product.

"Thirdly, completist fans who want everything released by a particular artist."

Buoyed by the sales of these vinyl re-issues, Universal, like many of the big companies, has increased the volume of vinyl offered in conjunction with new CD albums by acts such as Guns N' Roses, the Presets, the Cure and Snow Patrol.

Two years ago vinyl was 10 per cent of sales for Neville Sergent, owner of Mojo Music in York Street, which specialises in music from the 1940s to the 1970s. These days that is up to 20 per cent. Of his customers, about one in four is under 30 and has grown up with CDs and now downloads.

Why are they buying vinyl?

"There's not one answer," Sergent says. "The obvious one is it has a hip factor, whatever that means. It's bigger, it engages you, it does have a warmer sound [but also] it's a retro thing, like people riding scooters or wearing Levi's.

"Then there's a lot that are either in bands or hang out with people in bands or their fathers are into that music. And the compressed sound of phones and iPods [see box below], it makes vinyl stand out more."

What Sergent describes as the way vinyl engages music fans is a crucial element in the experience for John Encarnacao, a lecturer in music at the University of Western Sydney, as well as a musician and voracious vinyl buyer, both of new and old music. Playing vinyl is about more than just putting some music on.

"I like the ritual of playing records and I guess the ritual is really about dedicating oneself to listening to music," Encarnacao says. "The convenience of CDs has been talked about since they came out and MP3s are even more convenient but to me they allow people to do something else while they're listening. Generally speaking, people don't pay as much attention to music now.

"I use the word ritual and that may sound fetishistic but vinyl seems more respectful of the music as a medium in every way. The presentation of it is more respectful, in terms of being bigger, and in terms of the way you play it."

Cog's Flynn Gower couldn't agree more as he anticipates the response to his band's coming vinyl releases. "Album artwork played a massive part in the romanticism of rock'n'roll. When someone talks about a great album you immediately conjure up images of the cover art. There is just something warm and reassuring about vinyl. When someone picks up an old record they do so with respect, kindness and reverence. Like it's a work of art or an ancient treasure from an archaeological dig."


Classic Rock Videos

The Mamas and Papas - California Dreamin

Rock & Roll Tidbits

Five different record companies, including Decca, Roulette, Columbia, RCA and Atlantic turned down "That'll Be The Day" by Buddy Holly. Finally, Bob Thiele at Coral / Brunswick Records heard the demo and signed Holly to a contract.

In order to give fans a "gold record", the first 100,000 copies of "We're An American Band" by Grand Funk Railroad were stamped out of gold colored vinyl.

Lesley Gore appeared in two episodes of the TV show Batman in 1966. She played the role of "Pussycat", one of Catwoman's henchwomen. She may have had a little help landing the role, as Howie Horwitz, one of the show's producers, is her uncle.

Even though they have such strange names as Moon Unit, Diva, Dweezil and Ahmet Rodan, Frank Zappa once said that he believed that his kids would always have more trouble because of their last name.

Years before scoring 1972's number one smash "I Can See Clearly Now", Johnny Nash entered a talent show in Houston Texas. He lost to a young Soul singer named Joe Tex, who would have a chart topping hit of his own in 1968 with "Skinny Legs and All".

Jimi Hendrix was hired as the Monkees opening act for their 1967 Summer tour. Unfortunately, US audiences had never seen anything like Hendrix before and booed him off of the stage. He quit the tour after two weeks.

According to BMI, the performing rights organization that represents, songwriters, composers and music publishers, Mason Williams' 1968 hit, "Classical Gas" has received more radio airplay than any other instrumental.

Before starting his run at the legendary Whisky A Go Go, Johnny Rivers hired a fill-in bass player named Sylvester Stewart. Things didn't go well the first night and Stewart was promptly fired. A few years later, he would re-appear on the music scene as the leader of his own band...Sly and The Family Stone.

According to guitarist Robbie Robertson, Bob Dylan's backup band resisted all conformity, even naming their ensemble. After landing their own recording contract, record company executives pressed them for a group name, but had to settle for simply The Band.

In April, 1967, the Greyhound bus company began offering a guided tour of what they called "Hippyland" in San Francisco.

According to producer Mickie Most, The Animals went into a recording studio at 8 A.M. to cut "House Of The Rising Sun" and 15 minutes later, the track was complete. With studio time costing the equivalent of $20 an hour, the song cost $5 to record, but would go on to top both the US and UK charts.

The set on which Rick Nelson appeared in the TV show The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, was an exact copy of the Nelson's real Hollywood home.

Frank Sinatra once called Rock and Roll "The most brutal, ugly, degenerate, vicious form of expression it has been my displeasure to hear."

The musicians who backed The Chiffons on their 1963 #1 hit "He's So Fine" were all members of The Tokens, who had scored their own chart topper with "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in 1961.

In the Fall of 1965, while the Four Seasons' "Let's Hang On" was a Billboard #3 smash, they also scored a #12 hit with "Don't Think Twice" under the name of The Wonder Who. At the same time, lead singer Franki Valli reached #39 with a solo release called "You're Gonna Hurt Yourself", giving him three Top 40 hits at the same time, all under different names.

While talking on the phone with his mother, Disc Jockey Murray The K mentioned that he and Bobby Darin were soaking their feet after playing a game of softball in Central Park. A few minutes later, she called back to say that she had an idea for a song - "Splish, Splash, take a bath..." Murray and Bobby began sorting out some lyrics while Murray's mother, Jean, who had been a vaudeville piano player, finished the melody. It became the first of Bobby's 22 US Top 40 hits when it reached #3 in the Summer of 1958.

The Beatles recorded two different versions of the song "Strawberry Fields Forever". One was a half-tone higher and slightly faster than the other. The group couldn't decide which rendition they liked better and finally asked producer George Martin if he could put them together somehow. When one was slowed down, it fit perfectly with the other, resulting in the song we know today.

Apparently, Little Richard was not a real smart child. As a lad, he wanted to give one of his neighbors a ‘creative gift.’ But his neighbor, Miz Ola screamed when she opened her present. It seems young Richard thought that defecating in a box and wrapping it up as a present for his elderly friend would be a good gift for her. Little Richard stated in his autobiography: “God bless Miz Ola, she’s dead now.” No word on if he selected other neighbors to receive his thoughtful gift.

When Malcolm Young and Angus Young named their band AC/DC, they apparently didn’t realize that the electrical term was also slang for bisexual. But the ambiguous name helped them out in the beginning as the group was hired to play many gay-themed gigs. Work is work, I guess.

In the early days, the Bee Gees were so desperate to sell their records that they actually gave members of their fan club money to go out and but their records. Thankfully, there were only six members in the fan club or the trio would be broke.

Ironically, only Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys was the group’s only surfer.

Antoine "Fats" Domino came by his nickname because he stood 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighed 225 lb.

When Elvis Presley was inducted into the US Army on March 24th, 1958, Uncle Sam started losing an estimated $500,000 in lost taxes for each year that Private Presley served.

Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead was brought in as a session musician to play steel guitar on Brewer and Shipley's March, 1971 hit, "One Toke Over The Line".

Numero Group Announces New Series of Releases

By Brock Thiessen

In continued efforts to shed light on our lost musical history, the reissuing minds of the Numero Group are launching Local Customs, a new series out to explore the lost sounds of Middle America from the ’60s and ’70s.

In the words of Numbero, Local Customs “focuses on the woodsheds, basements, and living rooms where these records were made. Entrepreneurs in nowhere towns like Ecorse, MI, Rockford, IL, and Beaumont, TX documented the recordings of their fellow citizens and issued their songs on tiny labels and in even tinier pressings,” all of which will now get the reissue treatment courtesy of the Chicago imprint.

The first release lined up in the series will be Downriver Revival, which will focus on the recordings of obscure American producer Felton Williams and is due out March 3. Included on the comp is an eclectic mix of Willams’s recording between 1967 and 1981, covering everything from gospel to soul to funk to garage punk. Along with the tunes, which were all laid down by Ecrose citizens, the collection comes packaged up with a DVD of over 200 sound recordings culled from Williams's archives, as well as a 30-minute featurette on the making of Downriver Revival.

In related Numero news, the label is also launching what it calls the Numerophon, a vinyl-only imprint geared towards rediscovering primitive American and ethnic recordings. The complete songbook of ’50s NY folkie Niela Miller, dubbed Songs of Leaving, marks the imprint’s inaugural release, which like all the label’s output will be pressed on audiophile-approved 150-gram vinyl. And while Miller’s work continues to be a mystery to most listeners, many will likely recognize her track "Baby Don't Go to Town," which as legend has it was stolen by boyfriend Billy Roberts and “reworked” as ”Hey Joe,” the legendary song brought to fame by Jimi Hendrix, Love, the Creation and countless others.

Here is the tracklisting to Felton Williams’s Downriver Revival, as well as that for Niela Miller’s Songs of Leaving, which is due out February 10.

Downriver Revival:

1. Shirley Ann Lee “There's a Light”
2. Gospel Supremes “Sinner Man”
3. Coleman Family “Peace On Earth”
4. Calvin Cooke “Walk with Me”
5. Shirley Ann Lee “I Shall Not Be Moved”
6. The Revelations “Take Care of Us”
7. Bobby Cook & The Explosion “Untitled”
8. The Organics “Footstumpin' (Alternate Take)
9. The Combinations “While You Were Gone”
10. The Apostles Of Music “Wade in the Water”
11. Deliverance Echoes “Heaven”
12. Bobby Cook & The Explosion “On the Way”
13. Shirley Ann Lee “How Can I Lose”
14. Young Generation “Running Mod”
15. The Burgess Band “Untitled”
16. Bobby Cook Quartette “Ridin' High”
17. Might Voices Of Wonder “Every Year Carries a Number”
18. Shirley Ann Lee “Please Accept My Prayer”
19. Calvin Cooke “What Happens to People”
20. Coleman Family “People Has It Hard”
21. Junior Mays Group “Round n' Round”
22. Pilgrim Wonder “He Never Failed”
23. Mighty Walker Brothers “He'll Make a Way”
24. Voices Of Deliverance “The Power of God”

Songs of Leaving:

1. “Down Hearted Man”
2. “Baby Don't Go to Town”
3. “Too Long Blues”
4. “You Gotta Know How to Love”
5. “Daddy Went to Jail”
6. “Hushabye Blues”
7. “Mean World”
8. “Goodbye New York”
9. “The World Ain't Ready”
10. “Jenny Gal”


Music News & Notes

Steve Martin Picks And Grins On Banjo Album

Expect a new LP from that 'wild & crazy guy' Steve Martin. Martin points out that his new album, "The Crow: New Songs For the Five-String Banjo," falls under the heading: "I'm not getting any younger..."

That led the actor/comedian/author/musician to work in earnest on "The Crow," which comes out Jan. 27 as a three-month exclusive and features 15 original Martin compositions recorded with guests such as Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Mary Black, Earl Scruggs, Tony Trischka, Tim O'Brien and Pete Wrenick. It was produced by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's John McEuen, a high school friend of Martin's.

"I started (playing banjo) when I was 17," Martin explained to "I know what my specialty is -- playing songs I write, and if I'm asked to step outside that specialty, I can get a little nervous. It's a dichotomy; on one hand I can play my own songs with anybody, but if I got into a really serious bluegrass crowd, I'd play a couple standards and retire."

Martin says five of the songs on "The Crow" -- named after a track he wrote and performed on Trischka's "Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular" in 2007 -- date back to the late '60s and early '70s, while others are more recent. "Tin Roof" came along while he was filming 2003's "Cheaper By the Dozen," while "Pretty Flowers" was conceived while filming 2006's "The Pink Panther" in Boston.

"I had these songs," Martin says, "and I was up to speed 'cause I sort of got back into the banjo in the last three years. And I thought 'Now it's time...'"

Martin is planning a number of TV appearances to promote "The Crow" -- including hosting "Saturday Night Live" on Jan. 30 -- as well as his new starring role in "The Pink Panther 2," which opens Feb. 6. As for actual touring, he says that "if I do it'll be in the summer," after he wraps another role in an as-yet-untitled Nancy Myers-directed adult romantic comedy with Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin.

"I think I would just do a bluegrass festival or something like that," Martin says. "The word (about the album) isn't even out yet, and I don't even know what I'd do. I guess I have to get a band, right? I wouldn't even know how to do an hour show of music. I'd have to think about that."


Bruce Springsteen Busy Prepping 'Darkness' Reissue

Bruce Springsteen is all set to release a new album and play in the Super Bowl XLIII halftime show, but there is another project in the works that will be received joyously by fans: a deluxe reissue of 1978's "Darkness on the Edge of Town" that will be similar to Columbia's 2005 30th-anniversary boxed set treatment of "Born to Run."

The "Darkness" package "would involve remastering that record, doing the kind of super-creative reconstruction and documentary of how it all came about and finding usable live footage from that point in time," Springsteen manager Jon Landau tells Billboard. "That's a big one, and not that far from completion, and when we can find six weeks to sit down and finish it I'm sure we will."

Born to Run" included a Grammy-winning documentary about its creation and a 1975 concert from London. It was a huge hit with fans, debuting at No. 18 on The Billboard 200 with first-week sales of more than 53,000 copies.

Additionally, the 'Boss' played at the party for the new president and Springsteen and the E Street Band will return to the road this summer, with a handful of European stadium dates having been announced so far.


RAVAGE Taps ED REPKA For New Album Cover

Boston, Massachusetts-based metallers RAVAGE have tapped legendary metal cover artist Ed Repka to create the cover for their forthcoming full-length album, "The End Of Tomorrow". The band is thrilled to be working with Repka, who is well known for the striking metal cover art he has created for such icons as MEGADETH, MISFITS, and DEATH. Additional sleeve art will be provided by Matt Anderson, who completed artwork on the band's previous EPs.

Commented vocalist Al Ravage: "It's amazing to be working with Ed, whose art I have enjoyed since I was a little kid. Just from the preliminary sketches I can tell this is going to be exactly what we were looking for. We wanted to go all out and have the best possible presentation for this album and give the most possible value to our fans — this is just the beginning, there is more to come!"

A release date for the album will be announced shortly.


JT to the Rescue

James Taylor came to the rescue of a New York City fan who had to give up her iPod filled with the singer's songs to a taxi cab driver. Natalie Lenhart, 20, had to give up her iPod after the driver could not get her taxi credit card to work in his reader. Taylor read of the situation and sent her a brand new iPod with all of his music.


Stand By Me

Pete Townshend publically thanked Roger Daltrey for standing by him when he was facing alegations of child pornography.

"Roger bravely stood by me when I really couldn't speak for myself. He took a chance, as did Jerry Hall and some other people who spoke up for me. They made their public statements of belief in me several months before it was established there was no evidence against me."


Reba Sets Country Record

"Cowgirls Don't Cry" by Brooks & Dunn and featuring Reba McEntire jumped from #13 to #9 on the country singles chart and, in doing so, sets two chart records.

The single is Reba's 56th top ten hit, passing Dolly Parton as the female vocalist with the most top tens. It's also Brooks & Dunn's 41st top ten, putting them past Alabama for the most top tens by a duo or group.


Aretha Claus

Aretha Franklin came prepared to the inauguration of Barack Obama bearing gifts. For the new President, she brought seventeen sermons that were written by her late father along with her father's biography and a personally engraved bible. For the first lady, she brought a gold brooch with diamonds and her 15-year-old grandson brought gospel/Christian hip-hop music for the girls.


New Arkon LP Due In May

Experimental folk group Akron/Family (now a trio) has announced that a new album, Set ‘em Wild, Set ‘em Free, will be released on Dead Oceans on May 5.


New Stinking Lizaveta LP

Prog/math rockers Stinking Lizaveta have a new album, Sacrifice and Bliss, that will be released on March 31.


Dark Meat Concert Dates

Long-form psychedelic collective Dark Meat, with its 17 members, has announced a string of concert dates that cover the West and the South. The group also has a pair of new 7" records for sale; one is a split with Long Legged Woman.


Mastodon Single

Mastodon will debut a new track (”Divinations”) from its upcoming album, Crack the Skye, on next week’s installment of the BBC Radio 1’s “Rock Show.”


Jazzy Tortoise

In an interview with Billboard, bassist Doug McCombs shared details on the upcoming album from jazzy post-rock instrumentalists Tortoise — its first full album of original material since 2004. Still untitled, the album will be released April 21 on Thrill Jockey and feature layers of synthesizers as well as “unconventional drumming and percussion.”


Think Fast!

Hardcore label Think Fast! Records have announced that starting mid-2009, they will stop producing CD releases altogether and focus on digital and vinyl releases only. They explained:

Think Fast! Records is here to tell you, that the music technology that we know as CDs is, in 2009, borderline obsolete. [...] Releases in mid-2009 and onward will be available on vinyl and digital download formats only, with an instant free digital download with all vinyl purchases.

With this shift in the industry, we were tossing around the idea of turning into a "digital-only label". While we admire anyone who was forward-thinking enough to do just that, we also feel that it is very important to the artists we work with and the people who listen to these bands to not lose sight of the importance of holding a physical copy of a record in our hands. The artwork, lyrics, and substance of the physical product is essential.

The label has previously released albums from The Distance, Between the Wars, Have Heart, Ambitions, Far from Finished, Smartbomb, Wait in Vain and No Harm Done.


Albatross LP

The An Albatross Family Album, one of my favorite releases from 2008, is now available on (white) vinyl from the Eyeball Records.

This Date In Music History-January 24


Keech Rainwater- Lonestar (1963)

Jools Holland- Squeeze (1955)

Aaron Neville- The Neville Brothers (1941)

Neil Diamond (1941)

Ray Stevens (1941)

They Are Missed:

Born in 1933, Zeke Carey, The Flamingos (died December 24, 1999).

Born in 1949, John Belushi, actor, singer who played Joliet 'Jake' Blues in The Blues Brothers, died of a drug overdose on March 5, 1982.

In 1963, US songwriter Otto Harbach died at age 90. He co-wrote, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” US & UK #1 for The Platters in 1958.

Born in 1947, Warren Zevon (died on September 7, 2003).

Born on this day in 1945, Tammi Terrell, singer, who died of a brain tumour on March 16, 1970 after collapsing into Marvin Gaye's arms on stage during a duet of “That’s All You Need To Get By.”

James "Shep" Sheppard of Shep & the Limelites ("Daddy's Home") and the Heartbeats ("A Thousand Miles Away") was found murdered in his car on a New York expressway in 1970.


In 1998, Oasis went to #1 on the UK singles chart with “All Around The World.” It is the longest running-time for a #1 song, clocking in at 9 minutes 38 seconds.

The Clash released their first single in the US in 1979, “I Fought The Law” (written by Sonny Curtis of Buddy Holly's Crickets).

Bob Dylan started a five-week run at #1 on the US album chart in 1976 with “Desire,” his third US #1 LP.

Diana Ross went to #1 on the US singles chart in 1976 with “Theme From Mahogany,” the singers third US #1 hit.

Brian Epstein signed a management deal with The Beatles in 1962. Epstein was to receive 25% of the bands gross earnings, the normal management deal was 10%.

Elvis Presley was at #1 on the UK singles chart in 1958 with “Jailhouse Rock.” It became the first ever single to enter the chart at #1 and was Presley's second UK #1.

Elvis Presley recorded "Teddy Bear" in 1957.

Chubby Checker had four albums in the Top Ten of the Billboard LP chart in 1962. They were "For Twisters Only,” "Your Twist Party,” "Bobby Rydell / Chubby Checker" and "Let's Twist Again.”

After receiving at $25,000 signing bonus, Aretha Franklin recorded her first tracks for Atlantic Records in 1967.

In 1969, New Jersey state prosecutors issued a warning to record dealers that they will be charged with distributing pornography if they were caught selling the John Lennon / Yoko Ono LP "Two Virgins.” The front cover of the album showed the pair frontally nude, while the back cover showed them from behind. The rather unflattering photo would later be described by Lennon as a picture of "two slightly overweight ex-junkies.”

In 1970, the mini-moog synthesizer was introduced by Dr. Robert Moog. Artists could now have the sound of strings and horns on stage without having a full orchestra with them. The American Federation of Musicians considered banning the $2,000 keyboard, fearing that its ability to simulate acoustic instruments could put musicians out of work.

In 2008, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry reported that although music downloads rose by 40% in 2007, global music sales fell by an estimated 10%.

Randy Newman had a lot of people upset when his song "Short People" hit the top of the Cash Box best sellers list in 1978. The song was meant to poke fun at all prejudice and did just that with the line "short people got no reason to live.” Before "Short People,” Newman was most noted for writing Three Dog Night's 1970 chart topper, "Mama Told Me Not To Come.”

Jethro Tull played in America for the first time in 1969, opening for Led Zeppelin in New York City.

It’s ‘50’s night at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame in 1986. The inductees were: Chuck Berry, Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Elvis Presley and the man who hyped it all, DJ/promoter Alan Freed.

In 1978, workers at EMI's record pressing plant refused to press copies of The Buzzcocks forthcoming release “What Do I Get” because of the title on the B-side “Oh Shit.”