Monday, January 26, 2009

Lion's Share Cover Art

As you all know, album cover art is a subject that is dear to my heart. Here is a fantastic example!


Swedish melodic heavy metallers LION'S SHARE have unveiled the cover art for its upcoming sixth full-length album, "Dark Hours".

LION'S SHARE will release its new album in late March 2009 via Blistering Records. The follow-up to 2007's "Emotional Coma" was mixed and mastered by Jens Bogren (OPETH, SYMPHONY X, PARADISE LOST, AMON AMARTH) and features guest appearances by SYMPHONY X guitarist Mike Romeo (guest solo on "Behind The Curtain"), and drummers Conny Pettersson (from Earache Records death metal act ANATA) and Richard Evensand (CHIMAIRA, SOILWORK).

The band states: "The new songs are simply awesome and everybody that has heard it thinks it's our best album to date. The red thread lyric-wise on this album is that all songs are about things that happened in the late Sixties; a decade known for many good things. However, we're not describing the happy times of the Sixties: We give you the 'Dark Hours'. Musically, it's more straight-forward and faster than ever. The songs are filled with energy and great hooks."

LION'S SHARE's most recent album, "Emotional Coma", was released in the U.S. January 29th, via Locomotive Music. The CD was issued by AFM Records in Europe and Spiritual Beast in Japan/Asia and features guest solos from ex-KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick, and ex-MEGADETH guitarist Glen Drover.


Classic Rock Videos

The Beatles - I Saw Her Standing There

Vinyl collection: old painter’s lifelong passion

At 62, painter Vu Dan Tan has had a life-long passion for music. While artwork may be how he earns his living, this passion has materialised into one of the city’s most impressive vinyl record collections: with 10 antique record players and nearly 1,000 records.

"I studied how to paint with artist Manh Quynh, starting when I was six," recalls Tan. "I began to learn the piano from my older cousin Le Lien; she taught me when I was 15. At that time, the piano was seen as a girl’s hobby, and boys didn’t typically learn how to play it."

His love of music, however, was sparked at around the same time he started painting. His father gave him his first record player, with two songs in French so he could learn the language.

"Since then, I have really grown to love these old players," recounts Tan. "Anytime I see the needle flying over the record, and sounding out classical sounds and sweet melodies, I feel refreshed."

Even just talking about these antique players and vinyl records seems to excite Tan. He grew increasingly ecstatic, as he recalled the only place that used to sell vinyl records on Trang Tien Street, which is now the foreign book shop.

The players and records came from overseas, brought by people returning from Russia, Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland, Tan says. A Czech record at the time would cost around VND7, while a cheaper Russian record was VND3.5. That was quite expensive, considering an average monthly salary for a State employee was just VND60.

"When Southern Viet Nam was liberated, many people brought these products to Ha Noi from Sai Gon," he says.

His own personal collection of record players, still in great condition, come from Russia, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Japan and Viet Nam.

"Each player has its own aesthetic features," he explains. "For example, a Russian one looks as strong as a Minsk motorbike, while a Japanese one looks graceful and a Hong Kong player looks so delicate."

To ensure he can continue to enjoy these players, and that they don’t become something just nice to look at, Tan owns around 100 iron magnetic needles, and he jokes: "I can use them until the end of my lifetime."

The old painter’s collection of vinyl records include records of 33, 45 and 78 revolutions per minute. The collection includes mostly classical music by famous composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven.

"Listening to this classical music on vinyl played on old players helps bring listeners back to older days," says a dreamy Tan. "I think that modern CD players just don’t compare, in terms of their sound."

While this artist loves his records, he says that listening to classical music live is definitely the best option. He highly recommends the Opera House, as he describes the chill that runs down his spine listening to live music. Unfortunately, heading to the opera daily is not always an option, so records present a happy alternative.

Much like writing in a diary, Tan keeps track of his collection by carefully signing his name and the date on the records’ paper cover. While his collection is well known and respected, he remains relatively modest about his work.

"It’s nothing compared to young collectors now," says Tan. "They have many better collections with unique players and records. One such collector, painter Quach Dong Phuong, owns an old amplifier made by the Western Electric company in 1956."

Keeping up any collection is more than just finding new treasures and Tan pays special attention to keep his own in top shape.

"Older records made of carbon can be easily broken, while other vinyl records must be protected from dust and from the heat," he says.

Although he spends much of his time preserving them he’s still happy to share the records with others. While the collection is highly valuable, for him sharing the joy of music on vinyl is a priceless joy.

"There are classics that surpass time and can become immortal: classical music, ancient players and vinyl records."


Top 5 eBay Vinyl Record Sales

Week Ending 01/24/2009

1. LP - Jutta Hipp "with Zoot Sims" Blue Note 1530 - $4,650.07 - Start: $19.99 - Bids: 15

2. 45rpm - Nirvana "Love Buzz" Sub Pop #47 / 1000 - $2,450.00 - Start: $2,450.00 - Bids: 1

3. LP - Led Zeppelin I Atlantic UK First Press Turquoise Lettering - $2,118.70 - Start: $0.99 - Bids: 36

4. 45rpm - Tommy Ridgley "My Love Gets Stronger" / "Fly In My Pie" International City - $1,999.99 - Start: $99.99 Bids: 16

5. LP - The Beatles "Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" Captiol MAS 2653 Mono SEALED - $1,775.00 - Start: $9.95 - Bids: 21

An original Blue Note LP from Jutta Hipp tops the list this week, bidding up a little more than halfway over $4.6k. Next, the "Love Buzz" 7" from Nirvana gets it asking price with one bid exactly at the mid-point past $2.4k. This record is probably the most frequent visitor to the top 5, and as its been pointed out before, has an extremely stable value at between $2k - $2.5k.

In the #3 spot, a UK first press of Led Zeppelin's first LP sells for more than $2.1k. A Northern Soul 45 gets the #4 spot, this one from Tommy Ridgley and it bids to a penny under $2k.

And last, a sealed Sgt Pepper mono pressing sells for well over $1.7k.

As always, I want to thank Norm over at for this great data.

Louisa man says vinyl still invincible ABOUT 'THE RECORD CUTTER'

Louisa man makes vinyl records, keeps a tradition alive


When Vampire Weekend--the hottest indie band in the 2008 blogosphere--played two sold-out shows at the 9:30 Club last month, its merchandise table featured 12-inch vinyl LPs of their debut album.

People were buying them, and plenty of those customers were young. Teens. Kids.

It's hard to deny: Music history is repeating itself at 33 rpm.

At Chris Benson's studio in Louisa County, you can watch the real-time birth of a record. Benson is a master engineer, a trade that should have died when CDs came along in 1980. He uses a restored 1966 Neumann VMS-66 record lathe to cut grooves on blank lacquer discs.

"This machine was responsible for two Led Zeppelin albums and a Pink Floyd album," he said, referring to his exact lathe before getting more general. "This is the only way vinyl records are made."


The basic record-making process hasn't changed much since the early 1900s. Essentially, Benson uses an electric version of the technique Thomas Edison invented for his wax cylinders in 1877. Sound vibrates the needle, the needle etches a pattern in the blank record.

Once Benson has a disc cut, it can go one of two ways. The lacquer record can be used as-is on any record player--something disc jockeys refer to as a "dub plate." If the lacquer disc is a "master," it will be sent to a record-pressing company that uses the master to make a metal mold. A mechanical press sandwiches hot vinyl between the sides of the mold, and a slew of mass-produced vinyl records are born.

Years have passed and increased sophistication has brought complexity.

Early commercial recordings were actually cut directly to the disc with the help of a megaphone, then microphones. In the 1950s, recordings were stored on magnetic tape, then played back to cut the record.

Benson's setup is a tangle of wires, meters, buttons and sliders. There are a number of intermediate steps between his computer, where this particular recording is stored, and a finished record, but it all comes to a point where a sapphire-tipped needle, thinner than a human hair, cuts the groove.

"There's no magical science to it, and you don't need anything fancy," he said. "It's really a rudimentary and crude machine."

But making it work properly takes specific mechanical knowledge, strict attention to detail and a lot of patience. A stray hair or a nearly invisible speck of dust can send the needle off track and mar a recording.

Benson might scrap three or four discs before he gets a flawless record.

Benson explained the process as he set a fresh disc on the lathe. He leaned over the stylus and dropped it into the blank record, focused on the "chip"--a minuscule thread of lacquer being removed by the needle.

"I won't ever buy an LP again," he said. "I can cut my own."


Benson's nom de guerre, "The Record Cutter," is informative whether he is spinning electronic dance music or transferring sounds to vinyl. Both are passions of his, but the latter has reached obsessive levels.

Benson sees himself as a technician, an artist and an important link in the thin chain of master engineers. He is trying to keep vinyl alive.

To do so is not a matter of marketing the nearly century-old technology to modern consumers. The demand is already there.

Ask an audiophile about the benefits of vinyl and you will probably get a lot of touchy-feely woo-woo about "warmth," "richness," and "depth." Compare that to the sleek chill of an iPod and records just sound outdated and inconvenient.

But pick up an LP and try to ignore its primal connection to the music. The size, the heft, the storybook record sleeve falling open with unexpected details--all of it in service of the shiny, grooved platter within. Handle it with care, because those minute grooves are music--the actual, physical destruction caused by air molecules in motion.

Vinyl inspires respect in a way digital streams of ones and zeroes never will. The song is literally in your hands. Look close enough and you can see it.

"Vinyl is like paper. People will always use it," Benson said.

He is more concerned with who will make the records, and what tools will be available. Record lathes are no longer manufactured.

"As long as people take care of these machines, vinyl will be around. People need to learn about this."

The overall music industry has shriveled with the advent of the mp3, but vinyl sales have been booming. Big discs still account for only a fraction of sales, but their share of the market is growing. Vinyl's popularity is such that plenty of Top-10 artists will press at least a short run of vinyl for collectors, hard-core fans and DJs. For example, most of Radiohead's albums are available on vinyl.

Jack Morrison owned Blue Dog Records and Tapes on Caroline Street in downtown Fredericksburg. The store closed nearly four years ago, after an industry-wide slowdown in CD sales. There was a bright spot, however.

"We sold vinyl more and more as CD sales went down," Morrison said. "Kids were buying vinyl, too."

He devoted more space to the big discs.

"People would come in and say, 'Wow, I didn't know they still made these.'"

Morrison was not a vinyl fan at first, but he came around. He kept one of the store's LP racks; it holds his personal vinyl collection now.

"It took a lot of convincing for me," he said. "The highs can sometimes be too tinny, but it really does have the warmer sound people talk about."

He believes he could have kept the store open just selling vinyl if Fredericksburg's student population had been a little bigger.

In some larger cities, specialty stores have been able to make a profit selling music on vinyl, nary a CD on their shelves. As more artists release their albums on vinyl, the medium has gained respect among mainstream consumers.


When bands and record labels want to sell vinyl, they turn to the few obsessives who cut records.

"Those multi-million-dollar companies come to people like me," Benson said.

For now, he cuts custom records for DJs and lesser-known punk bands, but at 30, he is a toddler in the world of record-cutting. If vinyl hangs on, artists might need his skills. Regardless, he hopes to inspire the next generation of master engineers.

"Vinyl is never going to die," Benson insisted.

At some point, a master engineer like Benson was hunched over a record lathe, staring at a needle as it etched the grooves of that Vampire Weekend album. Like Benson, that person might have been working in a homemade studio. It had to start somewhere.

With vinyl, it starts and ends with sound. The vibrations in the air, frozen in time. Compared to CDs, vinyl records seem quaint, but they also seem natural--the organic extension of a voice or a guitar.

"All sound on this planet is really one sound," Benson said. "It's like ripples on a pond. It's that simple."


Rock & Roll Tidbits

Friends of The Raiders leader, Paul Revere, say that in high school, his name was Revere Dick and he had a brother named Sly.

Little Richard's 1958 Top Ten hit "Good Golly Miss Molly" says that Miss Molly "sure likes to ball..." At the time it was on the charts, Richard was enrolled a bible college.

Producer Terry Melcher called upon song writers Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil to come up with something for Paul Revere And The Raiders. They sent him a song called "Kicks", which they had originally written hoping it would help get a friend of theirs off drugs.

In 1962, Mersyside Newspaper held a contest to see who was the most popular band in Liverpool. The Beatles were the winners, partly because they called in posing as different people, voting for themselves.

In 1972, David Bowie declared that he was a homosexual, only to deny it in the 1980’s. Finally, Bowie admitted what he really was-a ‘trisexual’. He explained: “I’ll try anything once.”

Shock rocker Sid Vicious died in February, 1979 from an overdose of heroin that was bought for him by his mother, who was present when he injected it.

George Martin, who produced The Beatles most successful recordings, first rose to prominence by recording comedy records.

In 1962, when Johnny Carson took over the NBC "Tonight Show" from Jack Parr, he commissioned Paul Anka for a new theme song. Paul suggested a song that he had already written called "Toot Sweet". After a lyric was added in 1959 it was re-named "It's Really Love" and under that title, was recorded by Annette Funicello on her LP, "Annette Sings". Under a deal with Anka, Johnny became the "author" for copyright purposes and got a piece of not only the publishing but the composer's share too. Both Anka and Carson's names were listed as writers and the two began collecting BMI performance royalties. The pair got $200 in royalties every time the show aired...and it ran for 32 years, 52 weeks a year, 5 nights a week -- which works out to $1,664,000.00 -- not bad for an old tune that had been re-cycled twice before.

According to the Amusement & Music Operators Association, Patsy Cline's 1962 hit, "Crazy" is the most played song on jukeboxes across the United States. It is followed by "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger and "Hound Dog" / "Don't Be Cruel" by Elvis Presley.

There is a five way tie for the shortest title of a song to make it to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The songs are: The Jacksons' "ABC", Edwin Starr's "War", Frankie Avalon's "Why", and Michael Jackson's "Ben" and "Bad".

Roberta Flack recorded "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" as an album cut for her 1969 debut LP "First Take". Three years later, Clint Eastwood remembered hearing the song and included it in his film "Play Misty For Me", causing Atlantic Records to re-edit and rush release the song as a single. Six weeks later, it was the number one song in the US, where it stayed for six weeks.

During a December, 1974 interview, TV talk show host Dick Cavett asked David Bowie what his mother thought of his act. He replied "She pretends I'm not hers."

When he thought that the crowd needed a wake up call, Butthole Surfer Gibby Haynes occasionally fired off a shotgun over the heads of the fans.

In the early years the Butthole Surfers enjoyed performing while medical-curiosity films played in the background. These ‘films’ were so gory and graphic (e.g. scenes of sex-change surgery), that some people at the concerts would actually vomit; which was not always a bad thing at a Butthole gathering.

When Frank Sinatra Jr was kidnapped in December, 1963, his abductors demanded $240,000 ransom. His father offered one million dollars for his safe return, but for some un-explained reason, his captors turned the offer down and settled for the original amount. Three men were later caught and sent to prison.

Walter Murphy's 1976 disco hit, "A Fifth Of Beethoven" was based on Ludwig van Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5 in C Minor", composed in 1807.

After Capitol records had rejected “Love Me Do”, “Please Please Me” and “From Me To You” for American release, label president Alan Livingston sent a memo to their parent company, EMI in Britain that said: “We don’t think The Beatles will do anything in this market.” A year later, in January, 1964, when “I Saw Her Standing There” was issued, it became the fastest selling single in the history of recorded music and Capitol’s pressing plant was forced to run 24 hours a day, trying to fill more than one million orders.

Although it says Diana Ross on her birth certificate, her parents and friends called her Diane until her early 20s

When Dennis Edwards of The Temptations first sang "Papa Was A Rolling Stone", he was upset by the line "It Was The Third Of September / That Day I'll Always Remember / 'Cause That Was The Day My Daddy Died", because Edwards father actually did die on September 3rd.

Robin and Barry Gibb wrote "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" for crooner Andy Williams. When he declined, the Bee Gees recorded the song themselves and scored the first of their nine number one records with it.

Listen carefully to the beginning of The Beatles' song "Come Together", from their Abby Road album. The bass guitar riff nearly obliterates John Lennon saying "Shoot me".

This Date In Music History-January 26


Huey "Piano" Smith (the original "Rockin' Pneumonia - Boogie Woogie Flu") turns 75.

Jean Knight ("Mr. Big Stuff") (1943)

Paul Pena, a blues musician who wrote Steve Miller's hit "Jet Airliner" and then became a Tuvan throat singer as documented in the film Genghis Blues, was born in Hyannis, Mass in 1950.

Lucinda Williams (1953)

Eddie Van Halen (1957)

Andrew Ridgeley- Wham (1963)

Cinderella -Tom Keifer (1961)

They Are Missed:

The late Marshall Lieb of the Teddy Bears was born in 1939.

In 2007, Tommy Dee, who reached #11 on the Billboard chart in 1959 with "Three Stars,” a song dedicated to Richie Valens, Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper, died at the age of 70, after a long illness.


Signed to Decca Records in 1956, Buddy Holly headed to Nashville for his first official recording session. Overseen by veteran country producer Owen Bradley, the session yields four tracks, including Holly's debut single ("Blue Days, Black Nights") and a classic cover ("Midnight Shift").

In 1969, in the midst of recording Let It Be at the Apple Studios, the Beatles layed down a series of rock 'n' roll covers, including "Shake Rattle And Roll," "Kansas City," "Miss Ann," "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," "Blue Suede Shoes," "You Really Got A Hold On Me" and "Tracks Of My Tears." They also worked on "Let It Be" and "The Long and Winding Road." Ringo spends the day composing "Octopus's Garden" and the Beatles also hatched the idea to perform on the roof of their headquarters.

John Lennon writes and records “Instant Karma (We All Shine On)” in 1970.

In 1964, the British Invasion begins in America, as "I Want To Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles goes to #1.

The American Breed was signed by ACTA Records when the label president sees them perform while stuck in Chicago during a blizzard in 1967.

In 1962, "The Twist" was banned from the Buffalo Roman Catholic Diocese for being "impure.”

Ringo Starr went to #1 on the Billboard singles chart in 1974 with his version of Johnny Burnette's 1960 #8 hit "Your Sixteen.” The track featured Paul McCartney on kazoo and Harry Nilsson on background vocals.

In 1970, Australia's first rock festival, the Ourimbah Rock Festival was attended by 11,000 people over the weekend.

In 1999, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that John Denver died in a 1997 airplane crash because he took off with too little fuel in one tank, had trouble switching to his backup tank and inadvertently put his plane into a roll while his attention was diverted.

The Four Seasons' "Walk Like A Man" was released in 1963. Five weeks later, it will be Billboard's #1 single.

A trio called The Rooftop Singers took "Walk Right In" to the top of the Billboard chart in 1963. The song had been written in 1930 by Gus Cannon, who had been living in poverty until he started earning royalties from the hit record.

In 1980, three years after signing with Warner Brothers Records, 21 year-old Prince made his US television debut on American Bandstand where he performed his R&B chart topping hit, "I Wanna Be Your Lover.”

The first of a two-part Jimi Hendrix exhibition premiered at Seattle's Experience Music Project in 2008. The first phase of the exhibit, Message To Love, features two iconic Hendrix guitars housed in a gallery with blank walls on which visitors are encouraged to write their thoughts about the guitar great. Part two, Jimi Hendrix: An Evolution of Sound, offers an interactive look at the guitarist's influence on popular music.

Peter Green, one of Fleetwood Mac's founding guitarists, was committed to an English mental institution in 1977. Cause? He fired a pistol at a messenger who was trying to deliver a check for his portion of song royalties