Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ask Mr. Music

I am starting a new feature: Ask "Mr. Music." Now in its 23rd year of syndication (1986-2008), Jerry Osborne's weekly Q&A feature will now be a weekly feature here. Be sure to stop by Jerry's site ( for more Mr. Music archives, record price guides, anything Elvis, buy & sell collectibles, record appraisals and much more. I thank Jerry for allowing the reprints.


DEAR JERRY: I have picked up quite a few things from you about the music industry during the vinyl era.

Still, there is one phase of the recording business that intrigues me: the wisdom of B-sides.

Many artists seemed to routinely release two prime sides, essentially giving consumers two hits for the price of one.

Immediately coming to mind in this regard are: Elvis; Beatles; Rick Nelson; Beach Boys; Connie Francis; Brenda Lee, and Everly Brothers.

Conversely, some folks, most notably Phil Spector, put dreadful instrumentals with senseless titles on the B-side so all of the attention by radio stations and juke box players would go to the A-side.

How drastically different is the payoff between a double-sided hit and a single-sided one, assuming equal unit sales?
—Andrew Davidson, Oakland City, Ind.

DEAR ANDREW: First let's review the two primary types of rights involved: mechanical and performance.

Mechanical rights allow for recording and distribution (without visual images) of music on a record, compact disc, or tape. Mechanical rights or a mechanical license must be obtained in order to lawfully make and distribute records, CDs and tapes.

Without even asking first, one can choose to record their own rendition of previously published and copyrighted works, as long as licensing is eventually arranged. This easy-to-get license provides for compensation to the copyright holder(s).

Performance rights, also known as public performance rights, provide for a performance in a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances are gathered.

Now, who better to enlighten us on B-side wisdom than my friend Connie Francis, one of the stars you mention.

Here is what this delightfully congenial superstar, whose 62 nationally charted titles include 15 double-sided hits, says:

“In the days of two-sided singles, it could be a bit of a guessing game.

“When they were sure one side was going to be a big hit, most everyone would put a song on the B-side which they published. This is because of the mechanical rights.

“You see, it can't be proven either way whether a music store customer bought the record for the A-side, the B-side, or both. Some people actually bought hit singles more for the tune on the B-side.

“To allow for this, the B-side publishers and songwriters got as much money as those responsible for the A-side, except when it comes to performance rights, which belong to the individual publisher, writer, artist, and whatever. Nearly everyone did it this way.

“My father would argue with me about this practice. He would say: “You're not a publisher. You've got to give the juke box operators two good songs, and forget publishing. You are a singer!”

“A couple of times when I didn't listen to him, I was wrong.

“I always tried to give the people two good songs, but at times we ended up with a B-side that wouldn't have been my preference. It was used simply because we published it.

“One example is “Plenty Good Lovin,'” the B-side of “You're Gonna Miss Me.” Though I co-wrote it with Howard Greenfield, I thought it was a lousy song. But we put it on the record because we published it.”

IZ ZAT SO? As for the other artists mentioned in today's question, here are the number of double-sided U.S. hits (Billboard and Cash Box) for each: Elvis (53); Beatles (27); Rick Nelson (22); Brenda Lee (16); Everly Brothers (13); and Beach Boys (6).

Carlisle man's passion for the Beatles

Is it a shrine, a museum or an obsessive’s playroom? David Young isn’t afraid to square up to how his collection might seem to someone at first glance.

Asked if he’s got an illness he shrugs: “Aye, probably.

“It’s not an interest, no, no, it’s a passion,” he says thoughtfully and deliberately.

This passion is housed in a fair-sized room off the kitchen of the neatly-kept home in north Carlisle.

It just happens to be stuffed with books, pictures, files, Toby mugs, glasses, trade cards, clocks, jigsaws, a dress, shopping bags, dolls, puppets, toys, guitars, posters, videos, cassettes... oh and records.

All of it featuring John, Paul, George and Ringo.

In amongst it all, there’s a filing cabinet, a glass display cabinet, a sinister-looking portmanteau chest, shelves, a desk with drawers and a music centre.

David also has copies of John Lennon’s Rickenbacker guitar and Paul McCartney’s Hofner bass.

All together, it is probably worth thousands of pounds, though that isn’t why he has spent all his life amassing it all.

David, 50, works for a glass company, he’s not rich, just comfortable, but he has been collecting since he was five.

Though he was too young to appreciate the full effect the Fab Four were having on music, fashion, society and teenagers across the land, he can remember his parents playing The Beatles’ 45s at home and the first piece of his collection.

“We were on a family holiday in Blackpool and my dad won a promotional photograph of the four Beatles in a darts competition.

“I liked the group because of the music my mum and dad were playing so I asked if I could have the picture.

“I collected the vinyl through the years and I thought this other stuff, the collectable stuff, is good so I collected that as well.

“When I got married 25 years ago, we got our first house in Denton Holme and there was a spare bedroom and I put my collection in there and it became a bit more serious.”

David’s favourite Beatles track is I’ll Get You, the B-side of She Loves You from 1963. “It is a track you never hear of, but it’s really brilliant with really good harmonies.”

Their best album, he reckons, is Revolver. He estimates he has more than 1,000 Beatles or Beatles-related records.

David only collects discs that have been pressed in the UK. Too many different versions were pressed in the US for him to hope to keep up.

Despite restricting himself, he still has to collect every version of the same record that has been produced.

So he will buy the stereo and mono version of a record, one that has a different sleeve, or if the label is different – even if it is marked: ‘Factory sample, not for resale’.

“It is like having the same photo, but taken from a different angle,” he explains.

He hands me two 45s of Strawberry Fields Forever and challenges me to notice the difference. After seven minutes of scanning, squinting and holding up to the light, I make a wild guess that the difference is the centre of the record.

“Yes!” says David, “some have a solid centre, some have a push-out centre!”

He has visited Liverpool to go on the Beatles tour, visit the museum, the Cavern, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields... though he has never met one of his heroes.

“I’ve been to see Paul McCartney in concert twice, in Birmingham and Glasgow, but I was too young to actually see them in concert.”

Although he loves the thrill of finding something out of the blue in a shop or at a collectors fair or car boot sale, David also dips into eBay to buy.

Although the one-stop-shop can make things easier, it spoils the fun of finding something unexpected, out of the blue – the sheer serendipity.

“Part of the joy of collecting is going out and finding something by chance. It does not have to be something that is worth megabucks, I get a thrill just finding something that I like.

“I can go six months without buying anything, it is just a question of being in the right place at the right time.

“The stuff is there, it is just affording it.

“EBay makes it easier, but it is easier for more people, so the prices go higher.”

All new vinyl (he loves vinyl) has to be played, graded for condition and filed.

Discs include the labels Parlophone, EMI and Apple as well as Ringo’s own record company Ring O and George Harrison’s Dark Horse.

He’s been collecting seriously for 30 years or so. As the years go by, the items become more valuable and David admits he couldn’t possibly afford such a collection if he was to start from scratch now.

Asked for his most valuable item and David points to the wall at the framed 1965 gold disc awarded for a million sales of the classic single We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper.

It was recently valued at £3,000.

Valuable, but not his most valued item – that honour goes to a frame which contains autographs, bill posters and ticket stubs from the two occasions time the Fab Four have appeared in Carlisle.

He appreciates the local connection – so much that the frame even includes a letter of thanks from the Chief Constable at the time to PC 111 who helped control the crowds during the second visit of The Beatles in 1964.

The collection veers off into the bizarre, with a lightbulb that includes a guitar and John Lennon’s name as its filament, a ‘genuine Beatle wig’ (who’s hair is it then – John Paul, George or Ringo’s?) and a Beatles blanket.

There’s a display box of foil-wrapped, unopened trading cards with bubble gum, the sort you might see on the counter of a newsagents.

David couldn’t be sure of getting all the cards in the collection by buying a handful, dozen, or a score of the packs, so he bought the lot... “I’m a completist, I don’t just need a pack, I have to get them all.

“I hardly ever play their music,” he admits.

“But when I want a fix, I will play the first album, then play them all, all the way through.”

His collection includes a big flat videodisc from 1982 – remember them?

It is an illness. It’s called Beatlemania.

David’s quest for something new and different hasn’t diminished over the years.

As I leave, he points out that there’s a collectors fair being staged in a village hall the following day.

“I’ll wander over and have a look around...”


Classic Rock Videos

Beatles - You Can't Do That

Rock & Roll Tidbits

Wango tango! When a female reporter inquired why ted Nugent didn’t wear tuxedos on his album covers, his reply was, “Why did you decide not to douche yourself with molten lava?”

When Vernon Presley re-married on July 3rd, 1960, Elvis did not attend the ceremony.

Elton John wrote his US number one hit, "Philadelphia Freedom" after watching Billie Jean King play a tennis match with her World Tennis League team, the Philadelphia Freedoms.

It was in 1972 when John Denver dropped some acid and drove around on a motorcycle. Then he penned the hit song, “Rocky Mountain High.” Denver explained: “What a far out experience that was.”

Denver also thought that saying “far out” was really, well for the lack of a better term, far out. “The first time I appeared as guest host of the Tonight Show, I must have said ‘far out’ fifty times. I would say ‘far out’ without even thinking, it was like a nervous tic…” Far out.

After John Denver saw a Rolling Stones concert in Long Beach, California, the soft rock troubadour confessed, “I didn’t get Mick Jagger or his onstage gyrations. It just didn’t compute to me.” Maybe he needed more of that ‘Rocky Mountain’ high to appreciate it.

In 1951, when Brenda Lee was only 6 years old, she auditioned for a local Atlanta television show called TV Ranch. An hour and a half after singing "Hey, Good Lookin'" for the producer, she appeared on the program.

Apparently Madonna’s pet Chihuahua “Chiquita” was suffering a bout of doggy depression over the attention that was given to Madonna’s new baby, Lourdes. So the ‘material girl’ sent the sad pooch to a canine shrink. I guess the $7,500 choker from Tiffany’s just wasn’t enough to cheer up the little yapper.

Before Michael Jackson made love to his wife Debbie Rowe, the gloved one would dress up as Peter Pan and dance around the room. Another time he wore a horse’s head and galloped around on a broom stick. “It made him feel romantic,” explained Debbie. Uh, okay…and why doesn’t that surprise anyone?

The Queen song, “Radio Gaga” was actually inspired by band member Roger Taylor’s son who had heard a song on the radio and called it “Radio Ka-Ka.”

When the record producer for the Spice Girls hired a voice and singing coach to train the girls, his first impression: “My God, there’s a lot of work to be done here!”

In the early fifties, Neil Sedaka teamed up with some high school friends to form a vocal group. They had a local hit in New York, but then parted ways. The group later went on to record as The Tokens and in 1962, scored a Billboard number one smash with "The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain got very close early on in their relationship. “We bonded over pharmaceuticals,” detailed Love. “I had Vicodin extra-strength…and he had hycomine cough syrup.”

In a Vanity Fair interview in 1992, Love said “If there ever is a time that a person should be on drugs, it’s when they’re pregnant, because it sucks.”

At a Pink Floyd concert in 1980 for the concept album “The Wall,” fireworks ignited the stage curtains. Pieces of burning fabric rained down on the audience, who cheered mightily; they thought it was part of the show.

In 1961 Ricky Nelson's father, Ozzie Nelson, filmed a video for the hit "Travelin Man,” featuring pictures of places mentioned in the song. This film is often called the world's first rock video. This is disputed however by Jay Perry Richardson, the son of J.P. Richardson, better known as The Big Bopper, claiming that his father made a video in 1958 for "Chantilly Lace" and actually coined the term 'music video' in 1959.

Album Cover Art

I found this cover kind of cool, seems a bit odd.

Andrew Bird
Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist and lyricist Andrew Bird picked up his first violin at the age of 4. Actually, it was a Cracker Jack box with a ruler taped to it, and the first of his many Suzuki music lessons involved simply bowing to the teacher and going home. He spent his formative years soaking up classical repertoire completely by ear so when it came time for a restless teen-ager to make the jump to Hungarian Gypsy music, early jazz, country blues, south Indian etc., it wasn't such a giant leap. It's fitting that now, though classically trained, he has instead opted to play his violin in a most unconventional manner, accompanying himself on glockenspiel and guitar, adding singing and whistling to the equation, and becoming a pop songwriter in the process.

Over 100,000 sales of 2007’s Armchair Apocrypha, hundreds of shows including a Chicago homecoming for over 15,000 fans at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion, and dozens of critical accolades and year-end best lists later…
Andrew Bird’s Noble Beast was released January 20, 2009 on Fat Possum Records.

Music News & Notes

Eddie Van Halen Hopeful For New Music, Tour

It's been about nine months since Van Halen wrapped up its first tour since 1984 with original lead singer David Lee Roth. Legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen is hopeful there will be future activity for the rock and rollers.

Van Halen related to that after he and girlfriend Janie Liszewski get married in June and his son Wolfgang graduates from high school, he plans to discuss recording new music, which he says he has "tons of."

"If Dave's up for singing ... then do another tour, and just see where it takes us," Van Halen stated. "Actually, next week or the week after Wolfie, Alex and I are gonna start jamming. Maybe we'll give Dave a call and see what he's up to. He's off, always doing his own thing, and he checks in every now and then to see how we're doing."

Van Halen has not released a new studio album since 1997's "Balance," and hasn't recorded with the original lead singer since tracking two new songs with him for a 1996 "Greatest Hits" album.


Cyrus, Swift Teaming Up At Grammys

It's reported that teen superstars Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift will be performing together at the 51st Grammy Awards this Sunday (Feb. 8) in Los Angeles.

Also added to the lineup are Estelle and Kanye West, Adele, Chris Brown, Sugarland and a Four Tops tribute featuring surviving member Duke Fakir with Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo. In addition, Sheryl Crow, Craig Ferguson, Al Green, Jay Mohr, Queen Latifah and T-Pain will present awards.

The Grammys will also boast performances from U2, Kid Rock, Rihanna, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Kenny Chesney, Coldplay, Jennifer Hudson, Jonas Brothers, Lil Wayne, Paul McCartney (with Dave Grohl on drums), Katy Perry, Radiohead, T.I. and Justin Timberlake, Carrie Underwood, and the quartet of Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, T.I. and Kanye West.


Pop Diva Streisand Recording New Music

Barbra Streisand is recording a new album with Diana Krall producing. She commented to the Associated Press, "I'm trying to convince her to sing with me, but she's resisting it. She plays the piano for me on several songs, but it's not over yet. I'm still working on her to try to do a duet with me. ... We have to find the right song."


Initial Lineup Set for Bonnaroo Festival

The 2009 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival has announced the initial list of performers for the annual show in Manchester, Tennessee, set for June 11 to 14. Tickets go on sale this Saturday morning at 12 PM EST.

The two big artists that have been recently announced are Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band and the reunited Phish who will play two shows. Beyond that, it's everything from jam bands to R&B to straight out rock and roll.

Below are the major acts and veteran artists playing the festival (no dates have been announced by act). For a full list, go to the Bonnaroo site.

Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band
Phish (2 shows)
Beastie Boys
Nine Inch Nails
David Byrne
Al Green
Snoop Dog
Elvis Costello (solo)
Erykah Badu
Gov't Mule
Merle Haggard
Bela Fleck & Toumani Diabate
Del McCoury Band
Alan Toussaint
Booker T and the DBTs
David Grisman Quintet
Lucinda Williams
Robert Earl Keen
Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3


Hold Steady Preps Documentary, Live Album

The Hold Steady is set to release their first live album and documentary DVD, "A Positive Rage," on April 7 via Vagrant.

The double-disc set will chronicle a 2007 Halloween show at Chicago's Metro and also includes a pair of previously unreleased tracks ("Spectres" and "40 Bucks") as well as three additional tracks culled from the limited edition version of the band's last release, 2008's "Stay Positive."

The documentary centers around the international tour in support of 2006's "Boys and Girls in America" and features band interviews and a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage.


Beastie Boys release remastered 'Paul's Boutique' album

Beastie Boys have made a remastered version of their 1989 album 'Paul's Boutique' available to buy as a download from their website.

You can get the new version now at

As well as the music, fans who buy the album will receive 3D artwork as part of the download.

The remastered album, now 20 years old, will be released on CD and vinyl on February 10. Combination packs including a T-shirt and album artwork poster will also be available. See for more.


Viva La Beatles!

The man that banned Beatles music from the airwaves in Cuba has died. Jorge "Papito" Serguera removed all music by the Fab Four from radio and TV in the 1970's, although it is believed his action had been ordered by the government who viewed most modern music as a threat to the revolution. The Beatles can now be heard in Cuba again and a statue of John Lennon can be seen in Havana.


Lamb Of God Giveaway

In support of their new release "Wrath," due Feb. 24 from Epic, heavy metal rockers Lamb Of God are saluting hardcore fans with a huge promotional giveaway.

The first 100,000 copies of the album will come with a lottery ticket which fans can use to try and win one of 100 unique prizes.

Fans will compete by entering their lotto number on the band's Web site and correctly answering questions about Lamb Of God. The prizes include the band's personal instruments, a ticket voucher to see the band at any show, a chance to sing with the band onstage, and two tickets to see it perform this summer at a European music festival. Winners will get to pick which prize they want on a first-come-first-served basis.

"The band wanted to give back to its fans with something more interactive," says Epic VP of marketing Scott Greer, who thinks that a chance to have singer Randy Blythe cook barbecue at a fan's house for an afternoon will be the first prize to go. "These prizes are meaningful. We wanted to have an old-school 'event' mentality with this release, and I think what the band has done speaks for itself."

This Date In Music History-February 4


James Dunn-Stylistics (1950)

Natalie Imbruglia (1975)

Clint Black (1962)

Tim Booth- James (1960)

Phil Ehart- Kansas (1951)

Alice Cooper, (Vincent Furnier) (1948)

Born today in 1947, Margie and Mary Ann Ganser, vocalists for The Shangri-Las (Margie died of breast cancer on July 28, 1996).

Florence Larue- The 5th Dimension (1944)

They Are Missed:

In 1983, Karen Carpenter died of heart irregularities caused by anorexia nervosa.

The great jump-jive bandleader Louis Jordan died in Los Angeles in 1975 (age 62). His hilarious, fast-paced numbers were a precursor to R&B and rock 'n' roll.

Scottish singer Alex Harvey died of a heart attack in 1982.

Doris Kenner-Jackson of the Shirelles, died in 2000 (age 58).

Liberace died in 1987.


Chuck Berry led an all-star band on "American Bandstand's 25th Anniversary Special" on ABC-TV in 1977.

In 1959, Frankie Avalon and Jimmy Clanton took over headlining the Winter Dance Party after the death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the “Big Bopper.”

In 1989, a rock and roll oddity occurred when a group that no longer existed had the top tune on the Billboard chart. "When I'm With You" had been recorded in 1983 by a group called Sheriff, but they split up in 1985. The music director at a Las Vegas radio station began playing the song in late 1988 and the record soon surpassed its original #61 chart position.

Norah Jones scored her third UK #1 album in 2007 with “Not Too Late,” (also a #1 in US and over 20 other countries).

Working at Abbey Road studios in 1968, the Beatles recorded “Across the Universe.” John and Paul decided the song needed some falsetto harmonies, so they invited two girl fans into the studio to sing on the song. The two were Lizzie Bravo, a 16-year-old Brazilian living near Abbey Road and 17-year-old Londoner Gayleen Pease. It’s the only time the Beatles used their fans on record.

In 1972, in a memo to Attorney General John Mitchell, South Carolina, Sen. Strom Thurmond suggested that John Lennon be deported.

In 1965, the Righteous Brothers were at #1 on the US singles chart with “You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling.”

James Brown and The Famous Flames recorded "Please, Please, Please" at King Studios in Cincinnati in 1956. The single became a Billboard #5 R&B hit, selling over a million copies, but nine subsequent releases would fail to live up to the success of their debut. It would take over two years for the group to return to the charts with the #1 R&B hit, "Try Me.”

One of the best selling albums of all time, Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors" was released in 1977. The LP spent 31 weeks at the top of the US album chart on the strength of the singles, "Go Your Own Way,” "Dreams,” "Don't Stop" and "You Make Loving Fun,” all of which hit the top 10.

With movie theater promos showing John Travolta's character, Tony Manero walking down the street to the beat of The Bee Gees "Stayin' Alive,” the tune shot to the top of the Billboard Pop chart in 1978.