Friday, February 6, 2009

Classic Rock Videos

Beatles - Eight Days A Week

Rock & Roll Tidbits

Neil Young loved the perks of being a rock star. While touring with CSN&Y, there were hookers on the payroll and a twenty-four hour party suite complete with champagne, iced shrimp and capsules of cocaine.

In her early days, Madonna would get the attention of the record company executives by dropping popcorn into her cleavage during business meetings and then sassily retrieving the lost kernels.

Rapper Ice-T had a firm belief that without the male sex-drive that the economy would come crashing down. “All we would do is lie around and eat and fart and get fat.”

Mama Cass Elliot was once on trial in London in 1967 for failure to pay a hotel bill. As the group (she was with fellow Mamas & Papas) left the courtroom, TV cameras caught Denny Doherty and John Phillips taking hash brownies out of Mama Cass’s purse and gobbling them down.

Back in 1978, Ozzy Osbourne publically declared that he was an alcoholic. He proceeded to quit his band and retired from music. So the odd rocker decided to open a bar, but Ozzy quickly drank up the inventory; squandered his money and soon was back together with his band.

Iggy Pop got very depressed when the Stooges broke up for the second time. So he gobbled up a bunch Quaaludes, Valium and Seconals and then went out for dinner. He flipped out and cops picked him up and gave him the choice of going to jail or a mental hospital. He chose the mental hospital. But the next day he broke out, consumed the rest of his stash and then committed himself to the hospital again.

Aerosmith was in Memphis for a gig in 1975 and local cops were intent on busting lead singer Steven Tyler if he said the ‘f-word’ onstage. But Aerosmith’s road manager convinced the locals to hold off on the bust until after the concert. However, one of the roadies tipped Tyler off. So he had the lighting man black out all the lights as soon as the show ended. After the show’s final number, Tyler jumped offstage and stumbled through the now pitch black auditorium in an effort to get away. But the vigilant cops just nailed the rock star in the lobby.

I guess Michael Jackson yearned for friendship because there was a time that he kept six mannequins in his room. He would dress them in evening gowns (no word whether these were male or female stiffs), he had a name for each one and actually had conversations with them. “I like to imagine talking to them,” the strange gloved-one stated. Perfectly normal Mike, perfectly normal- we all do that.

K. D LANG insists that people write her name using only lower case letters. Ooops.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono were known to push the media’s buttons every now and then. After their infamous ‘bed-in,’ the pair concocted ‘bagism.’ John and Yoko actually had themselves sewn inside of white bed clothes and crouched silently on a low table at a hotel in Vienna. Stunned reporters refused to believe that the odd couple were actually in the bag until Yoko began to wail a Japanese folk song- and left no doubt.

In 1987, while on a break from Metallica, James Hetfield played a series of surprise gigs at San Francisco nightclubs with a band named Spastic Children. When the band wanted to end one show with a nude encore, they were strongly discouraged from doing so by the club’s owner. So for the encore the group played in their underwear.

When James Brown was arrested at age fifteen for stealing clothes from parked cars and sent to jail, he said, “They sent me to prison for being dumb.”

Album Review by Michael Fremer

I am very proud to continue our new feature (look for this every Friday), music reviews that are written by the senior contributing editor of Stereophile magazine- Michael Fremer. It has been a pleasure to speak with Michael and learn more about audio sound and equipment. In fact, his new DVD, "It's A Vinyl World, After All" has hit the shelves and is selling out very quickly. This is a must have for anybody who loves vinyl, it is a true masterpiece.

Additionally, make sure to stop by his site, and bookmark it for further exploration. I certainly want to thank Michael for the exclusive rights to reprint his fantastic material.


Roy Orbison (reissue)
The All Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison

Mobile Fidelity MFSL 2-304 2 180g LPs

Produced by: Fred Foster
Engineered by: Bill Porter, Tommy Strong
Mixed by: Bill Porter
Mastered by: Rob LoVerde and Shawn R. Britton

Review by: Michael Fremer

The big problem with vinyl 'greatest hits' compilations is that they are, of necessity, at least a generation down from the master tape. That's because assembling the actual masters into a cutting reel usually isn't allowed and even were a record label to allow it, levels, equalization and tape head azimuth issues make in nearly impossible to adjust between tracks as the tape reel rolls and the lacquer gets cut.

Worse, many major labels usually won't let masters out of the vaults so what's used to cut is an assemblage produced from copies of copies or a digital master made from originals.

There have been many pressings of this Roy compilation over the years, including the Monument/CBS Records, N.Y. original issued in 1972 (KZG 31484) shortly after Columbia bought Monument from Fred Foster, another one a decade later on Monument Records a division of Monument Entertainment Corporation of America (KWG2784-38384-1), two 180g audiophile pressings (DCC Compact Classics LPZ[2]-2042 and S&P [2] 507) and now this one from Mobile Fidelity.

Forget the original even if you find it in the dollar bins. It's difficult to mess up Bill Porter recordings, but this one does. It meanders from bright to dull and is occasionally distorted (there are occasional distortions on the master tapes, but this reissue magnifies them and adds some!). Clearly a cut from who knows what generation tapes. The 1982 edition isn't any better. While it's not the same cut, it's clearly cut from the same bright, distorted who knows what generation tape.

Finally, in the mid-nineties, DCC Compact Classics issued a version that did justice to Bill Porter's (and Tommy Strong's) recordings and Roy Orbison's artistry. This version, cut by Kevin Gray and mastered and produced by Steve Hoffman set the standard for clarity, dimensionality, warmth and resolution. And the liner notes and photos brought added value, using Boudlaux Bryant's original annotation plus a long detailed remembrance from the great Bill Porter, full musician credits, studio details and some swell photos. The laminated jacket featured Roy's signature embossed on the cover. A class act.

When DCC Compact Classics failed (not because its records and gold CDs didn't sell!), former DCC Compact Classic employee Sam Passamano, Jr. founded S&P and issued a few noteworthy titles, including a stellar sounding edition of Eva Cassidy's Songbird (S&P 501) and a reissue of this Roy compilation cut in 2004 using the same superb packaging and a new cut by Kevin and Steve at AcousTech that sounds slightly warmer and perhaps a bit more involving than the DCC original, but clearly cut from the same tape.

The right to issue the title recently passed to Mobile Fidelity, which spent a great deal of time working with Sony/BMG in an attempt to get the original master tapes, assemble them into production reels and cut in real time, making on the fly EQ and azimuth changes as needed. Mo-Fi's hiring of former Sony mastering engineer Rob LoVerde facilitated the negotiations. LoVerde is listed as a 'mastering associate' on the S&P edition's cutting notes.

According to mastering engineer Shawn R. Britton, LoVerde was given permission to disassemble the master tapes of Orbison's original releases and assemble 'greatest hits' cutting reels (and of course restore them to their original place in history once the cutting had been accomplished)!

While adjustments were needed to produce a coherent package, because Bill Porter was such a perfectionist, and because these tracks were all recorded direct to two track at only two studios (RCA Studio B and Monument Studios with 'Pretty Paper' recorded in the UK at Pye), the track to track variations weren't nearly as great as they might have been.

I still find Britton's story difficult to believe and I hope he appreciates my skepticism and doesn't think I'm calling him dishonest, because I'm not. In fact, based on listening to this spectacular sounding reissue, I'm a believer! That said, I can't tell you how many times records are claimed to have been cut from 'master tapes' only to have 'well connected' people on the inside of the record biz call me and say things like 'don't believe what you read. I have the master tapes and they've never left the building.' So I'm just passing on what I've been told! So far no one's called to dispute Shawn, but then again I'm writing this before anyone's read it!

In any case, hearing is believing and this half speed mastered version of The All-Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison is by far, the most dynamic, transparent, deep, wide and especially detailed version I've yet heard. I've been listening to some of these tracks for nearly 50 years and I heard new musical elements and details on almost every track (along with, of course, some tape deterioration and distortion).

Detractors claim that half speed mastering makes cutting bass difficult since you're halving the frequencies and making the cutting amps reproduce ultra-low frequencies, but the bottom end of this cut is deep and powerful and reveals nuances in the bottom octaves I've never before heard. Instruments that formerly receded into the mix are now clearly audible and not because of added brightness.

Play 'It's Over' and when the castanets click at the beginning, you'll jump, even if you've heard the song 1000 times. The crescendos jump out. There's a deep bass accent on the tune I've never before heard, nor do I know what produced it but it's powerful.

The album contains all of Roy's great Monument hits and a few clunkers too, like the campy 'Working For the Man' that sounds like a cross between Sam Cooke's 'Chain Gang,' Ernie Ford's '16 Tons' and Belafonte's 'The Banana Boat Song' but it's mostly hits from 1960's 'Only The Lonely' to '64's 'Pretty Woman.'

For fanatic Roy fans nothing but the original albums will do and if that's you, Classic has many of them, including Lonely and Blue, the original of which will set you back many hundreds of dollars. The problem with the original albums is a mix of greatness and lots of corny filler. For instance, Lonely and Blue has the hits 'Only the Lonely,' 'I'm Hurtin' and 'Blue Angel,' but the rest of it is not nearly as strong. However, Roy fans would want Roy and Joe Melson's 'Blue Avenue,' and a few others, but maybe not so much a karaoke-like cover of Johnnie Ray's 'Cry' complete with strings, a high fructose corn syrup cover of 'Bye-Bye Love,' and an over the top rendering of Don Gibson's '(I'd Be) A Legend In My Own Time.'

How do the cuts common to Classic's Lonely and Blue (cut by Bernie Grundman) and Mo-Fi's'Greatest Hits compare? Well here's where it gets tricky! Mo-Fi's mastering is warmer, more supple, more 'audiophile,' and if you monitored the meters, probably more dynamic. Classic's is somewhat brighter and more direct, but Classic's is also tighter and punchier.

I've had Roy fans here and they can't seem to come to a consensus as to which they prefer. One individual, who shall remain nameless and who has no axe to grind other than being a huge Roy fan dismissed the Mo-Fi as ''not being Roy.' That's an extreme position in my book! The two versions are different, that's for sure but then the mastering chains are too: as different as my stereo is from yours!

I wish I had stayed in contact with Bill Porter so I could ask him to comment! Meanwhile, if you're a big Roy fan, when Classic's Lonely And Blue returns to print (if you don't already have it), you should pick as well as this Mo-Fi reissue up and decide for yourself. Mo-Fi returns to the original CBS packaging, which doesn't hold a match, never mind a candle to the DCC and S&P, but you can't have everything.

Album Cover Art

Blur- Sunday- medium rare please!

Blur are an English alternative rock band that formed in London in 1989. The four members of the band are singer Damon Albarn, guitarist Graham Coxon, bassist Alex James and drummer Dave Rowntree. Blur's debut album Leisure (1991) incorporated the sounds of Madchester and shoegazing. Following a stylistic change—influenced by English guitar pop groups such as The Kinks, The Beatles and XTC—Blur released the Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993), Parklife (1994) and The Great Escape (1995) albums. As a result, the band helped to popularise the Britpop genre and achieved mass popularity in the UK, aided by a famous chart battle with rival band Oasis dubbed "The Battle of Britpop".

Music News & Notes

Ben Kweller moves to Austin, releases country album

With 2009 comes a year of new territory for Ben Kweller. He has become an Austinite.

"I've just been wanting to do it for years... and there's no better town I'd rather live in," Kweller said. "It's the coolest place in the world, as far as I'm concerned."

Kweller's new vinyl album released Tuesday, "Changing Horses", also covers new ground with its consistent country sound.

"I did record it here in Austin, but I was still living in New York," he said. "I've been writing these songs for years. Some of them go back to the time I was 16 years old."

The "Changing Horses" vinyl album includes a free CD version.


Pinhead Gunpowder to release Greatest Hits and discography

Recess Records have unveiled plans to release a Pinhead Gunpowder "Greatest Hits" album on CD and vinyl in March of this year.

The label has also confirmed plans to reissue the entire Pinhead Gunpowder discography on vinyl and CD in 2009. The label is aiming for a fall release of five albums including Jump Salty, Carry the Banner, Goodbye Ellston Avenue, Compulsive Disclosure and Shoot The Moon.

The band features members of Green Day and Crimpshrine.


Jazzy Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi has been added to the New Orleans Jazz Fest as this year’s lineup continues to trend towards rock. The fest, taking place over the weekends of April 24-26th and April 30-May 3rd, also features Dave Matthews Band, Wilco, Kings of Leon, and Spoon among others.


Wilco DVD

Wilco is helping out on Record Store Day, releasing their new live DVD "Ashes of American Flags" exclusively to the indie stores on April 18th, two weeks before its wide release.

“Without these stores, there’s just no way Wilco would still be around. They’ve been with us from the very beginning, through thick and thin,” Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy told


Etta James Not Beyonce Fan

Etta James has changed her mind over the performance of her song "At Last" by Beyonce at one of the President's Inaugural Balls. At the time, her son said that she was honored and thought it was great, but the audio from a recent concert has surfaced on the net where James says, "The great Beyonce ... I can't stand Beyonce. She has no business up there, singing up there on a big ol' president day, gonna be singing my song that I've been singing forever." Tell us how you really feel.


More Stars For The Grammy's

We can add Neil Diamond, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Allen Toussaint to the lalready long list of performers for Sunday night's Grammy Awards. Buddy Guy, B.B. King, John Mayer and Keith Urban will salute the late Bo Diddley. Also look for a Four Tops salute with Duke Fakir, Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo.


Pearl Jam Pumped Up To Hit The Studio

Pearl Jam is about to hit the studio for a two-week session in Los Angeles with producer Brendan O'Brien as it continues work on its ninth studio album, which the band plans to self-release in the United States.

After laying down some instrumental beds last summer, additional demos were put to tape in December, and the band's non-singing members formulated another batch of material during a recent trip to Montana.

Frontman Eddie Vedder "put rough vocals on about half the stuff we worked on in December," bassist Jeff Ament tells "There's a handful of really great lyrics. Lyrically, that stuff is in the embryonic stage, but there's a handful of lines and a couple of choruses that are just really great. He keeps getting better."

"I saw [guitarist] Mike [McCready] last night and we were both talking about this song and that song," he continues. "One of the songs we decided would go down a whole step and he was asking me about a chord progression."

Read the rest here:


This Date In Music History- February 6


Fabian turns 66.

Natalie Cole is 59.

W. Axl Rose (1962)

Barrett Strong, songwriter who wrote many Motown hits with Norman Whitfield (1941)

Corey Wells- Three Dog Night (1942)

Duff McKagan- Guns ‘n’ Roses (1964)

Chris Barron- Spin Doctors (1968)

Bobby Brown (1969)

They Are Missed:

Frankie Laine suffered complications after hip-replacement surgery and died at the age of 93 in 2007. The big voiced singer sold over 100 million records and placed seven songs on Billboard's Top 40.

27 year-old Jesse Belvin, who scored a 1956 hit with "Goodnight, My Love,” was killed in an auto accident in Hope, Arkansas in 1960. His wife and the car's driver also died of their injuries. The three were trying to make a fast get-a-way from the first ever mixed race audience Pop concert in the town of Little Rock, after threats had been made against Belvin's life. The accident remains a contentious point, with many suspecting foul play.

In 1998, "Rock Me Amadeus" singer Falco was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.

Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys died of complications from cancer in 1998.

Hugo Montenegro, who is best remembered for scoring a #2 hit with the instrumental theme to Clint Eastwood's movie, "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly," died of emphysema in 1981. He was 55.

Bob Marley was born in St. Ann’s Parish in Jamaica in 1945.


In 1943, Frank Sinatra made his debut as vocalist on radio's "Your Hit Parade."

Paul Simon released “Mother and Child Reunion,” in 1972, his first single since the split of Simon and Garfunkel.

In 2003, the Rolling Stones performed a free concert in Los Angeles to draw attention to global warming.

Today in 1982, the song "Centerfold" by the J. Geils Band topped the charts and stayed there for 6 weeks.

In 1981, former Beatles, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison teamed up to record a musical tribute to John Lennon. The song "All Those Years Ago" was the result.

Elvis Presley met his future manager in 1955, the already legendary Col. Tom Parker. The encounter took place between Memphis shows.

Van Halen’s remake of Roy Orbison`s “Oh, Pretty Woman” peaks at #12 in 1982 becoming the group’s biggest hit to date. In ’64, Orbison topped the charts with the song.

In 2008, Pearl Jam members (guitarist/vocalist Stone Gossard, guitarist Mike McCready, bassist Jeff Ament and drummer Matt Cameron – but no Eddie Vedder) released "Rock Around Barack" in support of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. The track is set to the tune of the ‘50’s hit "Rock Around The Clock."

In a rare feat, a Country song crossed over to the Pop charts and became the best selling single in America when Lynn Anderson's "Rose Garden" climbed to the top of the Cash Box hit parade in 1971.

In 1988, Dusty Springfield returned to the US Top 10 for the first time in nineteen years with a duet with Pet Shop Boys called "What've I Done To Deserve This". Her last big hit in America was "Son Of A Preacher Man" in December, 1968.