Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Preserving Our Vinyl History

Regular readers of the blog know I have been having some computer issues lately. But it has not stopped me from finding great material.

I want to extend a hearty thank you to Bobby Pepper ( for the rights to republish this fascinating look at our vinyl world. Enjoy:


Daily Journal

By Bobby Pepper
Lee County Neighbors Editor

Inside a 600-square-foot room in Bob Wheeler’s Baldwyn home, an all-star lineup of recording artists is being preserved.

On one shelf is Bill Monroe. Nearby are the Beatles. They’re surrounded by, among others, Buck Owens, Patsy Cline, Boots Randolph, Roy Rogers, Hank Williams, Black Oak Arkansas, the Commodores and KC and the Sunshine Band. And in one special place in Wheeler’s home, there’s Elvis Presley.

Anytime Wheeler wants to hear one perform, he takes it off the shelf, pulls out a disc from a protective jacket and places it on a turntable. When the music starts, history comes to life.

Wheeler has been collecting recorded music for most of his 79 years, and he’s compiled an extensive personal library of vinyl discs of almost 100,000 records. Some of his oldest recordings date back to the early 1900s.

“I’ve got some LPs that are 50, 60 years old,” Wheeler said, “They keep on going because I took care of them, kept them out of the dust, the dirt, the heat and the water, and they still play.”

Wheeler said between 20,000 and 30,000 records are kept at the home he shares with his wife, Mary Bess. The rest are in a 1,200-square-foot storage building near Houston in Chickasaw County, where he lived before moving to Lee County 12 years ago.

“I’ve got music from all over the world,” he said. “They’re not catalogued. Maybe inside my brain, per se. But I know what I’ve got.”

Wall-to-wall records

Wheeler is surrounded in his crowded carport-turned-record room by all types of discs in their original jackets. Against one wall are a dozen or so boxes filled with the smaller 45 rpm discs. He also has many tube-like wax cylinder recordings that were played on phonographs in the early 1900s.

He’s passionate about music. He organized bluegrass shows, ran a record store and wrote a weekly newspaper column on country music history while living in Chickasaw County. Even though his collection features a diverse range of performers, Wheeler especially enjoys country, bluegrass and gospel.

“The first LP I bought was George Beverly Shea, the man who sang with Billy Graham for many years,” Wheeler said. “It was his first LP. ... I never did concentrate on one artist. I have hundreds of favorites.”

Wheeler often plays the record just long enough to transfer the music to a cassette. He said he has about 2,500 cassettes of his favorite albums, which he prefers to listen to while driving his car.

The collection includes other recorded formats from bygone eras – 8-tracks and reel-to-reel tape. Wheeler also has compact discs, but he admits he’s too much of a music traditionalist to give up the vinyl and cassettes.

“What few compact discs I do have, they’ve been given to me,” he said. “I’d say I have about 50 or 60. I never did get into that. You can’t beat an old 78.”

One drawback to sticking with vinyl, Wheeler said, is the rising cost of record player needles.

“I used to get them for $2.95, now they’re asking $30 for them,” he said. “I’ve got some turntables sitting out here, and all it needs is a $30 needle and we’re back in business.”

The ‘father’ and the ‘king’

Of all the recording artists in Wheeler’s collection, two that stand out are the Father of Bluegrass and the King of Rock ’n’ Roll.

“There’s no one artist that I have everything of,” he said, “but I have more of Elvis and Bill Monroe than anyone else.”

While he keeps most of his Monroe records on the shelves, Wheeler has his Elvis records and memorabilia – books, magazines, newspaper clippings, even promotional soft drink cans – in another room.

He started the Elvis collection 35 years ago.

“I won’t say it’s the best one in the world,” he said. “I’m sure I’ve got things other people ain’t got, and vice versa, because no two collections are like. Couldn’t be. But it’s pretty extensive.”

In addition to his records, Wheeler has a large memorabilia collection of books, magazines and photographs of recording artists and about 450 Western movies on videotape.

Wheeler said he’d like to organize his collection of records and memorabilia, but feels it would be an overwhelming task.

“It won’t happen in my lifetime,” he said. “I wish I could. That’s what it needs. I need a building about 100 by 160 feet and display everything like a museum.”

Wheeler enjoys talking to people about music. He hopes his huge record collection is his contribution to keeping music from the past alive.

“I like preserving music, enjoying it, collecting it and being a country music historian to a certain extent,” he said. “My purpose is to preserve music.”


Reprinted By Permission

Music News & Notes


The Past Becomes Present – Vinyl Is In Again Music played from gramophone records has special allure and is experiencing a comeback. Many recognised this and re-released their albums.

Ever since the first gramophone record was created at the start of the 1920s, popular vinyl, despite CDs and mp3 players which we can take anywhere we go, has managed to find its place in the present music market. More and more musicians decided to release their latest albums on the cult vinyl, apart from CDs, because anyone who has ever heard what music played from gramophone records sounds like can agree that it holds special allure, unless it`s scratched and skips.

Re-releases on vinyl

Many record labels are re-releasing their legendary albums on vinyl, so that these records find home with read audio enthusiasts and collectors.

Recently, Motley Crue decided to re-release six of their albums on gramophone records. This trend was also recognised by Coldplay, The Killers, Ryan Adams and Radiohead, who released their latest albums on CDs and vinyl. Many record labels are re-releasing their legendary albums on vinyl, so that these records find home with read audio enthusiasts and collectors. However, only minor record labels are in question, because the big ones don`t believe the vinyl comeback stories and have not yet buckled under the trend of releasing new albums on vinyl.

Joy of music on vinyl

Despite interesting appearance and a special impression that music played on the gramophone leaves, vinyl does have several flaws. Even though a record is rather difficult to break, they can be easily damaged and it is exceptionally difficult to clean dust off because of static electricity that vinyl produces. However, these two trifles will not stop real record fans, because CDs can be damaged as well or destroyed in high temperatures.

Thanks to certain hip-hop performers and electronic music which is still being released on records, vinyl has always been present. The fact is that DJs can only scratch records, therefore, they have to buy them. Turntables enable them direct contact and manipulation, because while they are playing cassettes or CDs, the only thing they can do is press “play”, “stop” or “pause”.

However, we have to agree that it is a real joy holding an old record in our hands, which belonged to our parents, a bit worn out, in a ragged sleeve. Although vinyl will never be as popular as it was, it will always have a space on the shelves of true music enthusiasts.



Clues (ex-Unicorns, Arcade Fire) Ready New Album For Constellation Release

After joining forces late last year, former Unicorn member Alden Penner and ex-Arcade Fire man Brendan Reed are ready to give us the first taste of Clues. Via Constellation/Villa Villa Nola, the Montrealers have given word their joint effort’s self-titled debut has been granted the due date of May 19 and, according to the press release, will be “full of secrets, smiles, snarls and sing-alongs.”

Clues come boasting several of Reed and Penner’s musical pals, such as multi-instrumentalists Ben Borden (Les Automates de Maxime de la Rochefoucauld), Lisa Gamble (Gambletron, Evangelista, Hrsta) and Nick Scribner (Chaotic Insurrection Ensemble). The band also recorded the album’s 11 tracks in the deep freeze that usually comes with a Montreal winter, at the city’s famed Hotel2Tango, where they took influences ranging from post-punk to no wave to psych and mashed them all together to create “a rare breed of complex pop anthems,” the release tells us.

In regards to packaging, the record will be available on CD in a custom gatefold cardstock package printed with fancy metallic and full colour inks, as well as on some hefty 180-gram vinyl.


LiveFastDie Announce Digital Release of Vinyl Catalogue

Impose Records is very proud to announce the digital release of LiveFastDie's entire digital catalog, including their debut LP Bandana Thrash record and the culmination of nine 7” singles, Dawn Of The VHS: The Singles 2005-2007.

Frustrated working with other people's opinions of how things should function within a band, Camero Werewolf figured he would be better off doing everything himself. Putting the cart before the horse, he set upon writing and recording under the moniker of LiveFastDie in mid-2005 before the notion of a "band" even entered his mind. Some 2 full lengths, nine 7" and one cassette comp on a total of 13 labels in 3 countries later he still can't tell you who's in his band. Depending on where they are and the time of day, LiveFastDie's show can feature any one of the 19 past and present members or just a Camero and an iPod.

Brandishing a name that references the godfather of punk with whom they share the hometown of Littleton, New Hampshire (if you don't get it, put this down right now) and a sonic quality that gives the terms "lo-fi" and "in the red" a whole new meaning, LiveFastDie's sound will redefine any of your preconceived notions of garage punk. And when they do play as a full band, the line-up may or may not feature people who have spent time in the bands compiled in this handy alphabetical list: 32 Buxton, Apocalypse, Atari, Baby Shakes, Baseball Furies, Black Time, Busy Signals, Captain Black Bush and the Post Menstrual Pirates, Compulsive Gamblers, Country Bears, Coy Dogs, DC Snipers, Dead Unicorn, Death Train, Dementia 13, Dick Army, Dynamite Arrows, Electric Shadows, Golden Error, Holy Smokes, Hot Machines, JazzJune, King Kahn And The Shrines, Liquor Store, Lost Locker Combo, Lover!, Man With Gun, Monsqueat, Moto, Real Kids, Reagan Youth, Sick As Death, Some Action, The Spits, Spitzz, Stalkers, Star Spangles, Snakes and Music, Tampoffs, Titus Andronicus, Vee Dee, Vice City Rockers, Wellington Ladies Welfare League, Wolfs Blood and probably hundreds Camero doesn't know about.

Most of LiveFastDie's catalog – which has pretty much only existed on vinyl to this point – has long been out of print, including the debut Bandana Thrash Record LP. Now, for the first time ever, the full catalog will be documented on a singles collection entitled Dawn Of The VHS: The Singles 2005-2007 to coincide with the re-pressing of LiveFastDie's first full length. Both will be released digitally through Impose Records on March 11 – marking the first time any of LiveFastDie's songs have been made available online (if you don't count MySpace or the hundreds of places they've been posted).



Gavin DeGraw to Release New Collection of Songs Entitled FREE, March 31st

FREE Follows on the Heels of Platinum Singer and Songwriter's Self-Titled 2008 Top 10 Album

DeGraw Hits the Road for "Where It Began" Tour on March 27th

NEW YORK, Feb. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- On March 31st, 2009, J Records' platinum recording artist Gavin DeGraw will release a new collection of songs, entitled FREE -- a raw, organic-sounding recording that showcases DeGraw's earthy charm and ever-evolving songwriting talent.

"My intention on FREE was to stay out of the way of the songs," DeGraw says. "We kept the production very minimal in order to get everything that lies between me and the audience out of the way. By removing all the bells and whistles, you really make room for someone to pay attention to the songwriting." As a result, DeGraw's freewheeling melodies, heartfelt lyrics and soulful, blues-tinged vocal performances are front and center, creating an intimate experience for listeners.

Performed by a crack band that includes guitarist Audley Freed (Black Crowes), bassist Andy Hess (Gov't Mule), drummer Charley Drayton (Keith Richards' X-Pensive Winos), and keyboardist George Laks (Lenny Kravitz), FREE, the 10-song set ranges from new songs that were completed in the studio, such as "Stay" and "Mountains to Move," to tunes that DeGraw wrote very early in his career that have evolved with him, like "Dancing Shoes" and "Glass." "Those are songs only my die-hard fans would know," he says. "I wanted to properly record them because they're special to my fans." There's also a cover of Chris Whitley's "Indian Summer," a powerful number that DeGraw includes on FREE as a way to draw attention to one of his favorite artists. "I wanted to expose Chris' music to my fans," DeGraw says.

To keep himself from over-thinking the songs, DeGraw recorded FREE in less than two weeks at the Brooklyn studio of his producer Camus Celli, who has worked with such artists as Tina Turner, David Byrne, and Arto Lindsay. DeGraw and Celli have known each other since working together on an early version of DeGraw's platinum-selling 2003 major-label debut CHARIOT. "I've been in the studio with several different producers so I already knew what I wanted," DeGraw says. "This was my opportunity to be involved in the production, and I knew Camus could get the sounds I was going for."

The trust he had in Celli and the collaborative spirit of their partnership freed DeGraw up to dig deep and tap into something he says he hadn't tapped into for a while. "This album reveals the honesty about my love of music," he says. "It isn't about the biggest, the strongest, or the loudest. It's about simplicity in its purest form. It doesn't sound like the big machine. It sounds like where you go to escape the big machine."

In keeping with the stripped-down feel of FREE, DeGraw will hit the road on March 27th for an extensive spring tour he has dubbed his "Where It Began" tour, in which audiences will be taken on a musical journey back to DeGraw's roots for a series of intimate full band and solo performances. "We'll take a similar approach to the live shows as we did on the album," he says. "This tour is all about creating that very close connection with the audience."

FREE is the follow-up to DeGraw's self-titled 2008 album GAVIN DEGRAW, which debuted at No. 1 on the digital sales chart and No. 7 on Billboard's Top 200 album chart last May, earning DeGraw his first Top 10 album. GAVIN DEGRAW spawned the hit singles "In Love With A Girl," which Billboard dubbed "a rocking homerun" and the gold-certified "We Belong Together."

Black Sabbath News

Universal U.K. has announced a 3-CD deluxe edition of Black Sabbath's Paranoid with plans to reissue similar sets for other Sabbath releases. Look for the package on April 6.

The Paranoid deluxe edition will include a second disc with the rare 1974 Quadraphonic mix of the album and a third disc with previously unheard outtakes, demos and instrumental tracks. Everything will be packaged in a digipack gatefold cover with a booklet containing rare photographs, comprehensive liner notes and images of singles and memorabilia.

Paranoid, originally released in 1971, is hailed as one of the most influential heavy metal albums ever released. It reached number one in the U.K. and 12 on the U.S. Album charts and contained classics like War Pigs, Iron Man and the title cut.

The track list:

Disc 1 (Original Album):

War Pigs
Planet Caravan
Iron Man
Electric Funeral
Hand Of Doom
Rat Salad
Fairies Wear Boots

Disc 2 (1974 Quadrophonic Mix):

War Pigs
Planet Caravan
Iron Man
Electric Funeral
Hand Of Doom
Rat Salad
Fairies Wear Boots

Disc 3 (Previously Unreleased Bonus Tracks recorded at Regent Sound Studios, June 16 & 17, 1970):

War Pigs (Instrumental)
Paranoid (Alternative Lyrical Version)
Planet Caravan (Alternative Lyrical Version)
Iron Man (Instrumental)
Electric Funeral (Instrumental)
Hand Of Doom (Instrumental)
Rat Salad (Instrumental)
Fairies Wear Boots (Instrumental)

Mr. Music

I am continuing our new feature: Ask "Mr. Music." Now in its 23rd year of syndication (1986-2008), Jerry Osborne's weekly Q&A feature will be a regular post every Wednesday from now on. 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: Years ago you proclaimed “Little Boxes,” by the Womenfolk, as the shortest song to make the record charts.

I lived in Palm Springs in 1964, and I clearly remember it being played that summer, along with a few dozen Beatles' hits.

I think they came along about a year too late, as the 1963 folk boom went bust in the midst of the British Invasion.

Has anything come along to challenge the Womenfolk, or is the under two minute song a thing of the past?
—Donnie Morgan, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR DONNIE: Yes, and yes.

From the UK comes the current shortest song champ, and thanks to the internet it is just as available stateside as beyond our borders.

Two-minute recordings are no longer common, but even if it were this haunting little earworm would still be newsworthy.

Issued in the summer of 2007, “The Ladies' Bra,” by Jonny Trunk and Wisbey,” is about half the length of “Little Boxes” — just a mere 35 seconds!

This is not a chopped down edit, or some studio gimmick. Simply a :35 song, from beginning to end.

On his web site, Jonny Trunk explains more about “The Ladies' Bra”:

“When compiling the sampler CD, “Now We Are Ten,” I realised I needed some exclusive tracks to make it more appealing to those who already had many of the recordings we planned.

“My mind went back to the days of “Dirty Fan Male” and the last studio recording we made. Right at the end of the session we recorded [Duncan] Wisbey singing a song we invented in Edinburgh.

“I suggested he set the bra ditty he sang to the tune of “The Gonk,” the first track on our “Dawn of the Dead” soundtrack album. Thus “The Ladies' Bra” tune was born. Instantly addictive, we sang it every day both to and from the theatre and for months afterwards. We eventually recorded it though it just sat around for about two years.

“However, it was just the track I'd been looking for, so I put it on “Now We Are Ten,” then thought no more about it.

“As the sampler was being released, Wisbey got called to join Danny Baker on his All Day Breakfast podcast. I went with him and handed Baker a copy of “Now We Are Ten,” explaining that Track 20 (“The Ladies' Bras”) was right up his street.

“A week later, Danny's producer said Mr. Baker wanted to try and get “The Ladies' Bras” on the charts as a download and make it the shortest track ever on the hit parade. I thought they were having a laugh, but I made a special download of the track, complete with unique Ladies' Bras artwork.

“Released three weeks later, the tune hit the charts at an impressive No. 71. Wisbey and I thought, that's the end of that and we carried on with our everyday lives.

“A few weeks later we found other dee jays were playing it, particularly Scott Mills of Radio One.

“A good mate of mine e-mailed the track to Scott's producer, and Mills picked up on both the inane catchiness of it, and the possibility of it making the charts.

“The all-powerful Mr. Mills was now on a mission, playing “The Ladies' Bras” about seven times an hour on Radio One, and telling listeners to download it and get it into the top 40.

“Sure enough, by the weekend it was at an impressive No. 27.

“Wisbey was an invited guest on BBC News 24, and Lorraine Kelly even sang it to the Sugababes on her GM-TV show.

“The Ladies' Bras,” at just 35 seconds, now stands as the shortest track ever to chart, and certainly the shortest track ever to reach the Top 30. Apparently it also holds the record for the most number of plays in any week on Radio One.

“Oh yes, Wisbey donated all download proceeds to the Breast Cancer Care charity.”

Enjoy “The Ladies' Bras” right here!

IZ ZAT SO? On BBC News 24, Duncan Wisbey added a bit to “The Ladies' Bras” story:

“We were at the end of a recording session and the engineer said you've got one minute, what do you want to do? Well, I didn't want the time to go to waste.

“Jonny [Trunk] said do that stupid song you used to sing when we were washing up, in Edinburgh. So I just sung it for about 30 seconds, just the same thing over and over again. It has something like seven words in it.

“Then about three-and-a-half years later Danny Baker starts playing it on his podcast, then a few months later Scott Mills began playing it on Radio One.

“And now … I'm on News 24!”

This Date In Music History-February 18


Juice Newton (1952)

Robbie Bachman-Bachman-Turner Overdrive (1953)

Yoko Ono (1933)

Dennis DeYoung- Styx (1947)

Dr. Dre (1965)

Irma Thomas (1941)

They Are Missed:

Country singer Johnny Paycheck died in 2003. He had been in a nursing home, suffering from emphysema and asthma. During his career, Paycheck recorded 70 albums and had more than two dozen hit singles, the biggest of which was the working man's anthem, "Take This Job and Shove It".

Former Replacements lead guitarist Bob Stinson died from a drug overdose in 1995.


In 2006, Robin and Barry Gibb, returned to the stage for the first time since their brother Maurice died three years ago. The pair reunited for a charity concert in Miami to raise money for the Diabetes Research Institute, where they played many of the hits from their 35 year career.

Today in 1956, the song "The Great Pretender" by the Platters topped the charts and stayed there for 2 weeks.

In 2004, Norah Jones has the #1 album in the United States after selling a whopping 1.02 million copies of her sophomore record, Feels Like Home.

Also in 2004, Billy Corgan blamed the 2000 split of the Smashing Pumpkins on guitarist James Iha. "James Iha broke up the Smashing Pumpkins's, not me," he writes. "I would have gone on forever, the Smashing Pumpkins were essentially my entire life."

The song "Sign O' The Times" was released by Prince in 1987.

Vince Neil quit as lead singer of Motley Crue in 1992. After 11 years with the group he says he wants to spend more time on his career as a race car driver. The band reunited on the "American Music Awards" 5 years later.

In Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, in 2006, the Rolling Stones gave a free concert before a crowd of over 1 million people at Copacabana Beach.

In 1978, the #1 album in the U.S. today was the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever.

In 1980, Bill Wyman announced that he's leaving the Rolling Stones. After an intervention by the rest of the band, the bassist was convinced to stay. He quits in 1992.

Pat Boone's cover version of Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" hits #12 on the pop chart in 1956.

Although she was reluctant to record it in the first place, "Rock and Roll Waltz" by Kay Starr becomes the first number one record by a female in the Rock era. The disc would go on to sell over a million copies in 1956, but Kay would later say that she was never asked to perform the record on TV and seldom sang it during a live show.

On weekend leave from marine training in 1962, The Everly Brothers appeared on The Ed Sullivan show. Wearing full uniform and regulation cropped hair, the duo sang their new single, "Crying In The Rain", which was currently number 6 on the Billboard chart.

After a short series of minor hits, The Buckinghams score their first US Top 10 smash when "Kind Of A Drag" reaches #1 in 1967.

In 1968, Pink Floyd members fired Syd Barrett from the band and permanently replaced him with David Gilmour. Roger Waters later wrote and dedicated the song "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" to the increasingly unstable Barrett, who checked into a psychiatric hospital before going into seclusion.

In 1969, more than three thousand uninvited guests show up to see solo singer Lulu and Bee Gee Maurice Gibb get married at St. James' Church, Gerrard's Cross, Buchs, England. The union would last until early 1973.

In 1974, Yes sold out the first of two nights at Madison Square Garden without any advertising. Fans learned of the show from listings at ticket outlets.

Kiss released their self titled debut album in 1974, but it would barely crack the Hot 100. It would take three more attempts for the band to establish itself.

The third time would be the charm for a Topeka based group called Kansas. After scoring Top 40 hits with "Carry On Wayward Son" (#11) and "Point Of Know Return" (#28), "Dust In The Wind" entered the Billboard chart in 1978 on its way to becoming the group's only Top 10 hit.