Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The day the music died: Long Island Sound closed for good Saturday

By Brendan O'Reilly

Long Island Sound was more than just a record store.

For many, it was a meeting place where they could always run into a friend or strike up a conversation about music with someone new.

For owner Gary Madison, it was his life and his livelihood.

But on Saturday night, Mr. Madison shuttered the Sound for the very last time, after 37 years of selling records on Jobs Lane in Southampton Village.

“Increasing rents and declining sales are not the best business model,” he said in the same matter-of-fact manner he displayed throughout an interview months ago when he explained all of the challenges his store faced, like competing with big-box stores and the growing trend of music being downloaded from the internet.

That last Saturday morning at the Sound, and into the evening, the music was playing louder than normal. Food delivered from Paul’s Italian Restaurant and Kathleen’s Bake Shop, offered as farewell presents, sat on the counter, and punch was served to disappointed old friends and customers who came to say goodbye and reminisce about the years spent at Long Island Sound.

Mr. Madison said he didn’t expect the outpouring of thanks and well-wishes he’s received since posting a “Closing Sale” sign in the window a couple weeks ago.

“I guess after 37 years, people remember,” he said.

Mr. Madison has had, and closed, shops in East Hampton, Riverhead, Smithtown and Westhampton over the years. Now that the Southampton branch is out of business as well, he said, he’s out of the music business, but might try to find a job in retail.

“It was tough for a while ...” Mr. Madison said. “Now that it’s done, it’s done.”

Hundreds of customers came through the store on Saturday. As many as 50 crammed in at one time that afternoon, Mr. Madison said.

“It used to be like this, in the heyday, every Saturday,” he said, but it hasn’t been that way since the 1980s.

“The way the music industry is going, these kinds of stores can’t exist anymore,” Peter of Hampton Bays said as he was browsing Mr. Madison’s selection on Saturday. He had already set aside a couple dozen CDs to buy and was still looking for more.

Peter—who refused to give his last name, saying he wants to keep his 70,000-record-strong music collection safe—said he has been collecting music for 55 years and has known Mr. Madison for most of them. He hasn’t been able to drive himself around for the past few years, so he hasn’t made it into the Sound for a while, but he was there twice in the final week to grab some finds while he still could.

“There’s a music guy ...” Mr. Madison said of Peter. “There’s no more guys like him. That era’s over.”

Fred Weinfurt of Water Mill, who was at Long Island Sound on Friday browsing the vinyl and holding a copy of the 30th anniversary re-release of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon,” said he can’t imagine where he’ll buy music now.

“He’s been coming in here 30 years, and I don’t think he’s bought anything but Pink Floyd,” Mr. Madison said.

The closing was also a family affair for Mr. Madison, whose wife, Nina, and children, William and Stephanie, joined him for the last day. Every member of the Madison clan has worked at the Sound at one time or another. In fact, Ms. Madison started as a customer. Then Mr. Madison hired her to sell T-shirts, and a few years later they married.

William, now 19, worked at the store every weekend between the ages of 7 and 13. Stephanie, 17, worked there up until the final day. “We used to fight about who got to come to work with dad,” she said.

William, a student at Boston University, said that after all these years his father’s friends are still telling him about how they used to come into the store and see him on the counter in a baby carrier.

Both Madison kids said they have been hearing all kinds of stories about the Sound from their father’s old friends and customers, some who came from as far as upstate New York or even out of state for the final weekend. Several talked about getting their first record or first tape from the shop.

Stephanie called the situation bittersweet. If the store stayed open, things were only going to get harder, she said.

Her mother, though sad to see it go, said she thinks good can come of change and promised the family would move on.

Ms. Madison also predicted the entire retail music industry would be gone in five years time.

“It’s not just a small-town phenomenon,” said Jim Curcio, a Sound customer for 10 years.

Mr. Curcio splits his time between Southampton Village and Manhattan, and he pointed out that Tower Records in the city went out of business, and now the Virgin Megastore has met the same fate.

It’s still unbelievable to see it happen to Long Island Sound, he said. “This is the end of an era.”

Mr. Madison has always been there to make a recommendation or track down an album for him, Mr. Curcio said. “I have a really odd taste in music, and if I couldn’t find it here, I’d talk to him about it and he’d get it for me.”

Dave “Chug-a-Mug” Raynor of Southampton Village said he’s been coming to the Sound ever since it first opened. The first year, when the shop was located across the street, he rode his bicycle there. The next year, the store had moved into 76 Jobs Lane, and Mr. Raynor started driving. Then he came to the Sound for eight-track tapes to play in his Plymouth Barracuda.

Mr. Raynor was at the Sound on Saturday reminiscing with Debbie Dillon of Shinnecock Hills and Bill Dunn of Southampton Village.

“In the wintertime, we’d play basketball in here,” with a rolled up ball of tape, Mr. Dunn recalled. He’ll also remember the Sound for the concerts Mr. Madison promoted at Southampton College, he said. They saw Marshall Tucker play for just five or six bucks, he said.

Ms. Dillon, who used to work a few storefronts down Jobs Lane at The Driver’s Seat, said she and her co-workers would head to the Sound while on break to visit Mr. Madison. “It was sort of like a little community here on Jobs Lane,” she said.

In addition to being a big part of the social life, Ms. Dillon said Mr. Madison was always generous and lending a hand to fund-raisers. “Gary’s an icon here in Southampton Village,” she said. “He’ll be sorely missed.”

“We didn’t want to give it up,” said Long Island Sound manager David Weinhardt. He admitted that he didn’t think Southampton would last much longer after the East Hampton store closed.

That store went out of business three years ago and reopened inside East Hampton Video for about 15 months before the Sound finally left East Hampton for good. Once the Sound vacates 76 Jobs Lane, the women’s clothing store Norahs, currently up the block, will take over the premises.

Monday afternoon, Mr. Weinhardt, who’s worked with Mr. Madison since 1975, packed in the Southampton store with help from two veterans of the old Sound in East Hampton, Craig Wright and Robert Matz, who both worked there on and off for more than 14 years.

As they took inventory and filled bins with CDs and other remains of the store, The Rolling Stones’ “Lady Jane” rung out over the speakers: “I’ve done what I can, I must take my leave.”


Classic Rock Videos

The Beatles - Strawberry Fields Forever

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: I could use some help sorting out the confusing and different versions of Barbra Streisand's “Funny Girl.”

Is the one in the film the same as used in the stage show?

Overall, how much musical crossover is there between the two shows?

—Dana Brookfield, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR DANA: A chronological recap of this “Funny” saga is the best way to sort things out.

January 13, 1964: The curtain goes up for the first time as “Funny Girl” begins six weeks of pre-Broadway tune-ups — three at Boston's Shubert Theatre followed by three in Philadelphia at the Forrest Theatre.

Meanwhile at Columbia's New York studio, Streisand records “Funny Girl,” a tune that should have been the show's title but was inexplicably cut from the program. Its logical spot in the show — the next to last song — is taken by “The Music That Makes Me Dance.”

March 10, 1964: “Funny Girl” previews on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre, with 16 more evaluation performances to follow.

March 26, 1964: “Funny Girl” officially opens. By the time the show closes (July 1, 1967) 1,348 performances will have been given.

March 28, 1964: “People,” the first song from the stage show released as a single (Columbia 42965), enters Billboard's Bubbling Under the Hot 100 list at No. 108.

April 4, 1964: After three flops, Barbra's fourth single, “People,” moves up to No. 100, marking her Hot 100 debut. By the end of June “People” reached its peak at No. 5 on both Billboard and Cash Box.

This same month, the “Funny Girl” Original Cast Recording (Capitol 2059) is released — sans the title track of course.

September 19, 1964: Though scrapped from the show, a single of the original recording of “Funny Girl” (Columbia 43127) makes its chart debut. Many suspected this recording's real purpose, based on the title alone, was to promote the show.

On the flip side is “Absent Minded Me,” a delightful track also written for, but cut from, the stage show. It later ended up on Barbra's “People” album.

The “Funny Girl” 45 eventually made the Top 10 but only on the adult-oriented MOR (Middle-of-the-Road) charts.

September 19, 1968: Columbia Pictures released the film version of “Funny Girl,” with Streisand again cast as Fanny Brice.

Besides a newly-written “Funny Girl” tune, this one a ballad, the movie contains five other songs not used in the stage show: “Roller Skate Rag”; “The Swan”; “Second Hand Rose”; “Pink Velvet Jail,” and “My Man” (the original title of the film).

In the Broadway show but not in the film are: “Cornet Man”; “Who Taught Her Everything”; “I Want to Be Seen with You Tonight”; “Henry Street”; “Find Yourself a Man”; “Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat”; “Who Are You Now”; “The Music That Makes Me Dance.”

All of which leaves just seven songs used on both stage and screen: “If a Girl Isn't Pretty”; “I Am the Greatest Star”; His Love Makes Me Beautiful”; “People”; “You Are Woman” (a.k.a. “You Are Woman, I Am Man”); “Don't Rain on My Parade”; and “Sadie, Sadie.”

Hear the original "Funny Girl" here.

IZ ZAT SO? Barbra Streisand's label at the time, Columbia Records, owned the first right of refusal for the 1964 “Funny Girl” Original Cast album … and foolishly chose to pass on it!

Capitol then jumped in and “took a chance” on it.

Of course the LP went Gold and stayed on the charts for about a year.

Lesson learned, Columbia did not relinquish their right to the '68 soundtrack. Its sales doubled that of the Broadway show, spending two years on the charts while attaining Platinum status.

Hipgnosis- Classic Album Cover Art

Written By Robert Benson

With the renewed interest in vinyl records, an old friend is becoming more important again- album cover art. There have been tens of thousands of album covers created throughout the years and there are some that are instantly recognized, while some remain obscure, but one thing is certain, album cover art is part of our pop culture and the rock and roll lexicon.

Let’s explore a particularly innovative British art design company that specialized in creating instantly recognizable album cover- Hipgnosis. This creative group has made album covers for some of rock’s dignitaries, including Pink Floyd, Genesis, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Yes and the Scorpions, to name a few.

Hipgnosis primarily consisted of artists Storm Thorgerson, Aubrey Powell and later on, Peter Christopherson. In 1968, Thorgerson and Powell were asked to design an album cover for Pink Floyd’s second album called “A Saucerful Of Secrets.” They completed that project and soon commissioned additional work from EMI, which included photos and album covers for Free, Toe Fat and the Gods.

Being art and film students, the pair was able to utilize the darkroom at the Royal College of Art, but after they graduated, they had to set up their own facilities and in early 1970 they rented a space and built their famous studio.

Their unique company name came from graffiti found on the door to their apartment. They liked the word because it sounded like hypnosis and they combined two somewhat contradictory terms, “hip” for new and cool and “gnosis,” which related to ancient learning.

Hipgnosis' novel approach to album design was strongly photography-oriented, and they pioneered the use of many innovative visual and packaging techniques. In particular, Thorgerson & Powell's surreal, elaborately manipulated photos that utilized innovative darkroom tricks, multiple exposures, airbrush retouching, and mechanical cut-and-paste techniques were a film-based forerunner of what would, much later, be called photoshopping.

“We were self-taught,” writes Powell in the book,” For The Love Of Vinyl.” “What we did was come up with ideas based on the music. The design ideas were poorly sketched in the early days and required a lot of accompanying blag to be understood. Our usual strategy was to talk the job through with each other and then use photography as a means to express it.”

Hipgnosis got their real big break in 1973 when they were hired to do the cover for another Pink Floyd album, “Dark Side Of The Moon,” which is one of the most recognized album covers in the world. After the success with the Floyd cover, they were in high demand and soon took on jobs for Led Zeppelin, Genesis, UFO, Black Sabbath, Peter Gabriel and The Alan Parsons Project, to name a few.

Peter Christopherson joined the company in 1974 as an assistant and later on he became a full partner. The firm employed many talented assistants, of particular note were freelance artists George Hardie, Colin Elgie, Richard Manning and Richard Evans.

Another interesting side note is that the company did not have a set fee for designing a particular album cover, instead they asked the musicians to “pay what they thought it was worth,” a policy that would occasionally backfire according to Thorgerson.

Let’s explore some of the stories behind the album covers:

Pink Floyd- Dark Side Of The Moon (1973)

Probably Hipgnosis’ most famous work, the album was originally released in a gatefold LP sleeve designed by Hipgnosis and bore Hardie's iconic refracting prism on the cover. Inside the LP were two posters, one bearing pictures of the band in concert with the words PINK FLOYD broken up and scattered about, and the other being a slightly psychedelic image of the Great Pyramids of Giza taken on infrared film. The album was also the first Pink Floyd album to have picture labels on the record where it depicted a blue prism with black background and the credits written either in grey lettering (European issues) or white lettering (US and Canadian issues). Also included was a sheet of stickers of the pyramids.

The album is the third best-selling album of all time worldwide (not counting compilations and various artists soundtracks), and the 20th-best-selling album in the United States. Though it held the #1 spot in the USA for only one week, it spent a total of 741 consecutive weeks—over fourteen years—on Billboard's list of the top 200 best selling albums, longer than any other album in the history of music.

Led Zeppelin- Houses of The Holy (1973)

The concept for the cover was taken from Arthur C Clarke’s Childhood’s End. It is a collage of several photographs which were taken at the Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland, by Aubrey Powell. The two children who modeled for the cover were siblings Stefan and Samantha Gate. The photo shoot was a very frustrating affair and took ten days. Shooting was done first thing in the morning and at sunset in order to capture the light at dawn and dusk, but the desired effect was never achieved due to constant rain and clouds. The photos of the two children were taken in black and white and were multi-printed to create the effect of 11 individuals that can be seen on the album cover. The results of the shoot were less than satisfactory, but some accidental tinting effects in post-production created an unexpectedly striking album cover. The inner sleeve photograph was taken at Dunluce Castle near to the Causeway.

Jimmy Page has said that the album cover was actually the second version submitted by Hipgnosis. The first, by artist Storm Thorgerson, featured an electric green tennis court with a tennis racquet on it. The band was furious that Thorgerson was implying their music sounded like a "racket", the band fired him and hired Powell in his place.

Atom Heart Mother- Pink Floyd (1970)

The original album cover depicts a cow standing in a pasture with no text or any other clue that it was an album from Pink Floyd, although some later editions have the title and artist name added to the cover. The concept was the group's reaction to the psychedelic "space rock" imagery associated with Pink Floyd at the time; the band wanted to explore all sorts of music without being limited to a particular image or style of performance.

So the band requested that their new album cover have "something plain" on the cover, which ended up being the image of the cow. Storm Thorgerson, inspired by Andy Warhol's famous "cow-wallpaper,” has stated that he simply drove out into a rural area near Potters Bar and photographed the first cow he saw. The cow's owner identified her name as "Lulubelle III.” More cows appear on the back cover (again, with no text or titles), and on the inside gatefold. Again, an instantly recognizable cover, simple as it is.

Peter Gabriel (1980)

Peter Gabriel's third album, it contains two of Gabriel's most famous songs, the U.K. Top 10 hit "Games Without Frontiers" and the political song "Biko."

This album is often referred to as "Melt" due to its cover photograph by Storm Thorgerson. The photo was taken with a Polaroid SX-70 instant camera, and subsequently modified by Thorgerson or Gabriel, and one side of the portrait of Gabriel seems to be melting; although Thorgerson does not recall whether he or Gabriel manipulated the image.

...And Then There Were Three... Genesis (1978)

A rather gloomy and dark cover; it is one that Hipgnosis was not real keen on as Thorgerson explains:

“We were trying to tell a story by the traces left by the light trails. It was a torch, a car, and a man with a cigarette. The band was losing members and there were only three of them left. The lyrics of the songs were about comings and goings and we tried to describe this in photographic terms by using time-lapse. So there's a car going off to one side and then the guy gets out of the car, walks over to the front of it, and lights a cigarette. But as he walks he uses a torch and the car he was in leaves. There's a trail left by the car, a trail left by him as he's walking and then he lights a cigarette, which on the cover is where there's a flash of his face."

Still, whether the company was happy with the result or not, it is another amazing cover.

In Through the Out Door- Led Zeppelin

This original album featured an unusual gimmick: the album had an outer sleeve which was made to look like a plain brown paper bag and the inner sleeve featured black and white line artwork which, if washed with a wet brush, would become permanently fully colored. There were six different sleeves featuring a different pair of photos and the external brown paper sleeve meant that it was impossible for record buyers to tell which sleeve they were getting. The pictures all depicted the same scene in a bar (in which a man burns a Dear John letter), and each photo was taken from the separate point of view of someone who appeared in the other photos. In 1980 the album was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of best album package.
Storm Thorgerson recalls the design in his book “Eye of the Storm”:

“The sepia quality was meant to evoke a non-specific past and to allow the brushstroke across the middle to be better rendered in color and so make a contrast. This self same brushstroke was like the swish of a wiper across a wet windscreen, like a lick of fresh paint across a faded surface, a new look to an old scene, which was what Led Zeppelin told us about their album. A lick of fresh paint, as per Led Zeppelin, and the music on this album… It somehow grew in proportion and became six viewpoints of the same man in the bar, seen by the six other characters. Six different versions of the same image and six different covers.”

Hipgnosis’ ideology and concepts are still being utilized and will be copied for years to come. Thankfully, these young art and photography students understood the meaning of an album cover and the art and music worlds are a better place because of their insights and talent.

Learn More About Hipgnosis:

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Music News & Notes

UK and Irish retailers sign up for Record Store Day

It is a worldwide event. More than 50 independent record stores in the UK and Ireland, from Blackcat in Taunton to One Up in Aberdeen, have now signed up for the second Record Store Day, which takes place on April 18.

And organisers have announced a fresh load of exclusive releases for participants to sell, including a series of seven-inch vinyl from Rhino, featuring names such as The Smiths and MC5, and an exclusive mix from Wooden Shjips.

Other planned events on the day include free in-store performances by bands and DJs, signing sessions, free label samplers and goodie bags.

The event, pioneered in the US by Atlanta’s Criminal Records owner Eric Levin and Music Monitor Network’s chief executive Michael Kurtz, is intended to celebrate and promote independently-owned music retailers across the globe.


Death Cab EP

Death Cab for Cutie is set release a new EP called "The Open Door," featuring songs that didn’t fit the vibe of their 2008 album Narrow Stairs. “It’s not like they’re castoffs or anything; they’re part of the Narrow Stairs experience,” bassist Nick Harmer explained to MTV.


Oasis EP

Oasis have released an EP for their "Dig Out Your Soul" single called “Falling Down.” A new B-side “These Swollen Hand Blues” will appear on the multi-format single, as will remixes of “Falling Down” by the Prodigy and Twiggy Ramirez. Additionally, a 22-minute “Amorphous Androgynous A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble” remix of “Falling Down” will be available as a digital download.


Garrett Returns To Midnight Oil

Peter Garrett is scheduled to reunite with his former band, Midnight Oil, for a brushfires benefit concert. He was lead singer for the band for 26 years but he left in 2002 for a life in politics. Since that time, he has been elected to Australian parliament in 2004 and was also appointed Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts in 2007.


I Saw Santa Kissing Santa Claus Singer Dies

Jimmy Boyd, whose "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause" became a holiday classic, passed away on Sunday from cancer at the age of 70. The song was #1 on the Billboard charts and it sold 2 million records in less than 10 weeks.

Although his big hit was recorded when he was 13, he went on to continue recording and appear on TV shows like Ed Sullivan, The Frank Sinatra Show, Bachelor Father and Date With the Angels.


Sir Paul Sells Out

Paul McCartney's show at Las Vegas' Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on April 19 sold out in seven seconds. That's around 600 seats per second.


New Devo Music

Devo has announced that they will release a new album in the fall. The as-yet-untitled set will be their first since 1990's Smooth Noodle Maps.

This Date In Music History- March 11


Joel and Benji Madden - Good Charlotte (1979)

Lisa Loeb (1968)

Vocalist Bobby McFerrin (1950)

Harvey Mandel, guitarist for Canned Heat, John Mayall, the Rolling Stones, and Barry Goldberg, was born in 1945.

Bruce Watson- Big Country (1959)

Jimmy Fortune- The Statler Brothers (1955)

Mark Stein- Vanilla Fudge (1947)

George Kooymans- Golden Earring (1948)

Katie Kissoon of Mac & Katie Kissoon ("Chirpy, Chirpy Cheep Cheep") is 58.

They Are Missed:

Lawrence Welk was born in Strasburg, N.D. in 1903


Sir Paul McCartney was knighted by Britain's Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace in 1997.

In 1996, the remaining Beatles turned down a $225 million offer to do a "reunion" tour.

Elvis Presley's 14th movie, "Kissin' Cousins," was released in 1964.

In 1967, Beatles music publisher Dick James announces that "Yesterday" was the most covered song of all time, with 446 versions.

The Jackson 5 signed with Motown in 1969.

In 1974, an insurance company payed out $112,000 on Janis Joplin's life insurance policy following her accidental overdose in 1970.

In 1992, Eric Clapton recorded an episode of MTV Unplugged. The subsequent record became one of the best-selling releases of his career.

1970, winners at this years Grammy awards included Joe South for song of the year with 'Games People Play', Crosby Stills and Nash won best new artist, The Fifth Dimension won Record of the year with 'Aquarius / Let The Sun Shine In.'

Neil Young’s fourth solo album “Harvest” tops both the U.S. and U.K. charts in 1972. Backing vocals on “Heart Of Gold” and “Old Man,” both major hits, were provided by Linda Ronstadt. The set also contains the inflammatory (at least to Lynyrd Skynyrd) “Southern Man.” Having sold more than 4 million copies, it remains his best-selling album.

Meat Loaf's 'Bat Out Of Hell', album began a 416-week run on the UK chart in 1978, going on to sell over 2 million copies.

In 2001, the Dave Matthews Band started a two-week run at #1 on the US album chart with 'Everyday.

Madonna was inducted into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008 at a star-studded ceremony in New York City, she received her honor at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel from singer Justin Timberlake. The 49-year-old thanked her detractors in an acceptance speech, including those who "said I couldn't sing, that I was a one hit wonder". Rock star John Mellencamp, Leonard Cohen, The Ventures and The Dave Clark Five were also among the inductees.

The Talking Heads landed on the U.S. singles chart for the first time in 1978– but just barely. "Psycho Killer" reaches #92.

Alf Bicknell, chauffeur to The Beatles at the height of their fame and inspiration for the song, “Drive My Car,” died in 2004. Bicknell started working for The Beatles in '65 during the filming of “Help” and continued with the group until they stopped touring.

'Deja Vu', by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was released in 1970. It contains underground favorites like Stills' "Carry On," Young's "Helpless" and Crosby's "Almost Cut My Hair," while launching three Top Forty singles: "Woodstock" (#11), "Teach Your Children" (#16) and "Our House" (#30).