Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Confessions of a vinyl addict

Apa Chappel pulls a Tall Dwarves record from his collection. He particularly likes Chris Knox's cover art.

Written By By REBECCA THOMSON - The Wellingtonian

Cassettes have long gone, CDs are on their way out, but records are here to stay, according to collector and DJ Apa Chappel.

Last year, the Mt Cook resident formed the Wellington Vinyl Club, which holds bring-and-buys at the Southern Cross.

Chappel has boxed up about 800 records to take to the next meeting, but still up to 4000 lining his living walls.

"That's a small number compared to some collectors, he said. "There are guys out there who have 10,000 to 20,000 records. One guy I know claims to have 100,000."

Chappel bought his first record, by hip hop artist Pharoahe Monch, about 10 years ago, but started collecting seriously about three years ago.

"It all started with DJing and it's turned into a collection. I spend $100 to $400 a week it's an addiction."

His collection is shelved according to genre. There's everything from Kiwi classics The Datsuns, Dragon and Tall Dwarves and hip hop to movie soundtracks and Neil Diamond.

It's too hard to pick a favourite, but Chappel's gems include an audio recording of Lady Diana and Prince Charles' wedding, a number of old radio shows and self-help piece Relax with Self Hypnosis.

"You just can't get that sort of stuff on CD," he said.

Real Groovy and Slowboat Records are Chappel's favourite haunts, but he also searches online, in second-hand shops and at fairs.

"Last year it was Trade Me, and it still is a bit. Before that is was garage sales, school galas and town fairs, but you have to beat other people off at those. They're popular."

He buys only music available on record, and hasn't bought CDs for years now.

"Everything is on vinyl, even new stuff. What I've noticed about Real Groovy is that 60 to 70 per cent of records are new recordings by new bands.

"Records are fashionable, they're re making a comeback. People like the cover art, and the sound of vinyl is so much better than CD, because CD sound is compressed, vinyl sound isn't."


Where Are the Beatles Reissues? Enterprising Fans Take Matters Into Their Own Hands

Jerry McCulley

In an era of declining music sales and rapid technological advancement, it’s still hard to fathom the sorry lot of the Beatles canon. Not only is the catalog of rock music’s most successful and influential act still not available for legal digital download, for the most part it hasn’t received even the basic remastering afforded pop music acts with a fraction of the Fab Four’s historical importance and consumer clout. Thus the Beatles catalog continues to be represented by thin-sounding, now two-decade-old digital mastering accomplished at the dawn of the CD era.

Worse, the culprits for the Beatle catalog’s perpetually sorry state of affairs seem to be the surviving band members and the heirs of John Lennon and George Harrison themselves. As partners in the band’s Apple company, they have final say as to what product music distributor EMI is allowed to issue — which, outside of the Anthology series a decade ago and the recent Love collaboration with Cirque du Soleil — hasn’t been much over the course of the 40 years since the band dissolved. Even more inexplicable is the fact that the Apple principles hired a veteran label exec two years ago specifically to develop a reissue program.

Typical of the situation were last year’s rumors — purportedly floated by an EMI insider — that the band was preparing a deluxe 40th anniversary edition of their monumental White Album. Instead, eager fans were eventually directed to the band’s official website, where they were offered a commemorative White Album fountain pen — for $395. And while the upcoming Beatles edition of Rock Band should please video gamers, what of the basic catalog of epochal recordings that inspired it?

Some Fabs fans already know that comprehensive sets of Beatles reissues are already available — they’re just not legally authorized. While an already sizable trove of leaked Beatles outtakes continues to grow (the latest, a radically expanded early version of “Revolution,” surfaced just last month, a cadre of more industrious — if legally unsanctioned — fans strives to preserve the band’s recorded legacy in other ways.

At least three different entities have now issued sonically upgraded versions of the Beatles catalog, usually using pristine vintage vinyl editions as source material for their digital upgrades. The most ambitious is a virtual “label” known as “Purple Chick” (the moniker is part wordplay on two notorious bootleg labels, Great Dane and Yellow Dog), which issues continually upgraded editions of each original Beatles album that include not only its officially released mono/stereo mixes and period singles, but every available alternate mix and studio outtake as well. Some PC editions are only two CDs in length, while their White Album sprawls over a dozen virtual discs.

Purple Chick’s Sgt. Peppers edition

When the separated master four-track recordings of a handful of Sgt. Pepper’s tracks surfaced in late 2007, Purple Chick quickly added yet another volume to its already comprehensive chronicle of the album. It can do so quickly because its releases are virtual, shared on the Internet via torrent, blogs and file sharing services, many of which are difficult to police at best. Then there’s the disclaimer the label adds to the equally accomplished artwork provided with its releases: “Fan Created..NEVER FOR SALE!!!”

In a rare interview with veteran Beatles chronicler Doug Sulpy’s 910 fan site, the anonymous “PC” offered some insight to their motivations: “I'm just making what I'd like to see on my shelves. I am flattered that people seem to like my work but there's no motivation, financial or otherwise, except to please myself.”

The virtual label’s most ambitious project was A/B Road, an 83-volume set chronicling the Beatles’ January, 1969 sessions that eventually yielded Let It Be. Painstakingly assembled from a jumble of film sound outtakes and other sources, the set took a full year to complete. PC has also tackled other personal music obsessions, like the Beach Boys lost Smile sessions and, most recently, an exhaustive, 10-volume chronicle of Buddy Holly’s career.

So if/when September 26 rolls around this year and there’s no official, remastered 40th anniversary edition of Abbey Road available — or, worse, a $395 commemorative fountain pen instead — be advised that Purple Chick already has a version available (three discs worth, in fact) somewhere in cyberspace.

Available now: Purple Chick's Abbey Road


Classic Rock Videos

Stevie Wonder - For Once in my Life

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.

For The Week Of March 9, 2009

DEAR JERRY: Just a few months ago I spotted a brief mention in one of the New York papers about a portion of Tin Pan Alley being sold.

The most disturbing aspect of this story is a suggestion the new owner should raze all of the existing buildings and construct a new high-rise.

I have read nothing since about this situation. Are those historic music publishing buildings still standing?

Considering the significance of Tin Pan Alley in American music history, you may want to look into this.
—Marty Gordon, Gettysburg, Pa.

DEAR MARTY: I do and I did.

First, for readers who missed the story you reference, here is an excerpt from the October 9, 2008 New York Post story, “Tin Pan Alley's Sad Tune,” by Braden Keil, Irene Plagianos and Andy Geller:

“Much to the dismay of tenants and preservationists, five of the buildings on West 28th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue — a block that for 60 years was the heart of the songwriting industry — have gone up for sale.

“The five buildings, at 47, 49, 51, 53 and 55 West 28th Street, are being sold as a group for — hold on to your hat in these cacophonous economic times — a mere $44 million.”

The listing agent named at the time was Lois D. Thompson, an associate broker at Coldwell Banker's Syosset (Long Island) office.

I checked the company's web page, which apparently once served as the site for this listing, and it states succinctly: “property is no longer available.”

Now with amplified curiosity, I called Lois Thompson (February 20) and asked for an update on these properties. Unfortunately, the only reply Lois gave is “I can't say anything about that at this time. If and when I can I'll get back to you.”

Mmmmm … very interesting.

For now at least, you know as much about this piece of Tin Pan Alley as most of the world's population.

DEAR JERRY: A very popular Western song is “Little Joe the Wrangler,” one I've heard by many folks, from Marty Robbins and Roger Wagner to the Sons of the Pioneers.

No matter the singer, there is one thing they all have in common. Though a somewhat lengthy tale is told, not a single line or verse is repeated.

I don't know how uncommon this might be, but I can't think of another hit or famous song where every line is new.

Can you name one?
—Claude Kellogg, Boston, Mass.

DEAR CLAUDE: This is not a common technique, but it is not unique to “Little Joe the Wrangler.”

It may surprise you to know I don't even have to go beyond Marty Robbins to cite twice that many.

Marty's 4:47 signature song, “El Paso,” has no repeated lines. More impressive is the prequel, “Feleena (From El Paso),” which runs 8:18 with nary a line repeated.

Apart from the genius of Robbins, Rock and Roll poet Chuck Berry contributed several tunes to this category. Among those are “Let It Rock” (1960); “Our Little Rendezvous” (1960); “Promised Land” (1964); and “Memphis, Tennessee” (1959).

Like Marty Robbins did with two “El Paso” adventures, Chuck does with the “Memphis” sequel, “Little Marie” (1964).

As evidenced by these examples, this chorus-free style of writing is mostly found in songs that tell a story, as would be found in a book or any non-musical account of the events.

IZ ZAT SO? Coming up with some Rock Era No. 1 hits with no lines repeated is tough, but here are a couple to at least get you a passing grade if you're quizzed: Roy Orbison's “Running Scared” (1961) and “The Long and Winding Road” (1970), the last hit by the Beatles as a group.

Jeannie C. Riley's 1968 mega-selling “Harper Valley P.T.A.” just barely fails to qualify.

Not until the very last line in the song is there a repeat. Twice in a row she sings “the day my mama socked it to the Harper Valley P.T.A.”

And that is just one “sock” too many.


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Music News & Notes

Magik Markers Make the Magic Happen in May

Magik Markers are looking to May 5th to release their new album, Balf Quarry. It will be released on Drag City Records. The album was named after an old stone pit just outside of Hartford, Connecticut, It will be released on both CD and vinyl.

The Magik Markers formed in Hartford, CT, in 2001, featuring guitarist/vocalist Elisa Ambrogio, drummer Pete Nolan, and bassist Leah Quimby. Inspired by no-wave and hardcore, the trio developed a free-rocking sound that made the most of their stream-of-consciousness approach.


Doves New Album

Doves will release their fourth album, Kingdom of Rust, on April 7th on Astralwerks. To get the party started right, they've offered a song available for free, titled Jetstream. This will be the first official full length album since 2005's Some Cities.


Placebo announce self-released sixth album

Not content to let new bands hog the eyeliner, Placebo have announced the release of their sixth album, Battle for the Sun. The "optimistic" and "positive" LP will be released on 8 June.

"We've made a record about choosing life, and choosing to live, about stepping out of the darkness and into the light," frontman Brian Molko told NME.

To capture all this cheeriness, the band travelled to beautiful, sunny, er, Toronto, recording with Dave Bottrill, producer of Tool's Lateralus. The album was mixed by Alan Moulder, who has worked with My Bloody Valentine, Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkins.

Battle for the Sun is Placebo's first album since parting ways with Steve Hewitt, their drummer of 11 years. They now have a 22-year-old Californian named Steve Forrest in charge of hitting things.

The band have also left their long-time label, Virgin Records, self-funding the album and releasing it in an independent deal with Pias. "I'm very optimistic about the future," Molko said. "I'm in a positive frame of mind and a good headspace."

Indeed, instead of sulking in his bedroom, Molko and his bandmates are busily autographing box sets. Deluxe £70 editions of Battle for the Sun are now available for pre-order, with the first 500 buyers receiving signed copies. The set also includes a live CD, a DVD of last year's performance at Angkor Wat, a making-of DVD, vinyl LP, and two books.


New Vinyl Releases

Black Joe Lewis: Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! (vinyl)
Black Sabbath: Heaven & Hell (remastered vinyl)
Black Sabbath: Heaven & Hell (remastered vinyl)
Black Sabbath: Live Evil (remastered vinyl)
Black Sabbath: Mob Rules (remastered vinyl)
Bonnie Prince Billy: Beware (vinyl
Decemberists: Hazards of Love (vinyl)
Eleni Mandell: Artificial Fire (vinyl)
Joy Division: Leigh Rock Festival 1979 (import vinyl)
The Loved Ones: Distractions EP (vinyl)
Principles of Geometry: Interstate Highway System (vinyl)
Say Hi: Oohs & Aahs (vinyl)
Various Artists Watchmen (soundtrack) (vinyl)
Violens: V EP
Wavves: Wavvves (vinyl)
White Lies: How to Lose My Life (vinyl)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Zero (single)


Bloc Party To Release New Remix Album
Featuring Armand Van Helden re-working...

Bloc Party are to release a remixed edition of their latest album 'Intimacy' on May 11th.

The album includes remixes from the likes of Villains, Filthy Dukes and Mogwai.

An Armand Van Helden re-working of 'Signs', which also features on the album, will be released as a single on April 27th.

The album will be available on both CD and triple vinyl.

The tracklisting for 'Intimacy Remixed' is:

'Ares' (Villains remix)
'Mercury' (Hervé Is In Disarray remix)
'Halo' (We Have Band Dub)
'Biko' (Mogwai remix)
'Trojan Horse' (John B remix)
'Signs' (Armand Van Helden remix)
'One Month Off' (Filthy Dukes remix)
'Zephyrus' (Phase One remix)
'Talons' (Phones RIP remix)
'Better Than Heaven' (No Age remix)
'Ion Square' (Banjo or Freakout remix)
'Your Visits are Getting Shorter' (Double D Remix)


Madonna to Record New Songs for Greatest Hits Collection

Madonna’s 25-year tenure with Warner Music will come to an end with a new greatest hits compilation due out in September, the Material Girl’s management told People.

“Madonna does have plans to go into the studio to record a few new songs for this album,” says Madonna’s publicist Liz Rosenberg. “We’re hoping to have a greatest hits package come out in September. We’re all very excited about it.”


New Skynryd LP

Lynyrd Skynyrd has signed with Loud & Proud/Roadrunner Records and are planning to release a new album later this year. It will be their first album of new material since 2003's Vicious Cycle.


Pete Seeger's 90th Birthday Celebration

Dave Matthews, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, John Mellencamp and Emmylou Harris are among the dozens of musicians who will gather and celebrate American folk music legend Pete Seeger's 90th birthday with a gala concert at Madison Square Garden on May 3.

The event, dubbed "The Clearwater Concert: Creating the Next Generation of Environmental Leaders," will raise funds and awareness for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, an environmental organization founded by Seeger to preserve and protect the Hudson River.

Other artists scheduled to appear include Steve Earle, Joan Baez, Juanes, Richie Havens, Kris Kirstofferson, Tom Morello, Billy Bragg, Michael Franti and Ben Harper.