Saturday, March 28, 2009

Classic Rock Videos


Digital downloads kill music on discs

CDs head the way of the eight-track while recording companies miss out on revenue

By Gillian Shaw, Vancouver
SunMarch 27, 2009

Music CD sales have dropped by half from their peak a decade ago, but unlike the decline of vinyl records and 8-track tapes, the current shift is bringing with it a wholesale transformation in the delivery and distribution of music.

The format change started with MP3 files, but digital music also brings multiple distribution channels — from the free sharing of music, to iTunes and other paid download services, to more futuristic channels that could see us making micro-payments to call up songs on the refrigerator while we cook dinner.

The recording industry, which failed to adapt in the early days and instead sought to hold back the change, is now paying the price. But for artists and consumers, the shift is opening up opportunities in accessibility, and lowering barriers to entry for a music career.

Rest of Story

10 Cool Albums That Feature Gibson Guitars On Their Covers

By Russell Hall

Given that Gibson guitars are themselves works of art, it’s hardly surprising that various Gibson instruments have been featured prominently on countless album covers. Below are 10 such albums, each of which should be part of any Gibson fans record collection.

Jeff Beck: Blow By Blow (1975)

The starkly elegant cover painting of Jeff Beck playing his beloved 1954 Les Paul “Oxblood” was the perfect image for this landmark disc. One of the most famous all-instrumental albums in history, Blow By Blow remains the go-to recording for any fan of contemporary jazz-rock guitar.

Chuck Berry: St. Louis to Liverpool (1964)

It’s fitting that the album widely regarded as Chuck Berry’s best should be housed in a sleeve that showcases the guitarist’s legendary ES-350 — one of the first models Berry used. Released in 1964, the album reasserted Berry’s songwriting and six-string prowess just as Beatlemania was taking hold.

Peter Frampton: Frampton Comes Alive! (1976)

The two-disc set that launched Peter Frampton to super-stardom also happened to sport one of rock and roll’s most memorable cover shots. Non-guitar-playing female fans were drawn to Frampton’s golden locks, but guitar players of both sexes honed in on the beautiful black Les Paul Custom that graced the gatefold sleeve.

B.B. King: Live at the Regal (1965)

No B.B. King album is more revered than this disc, which captures the legendary blues artist in prime form. Fittingly, King’s cherished “Lucille” graces the cover. Through the years King has played both ES-335s and an ES-355s – fabulous guitars, each.

Mick Ronson: Play Don’t Worry (1975)

Hoping to capitalize on David Bowie’s success, Mainman founder Tony DeFries pushed a reluctant Mick Ronson toward a solo career in 1974. Ronson soon returned to his true calling as one of rock’s all-time-great sidemen, but not before releasing two glam-guitar classics. This one showcased his legendary ’68 Les Paul Custom “Black Beauty” stripped to its natural wood finish.

Joan Jett: Album (1983)

Strange that one of the best albums of Joan Jett’s career often gets lost in the shuffle. Along with delivering original material, Joanie delivers top-notch covers of Sly Stone’s “Everyday People” and the Rolling Stone’s ode-to-groupies classic “Star Star.” A double-cutaway Melody Maker – splashed across the album cover – was Jett’s instrument of choice.

Kiss: Alive! (1975)

One of the hardest-rocking live albums of all time, this two-disc set catapulted Kiss to multi-platinum fame. On the cover, Gene Simmons' classic Gibson Grabber bass, Ace Frehey’s ever-present Les Paul and Paul Stanley’s Firebird upstaged the band’s cartoon-glam makeup and platform shoes.

Emmylou Harris: Angel Band (1987)

A devotee of Gibson acoustics, Emmylou Harris cradled one of her many beautiful and beloved J-200s on the cover shot for this underrated 1987 disc. A collection of gospel songs performed in acoustic settings, the album remains one of Harris’s sparest, most sublime recordings.

Lenny Kravitz: Baptism (2004)

Lenny Kravitz brazenly opened this 2004 album with a song titled “Minister of Rock and Roll.” Some might call that cocky, but Kravitz’s deep assimilation of classic rock and psychedelic pop has yielded great music. His beloved Flying V – featured on the cover – is rarely far from his side.

Bob Marley and the Wailers: Live! (1975)

This 1975 recording is widely regarded as one of the greatest live documents ever committed to tape. Capturing the Wailers at an early zenith, the album played a pivotal role in making Bob Marley a worldwide superstar. The cover shot featured his flailing dreadlocks and his trusty mahogany Les Paul Special, which he dubbed “Old Faithful.”

Don't write off the record shops yet

I found this feature from the UK interesing:

EVEN in these distressed economic times, few business models would appear more shot to bits than the independent record store.

While many people download music for free on the internet, those willing to pay are switching to online stores like Amazon with their massive choice and cheap prices.

But amazingly, those independent stores that remain are increasingly optimistic about their future.

The main reason for this confidence is simply because their market cannot get much smaller.

Adrian Rondeau, 60, of Wickford store Adrian’s Records, in High Street, certainly believes this to be the case.

He said: “I think what has happened is there were a lot of independent stores, but they’ve greatly thinned out now so there isn’t very many for people to choose from.

“We are getting a lot of new customers, often serious collectors, and they are coming a long way to get here.”

Adrian’s store is featured in a new book called Last Shop Standing, which charts the demise of the record store.

Its author, Graham Jones, shares Adrian’s optimism and said another important factor is the death of some of the store’s big high street competitors.

He said: “I deal with all the independent shops in Britain through my work and virtually every store has told me business is up since Christmas.

“It’s the Woolworths factor.

“Many of these stores are in small towns where their only competition was Woolworths. They have all gone along with Zavvi.”

Fives Records, in Leigh Broadway, is also featured in the book and is a good example of the Woolworths effect, after the town’s branch closed in January.

Owner Pete Driscoll, 68, said: “It’s definitely helped with the top-selling CDs because they were our main competition.

“You’ve still got the supermarkets of course and I doubt they will be closing anytime soon.

“Our sales have been up for the last couple of years.

“I’m starting to see a future for the business when I didn’t a couple of years ago.”

In his book, Mr Jones notes there are only 305 independent stores left in the UK, but he is hopeful for those that remain.

He said: “I still think the market will shrink a little bit, but there is room for around 200 record stores in the UK.

“It’s not going to be a lucrative business like it was in the 80s and early-90s, when CDs were sold for £15, but the people running these shops are not in the business to make money, they are doing it because they love music.”

The history of Adrian’s Records perfectly mirrors the rise and fall of the music shop.

Having started off in 1969 in a room shared with his mother’s wool shop, his business blossomed.

At one point, he employed 52 people working across four stores with two music shops, a video shop and a video rental, all within 50metres of one another.

Now he owns just the one store, with five workers.

He said: “We almost got too big for our roots.

“We were competing on the high street level and we had a massive mail-order business.

“The business is much slimmer now, but also more solid.”

Those stores that remain do not just have rarity on their side.

According to Adrian, another product doing a roaring trade is the 7-inch vinyl single.

He said: “Virtually every single is released on 7-inch these days because record companies were scrambling around for a market and have cottoned on to the fact there are a lot of collectors out there.

“That’s had some odd consequences, because the CD single is now becoming rare.

“Amy Winehouse’s Valerie is now going for about £20 because it’s so hard to find.”

But Adrian has a note of warning for anyone crazy enough to try to join the last shops standing.

He said: “Someone starting up a shop today has about a one per cent chance of success.

“You simply have to know the industry.”

And who could argue with a great survivor like Adrian?