Friday, April 3, 2009

Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Inducties

Reveived this note from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, stop by the site, show your support and read the great information about this year's inducties!

Hi Robert!

I’m working on behalf of Positively Cleveland. Since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is tomorrow, I wanted to keep you and your readers informed about the latest news. There’s an awesome new website called Rock Immortal, created by the Rock Hall of Fame, where fans of the artists being inducted this year can help to create a digital monument for the artists. The site also has all of the latest info about the events leading to the ceremony!

Fans can upload images, videos and stories in tribute to their favorite 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee!

You can check out Rock Immortal at:

This Years Inducties:

Jeff Beck
Little Anthony & The Imperials
Run D.M.C.
Bobby Womack
Wanda Jackson

Classic Rock Videos

Crosby Stills & Nash - Teach Your Children

Michael Fremer Review

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.

Bob Dylan (recent release)
Tell Tale Signs, Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006: Volume 8

Columbia 88697 35796 1, 4 180g LPs+digital download

Produced by: Jeff Rosen
Engineered by: Various engineers
Mixed by: Various mixers
Mastered by: Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound
A&R: Steve Berkowitz

Review by: Michael Fremer

Larry “Ratso” Sloman’s annotation brings into sharp, entertaining focus this collection of vital Dylan outtakes, alternative takes, unreleased tracks and live performances from 1989’s Oh Mercy sessions through his most recent 2006 release Modern Times.

There’s not a throwaway or “curiosity” in the bunch. Back in 1987, Sloman recounts, Dylan had booked some dates with The Grateful Dead, at a time when he felt pretty much washed up and ready to retire as he wrote in his autobiography “Chronicles-Volume One.”

During the first rehearsal Garcia had urged Dylan to try out some of his more obscure songs but Dylan felt so disconnected he used a lame excuse and fled the space. On the way back to his hotel, Dylan stopped into a local bar where he heard an older gentleman delivering some jazz standards in a style that immediately spoke to the spent superstar. It so inspired Dylan that he immediately returned to the rehearsal space and began trying out the old tunes. At least that’s the story. With Dylan you never know! At least it’s a good story. Dylan had a second fall and rose yet again from the creative dead in front of a Swiss audience in 1987.

This tumultuous period of self-doubt and creative outbursts produced the swampy brilliance of Oh Mercy and the confused Under the Red Sky,” but even that album had a few worthwhile tracks, though nothing from those sessions are found here.

There are seven tracks from the Daniel Lanois producedOh Mercy sessions and six from Time Out of Mind. Less is sometimes more and that’s the case with these revealing, under-produced, unadorned tracks. The feel is live, exploratory and vital. These are not “leftovers” in any sense of the word. In fact, Dylan sounds more vital on most of these tracks than on the more polished studio albums that came from these sessions. The live unreleased tracks are a treat—which is more than I can say for the live show I saw at the PNC center in New Jersey a few years ago when Tom Petty opened for Dylan. Tom’s set was reliably swell. Dylan came out and played keyboard in front of an unidentified older looking gent in Bermuda shorts who played guitar while conferring with Bob about the chords. We walked out half way through. There was nothing happening on the stage that night but plenty was in 1993 when Dylan sang “Ring Them Bells” at The Supper Club, which is included here.

This 4 LP set was cut from 16 bit 44.1K files so why would anyone bother with it instead of just getting the far less expensive CD set?

Well, there’s the packaging and the free MP3 download that’s part of the purchase price. Of course, if you buy the CD set you can upload higher quality files to your pod of choice but you can’t beat the 12”x12” full color perfect-bound, full color book (calling it a “booklet”) would be an injustice.

The photos are stark and instructional, showing Dylan both empty and fulfilled. The annotation is at the same time brutally honest and sympathetic and the credits are unusually complete.

Greg Calbi, who mastered the set at Sterling Sound culled from disparate digital sources sent by the set’s compiler, brought over some CD refs so we could compare them to the vinyl cut at Sterling by Ray Janos.

George Marino’s room at Sterling has recently been retro-fitted with a preview head-equipped playback deck that will once again allow Sterling to cut AAA vinyl, but of course given the set’s source material that system couldn’t be used.

Comparing the actual source with the vinyl proved interesting! Ideally the tonal balance should be identical, assuming your goal is faithfulness to the source. That’s not everyone’s goal judging by what some listeners prefer, but that’s another story!

I had the $80,000 four box DCS stack here to use as a digital source (transport, DAC, word clock and upsampler) and my reference Continuum Caliburn turntable and Manley Steelhead to use as the analog source.

The well-pressed 180g vinyl sounded tonally identical to the CD through the Steelhead—less so through some other phono preamps here for review. However, the vinyl’s additive qualities produce a greater sense of realism without losing any of the CD’s positive attributes. There’s something about the vinyl process that does that. When properly played back there’s magic and I really don’t care from where it comes. It’s just there.

Tell Tale Signs-The Bootleg Series Vol. 8 is a surprisingly vital and coherent abridgement of a creatively mixed but ultimately rich and triumphant period for Dylan.

SOURCE: Reprinted By Permission

Pick up Michael's DVD's Here:

Copyright © 2008 & Michael Fremer - All rights reserved

Why Has Vinyl Records Become So Popular Again?

By Joe Boikowich

The vinyl format has always been popular between hi-fi enthusiast and music passionates. For these people the vinyl record was always considered to be the true release and the general opinion was that the format has a richer and more interesting sound. Despite of this the vinyl was loved by the few. However, over the last couple of years the vinyl record has increased its popularity enormously, which has manifested itself in a tremendous sales growth. This has partly given the struggling independent record stores a new chance and even huge retailers have started to sell vinyl records.

The question is how could a format that was virtually dead suddenly become so enormously popular again, especially with young crowd, who was not even born at the prime of the format. This article will take a brief look at the history of the vinyl record in order to understand what factors made this possible.

Vinyl was the first commercial physical music format and for a long time it therefore dominated the market for physical music. Several different types of vinyl records were developed, but in general, when people wanted to buy music to play at home there was no other choice than to buy it on vinyl. However, at some point the compact disc (CD) came around and that quickly put an end to the vinyl format for most people. The CD was smaller, cheaper to produce and some would argue that it had better sound quality. Also, people could easily bring the CD with them to play it in the car, while working out or on their Discman. At some point it also became possible to copy the content of a CD to another CD and a little bit later the content could also be copied to a computer and converted to mp3 files. The last part was the beginning of the end for the CD format.

As CDs could easily be ripped to mp3, people had better Internet connections and new file sharing services were developed buying music gradually became less of a necessity for the more technically savvy music lovers. It didn't take long before whatever music you would want could be downloaded for free. So when the content suddenly was available for free, why should people then buy CDs? Well, of course there's the moral question, but except from that the CD format did not provide any extra value that would convince a lot of people to pay for it. As digital music online has become even more convenient to consume and we're living in a world where streaming music is the most convenient option this has become even truer. So the case is that the CD format has become a format stuck in the middle. It lacks the flexibility of streaming and the great physical characteristics of the vinyl format. The vinyl format and streaming are perfectly negatively correlated, and as a consequence of that perfectly compatible. While streaming offers superior convenience on one hand, vinyl offers the ultimate physical experience on the other hand by being a piece of art in itself.

So what exactly are these neat characteristics of the vinyl format? Well, one thing to start with is the cover art. The vinyl has much more space for cover art than a CD and is different from what can be thought of as cover art online. This makes it easier to enjoy the work that is put into create something unique. Another characteristic related to this is that people by nature are collectors. Everyone likes to collect something. Since digital music has no scarcity it just doesn't make much sense to collect it. Vinyl on the other hand is perfect for collecting. Music lovers like to show their dedication and support to a band by buying the record and it fits nicely on the shelf just as books do.

Another, and often debated characteristic, is the sound quality. Many vinyl lovers claim that it is the cracks, pops and hisses that create the special vinyl sound and make vinyl unique. It is for sure true that this is an important part of the vinyl experience, however, whether or not this is important depends on two factors. First, a person naturally needs to have a preference for this type of sound and second; the record must be mastered specifically for vinyl, which means analog mastering.

A final factor which contributes to the attractiveness of the vinyl format is the listening experience. Listening to music on vinyl is a ritual in its own. Picking the right vinyl, putting the needle on the record, getting up to flip the record before picking up a new one. This physical listening experience stands in stark contrast to the digital one and too a higher extent require that people take time to actually listen to a record and listening to it in its entirety. In that regard listening to music on vinyl therefore often can be experienced as a break from the daily stress and routines.

The future indeed looks bright.

Joe Boikowich writes about music formats and vinyl records. For more information check out Nylvi. Nylvi is a new social marketplace for buying and selling vinyl records. For more info about the idea behind NYLVI have a look here.

Scratch the notion that LPs are a "sunset market."

Despite - and perhaps because of - digital trend, vinyl is now retro chic

By Daniel Rubin
Inquirer Staff Writ

With 1,973 songs in his iPod and Radiohead's "Karma Police" on his earphones, Brian Brazina strode into Spaceboy Music on South Street searching for digital delivery.

But it was fresh vinyl that grabbed the 25-year-old - a brand-new, cellophane-wrapped pressing of Babes in Arms, a 1966-1971 rarities collection by the Detroit guitar-army called MC5.

"A great band," said Brazina, a Center City concierge, admiring the LP's oversize art. "I love the grainy sound of vinyl."

Against a trend of compactability, portability and personalization - and maybe because of them - vinyl is making an unlikely return.

You can't say vinyl is back because it was never really gone. Certainly not for audiophiles who swear by albums' warmer sound and tactile superiority, or DJs whose hunting and gathering kept record stores going during the leanest years, since the CD's arrival in 1983.

Since then, records and turntables have become what Brian Majeski, editor of Music Trades magazine, calls a "sunset market."

Greet the new morning. Urban Outfitters is selling sleek $300 turntables for the holidays, and retro models appear in catalogs from L.L. Bean, Hammacher Schlemmer, Restoration Hardware and Brookstone. Target, too.

Warner Bros. and Rhino Records are releasing their back catalogs on vinyl, including the entire LP collection of the Grateful Dead. Next year, Sony plans to reintroduce LPs.

"It's become trendy, cool, a novelty," said Stefanie Douglas, 28, manager at Cue Records at Fourth and South Streets, where DJs shop for soul, hip-hop and R&B wax to sample.

To walk into Spaceboy is to fall through time - rows of shiny LPs for sale: vintage Captain Beefheart next to classic wax by the New York Dolls, Bob Dylan's John Wesley Harding next to Love's Da Capo - all as newly minted as the Interpol, Elliott Smith and the Postal Service records on the other wall.

Much of that product comes from Sundazed, which is releasing 40 titles on vinyl this year.

When people in his hometown of Coxsackie, N.Y., ask label founder Bob Irwin why he still makes records, he tells them to check out prime-time TV.

"At some point, you'll see vinyl, whether it's the opening of Monk or One Tree Hill, with a guy standing in front of a rack of records, to ads for Toyota or Tide," says Irwin, 47. "It's all young people."

And they are the ones he still makes records for.

"I have no interest in selling music only to the audiophile community," he said. "I make records to introduce people to great music, and let them hear it on what I consider to be the best format available."

Fifteen years ago, Irwin started Sundazed, making CDs and a handful of albums - the Knickerbockers, the Trashmen - just as the major labels began phasing out vinyl.

Sundazed did fine, he said, until 1993, when the majors had given up and music stores followed suit. "People gave up looking for it," he said.

In the mid-'90s, he put out only four or five titles a year. His company's reputation attracted the attention of Bob Dylan's management in 2001, and Irwin was invited to reintroduce Dylan's original Columbia titles on vinyl.

Sundazed has now put out nine of them on hefty, 180-gram vinyl, priced comparably to a CD. Next year Sundazed will release 45 titles, from Aretha Franklin's first Atlantic album to five jazz LPs.

Matador, in New York City, is another label that has made vinyl work. "For us, vinyl sales are stronger than they have been for years, despite higher prices," said Patrick Amory, the indie label's general manager.

"We treat our LPs like luxury items, press them on heavy vinyl, do gatefolds, inserts, printed inners."

Amory says DJs have driven most of the sales, and new technology - digital machines that replicate the sound of records, scratching and all - will cause sales to slow.

The numbers for turntables, although modest, are on the rise. The International Music Products Association says about 69,000 players were sold last year, not counting professional mixers for DJs. That is the highest number since the 105,000 sold in 2000.

Record sales remain relatively low - about one for every 500 CDS sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. With the majors getting back into vinyl, that presumably will increase.

Vinyl accounted for about 5 percent of the business at Old City's AKA Music two years ago - the last time owner Mike Hoffman checked. "I think it is going up a couple points," he said.

Why? Maybe it's digital backlash. Alan Light, editor of Tracks music magazine, notes that MP3 players have allowed albums to be deconstructed into "menus of songs," stripped of context.

LPs bring a fan back to the days of carefully sequenced sides of music - shorter, more essential.

But Light isn't putting too much stock into a vinyl revival. "My question is: 'How much are these turntables in these lifestyle stores intended to be listened to, and how much are they art pieces?' People are selling 12-by-12-inch frames to put album covers on their walls. Are they just sort of retro accessories that look cool, like the way people have manual typewriters around?"

Jim Webster, co-owner of the Philadelphia Record Exchange, at Fifth and South Street, says that kids are doing what they always have done: discovering previous generations' cast-offs.

"It has to do with an adventurousness of spirit," said Webster, 51, hand-rolling a Gauloise cigarette as a 60-year-old Mills Brothers song played on his turntable.

"Retro isn't a fashion. It's what you do when you're on your own and most things around you stink."

Dryw Skully, 28, who spins records each month at the 700 Club in Northern Liberties, has a purist's system for record purchases: If it was originally made for vinyl, he'll buy it on vinyl.

"You can go to the Princeton Record Exchange and pick up an old Rolling Stones record for $1 as opposed to getting a CD of it at Tower Records," he said.

"That record has been someplace. It has some vintage to it, some history. It's not from some jewel case that you open up and pop into the computer."


Music News & Notes

Mates Of State Tour, Offer Mash Up, Announce Remix Release Details

Mates of State and Black Kids are set to kick off a US trek that runs the length of April. In celebration of the double-barreled coast-to-coast barn burner, DJA of Mad Decent has created a Black Kids vs. Mates of State mash-up, premiered by the folks at RCRD LBL. Mates' "Re-arrange Us" and the Kids' "Look At Me" act as source material for the bass-heavy mixture.

Additionally, The Mates will be releasing "Re-Arranged: Remixes Volume 1" April 14th on Barsuk Records. This limited-edition 12" vinyl features four reinterpretations of tracks from Mates of State's 2008 release, "Re-arrange Us," with contributions from noted remixologists DJ Sega, Flosstradamus, The Mae Shi, and RAC. Packaged in a classic DJ white sleeve, this 12" EP is limited to 1000 copies worldwide and will be available exclusively on vinyl several weeks before hitting digital retailers.


Montreux Jazz Festival Lineup

The Montreux Jazz Festival has announced their lineup for this year, which includes B.B. King, Bettye LaVette, Herbie Hancock, Steely Dan, Alice Cooper, Steve Winwood, Grace Jones, Marianne Faithfull, John Fogerty, Jeff Beck, Ray Parker Jr., Donna Summer and many, many more. The festival runs July 3 to 18 on the shores of Switerland's Lake Geneva.


Ray Charles Goes Digital

The post-1960 Ray Charles catalog of 28 albums is set to go digital next Tuesday thanks to Concord Music. iTunes will have them exclusively for the first two weeks, at which time they will be released to the rest of the digital services.

"Ray Charles was a trailblazer and innovator in his music and the business of music. I am pleased Ray's songs are now available in all current formats. Concord enables the legacy to endure and prosper, " said Valerie Ervin, President of the Ray Charles Foundation.


Former Genesis Drummer Dead

John Mayhew, the third drummer for Genesis (Phil Collins took his place), died on March 26 from a heart related condition. His only album with the group was Trespass.

Not much is known about Mayhew's lifeafter he left the band. He moved to Australia in the late-70's and worked as a carpenter, coming back just once to his native England. His brother, who had not seen him in 18 years, had started a search just two days before his death.


Marvin Gaye Reissues

Yesterday would have been Marvin Gaye's 70th birthday. It was 25 years ago that Gaye was tragically killedby his father on the day before his 45th birthday.

Gaye's influence on music is undeniable. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" was Motown's biggest selling single of the 60's and considered an iconic classic. His 1971 album "What's Going On" regularly lands in the lists of the top ten albums ever made and Rolling Stone recently placed him at number six on the list of the greatest singers.

Motown Records, which is celebrating it's own 50th anniversary, is saluting Gaye's birthday with the release of the rarities collection "Now & Then." The 14-track collection is only available digitally and runs from his days with Harvey and the Moonglows (Mama Loocie, Twelve Months of the Year) to a 2009 funk remix of "I Want You." In between are a recently found 1966 recording of a song called "Soulie," the deep vault track "It's Your Party" and tracks from before his hitmaking days (Witchcraft, Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide).

Also coming on April 14 is the vinyl reissue of the album "United" by Gaye and Tammi Terrell. The album includes the hits "If I Could Build My World Around You," "Your Precious Love" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."


Kings, Matthews, No Doubt, Taylor Swift On Today

Kings of Leon, Dave Matthews Band, No Doubt and Taylor Swift will take the stage for The Today Show’s annual summer concert series. Fall Out Boy, Jonas Brothers, Katy Perry and Flo Rida will also join Matt Lauer and Co. Get the complete lineup after the jump.


Jayhawks Reunite For pair Of Shows

Nineties Americana band the Jayhawks will reunite this summer for a pair of reunion shows, Reuters reports. For the first time in a decade, the band’s two principal members Gary Louris and Mark Olson will perform an American show, booking a date at Minneapolis’ Basilica Block Party on July 10th.