Wednesday, May 13, 2009

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: While in Connecticut in the mid-'90s, I clipped and saved a column you wrote about what at the time seemed to be some very early stereo recordings.

One example cited is “Charlie Parker — The Legendary Rockland Palace Concert, Vol. 1” (Jazz Classics JZCL-6010). From a September of 1952 concert, you confirmed some of the music is true stereo.

In more recent years, we have seen many CDs with “astonishing newly discovered stereo” from as far back as the 1930s.

I have not purchased any of these as I am not completely sold on the authenticity of the stereo, even though I am not a hard core audiophile.

Also, any idea what the first honest-to-goodness stereo album might be?
—Philip Marlow, Madison, Wisc.

DEAR PHILIP: But are you a hard core audiophile? (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Nearly all “newly discovered stereo” music is the result of various remastering techniques, the best of which involve using the original multi-track elements to fabricate all-new selections.

As for the stereo itself, the channel separation varies depending on the number of pick-ups (microphones) originally used, especially with the vocals.

Most desirable is with lead vocals in the center of the audio field and background singers and orchestration balanced across the “stage,” as one would hear if positioned in the middle of a concert hall.

Many audiophiles praise the results of the latest remastering techniques, favoring the recently recast versions of those venerable classics.

Generally disliked by stereo lovers is the extreme separation often found on early and mid-'60s albums, where one channel is devoted to vocals, with little or no music, and the other for the instruments, with little or no vocals. EMI used this approach on some early Beatles LPs. True stereo it is, but a bit too true.

None of this remastering should be confused with the fake stereo so common in the 1960s, in which monaural masters are refiltered, rephased, rehashed, reverberated, and usually ruined.

The respectable labels identified their phony stereo releases as being “electronically reprocessed,” “electronically enhanced,” or with a similar disclaimer.

Depending on who you ask, or whose research you read, the first true stereo LP is either Columbia's Original Broadway Cast Recording of “West Side Story,” or an Audio Fidelity double LP combining the “Dukes of Dixieland” and “Railroad Sound Effects.” “West Side Story” opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre, September 26, 1957.

Knowing the show was a smash, they wasted no time getting over to Columbia's 30th Street Studio where the recording session took place September 29th.

Columbia rush-released the Original Broadway Cast LP. The company shows this to be an October '57 issue, and commercially available in three formats: a boxed set of five extended play 45 rpm singles (A-5230); monaural long-play (OL-5230); and their first stereo album (OS-2001).

“West Side Story” lyricist, Stephen Sondheim also confirms these 1957 releases, yet no one can say with certainty whether the stereo edition came out exactly at the same time as the mono, or a short time later — such as in November.

We also know Audio Fidelity, an independent New York label, issued their “Dukes of Dixieland (You Have to Hear It to Believe It!)” (AFSD-5823) & “Railroad Sound Effects: Sounds of a Vanishing Era” LP (AFSD-5843), a demonstration of stereo aimed at the recording industry, in November 1957.

Not sold in stores, this album was only available by mail directly from Audio Fidelity, and only to those requesting a free copy using company letterhead.

Which came first? Without the aid of instant replay, this race is still too close to call.

IZ ZAT SO? Audio Fidelity's selection of the Dukes of Dixieland and sound effects for their first stereo issue was prophetic, as recordings — stereo in particular — of these two divergent choices became the backbone of the company.

Ultimately they released about 15 LPs by the Dukes and 30 with nothing but sound effects.

Unlike music and vocals, the novelty of authentic railroad sounds is hearing the train gradually approach in just one channel, then rumble through the center of the audio field (equally from both speakers) only to chug off into the distance from the other channel.

These sounds are from old-time cannonballs (i.e., steam locomotives) rather than diesels, thus the “Sounds of a Vanishing Era” reference.

Copyright 2009 Osbourne Enterprises- Reprinted By Permission


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Music News & Notes

A Fresh Start for Taking Back Sunday

Though the band is only four albums into their career, Taking Back Sunday has announced that with their upcoming full length, New Again, the group is in a state of rejuvenation (thus the title of the LP). The band has had its ups and downs over the past eight years, from 2002's explosive debut album Tell All Your Friends to the disappointing follow up Where You Want To Be, and a number of band defections later - there's good reason why frontman Adam Lazzara says that TBS "really does feel like a new band."

New Again will be Taking Back Sunday's second album on a major label and will be released through Warner Bros. on June 2nd. The album is highly anticipated among fans of the genre and can only hope to emulate the outstanding success of their last album Louder Now.


Rodgers Done With Queen

In an interview with VH1 Classic Radio, Paul Rodgers stated that he's pretty much done with his collaboration with Queen.

“Well, you know, we did a world tour, we did a second tour of Europe and the Far East and Eastern Europe and we did a studio album and I think we’re kind of leaving it there gently. It’s out there for us to do things in the future if there’s something, a huge charity say like Nelson Mandela, I’m always open to that, but I think we are pretty much done.”


Lips LP Taking Shape

The Flaming Lips are set to release a double album in late September, tentatively called "Embryonic." Thirteen songs are already on paper and plans are to write eight or nine more.

Wayne Coyne told Billboard, "Somewhere along the way it occurred to me that we should do a double album. Just this idea that you can kind of weave a couple of themes into there and you can sort of sprawl a little bit."


The Donnas Announce "Greatest Hits" Album

In celebration of sixteen years playing high-powered rock and roll, all-female quartet The Donnas will deliver a career-spanning retrospective entitled "The Donnas Greatest Hits, Vol 16" on July 7th on their own Purple Feather Records. The comprehensive album features two brand new songs, two never-before-heard b-sides from their self-released 2007 album "Bitchin," live versions of hits “Take It Off” and “Fall Behind Me,” and two previously unreleased tracks from the band’s earliest days together. The band also re-recorded five tracks, remixed one and included two alternative versions of songs from their Lookout! Records catalog (1998-2001), one of which is sung by original producer/co-writer Darin Raffaelli.

Brett Anderson (vocals), Allison Robertson (vocals, guitar), Maya Ford (bass guitar), and Torry Castellano (drums, percussion, vocals) formed The Donnas in Palo Alto, CA, in 1993 and have been consistently rocking since, an unprecedented longevity for the all-female rock band. Drawing inspiration from The Ramones, AC/DC and Kiss, "Greatest Hits" marks the band’s 8th release and their music has recently been featured in the film and soundtrack toI Love You, Man, Rock Band 2, “The Bad Girls Club” (Oxygen network) and “Ultimate Gamer” (Sci-Fi Channel).

The Donnas will tour the US this summer as headliners and with female musical pioneers Blondie and Pat Benatar

Bowie's Storytellers Coming to CD/DVD on July 14

VH1...August 1999...back when they played music. David Bowie was guest on VH1 Storytellers, turning in a show that covered material from his entire career.

That appearance is coming to CD/DVD and digital audio on July 14 via Virgin/EMI. Featured are the eight songs from the original broadcast plus video of four additional numbers that were recorded during the session but never shown. Audio of those four performances will also be available via the digital release.

Storytellers Executive Producer Bill Flanagan says in the liner notes "We were used to dealing with legendary musicians. Still, landing David Bowie was more than a big booking. There's no way to say this without being corny: it was an honor. Bowie has a unique place in rock & roll. He is not only one of the most influential musicians of the era, he does nothing unless he is fully committed. He never phones it in.

"Bowie's Storytellers was a unique theatrical event, a sort of off-Broadway Evening with the Artist in which a great songwriter used bits and pieces from his life and career to show us all the roads leading up to a single moment, a complement to his current album but also a performance strong enough to stand on its own: a compelling introduction to David Bowie for the uninitiated and a fresh experience for the long time fan."

The track list for David Bowie: VH1 Storytellers:

CD/DVD/Digital Audio
Life On Mars?

Rebel Rebel (truncated)
Thursday's Child
Can't Help Thinking About Me
China Girl
Drive-In Saturday
Word On A Wing

Bonus Video (DVD) & Audio (Digital Release) Performances
I Can't Read
Always Crashing In The Same Car
If I'm Dreaming My Life


Vinyl Record News

The Younger Generation Enjoys The Rich Sound Of Vinyl On The New Audio Turntables

by Stacy Bushaw

The CDs out there have a pristine sound, but records provide a better sound. Younger kids like the cover art on the records as well, according to James Patterson, age 17, who doesn’t even remember when they LPs were popular in the past. He found some old LPs up in the attic at his grandparents home by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, then his uncle grabbed him a player on eBay and he know displays it in his room.

Today there are a variety of manufacturers that are designing turntable systems that have the same designs from the past but with newer technology. A few of the manufacturers making these creations include jWin, teac, Crosely, and Memorex. Some of the great features on these new systems include stacking more than record, using USB connections, and even recording to CD.

When it comes to the gift giving time of Christmas, nostalgia turntables are one of the top sellers according to Classic Buys’ Raman. Some of the most popular brands that are sold include Memorex, Teac, Thomas Pacconi, and Crosley each year.

Many people today prefer to go with top brand names and turntables that provide you with various features. Consumers often go with four in one systems that play the radio, cassettes, records, and CDs. Top brands are usually purchased as well, such as Teac and Crosley. Features are important to most consumers today, such as the feature to record to CD or Stack-O-Matic features. With the Stack-O-Matic you are able to stack up several records and play continuously, and then with the recorder, you can take your LPs and record them onto CDs for your listening pleasure.

The purest form of music happens to be on vinyl records according to Crosley Radio president. This has made nostalgic reproductions on these record players very popular and very highly promoted during the holiday season. Everything the produced wants on record is captured, but with the CDs you lose something.

Today the Crosley name lives on with superbly detailed replicas that truly transcend time. Reintroductions of original vintage radios and turntables feature the newest technologies graced by unforgettable Crosley stylings. The Crosley Collection includes AM/FM radios, portable suitcase - styled record players and audio turntables, record changers, multi-functional audio cassette/compact disc players, jukeboxes, music boxes, telephones and more. Rich lines, retro designs and authentic crafting have made Crosley today’s premier vintage electronics manufacturer. True to the Crosley tradition, these replicas are as fabulous as they are functional, providing a delightful dose of nostalgia.

400,000 plus record players were sold by Crosley alone back in 2005 and they are expecting to sell even more this year. The sales of Teac have tripled within the past year and they figure there are about 10 billion albums that are sitting on the shelves in people’s homes. Now there is a great way to play this music again with the great units that Crosley and Teac are providing for about $100 to start out with.

Of course these sales don’t even compare to the sales of CD players, which have sold millions of units. These sales are small enough that they are not even tracked at all by the Consumer Electronics Association. However, among DJs and rap fans, they definitely still have a home today.

Among new turntable buyers, “You’ve got two camps,” says Dave Glassman of Restoration Hardware, which has turntables and sampler 45s in heavy rotation at its 105 stores, as well as in its catalog and on its Web site. “Thirty-five years and older, who grew up on LPs and still have them, and their kids, who have found these records in the closet and want to hear them.” Teac and Crosley unveiled new models that meld old and new at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, such as Crosley’s $229 4 in 1 Entertainment Center, with a CD player, cassette deck, radio and the ability to play vinyl at 33, 45 and 78 rpm.

About the Author:
Before purchasing audio turntables online check out Stacy Bushaws’ favorite audio turntable store on the internet at