Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Vinyl Record Sound Quality Thrives At US Plant

Written By Robert Benson

Our music is sounding better than ever because we can hear it on vinyl again. Millions of music lovers all over the world are discovering and rediscovering why vinyl is the best sound reproduction format. Along with the growth of this historic sound medium is a renewed interest in record companies and manufacturers who produce the vinyl records that the music community is buying. Let’s explore a company dedicated to the quality of their vinyl products and most importantly, the sound of the music.

I spoke with Eric Astor, CEO and Manish Naik, COO of Furnace MFG ( and although the company offers a multitude of sound and promotional services, we will focus on the vinyl record aspects of the company. The company has secured exclusive North American partnerships with two of the best audiophile quality pressing plants in Europe and as we will learn, it is all about producing the best sounding vinyl that can be manufactured. Let’s learn more about them:

Who are you and what does your company do?

“Furnace MFG is located in the Washington, DC metro area and we are a one-stop source for CD, DVD and vinyl manufacturing. Furnace MFG has been hard at work pressing CDs and DVDs for the independent music community since 1996. We have made exclusive agreements with two of the best pressing plants in the world to provide the best sounding records on the planet,” explained Eric.

“Many people ask why our prices are more expensive than pressing plants in the US. The answer is simple: we offer the best quality sound and physical product on the planet and it costs a bit more to produce this kind of quality. Vinyl pressing is a refined art - unlike a modern CD plant. It takes decades of experience to produce consistent quality records and by teaming up with our partners we have over 120 years of knowhow in the pressing business. We also work with our partners overseas to press and package sleeved vinyl that is then shipped to Furnace MFG in Fairfax, Virginia. The meticulous staff at Furnace MFG inspects each record for quality and consistency. It is then assembled, packaged, boxed and shipped right from our state of the art packaging facility on to your location. We are your one stop source for vinyl, jackets, inserts, posters, dropcards, mastering, cutting or anything else vinyl related.”

Why is the vinyl record making a resurgence?

“We think there are two main reasons that vinyl is making a resurgence. The first is that consumers are re-discovering (or discovering for the first time) that listening to a vinyl record is completely different than listening to a CD or a downloaded song. The quality of sound is clearly better with richer tones since a vinyl record plays exactly how an artist recorded the song with no loss of translation to a digital format. There is also an entire experience of listening to a record which is missing from CDs and MP3’s. Selecting the record, taking it out of the sleeve, putting it on the turntable, looking over the jacket and liner notes; these actions combine to create an actual ‘experience’ of listening. Listening to a record is in and of itself, the activity. Listening to an MP3 is generally done while doing something else and is more often than not, a background activity,” said Manish.

“The second reason for the resurgence in vinyl records is that artists and labels are once again embracing the format. Artists love the sound of vinyl and feel it’s a truer representation of their music. Labels are realizing that although the raw sales of vinyl are low compared to CDs, the margins are much higher and are paying attention to this new revenue source in the face of decreasing CD sales and increasing digital downloads.”

“The combination of consumer interest and interest from the labels is what is fueling this growth. One couldn’t exist without the other and we feel that this trend will continue for years. Vinyl will never overtake CD sales but there will continue to be a core group of consumers interested in this format,” continued Manish.

“One thing that the music industry must take into consideration though is that vinyl will only grow and expand if the quality is there. If a buyer’s first experience with vinyl is a negative one, they will not be coming back to the format. There are a lot of poorly pressed records out there that do not enrich the listening experience. If this is what buyers come to expect, they will stop buying vinyl and go back to buying CDs or sharing files. This is where we think Furnace provides the most help in the marketplace – ensuring that each and every record we produce is amongst the best pressed in the world and something that a band or label can stand behind and be proud of.”

Is the PVC made in America and then shipped to the pressing plants?

“Each plant that Furnace has a formed an exclusive partnership with source their own PVC. They are the experts in understanding which products work best with their pressing machines and which products produce the best sounds,” explained Manish. “Both Pallas (Germany) and Record Industry (The Netherlands) have their own PVC formula that is made specifically for their plant.”

“All vinyl is pressed in Europe and then shipped on pallets via airplane to our facility in northern Virginia (just outside Washington DC) where we assemble the final product and finish for retail distribution. Vinyl is usually from the plant to our dock in less than 24 hours which preserves the quality of the product and allows us to offer industry leading lead times.”

What are the costs associated with releasing a vinyl record?

“There are various costs associated with vinyl records. Some of these are mastering/cutting, test pressings, actual vinyl production, jacket & insert printing, assembly costs, and final finishing costs,” said Eric. “The costs varies greatly depending on the weight of the record (120 g, 140g, or 180g), the turnaround time desired (either 4 weeks or 8 weeks), and the complexity of the assembly and finishing. For someone just getting into vinyl production, here’s a helpful list of the production steps (post recording), all of which Furnace offers to our clients:

-EQ / Leveling / Audio Mastering
-Lacquer or DMM Cutting
-Galvanics / Metalwork (father, mother and stamper creation)
-Producing Test Pressings for customer approval
-Label design and printing
-Jacket, insert and marketing sticker design and printing
-Vinyl Pressing
-Assembly, wrapping/bagging, boxing and shipping

You tell me the vinyl is pressed in different countries, can you elaborate, why ship the work overseas?

“As we entered the business of vinyl manufacturing, we knew that there was really only one plant in the US that has the quality that the audiophile market craves,” explained Eric. “There are other domestic options but the quality produced in these plants was less than we were willing to put our name on. We signed exclusive relationships with two of Europe’s best vinyl plants (Pallas Group, and Record Industry). These plants have a long tradition in the vinyl business and the craftsmanship of their employees is amazing. To give you an example, the mother plate inspector at Pallas worked as an apprentice for 10 years before taking over that job. At Record Industry, they have produced some of the world’s best selling releases on vinyl including “Dark Side of the Moon” and various Michael Jackson, Pearl Jam and Beatles titles. Record Industry’s main cutting engineer has cut all of the aforementioned records during his 33 year career with a variety of labels and plants. We are confident that any record produced by our partners will be of very high quality and consistency – because that’s what our customers and record buyers demand.”

What is the difference between ‘regular’ vinyl and the ‘audiophile’ releases that are becoming more popular these days?

“It’s all about the sound quality. If you take two plants and give them lacquers cut from the finest cutting studio in the world and ask them to press up some records – you will often times get two completely different products. The PVC material used, the galvanics process and the pressing formulas at our two facilities are the secret weapon to creating some of the best records in the world. If a plant does not put the care and expense into creating superior metal parts, you will hear it in the vinyl. If a plant treats each record the same and doesn’t factor in the cut and the other 9,000 things you need to consider when pressing vinyl records, you can have problems there as well. You will get non-fill, poor tracking, etc when inexperienced people are running the equipment. Both of our plants have been around for decades and the experience on the floor is not something you can buy or learn overnight,” explained Manish.

“Most of the records that are marketed as Audiophile releases are pressed on heavyweight vinyl. 180g records, for example, are less prone to warp or dish. When pressed correctly, you will get a superior and long lasting product from a heavyweight record.”

Tell me about the picture discs manufacturing process.

“These are really old-school in that they are all made on hand presses, unlike our regular vinyl products that are pressed on automatic presses. The actual playable surface is a laminate similar to the flexi records of yesteryear. These make for great collector items that sell well as novelties. Although they are great for business, they are extremely inefficient and difficult to make and the sound quality leaves much to be desired,” said Eric.

What attracts you to records?

“We are consumers of records much like all other consumers. For us, records enable us to connect with the music in ways that CDs and digital music just won’t allow. We all have MP3 players and love them for the storage capacity and flexibility but there are times when putting on a record is an unbeatable experience. Also, some records I have owned for 25 years plus and I remember the money I saved to buy them, the smell of the record when I opened it and the store I bought it from. Each time I put on one of those records it brings me back to a place and time of my life – most of the time it’s a positive memory.”

Discuss the clear vinyl vs. black vinyl debate, does it matter?

Eric explains: “There is a debate in the audiophile market on whether the carbon in black vinyl creates a magnetic resonance that can be heard in playback. Some labels have gone so far as to start pressing their releases on clear vinyl to sidestep this perceived issue. We have talked to many in the industry about this and feel that with anything audiophile, this is up to each person’s personal experience. From a pressing plant’s perspective, we know for a fact that the sound quality and consistency of pressing with black PVC is night and day difference over any colored vinyl including clear. Considering there is equipment that will help you rid yourself of such carbon created audio atrocities, we feel black vinyl will always be the best choice for the audiophile client.”

What is the best way to clean records, what do you use?

“There are many different ways to clean records from simple soap and water to super expensive cleaning machines and formulas,” said Naik. “At the end of the day, the important thing is to take care of your records, not store them in fluctuating temperatures and handle them with care. Simple things can make records last a lifetime! Internally, we use a VPI cleaning machine because we clean a lot of records, it does a great job and it’s FAST. If you can afford one, they are a huge convenience and do a fantastic job. For normal cleaning we just use a static free brush to get all of the dust off the surface prior to play. That one two combo works really well.”

Do you or can you do the cover art ‘in house’?

“Most of our major label clients (i.e. Warner, Universal) have art directors in house who will prepare all the artwork files and send us the final, print ready files. But for the thousands of other clients we have serviced over the last 13 years, we have a full, in-house creative and production design staff who create unique designs for anyone who asks. Our rates are competitive and we have worked within the entertainment industry for a long time so we’re known for our creative side as much as our mechanics.”

Tell us about some of your clients:

“We have a wide variety of clients from major music labels like Warner Music and Universal to independent labels as well. We also work with licensed reissue labels that focus on high quality vinyl such as Mobile Fidelity, Acoustic Sounds and Original Recordings Group. These guys produce ultra high quality records and packaging that are amongst the leaders in the field – going as far as flying out the original tapes to the cutting studio or going through 3 and 4 sets of lacquers until they have the perfect cut.

“We also work with a wealth of independent labels and bands. This is where we are put to the test. Everyone is looking to do something different and unique and everyone is on a budget. We have enough experience to work with people to collect their wants and desires, talk budget and then match them up with a package that most closely meets their needs. Since most of our customers are either new to vinyl or new to getting back to vinyl, we act as a consultant sometimes as much as we do a pressing plant.”

Tell us more about the Quentin Tarantino/Inglourious Basterds project and what has been released.

“Warner Bros. approached us with this project based on our long standing relationship with them and the fact that we could put a rush on this project,” detailed Manish. “The film was widely released in the US in August and the desire was to have the soundtrack available when the film released. We were able to turn this project around in three weeks which is far shorter than the average turn around times in the industry which can range from 4-8 weeks. We also produced a promotional 7” and jacket that they used in stores and elsewhere to promote the LP release. I believe it is now available in stores and online. Warner has all of their vinyl on their own site at Warner USA is VERY serious about their vinyl releases. They are very meticulous with their quality control and demand the VERY best in terms of vinyl, sound and packaging quality. I think that’s why they have the respect in the industry and why their vinyl sells the best – people know they are going to get the very best when they buy a Warner release.”

Where do you see the record industry in 5 years, is this just a fad or will vinyl continue to be in demand?

“We expect the record industry to continue its growth for the next few years eventually flattening out in about 5 years," explained Eric. "We do not think the resurgence in vinyl is a fad but rather a new/old format that more and more people will continue to discover. As long as labels are willing to put out a high quality record for their bands, fans will be there to buy them. Vinyl never died. The customer never rejected the format. The labels, seeing higher profit margins, inflated MSRPs for the Compact Disc and shoved vinyl aside and told record stores to make way for CDs and liquidate their vinyl. Indie stores and mail-order houses/websites always sold vinyl and they always will. Let’s hope the labels and bands keep running with it and keep the customer base happy.”

It’s amazing to learn that a company actually cares about the most important element of the vinyl record, the quality of the sound. It’s why many mainstream artists and indie bands are returning to this glorious recording format and why the music consumers are clamoring for more vinyl record releases. It’s all about the sound, which is why we love our music in the first place and why so many musical acts are seeking the services of Furnace MFG.

Ask Mr. Music - September 14, 2009

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: A few years ago you gave the longest song titles in each of several categories, such as charted hits, non-charted songs, medleys, with and without subtitles, etc.

What I don't recall being in your listings is anything by Rod Stewart.

I mention this because I ran across a site that says Rod Stewart has the “longest title ever for a Top 40 hit.”

They don't give the year, and, much to my surprise, they don't even give the title!

I looked up all of Rod's hit records, and none have a title longer than “I Don't Want to Talk About It,” with seven words. While that one didn't quite make the Top 40, he did have three with six words that did: “The First Cut Is the Deepest”; “Some Guys Have All the Luck”; and “My Heart Can't Tell You No.”

Still, these are far shorter than your Top 40 selection: Ray Stevens' 14-word “Jeremiah Peabody's Poly Unsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green and Purple Pills” (1961).

What do you know about this Rod Stewart comment?

Now how about providing the longest boy's and girl's names used on a hit record?
—Lonnie Fister, Long Beach, Calif.

DEAR LONNIE: I made no mention of a Rod Stewart song in my longest hit titles column (April 2003) because he has none that qualify.

The title you saw referenced, but not named, was never a hit single in the U.S.

Without its 20-word subtitle, it is only an eight-word title: “You Can Make Me Dance, Sing Or Anything (Even Take the Dog for a Walk, Mend a Fuse, Fold Away the Ironing Board, Or Any Other Domestic Shortcomings)” (Warner Bros. WBS-8066).

This cut, Rod's first single for Warner Brothers after four years with Mercury, is actually credited to Faces/Rod Stewart. Though it did not chart at all here, this tune did make the UK Top 15 in December 1974 (Warner Bros. K-16494).

Perhaps what that site really meant is Faces/Rod Stewart have BRITAIN'S longest Top 40 title, allowing for subtitles but excluding medleys. Then the claim is accurate.

Credited to “Faces/Rod Stewart” on the 45, the track is found on separate albums by each of the artists: “The Best of Faces - Good Boys … When They're Asleep” (Rhino/Warner 081227583026) and Rod Stewart's “Storyteller - The Complete Anthology: 1964-1990” (Warner Bros. 25987).

As for the longest titles that are names of a male, and a female, both are by country-pop crossover performers whose last names begin with “A,” and came out less than two years apart.

For a girl's name, it is Eddy Arnold's 1966 “Mary Claire Melvina Rebecca Jane” (RCA Victor 8818). Having “The Last Word in Lonesome is Me” on the reverse propelled this single to No. 2 in the country.

The boy's name, with one word more than Eddy's tune, is “Jose Villa Lobo Alfredo Thomasa Vincente Lopez,” a 1968 track by actor-singer Rex Allen.

With “Tiny Bubbles” on the flip (Decca 32322), this fared well in some markets but stalled at No. 71 nationally.

Notice that neither of these titles contain any words other than the name.

IZ ZAT SO? Rod Stewart's first single came out in the UK in late 1964 (Decca F-11996), then in early '65 in the U.S. (Press 9722): “Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl” backed with “I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town.” Copies from either side of the Atlantic can now sell for $100 to $200.

From mid-1969 through 1975, Rod Stewart — after two years with Jeff Beck's Group — recorded for Warner Brothers as a member of Faces.

Yet, in a highly unusual overlapping state of affairs, Stewart also recorded for Mercury “with Faces” for most of that time (1970-'76), and, beginning in 1975, as a solo act for Warner Bros.

Copyright 2009 Osbourne Enterprises- Reprinted By Permission

Rock/Pop Tidbits

In the spring of 1966, jam rockers the Grateful Dead moved to Rancho Olompali off of California Highway 101. They posted a sign out front stating: “No Trespassing- Violators will Be Experimented Upon.”

Vocalist David Dee of the British rock group Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, was a former policeman who was at the scene of the automobile accident that took the life of American rocker Eddie Cochran and injured Gene Vincent in April 1960. Dee rescued Cochran's guitar from the wreck and held it until it could be returned, undamaged, to Cochran's family.

It’s reported that while Fleetwood Mac was recording their legendary album “Rumors” in 1977, the group snorted so much cocaine that they insisted that their dealer be credited on the LP. The dilemma was solved when the dealer was killed before the album was released.

During this same recording session, Fleetwood Mac spent four days trying to tune a piano; then wound up bringing in nine different pianos- only to decide to not even use a piano after all.

While he was living with his fiancée Linda Ann Woodrow and his song writing partner Bernie Taupin, Elton John became depressed. But Taupin and Woodrow found him before he could harm himself. However, it was only a half-hearted attempt as Taupin explains: “He had his head in the gas range oven, but he only turned the gas on to low and left the kitchen window open. He even thought to take a cushion to rest his head on.”

After recording the iconic album “Pet Sounds,” Brian Wilson decided he needed to do some redecorating. So he turned his den (where his piano was located) into a giant sandbox so he could “feel the sand under his feet” as he wrote music.

Early manufacturers of Jukeboxes never referred to them as "jukeboxes,” they called them Automatic Coin-Operated Phonographs. The term "juke" is Southern US slang for dancing.

Keith Moon of the Who was one strange fellow. After his wife Kim left the rocking drummer in 1973 she sighed, “He’ll wake up in the morning and decide to be Adolph Hitler for the day. And he is Adolph Hitler.”

The late Freddie Mercury of Queen and his friends often enjoyed feasting on marijuana-filled brownies. On one particular rowdy night, the police arrived and asked the stoned rockers to quiet down. Mercury offered the officers some brownies, which they happily ate. Recalled Mercury, “I would love to have been a fly on the windscreen of their police car after about half an hour.”

In December, 1962, The Four Season's version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" reached number 23 on the Billboard singles chart. The song was originally a hit for George Hall in 1934.

"I'm A Believer,” the Monkees’ follow-up to their number one hit, "Last Train To Clarksville" was a million seller before it was even released, due to over 1 million advance orders.

Although many fans thought that the Beatles "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" was about LSD, John Lennon would later say that he got the inspiration for the song from a picture that his son Julian had painted at school.

John Lennon deliberately wrote nonsense words to "I Am The Walrus" to throw off listeners who tried to find hidden meanings in his lyrics.

It’s said that Beatle George Harrison really appreciated the true talent of the Spice Girls. “The good thing about them,” the quiet Beatle mused, “Is that you can look at them with the sound turned down.”

In 1956, Micky and Sylvia recorded the million selling "Love Is Strange.” After the duo split in 1961, Micky Baker would write several guitar instruction books, including the best seller "Jazz Guitar.” Sylvia Vanderpool co-founded All Platinum Records and co-wrote The Moments 1970 gold record "Love On A Two Way Street.”

To say Kurt Cobain was a bit sloppy is an understatement. Routinely, his house was littered with garbage and rotting food. When the Cobain’s tried to hire a maid, she ran out of their house screaming that “Satan lives here!”

Music News & Notes

SLAYER Reveal Album Art for World Painted Blood

Slayer’s World Painted Blood, the band’s highly-anticipated new album set for a November 3 release (American Recordings), will initially ship with four special collector’s edition CD covers. Each of the four covers will display one-fourth of a provocative continental map illustrated with human skulls and bones; when placed together, the four images form a complete and grisly map of the world (see above).

All four of the initial CD packages will include a special blood-red, see-through top panel with the map displayed beneath it.

The World Painted Blood Deluxe Edition will have its own special layout of the map cover art and will be in a double-digipak housed in a blood-red, see-through plastic sleeve. The Deluxe Edition will include the World Painted Blood CD, the “Playing With Dolls” DVD, a 20-minute animated graphic novel featuring music from the album (including part of a new non-album song), and an expanded booklet.


30 Seconds To Mars New LP

30 Seconds to Mars are gearing up for the release of their new album, titled This Is War. The album, which the band spent over a year and a half making, is due out Oct 20th.

The band's rocky relationship with their label home at Virgin Records has been well documented, when the label filed a lawsuit against the band last summer, claiming the band refused to deliver three albums as required by its contract. The album's title was rumored to be specifically about the band's troubles with their label, but in a recent interview with Buzznet, lead singer Jared Leto said the album's title was about much more.

"It's representative of the battles that we were fighting, us with the record label, creative battles, personal demons," Leto said. "We've discussed, like, is it relevant anymore? Some of the battles - obviously the creative, and the battles with the record label, have all come to pass, but I think it really still represents this record in the best way possible, so we're sticking with This Is War.... It represents too clearly this period of time in our lives."

He added that the title does not have to literally refer to any specific fight. "Also come the ideas about winning, ideas about compromise, about defeat, victory of course. But I think as I've tossed it around, it's always been the working title for the record as well, This Is War, so it's been important because I think it really represented the goal in a good way, a strong way."

Prior to the album's release on Oct. 20th, the band will be accepting cover art submissions from fans at their website The first 2,000 images submitted will be used as special edition cover art for the album.


OPETH Mainman: New KATATONIA CD Is Greatest 'Heavy' Record I've Heard In The Last 10 Years

Guitarist/vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt of Swedish progressive metallers OPETH has issued the following update:

"KATATONIA's [forthcoming album] 'Night Is The New Day' is possibly the greatest 'heavy' record I've heard in the last 10 years.

"Most people know my history with them and also my friendship with the guys. Jonas [P. Renkse, KATATONIA vocalist] and I have been best buddies for the last 18 years or so.

"Every time OPETH or KATATONIA has a new record [coming out], we arrange a small private listening party. Usually with myself, Anders [Nyström, KATATONIA guitarist] and Jonas. For years we've managed to record albums around the same time and had both the new OPETH album and the new KATATONIA album played back on the same session. It's always great fun, however disciplined.

"You can't talk during playback (death penalty), you listen to the album all the way through twice, and then we have the 'comments.' Everything is washed down with beer or wine...there might be snacks on the table.

"Well, two days after the new KATATONIA album is mastered, here we are, holed up in a friend's apartment ready to go through the new masterpiece by KATATONIA. And it truly is a masterpiece! I have not been this taken back by an album for a long time. I almost had tears in my eyes. It's an absolutely stunning piece of music! Easily their most progressive and emotional record, as far as I'm concerned.

The artwork for "Night Is The New Day" (see below) was once again designed by Travis Smith and closes the visual concept for "The Great Cold Distance" phase.

The new material was previously described by the band as "our most varied, diverse and possibly strongest shit all together on one and the same album."


John Fogerty to Receive Lifetime Achievement in Songwriting

John Fogerty, the man behind the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting at this year's Americana Music Association 8th Annual Honors. The awards happen this Thursday (September 17) at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Previous winners include John Hiatt, Willie Nelson, Rodney Crowell, Guy Clark, Cowboy Jack Clement, John Prine, and Billy Joe Shaver.

He is a quintuple threat: songwriter, singer, lead guitarist, arranger, and producer. A roots classicist in love with Memphis-style rockabilly, New Orleans-drenched rhythm-and-blues, and classic country styles, Fogerty was ahead of his time in forging a hybrid of these genres before it was common or stylish to do so. He was more than prescient: As Springsteen said upon Creedence Clearwater Revival’s induction into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, “Creedence wasn’t the hippest band in the world, but they were the best.” Also a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Grammy Award-winner, Fogerty began his work four decades ago, and thankfully, he never finished.

- Press Release on Award


Coldplay Resolve 'Viva La Vida' Copyright Dispute With Joe Satriani

Coldplay have finally resolved a legal dispute with guitarist Joe Satriani, who had sued the band for copyright infringement.

Satriani, 52, had claimed that the melody in Coldplay's 'Viva La Vida' resembled the guitar riff in his instrumental song, 'If I Could Fly'.

According to Billboard, the guitarist's lawsuit has been dismissed and Coldplay will not be required to admit to any wrongdoing.

Although court documents remain sealed, legal sources said the two parties may have reached a financial settlement.

In court papers filed in Los Angeles in April, Coldplay's lawyers said any similarities between the two songs weren’t enough to warrant damages.

They also said Santriani’s song "lacks originality” and wasn't in the position to receive copyright protection.


Daltrey/Townshend Tour?

Roger Daltrey has told The Rock that he and Pete Townshend are looking at all sorts of possible directions for next year's Who tour. "We're toying with the idea, along with the show we've got now, bringing back the production of Quadrophenia that the Who did, because we feel that that was ahead of it's time in 1996 and it would be good to give that an airing. And it also might be nice to do something on Tommy...the way the Who used to do Tommy, which was just a band standing onstage playing it. Not the stage show, Y'know like the production we played at the Met. We might even go back and play it at the Met, who knows?"

It's just not the Who anymore, there's only two of them left, why not call it the Daltrey/Townshend tour?


Eagle Drops Solo Effort

Timothy B. Schmidt of the Eagles is set to release a new solo album, Expando, on October 20 via Lost Highway. Guesting are Graham Nash, Dwight Yoakam, Kid Rock, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Van Dyke Parks and others.

The track list:

•One More Mile (featuring Keb' Mo')
•Parachute (featuring Graham Nash and Kenny Wayne Shepherd)
•Friday Night (featuring Van Dyke Parks)
•Ella Jean
•White Boy From Sacramento
•Downtime (featuring Dwight Yoakam, Kid Rock and Gary Burton)
•I Don't Mind (featuring Van Dyke Parks)
•Secular Praise (featuring the Blind Boys Of Alabama)
•A Good Day (featuring Greg Leisz)


UK Session Drummer Dies

Drummer Bobby Graham, who played on over 15,000 records in the U.K., has passed away from stomach cancer at the age of 69.

Some sources say that Graham was asked by Brian Epstein to take over for Pete Best in the Beatles but turned it down to work with (at the time) more nationally recognized bands. He eventually moved to strictly session work, working with the likes of the Kinks (on You Really Got Me), Dave Berry (The Crying Game), Petula Clark, Tom Jones and Dusty Springfield (on I Only Want to Be With You). In 2004, it was also revealed that Graham was the studio drummer for almost all of the Dave Clark Five records in place of Clark himself.


Beatles' Sales Figures

Hits Daily Double's predictions on final sales totals for the week show that the Beatles Abbey Road came up two to three thousand short of the 100,000 mark, but it was still enough to make it the third biggest album of the week behind Jay-Z (465,000 sold) and Miley Cyrus (110,000). Whitney Houston's album looks to drop a whopping 72% in its second week to about 83,000 good for third on the top 200 and fourth overall (remember that catalog albums, like those from the Beatles and Michael Jackson, don't chart in the U.S. on the top 200).

Overall, 14 Beatles albums are in the top 50 combined (current and catalog) with only the Mono Box Set and Yellow Submarine not making the top quarter of the chart. In comparison, Michael Jackson is down to three.