Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The rich sound of a vinyl revival

Bertrand Marotte

For hard-core vinyl enthusiasts, this must surely be hallowed ground.

The shop floor of RIP-V is tucked away inside a nondescript industrial building in a quiet South Shore suburb of Montreal. It’s hot, and there is the mild, not unpleasant odour of heated vinyl in the air. A bulky old industrial machine that once worked overtime in New Jersey churning out Rolling Stones and other mass-market pop records during the LP’s heyday is now doing duty stamping out a limited vinyl run of indie band Arcade Fire’s new album The Suburbs.

Tiny black PVC pellets are poured into a funnel at one end of the machine, run through an extruder and melted into a hot patty. Aided by 10 tons of hydraulic pressure, nickel-plated stampers squish the blob – complete with paper labels – into a 12-inch grooved platter. The excess vinyl that oozes out is trimmed and the record is left to cool.

The Arcade Fire pressing is for up to 20,000 vinyl copies of the eagerly anticipated double album by the Montreal alt-rock-music stars. Three other machines are standing by and another two are ready to be started later this summer as other work arrives.

Philippe Dubuc and his technician, Richard Quirion, work the pressing machine in an easygoing manner, pausing every now and then for quality checks.

Launched last year, RIP-V bills itself as Canada’s only vinyl-pressing facility. It is one of fewer than a dozen companies in North America riding the global vinyl revival after rumours of the phonograph record’s impending death turned out be greatly exaggerated.

“People are looking for something more than just downloads,” says Mr. Dubuc, a former National Bank Financial investment banker who knew nothing about record pressing before deciding to take the plunge with his Saint-Lambert neighbour, indie-label distributor Iain Walker, and Mr. Walker’s wife Renée Papillon.

(RIP stands for Renée, Iain and Philippe; the V is for vinyl, and RIP is also meant as a sly wink at the presumed death of the product.)

“I think there has been a reaction to the absence of texture in the digital sound of CDs and iPods,” says Mr. Dubuc, 43, and the father of three.

There is, of course, the core group of older music lovers, audiophiles and collectors who never abandoned vinyl, but the past few years have seen a younger, indie music crowd flocking to the low-tech analog medium, he says.

Many small record labels now also offer with each vinyl record sold a coupon that contains a download code for a free, high-quality MP3 version of the album, an added incentive for younger buyers. Adding to the allure is the large-format artwork and liner notes that come with LP-sized albums.

Aficionados, too, are adamant in their claim that vinyl provides a warmer, richer sound than digital.

Vinyl accounts for only about 2 per cent of the North American recorded-music market, but it has been on a tear in terms of growth – in stark contrast to CDs, which have seen sales drop dramatically over the past few years. Digital downloads, meanwhile, continue to climb.

New vinyl sales in the United States hit close to three million last year, up from 1.88 million in 2008, according to data from Nielsen SoundScan.

Mr. Dubuc stumbled into the business – which he characterizes as highly gratifying and good for the soul, never mind the fact that RIP-V is already turning a profit – following a turn of professional bad luck.

Rocked by the asset-backed commercial paper meltdown in 2007, National Bank Financial ended up cutting staff and Mr. Dubuc – a 15-year veteran – was one of the casualties.

At that point, he was ready for something else, he says.

“I felt like building something. I didn’t feel that, in investment banking, you really end up leaving your mark.”

When Mr. Walker proposed starting up a vinyl-pressing company, Mr. Dubuc was initially hesitant but warmed to the idea after his research indicated they could make a go of it, given robustly growing demand for the niche product.

He found himself searching the Web for used equipment, including an industrial boiler to supply the steam used in the pressing process. In the end, 14 pressing machines dating from the mid-1970s were purchased, eight of which are in storage and ready to be fired up as business expands.

He and his partners put up their own cash, in the $500,000 to $1-million ballpark, says Mr. Dubuc, wearing scruffy shorts and an orange T-shirt printed with the outline of a blue turntable, a far cry from his former investment banking uniform.

RIP-V’s first release was the Tragically Hip’s We Are The Same, a 12,000-copy run in early 2009.

Key to his business model from the outset was a modest, low-key start – before the recent hiring of Mr. Quirion, Mr. Dubuc was the only one on the shop floor – and building a word-of-mouth following, based on attention to quality and detail, he said.

“This place is run lean,” he says proudly. “But we don’t cut corners.”

Among the high-profile companies on RIP-V’s customer list are well-regarded independent U.S. labels Epitaph Records and Merge Records.

Mr. Dubuc confesses to not having entirely shed the urge to check the Bloomberg website every now and then for business and finance news.

Getting the vinyl business off the ground has been tough but he said he doesn’t miss his previous career a bit.

“This is a noble product. It’s worth all the effort. If it had been plastic pens, I would have walked away.”

SOURCE:   http://www.ctv.ca/

Music News & Notes

Guided by Voices reveal 'classic line-up' for reunion show

Robert Pollard and co will play for old label Matador

Guided By Voices frontman Robert Pollard says he has enlisted the band's "classic line-up" for a reformation show in honour old record label Matador in October. The band, who last played together in 2004, will play Matador's 21st birthday at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. The three-day event takes place on October 1-3.

Pollard has now revealed which line up of the band will be playing.

"We got the band back together. Not the original line-up - the classic line-up," he told Spinner. "It's better than the original line-up. Tobin Sprout and Mitch Mitchell [guitars], Kevin Fennel [drums] and Greg Demos [bass]."

Pollard added that the band will be "performing songs from the albums 'Propeller', 'Bee Thousand', 'Alien Lanes' and 'Under The Bushes Under The Stars' as well as from singles and EPs from that era".


DEATH ANGEL - New Album Art Available

Album released on September 3rd in Europe and the 14th in North America

San Francisco Bay Area thrash legends, DEATH ANGEL, have uploaded the album cover art by Brent Elliot White (JOB FOR A COWBOY,CARNIFEX, WHITECHAPEL) for their upcoming release entitled Relentless Retribution, to their official Myspace page www.myspace.com/DeathAngel

Relentless Retribution is a full return to the bands thrash roots and will be released on September 3rd in Europe and the 14th in North America. The album was recorded at Audio Hammer Studios in Sanford, Florida with production genius Jason Suecof (TRIVIUM, AUGUST BURNS RED, THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER, ALL THAT REMAINS, WHITE CHAPEL, DEVILDRIVER).


Video: Bobby Vee Discusses Upcoming Rarities Album

Bobby Vee will release a two-disc, 60-song collection of rarities in October. At this point, Rare and Unreleased Gems from the EMI/Capitol Vaults will only hit the stores in Europe, however, the album should be available in the U.S. via Amazon.



Storm Thorgerson presents 50 works of art including rare originals at his August show

SAN FRANCISCO – Storm Thorgerson, album cover artist for Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, is presenting 20 never before seen pieces of art at the San Francisco Art Exchange for his August show. The show will also feature Storm’s classic collection of surreal images and album covers. Storm himself is visiting San Francisco Art Exchange on Saturday, August 14 at the invite only reception celebrating the opening night of his show

Also attending the reception is Storm’s design partner, Aubrey Powell. The two visionaries created Hipgnosis, the design company that produced album covers for some of rocks biggest musicians and bands including Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Steve Miller Band, Alan Parsons, Peter Gabriel, Paul McCartney & Wings, The Mars Volta, Muse, The Cranberries, The Scorpions, Black Sabbath, Phish, and many more.

San Francisco Art Exchange is the world’s leading dealer of Storm Thorgerson’s artwork. The gallery is honored to work with an artist of such legendary status, worthy of Pink Floyd’s praise.

“Storm’s images were created without any of the software that we take advantage of now,” said San Francisco Art Exchange co-owner Theron Kabrich. “The content of most of his amazing images were constructed scenes, assembled or built in real time as on a movie set. Long before programs like Adobe Photoshop were ever dreamt of, Storm was visualizing and developing images that boggled the mind and provoked the imagination. This leads me to believe those who invented such programs most likely would have been inspired by the imagery Storm created.”

San Francisco Art Exchange has been the world’s leading dealer of popular icon art and photography since 1983. It is the home of pin-up artist Alberto Vargas’ collection of drawings and paintings. SFAE has developed relationships with legendary artists, photographers and celebrities around the world and has represented the art of Ronnie Wood, Rolling Stones guitarist since 1987. In addition to imagery of and by well-known personalities, SFAE has also enjoyed long relationships with famed album cover artists Storm Thorgerson (Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin), Roger Dean (Yes, Asia), and Stanley Mouse (Grateful Dead) and some of the most significant rock and celebrity photographers in the world. All unique artwork and rare photographs can be viewed in the gallery located in Union Square at 458 Geary Street between Mason and Taylor, and online at www.sfae.com. Gallery Hours: Mon-Wed 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Thu-Sat 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., Sun 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Press inquiries contact Nikki Sulon, nsulon@sfae.com (nsulon@sfae.com)

www.sfae.com (http://www.sfae.com)

San Francisco Art Exchange LLC

458 Geary Street San Francisco CA, 94102

(415)441-8840 (800)344-9633 Fax (415)673-3697

This Date In Music History - July 6


Della Reese (1931)

Gene Chandler (1937)

Jet Harris - Shadows (1939)

Rik Elswit - Dr Hook (1945)

Mike Shrieve - Santana (1949)

Nanci Griffith (1954)

John Keeble - Spandau Ballet (1959)

Tim Bricheno - All About Eve (1963)

50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) (1975)

They Are Missed:

LaVerne Andrews - The Andrews Sisters (July 6 1911- May 8, 1967)

Jazz trumpeter, singer and bandleader, Louis Armstrong died in 1971. Had many hits including the 1964 US #1 "Hello Dolly!" 1968 UK #1 "What A Wonderful World" plus "When The Saints Go Marching In," "Ain't Misbehavin" and "We Have All the Time in the World." He made frequent use of laxatives as a means of controlling his weight, resulting in Armstrong appearing in humorous, advertisements for laxative product Swiss Kriss; the ads bore a picture of him sitting on a toilet, as viewed through a keyhole, with the slogan "Satch says, 'Leave it all behind ya!"

Singer, producer songwriter, Van McCoy died from a heart attack in Englewood, New Jersey in 1979. Van McCoy and the Soul City had the US #1 single "The Hustle." Worked with Gladys Knight and the Pips, The Stylistics, Aretha Franklin and David Ruffin.

Born on this day in 1925, Bill Haley, (William John Clifton Haley), singer, guitarist, 'The first Rock 'n' Roll star.' As Bill Haley and his Comets he had the 1955 US #1 single "Rock Around The Clock." Haley was one of the earliest acts to bring rock and roll to the attention of white America and the rest of the world. He sold over 60 million records during his career. Haley died on February 9, 1981.

Skip Battin bassist and songwriter with The Byrds died of complications from Alzheimer's disease in 2003. Also played with New Riders Of The Purple Sage and The Flying Burrito Brothers.

R&B, soul singer-songwriter Syreeta Wright died in 2004, after a two-year battle with bone cancer (age 58). Teamed up with Billy Preston on the 1980, #1 US hit "With You I'm Born Again." Once worked as a secretary at Motown Records and married Stevie Wonder in 1970..


In 1954, WHBQ in Memphis became the first radio station to play an Elvis Presley record ("That's Alright Mama").

Still on Sun Records, Elvis Presley’s “Baby, Let’s Play House” appeared on the national pop charts. It peaked at #10 on Country & Western charts in 1955.

In 1957, John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time at The Woolton Church Parish Fete where The Quarry Men were appearing. As The Quarry Men were setting up for their evening performance, McCartney eager to impress Lennon picked up a guitar and played "Twenty Flight Rock" (Eddie Cochran) and "Be-Bop-A-Lula" (Gene Vincent). Lennon was impressed, and even more so when McCartney showed Lennon and Eric Griffiths how to tune their guitars, something they'd been paying someone else to do for them.

Essex started a two-week run at #1 on the US singles chart in 1963 with "Easier Said Than Done."

James Brown went to #2 on the US album chart in 1963 with 'Live At The Apollo'. The album spent a total of 33 weeks on the chart.

The Beatles film 'A Hard Days Night' premiered at The Pavilion in London in 1964.

Jefferson Airplane was formed in 1965.

Jackie Wilson recorded "Higher & Higher" in 1965.

The Rolling Stones scored their fifth US #1 single in 1968 when "Jumpin Jack Flash" hit the top of the charts.

Queen released their first single, "Keep Yourself Alive" in 1973.

The Hues Corporation went to #1 on the US singles chart in 1974 with "Rock The Boat."

In 1975, Rolling Stone Keith Richards was arrested by the highway patrol in Arkansas on charges of reckless driving and possessing an offensive weapon, a seven-inch hunting knife.

The Damned made their London debut supporting The Sex Pistols at the 100 Club in 1976.

In 1984, The Jacksons kicked off their North American Victory tour at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City. Over 2 million people attended the 55 concerts which grossed over $75 million. Michael Jackson donated $5 million to various charities.

Phil Collins went to #1 on the US singles chart in 1985 with "Sussudio," his third US #1.

Van Halen started a three-week run at #1 on the US album chart in 1991 with 'For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge'.

The Prodigy went to #1 on the US album chart in 1997 with 'The Fat Of The Land'.

In 2002, George Harrison's widow Olivia put the couple's home up for sale for £20m saying she couldn't bear to live with the memories of the attack by schizophrenic Michael Abram who broke into the house in 1999.

In 2004, Paul McCartney celebrated the 40th anniversary of "A Hard Day's Night" with the film’s cast and crew at a special screening. The film shows the Beatles going through a series of adventures as they prepare for a TV appearance. "Yes, it takes me back," says McCartney. "It`s very sad that George and John aren`t around to see it."

Alsao in 2004, nearly a quarter-century after its release, AC/DC`s classic 'Back In Black' album was certified double diamond by music-industry for shipment of 20 million units. The disc moved its first 10 million copies by 1990. The album was the group`s first with Brian Johnson, who replaced original singer Bon Scott - after his alcohol-related death in 1979.

Grammy award winning Rap star Lil' Kim who was convicted of perjury and conspiracy in March 2005, was sentenced to a year in jail for lying to a grand jury to protect friends. Kim told the court "I testified falsely to the grand jury and during the trial. At the time I thought it was the right thing to do. Now I know it was wrong." Lil' Kim, (real name Kimberley Jones), was also fined $50,000. Charges were brought against her after a gunfight erupted outside a New York radio station in 2001 as a rival rap group was arriving.

In 2007, Britney Spears apologized for attacking a photographer's car with an umbrella earlier this year. Pictures of the 25-year-old lashing out appeared in several newspapers shortly after photos emerged of her shaving her head in a hair salon. In a message on her website, she said: "I apologize to the pap for a stunt that was done four months ago." She said she got "carried away" preparing for a film part but added that she did not get the role.

In 2007, Ozzy Osbourne was the first celebrity honored with a plaque on Birmingham, England's Walk of Stars. "This means more to me than any f***ing Hollywood thing," says Ozzy of the hometown tribute. He also has a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. "I am absolutely knocked out."