Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Music News & Notes

San Carlos fire causes $1.1 million in damage to warehouse rented by rocker Neil Young

A San Carlos warehouse filled with rock legend Neil Young's music equipment, vintage cars and other memorabilia burned in a three-alarm blaze early Tuesday, causing an estimated $1.1 million in damage.

Workers and friends of the longtime Peninsula resident spent the day moving guitars, canisters of film, framed photos and other items that had been in the warehouse at 593 Quarry Road. Young, who lives in a home near La Honda, arrived at the site late in the day and surveyed the destruction.

Investigators have ruled out arson but didn't say Tuesday what caused the fire.

The roughly 10,000-square-foot building sustained $300,000 in damage, and Young's possessions that burned were worth about $800,000, said

View larger map Belmont-San Carlos Fire Marshal Jim Palisi. No one was injured in the fire.

"A lot of it is musical instruments and electronic equipment," he said. "It's very

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Bruce Springsteen: In 'Darkness' reissue, the CD that might have been

In between the game-changing albums “Born to Run” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Bruce Springsteen’s career was derailed by legal turmoil and artistic indecisiveness.

The struggle is documented on a six-disc box set, “The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story” (Columbia), which presents the original 1978 album in remastered form and supplements it with dozens of outtakes and three DVDs containing live performances and a documentary.

“Darkness” was not Springsteen’s most popular album, yielding only one minor top-40 hit (it was far outsold by Springsteen’s 1984 blockbuster “Born in the U.S.A.” and the 1975 “Born to Run”). But “Darkness” stands as his leanest, hardest-hitting album with the E Street Band, and – at least for this listener -- his best. The tour that followed, as captured on a DVD of a typically galvanizing Houston concert, was even better. Springsteen’s ascent to stadium-rock icon hit over-drive.

What’s less appreciated about the era chronicled on “Promise” is the large volume of exceptional music that didn’t make the final cut, left to languish unheard except for a few live performances and covers by other artists -- until now. The box set’s most crucial addition to the Springsteen canon is the album that might have been (available separately as a two-CD set, “The Promise”); one completely different in tone and intent than “Darkness” but well worth hearing.

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STRATOVARIUS To Release New Full-Length This January

Finnish melodic metal troupe STRATOVARIUS are readying to unleash their thirteenth studio album, Elysium, this winter. Recorded at 5-By-5 studios in Pitäjänmäki, Helsinki, Finland, the nine-track full-length will be released in the US and Canada January 18, 2011 through Armoury Records and features cover art by Gyula Havancsák.

Elysium will mark the debut of newest addition: 27-year-old Finnish guitarist Matias Kupiainen. Said drummer Jörg Michael of the band's newest recruit: "In Matias we found a new character who fits perfectly with his way of melodic guitar shredding. He is a killer player, a 'wunderkind' from Finland!"

Polaris, STRATOVARIUS' 2009 "come back" offering and first since the departure or guitarist/main composer Timo Tolkki, was reissued as a two-CD digipak earlier this year via Armoury Records. In addition to the original album, the package includes a bonus disc containing 75 minutes of live material recorded during the Polaris tour spanning the band's entire history.

Awesome album cover art!


Nashville Musician Re-Uses Vinyl Records as Roof Shingles

People find interesting ways to recycle and use old, unplayable vinyl for a variety of things (clocks, purses, art), but this takes the cake:

According to, Nashville-based musician Matt Glassmeyer has fashioned a roof for his porch using 350 damaged records. In lieu of traditional shingles, this newly fashioned roof features a set of records aligned in a uniform, overlapping pattern. Matt’s design is a great homegrown project that gives dumpster-destined materials a second life while touching on the rich musical culture of Nashville.

What happens when the area gets a 'record' heat wave?


Drive-By Truckers Announce New Album

Southern rock institution Drive-By Truckers released their last album, The Big To-Do, earlier this year, and they've already got another one all loaded up and ready to go. ATO will release the new one, Go-Go Boots, on February 15. The band once again worked with longtime producer David Barbe, and in a press release, frontman Patterson Hood "semi-jokingly" calls the LP "our country, soul, and murder ballad album."


Thom Yorke-Featuring 'Two Minutes Silence' Storms UK Singles Chart

A two minute song which actually features nothing but silence is on course to debut inside the top-20 on the UK singles chart this weekend. The track has released by the British Legion's Poppy Appeal.  It includes a video that features Radiohead's Thom Yorke, Plan B, The Saturdays and prime minister David Cameron.

All proceeds from the sales of 'Two Minute Silence' will go towards helping members of the armed forces and their families.

What a concept...only in the UK....

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: In your recent coverage of the tamouré you mentioned how the record company (Philips) had a dance contest, with the winners getting a free trip to Tahiti.

That reminded me of another record company contest, one described on an insert coupon that I found many years ago in a stack of old 78s. The headline reads: “Paramount Masked Marvel Contest Entry Blank.”

Unfortunately, this little entry form was loose, but some text offers a clue as to which record it came with:

“I have listened to one of your Paramount records, No. 12805 by the Masked Marvel, and am herewith listing what I think is his correct name. It is understood that if I have given the correct name you will send me free one Paramount record, and my choice in case I win is: No. (Paramount number goes here).

“This blank to be mailed on or before Oct. 15, 1929 to: The New York Recording Laboratories, Port Washington, Wisconsin.”

Also shown is a drawing of a man, who looks like Fred Astaire, dressed semi-formal but wearing a Lone Ranger mask. Is Astaire the Masked Marvel? Do I win a free record?
—Hannah Franklin, Beloit, Wisc.

DEAR HANNAH: It isn't every day I hear from someone whose name is a palindrome (still waiting for mail from Anna and Ogopogo).

Sorry, no free record.

Despite the familiar warning from Jim Croce, when we pull the mask off the ol' Masked Marvel we reveal … Charley (a.k.a. Charlie) Patton.

Even without the mask, it is unlikely anyone would get a clue from a drawing that looks more like generic clip-art than either Fred Astaire or Charley Patton.

The need to hear the Masked Marvel in order to identify him, coupled with a very assertive advertising campaign, brought customers into record stores in droves. There they could listen to the mystery record, grab some entry forms, and see a list of other Paramount releases from which winners could take their pick.

Concurrently, Paramount ran display ads in the print media, primarily the Chicago Defender (motto: “The World's Greatest Weekly - The Mouthpiece of 14 Million [black] People”).

Unlike the over-the-counter blank forms, newspaper ads included both song titles: “Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues,” and “Mississippi Boweavil Blues.” The B-side is the genesis of all boll weevil tunes, the best-known being “The Boll Weevil Song” by Brook Benton.

In music, whether 1929 or 1961, cotton farmers still conversed with malicious anthonomus grandis out “looking for a home.”

Print ads even provided this “helpful hint,” one about as helpful as saying the singer is a male: “The Masked Marvel is an exclusive Paramount artist.” Did anyone really think otherwise?

The ads also offered the Masked Marvel record with an entry form, mailed C.O.D., which accounted for most of the sales.

“Send no money! Pay the postman 75-cents for each record ordered, plus a small C.O.D. fee when he delivers the records,” reads the mail-order coupon. Back then, all postmen (mailmen; salesmen; milkmen; breadmen; icemen; servicemen; etc., etc.) were men — woMEN being the exception.

It sure worked. Paramount's first pressing of 10,000 copies soon sold out, a huge success for unknown songs by an unidentified singer. It was all about the contest, and the chance to win a free 75-cent record.

Making things a bit of a challenge is that Charley was still unknown to most folks. Before the Masked Marvel release, he made only two records.

The first is properly credited to Charley Patton, “Pony Blues” (Paramount 12792), but for “Prayer of Death, Parts 1 & 2” (Paramount 12799) he uses the pseudonym Elder J.J. Hadley.

Then again, the Masked Marvel's distinctively unintelligible, yet passionate, vocal style may have been the clincher for some, even with “Pony Blues” as the only basis for comparison. For the record, they also accepted J.J. Hadley as a correct answer.

Fact is, no one sounded like Charley Patton. Not then, not ever.

Second and subsequent pressings of No. 12805, with no mention of the Masked Marvel or the contest, all credit Charley Patton.

IZ ZAT SO? First issues (Masked Marvel) of Paramount 12805 have recently sold in the $6,000 to $7,500 range.

The other 25 Charley Patton 78s, be they Paramount (20) or Vocalion (5), are a bit of a bargain — only $3,000 to $4,000.

With a retail price of 75-cents in 1929 (about $9.30 in today's money), how many Charley Patton 78s do you wish you or your parents would have bought and kept?

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column. Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368 E-mail:  Visit his Web site: 

All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.

Copyright 2010 Osborne Enterprises- Reprinted By Permission