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17 years ago, actor JohnnY Depp and singer Gibby Haynes were in a short-lived band on Capitol Records who called themselves P. One letter nothing more. I don’t think Depp could have ever dreamed that he would be appeared in a music video by someone who could have been considered his label-mate. Of course, Paul McCartney is much more than just a simple “label mate”, but you know how music association is.
Here, Depp and actress Natalie Portman are there to take part in a video McCartney himself directed called “My Valentine”, and it’s beautiful, abstract, and sensual.
Want to make it more interesting? There are two more versions of the video, one with just Portman:
the other with just Depp:
For those of you with an ear for guitarists, that is indeed Eric Clapton playing in the song.
As a kid, I admired the drums in the records I played. I think I loved them because from what I’ve been told, when my parents would buy me a drum set or bongos, I’d break them. I remember watching footage of The Who and upon seeing Keith Moon tear his drum set, I knew what I wanted to be. While my drumming fantasies never happened, I kept on listening and one of my all time favorite drummers is Ginger Baker. When I heard Blind Faith‘s “Do What You Like” and it reached his solo, I wanted to be able to play just like that. One would then go to a song like “Toad” and it would just blow me away, just that sound he created, it floors me to this day.
It has floored a generation or three of drummers, and now there’s a new documentary called Beware Of Mr. Baker!, directed by Jay Bulger. Along with interviews with Baker, it features interviews with those who played with him and those who were influenced by his work in the last 45+ years. His manic style was also represented by how he behaved among friends and family, so while some drummers behaved the way a “rock drummer” is supposed to, he has lived the Ginger Baker way and could give a fuck what you think. This film will be a must-see for me.
Warner Bros. Records is very active in making sure each Record Store Day is as festive as previous years, not only in attendance but in getting new items out in stores. As always, many of these items are made exclusively for and meant to be sold on that day only. Here are some the titles the Warner family have ready to go:
Bad Brains-God Of Love + bonus 7” (vinyl LP + two song 7” single)
The Belle Brigade-The Belle Brigade (vinyl LP)
Built To Spill-Ripple (7” picture disc) (this one is a 1-sided picture disc and will feature a previously unreleased live cover of the Grateful Dead song, which BTS recorded in Charlotte, North Carolina on October 11, 2010.)
Eric Clapton-Unplugged (Two-disc set on 180-gram vinyl; mastered by Bernie Grundman)
Deftones-Covers (vinyl LP)
The Flaming Lips-Heady Nuggs: The First 5 Warner Bros. Records 1992-2002 (this one is a 5 LP box set, indivudually numbered, of the first five albums the band did for Warner Bros. each of which has been remastered by Bernie Grundman. They include: Hit To Death In The Future Head (Single Disc) Transmissions From The Satellite Heart (Single Disc) Clouds Taste Metallic (Single Disc) The Soft Bulletin (Two Disc) Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (Single Disc)
Fleetwood Mac-Rumours (Standard and Deluxe Editions, both mastered by Bernie Grundman)
Even if you have this album (and really, with sales of over 10,000,000, you know someone who does), you may want to pick up these editions. One will be a standard pressing at 33 1/3 rpm, while the other is for the audiophiles: a 2 LP 45rpm edition pressed at Pallas in Germany. Yes, the thick stuff.
Mastodon-Live At The Aragon (Deluxe 2-disc set on 180-gram vinyl + DVD; Bernie Grundman Mastering)
My Chemical Romance-Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na) (7” picture disc)
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-self-titled debut (two limited edition pressings, one on white vinyl, one on blue, both mastered by Bernie Grundman)
R.E.M.-Three (3 – 7” single 45 RPM discs, first three singles from their new album, Collapse Into Now, each with non-LP B-sides, each record in individual art gatefold sleeves. Bernie Grundman on this one as well.:
Disc 1. Mine Smell Like Honey/ Supernatural Superserious (live in Raleigh , NC )
Disc 2. Oh My Heart/ Harborcoat (live in Riga , Latvia )
Disc 3. ÜBerlin/ What’s the Frequency, Kenneth? (live in Oslo , Norway) )
Regina Spektor-Four From Far (Limited Edition 7” 33 1/3 RPM EP on powder-blue vinyl)
Want even more limited edition craziness that will no doubt bring up the old Poison Idea title Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes? Warner Bros. are also introducing a series of records called Side By Side, limited edition 45′s where a Warner-related artist of today covers a classic Warner-related song of the past. In the works:
Red Hot Chili Peppers covering The Ramones‘ “Havana Affair”
Green Day covering Hüsker Dü‘s incredible “Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely”
Mastodon covering ZZ Top‘s “Just Got Paid” (probably no chance of Mastodon including a brief passage of Johnny Kemp‘s “Just Got Paid”, but you never know)
Jenny & Johnny getting Americana on us with their cover of Gram Parsons‘ “Love Hurts”
Obviously, many of these releases are in-house, if not down right incestuous, but with luck this will spark the noggins in other artists and labels to do the same not only for this Record Store Day, but for releases throughout the year, across the board.
If you have any soda or wine bottles lying around, or know of parks with many empties, I suggest geting some bags and making the rounds, as this will definitely cause a dent in your pocket.
Let’s get the latter part of that question out of the way so you’ll know the focus of this article. In a time of social media, where musicians, producers, rappers, singers, and entertainers are able to interact for the first time via Twitter and Facebook, fans are able to be “in touch” with the people they may idolize. On one hand it might be dangerous, as it can lead to idolatry or worse. On the good side, artists are able to find out what fans really want while fans can pop the bubble and realize that for the most part, artists and entertainers are as real as they make themselves out to be. Away from the facades, most humans are indeed human. But this is not about the people behind the names and personas, but rather their output.
As I was growing up and getting into music as much more than just something cool to listen to, I made lists of projects I wanted released. I have a book somewhere where I actually came up with the “cassingle” concept, where one would be able to have the same two songs on a 7″ 45rpm record on a cassette. This was before they were placed on the market, and had I knew about trademarks, I could have cashed in big time. At a young age, I was already an armchair record company CEO, wanting labels to release this or that, and I was never afraid to find out who controlled certain departments at a label, so that my mail would go directly to them. In time I became a writer, and I would continue writing to publicists and music supervisors not only for free music (back when “free music” was reserved for a select few) but in the hopes one of my ideas would be used. I wanted to be in the recording industry, I wanted to not only work in the mailroom, but become a publicist, reissue supervisor, I wanted to run a label. I wanted to be bigger than Capitol, Atlantic, Warner Bros., and Columbia combined. Wishful thinking, I know, but it would not stop me from wanting to make an impact, however small.
If I’ve made an impact, I’d like to think it was with my reviews and articles. If I’m able to find a way for fans to at least be motivated to listen to something I recommend, I’m happy. I’ll rarely hear about it, but I’m hopeful people will take that chance.
One thing I’ve always wanted to do was reissues, to be with a record label, go through the tape library and archives, and find what is rare and/or unknown. I wanted to raid old recording studios and warehouses because during elementary school, I’d regularly go to the Hawai’i State Library and go through old books, microfiche, and file cabinets looking for anything on topics that moved me. I wanted to know what existed before me, especially when they were hidden from general view. I wanted to adapt that craving for knowledge and apply it to a record label. I look forward to becoming a music supervisor for a project so I can also do the liner notes, and be able to fulfill my dream of winning Best Album Liner Notes.
There have been many times when I’ve written to labels and asked them “why haven’t you reissued this?” A publicist for an audiophile reissue label told me this when I gave them a list of albums I’d like to see them handle: “we don’t do outside A&R”. In other words, my suggestions were not welcome and at that point it rubbed me the wrong way. I wasn’t trying to take the guy’s position, I simply wanted to suggest, and even an idea was not something they cared to even read. I had sent another reissue label an idea for a box set, and they told me point blank that that artist is not someone of value. The artist, Eddie Bo, was someone whose music was and still is heavily sampled in hip-hop, soul/R&B, and dance music, and I felt the label, who released a lot of disco, soul, R&B, and blues compilations, would do Bo’s music justice. They felt he wouldn’t sell because Bo was so obscure. A decade later, said label released a box set with heavy duty funk and soul obscurities, with a booklet featuring liner notes from a journalist friend. The label’s British reissue division released these exact obscurities in a series of compilations, and yet due to “no sales potential” here in the U.S., my suggestion was ignored. All of a sudden, this box set is released and it receives a good amount of position reviews. Granted, I’m not in Los Angeles or New York so I can’t make the same impact a music supervisor could do there, but I had an idea and it was ignored, only for someone else to take credit for a similar idea. I also had another idea for a reissue project, sent it in to the head of the label and was told “this will absolutely not sell.” Less than a year, that label released a compilation CD featuring my suggestions. Keep in mind that “a suggestion is a suggestion”, and any group of people can have the same idea, but c’mon. Chances of any other label having the same idea was slim, and again, it irked me. It’s not just the face that my suggestions and ideas were turned into something fruitful, it’s just that it would be nice to work on those projects for the labels.
The small but tight bootlegging industry of the late 1960′s and 1970′s gave power to the fan who wanted to release more music by artists than a label cared to do. All you had to have was a few hundred dollars, a pressing plant to make your records, and a few connections on how to obtain live recordings or studio outtakes. In time, these bootleggers would gain local, regional, national, and in time world attention. The legitimate record industry were pissed, because they felt bootleggers were taking away millions from labels and artists. Little did these labels know that some artists were in favor of these boots, as it often gave them a bit of street credibility when fans were able to hear an artist sound “in the raw” without the polish of a professional recording. Did bootleggers actually steal millions of dollars, no. Did bootleggers earn thousands of dollars, yes, and according to some books and articles about bootlegging, some were able to pay their way through college through the sales of “illegal records”. As compact discs became more popular, bootlegs would eventually find its way in the digital realm and the audio quality would highly improve, changing the definition of what had been known as “bootleg quality recordings”. The introduction of the MP3 digital file in the mid-1990′s meant that any and all audio files could be transferred on the internet, via e-mail and Usenet. Initially it was okay to low-quality files, generally single songs mailed out. As modem speeds increased, so did the amount of digital transmissions (upload and download). Audio quality also improved, to the point where an MP3 was considered “as good as a high quality cassette”, which meant “not CD quality, but good enough for general use.” That was all that fans needed to know in order to abandon hard copy completely. While the MP3 made it possible to download almost anything ever recorded, what some fans wanted was the obscure stuff. Yes, even in the digital world where obscurity means nothing when any audio file can be infinitely cloned, fans still wanted more.
Look at any music community and you’ll find thousands of people wanting to hear more music. We are in a period in time when we are able to consume as much music as possible, or at least download as much music as possible and never having the time to hear it all. It’s megabyte and gigabyte gluttony, and people want to hear not only what’s new, but anything and everything that came out in the last 120 years. Fans are making an impact by creating their own compilations and digital “box sets”, coming up with concepts and ideas that at one time was plentiful in the legitimate music industry. As the industry moved from “music projects” to “mandatory quarterly sales of units”, it seems quality control and creativity… maybe not disappeared 100 percent, but moved to people at independent labels who still care for the music. Those who are not a part of that inner circle are taking their wares online and giving the fans what they want or should have.
There’s a lot of stuff online that I’m not interested in, but people are making custom compilations on everything from 80′s classics, deep disco, Germany military funk, hip-hop instrumentals, country ballads: name a genre, there’s probably a custom compilation out there. If you love avant-garde and experimental music, you’ll find a community catering to that. I’m sure there are fanatical classical fans who must have performances of pieces that may be in the wrong key, I don’t know. Of course, if you want to find music by the top selling artists, you’ll find them in abundance.
Yet with all of these homemade and custom projects available online, it doesn’t take away the fact that fans want to hear them, and many are still willing to buy them, whether it’s in digital form or hard copy. Nas fans support their favorite MC and yet his current label, Def Jam, is holding back. Is it a sales opportunity missed, a label unable to release it because of uncleared samples, or just not caring for the demands of fans?
As anyone in any business will tell you, if you want something done, you have to do it yourself. If you’re complaining about why artists aren’t playing in your city, find a way to bring them there yourself, find people who could do it, make the connections and make it happen. I do not have the money it takes to go to any artist, label, or recording studio to say “I want to reissue this, how much would it cost for me to license these recordings?”, but I would like to be involved with people who do. Yet if I did have the funds to work with, trust me, I would do everything in my power to do the kind of work I want to, to hear the music I want to hear and to satisfy the fans who have been waiting for it too. The reason why box sets were hugely popular in the 80′s and 90′s is because fans wanted more, and labels did not think those old and rejected recordings were of value. All of a sudden, Bob Dylan‘s Biograph and Eric Clapton‘s Crossroads box sets sold immensely, and almost every other artist had a box set in their name. If they didn’t, the bootleggers would come in to save the day. Major labels would often say “we have exhausted the vaults, there’s no more”, and somehow bootlegger Ignacio from the Philippine mountains would be sitting in a warehouse full of unheard of soundboard concert recordings by everyone who toured in that part of the world. At that time, the recording industry did give fans what they wanted, and everyone was rewarded.
Is it a Nas issue? A Def Jam issue? Or has the industry not placed value on hip-hop reissues because the market has been widely neglected? Is hip-hop not “rock” enough, and why does the music have to live up to rock’n'roll when the music was, as Chuck D. had said many times before, a generation’s rock’n'roll? Perhaps when the industry twisted the rock’n'roll power of hip-hop, and had to find its Elvis Presley, its Beatles, its Rolling Stones, that’s when things shifted for the worse. Perhaps a part of rock’n'roll’s power is that idolatry, the idea that there are mere musical Gods walking on this Earth, artists play it up all the time in a live setting, but that power has to do with what they’re creating. The majesty of rock’n'roll, hard rock, and heavy metal can be heard in blues, in jazz, in soul, in funk, and very much in hip-hop. Yet what the opportunists have done is milk the hip-hop lucrative teet for everything but the music. The music is secondary, and it’s as if the industry wants to cater to those who want to buy in the lifestyle and not the music. It’s not a music industry, it’s a lifestyle industry, or as a music executive told me, “it’s less of a music industry these days and more of a T-shirt industry”. In other words, everyone is selling shirts and shoes because it makes more money than the music itself, while music itself is now a tool to sell toothpaste and Armor-All.
Less music, more lifestyle: Does that perception make fans feel that if they “buy” into a lifestyle, they’ll become what they’re not? Maybe that’s another topic, another time, but if there’s any truth to this, then music fans are truly missing some incredible music. It’s not just what remains unreleased, but the millions of artists who are struggling to be heard but are shut out by an industry that continues to close down creativity for the sake of finding a better recipe to make money. How can you blame an industry for struggling to find a way to make the public buy things they haven’t had faith in for a decade? Then again, how can one blame fans for knowing, wanting, and demanding better?
If you are an audiophile or just love music in high quality form, you probably know about these two latest gold CD remasters from Audio Fidelity. If not, get your credit/debit cards ready.
John Mayall Blues Breakers featuring Eric Clapton made an immediate impact when it was released in 1966, helping to great a blues revival that has never slowed down which also helped bring the music to a wider/whiter audience. This is also the album that would help form Eric Clapton into a superstar. The mono mix of this album is being used as it is the preferred version by thousands of fans around the world.
Never A Dull Moment was Rod Stewart‘s 1972 album and featured the hit “You Wear It Well”. Long before he pulled on the suits and matured, Stewart was of course one of the best spikey-haired rock vocalists around, and this is a testament to that.
Both CD’s can be pre-ordered individually through CD Universe by clicking the CD icons above, and there is a special pre-order price that will expire when the release date of November 10th approaches.
Do you have an original numbered copy of The Beatles‘ self-titled double LP from 1968? It’s the album commonly known as “The White Album”, and someone wants to know where all of the copies are, specifically the numbered pressings that were originally released in the UK and US? If you have a copy, or maybe your parents or grandparents have one too, make sure you register it at WhiteAlbumRegistry.com.
The website also asks for some technical information on your copy too, such as how the labels look, how some songs are titled, and what pressing plants they were made at. For the non-record collector, the process of locating this information on your pressing is described at the website itself.
Where bloggers from around the world can network
Discovered this book review blog when someone had posted a review of a music book. Went through it and saw a number of books I immediately put on my want list. Created by Maria Popova and features a number of contributors.
Cool slew of goodies from books and diaries to T-shirts, bags and soaps. Now based in Portland.
The show is no more, but you may explore the archives of this great Portland-based podcast while you can. You may now listen to Cort & Bobby in Welcome To That Whole Thing, listed below.