Categories
Music

Velvet Underground April 1966 Scepter Studios

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Velvet Underground April 1966 Scepter Studios (Norman Dolph Acetate). Get nine MP3s from the acetate (slightly scratchy, but still worth listening to if you know the Velvet Underground’s first album fairly well) directly from WFMU.

Backstory here: The Velvet Underground Play Portland How an Original Velvet Underground Acetate Wound Up in Portland (And Could Be the Most Expensive Record in the World!) by Ryan Dirks, which begins:

Yard sales are like junior high dances. You show up full of anticipation, bump into a lot of people, and then leave disappointed. But in both cases, an ineffable sense of possibility spawns return, over and over. Maybe this time I’ll slow dance with Tiffany Pfeiffer. Maybe this time I’ll find a first edition of Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49. Maybe my life will change within the hour.

And so earlier this year, with flickering expectation, Warren Hill picked through some old records at a yard sale in Chelsea, New York. They seemed out of place compared with the rest the junk, like a box that had been forgotten in the attic and left untouched by a string of disinterested tenants. He pulled out a soggy copy of the Modern Lovers’ first LP and then he saw it, a record with no sleeve and only a few hand-written words on the label: “Velvet Underground… 4/25/66… N. Dolph.” He bought it for $0.75.

Back in the spring of 1966, Bonanza was lighting TV sets and John Lennon was declaring the Beatles “more popular than Jesus,” but at a Polish Community Hall called the Dom in New York City’s East Village, a modern myth was created. The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, a music-art-freak-out-happening, was the collaborative effort of Andy Warhol, his Factory followers, and the Velvet Underground. Epic versions of songs like “All Tomorrow’s Parties” were played at deafening volumes, dancers cracked whips, colored strobe lights flashed, and projected films drenched the audience, the walls, and the band in broken images of Edie Sedgwick’s face.

Warhol was keen to capitalize on the buzz surrounding the events. In hopes of maintaining the band’s abrasive sound and seedy subject matter, he saw the need for a completed record, one that could be given to record labels without allowing them creative control. In exchange for one of his paintings, Warhol asked a sales executive at Columbia Records to oversee a one-day recording session at the dilapidated Scepter Studios. He would not be credited as a producer, but he would play an integral part in the Velvet Underground’s earliest studio recordings. That man’s name was Norman Dolph.

On a single day in April, Dolph sat behind Scepter’s mixing boards as the band recorded what they thought would be their first record. Dolph had an acetate (a metallic “master” record) pressed after-hours at Columbia and sent it to the executives at the label. He still has the handwritten response he received when the acetate was returned, one he has paraphrased as, “You have to be fucking kidding!”

Wikipedia entry on Scepter Studios includes:

Though few albums of note were recorded at Scepter Studios, one was the influential, avant-garde rock and roll album The Velvet Underground & Nico, recorded in April 1966 by engineer John Licata under the supervision of Andy Warhol and Norman Dolph.

Categories
Music

When Jimmy Page Debuted With the Yardbirds

I’ve always loved this clip of The Yardbirds playing Stroll On from Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up.

Before Jimmy Page became the quintessential guitar player with mystique, he was a bass player with ambition.

In 1966, Page joined one of the most influential and up-and-coming British bands of his era, the Yardbirds. At only 22 years old, he was already a respected session musician in London – in fact, the blues-leaning rock band had approached him two years earlier to replace then-guitarist Eric Clapton, but Page declined in loyalty to his pal. A year later, when Clapton quit, the group solicited Page again, who in turn recommended another friend, Jeff Beck (because Page was raking in the cash sitting in with Decca Records artists, including the Rolling Stones).

Page finally joined the group in 1966 as a replacement for bassist Paul Samwell-Smith. At his first show with the Yardbirds, at the Marquee Club in London, he played electric bass. The venue was a significant one for the Yardbirds, as they’d held their first residency there in February 1964, and the show celebrated Page’s hard-won presence. Page kept up four-string duties for a bit before switching to twin lead guitar alongside Beck – until Beck left the tumultuous group too, and the Yardbirds became a quartet with Page at lone lead guitar. It was with this lineup that they released their final album, 1967’s Little Games.

All three guitarists of the Yardbirds – Clapton, Page, Beck – would become guitar superstars. However, the Yardbirds proved an especially strong catalyst for Page’s future glory: When singer Keith Relf and drummer Jim McCarty left the quarreling group in 1968, Page rebranded the band as “the New Yardbirds” and recruited vocalist Robert Plant and drummer John Bonham. Bassist John Paul Jones came into the fold soon after – and with him, the one and only lineup of Led Zeppelin was cemented.

(click here to continue reading When Jimmy Page Debuted With the Yardbirds and Steely Dan Broke Up | Rolling Stone Music.)

Categories
Music

The day I (nearly) met Bob Dylan

Exit, Zimmerman

John Harris relays anecdotes about meeting or not-meeting Bob Dylan, like this one from the founder of the Waterboys:

Mike Scott, the singer and chief creative mind in the Waterboys, became a smitten Dylan fan at much the same age that I did, watching his appearance in the film of George Harrison’s Concert For Bangladesh, and realising that “he was the great poet of the times”. In 1978, Scott and a friend went to see Dylan play at Earls Court, then followed his tour bus back to a hotel where they spied him sitting in the bar. “That was exciting,” he says. “‘Fucking hell! I’m going to meet Bob Dylan!’ We got half way across the bar, and these blurred, giant shapes suddenly appeared in front of us: bouncers, who escorted us off the premises.”

Seven years later, when Dylan was in London recording with the ex-Eurythmic and rock Zelig Dave Stewart, Scott and two of his band got a call, and were summoned to a north London recording studio. “That felt like crossing the other half of the room,” he says: the collected musicians spent two hours jamming, while Dylan spurned singing in favour of playing “burbling, non-stop lead guitar”. Scott recalls being perplexed by his refusal to step up to the microphone, but feeling thrilled when Dylan told him he was a fan of the Waterboys’ big hit The Whole of the Moon.

Some time later the phone rang again, and Scott found himself in a rented house in Holland Park. “We hung out with him for a couple of hours. He played us a record by the McPeak Family, folk musicians from Ulster, and he gave me a cassette of an American Indian poet called John Trudell.” And what was Dylan like? “Puckish. Humorous. In the studio, he’d been very quiet and closed in on himself. But now he was gregarious: exactly what I’d want Bob Dylan to be like. It was great.”

Dylan told them tales about the presence of Vikings in his native Minnesota, introduced Scott to his kids, and shared a herbal moment with him. “I don’t know whether you can say this,” says Scott, “but I’ve smoked a joint that Bob Dylan rolled, and he’s smoked a joint that I rolled.”

(click here to continue reading The day I (nearly) met Bob Dylan | John Harris | Music | The Guardian.)

Nancy Reagan - Just Say Yo

or Christopher Sykes:

So I place a call to his interviewer, Christopher Sykes, now 65, who has the rare distinction of being one of the only film-makers who has trained a camera on Dylan and asked him questions. (Though he directed the acclaimed Dylan documentary No Direction Home, not even Martin Scorsese managed that.)

“I really liked him,” Sykes tells me. “He was tremendously funny. Charming, I thought. And he is incredibly charismatic. You find yourself wondering: is this something about him, or is this something you bring to someone that famous? But sitting a few feet away from him is pretty scary. He’s got a way of looking at you that’s frightening. When he looks straight at you, you really do feel like he’s got some sort of x-ray vision; that he sees right through you.”

It was partly the memory of that look that threw me when I thought I was about to meet him.

“He looks like a … funny old Gypsy person,” Sykes continues. “You have this sense that he’s been around for an awfully long time. I remember thinking, ‘I bet if you look through medieval paintings, there’ll be a picture of him somewhere.’ It really does feel like he’s been around for ever.”

Sykes is nonplussed by suggestions that Dylan did the interview in a state of narcotic refreshment (“He liked drinking Johnny Walker black label, and I think he smoked dope”), and recalls a recent occasion when he had dinner in Los Angeles with Dylan’s son, Jesse – who was reminded of the interview, and offered a very telling question: “Was he kind to you?”

“Tender and really helpful,” is the verdict of the writer Adrian Deevoy, who was summoned to Philadelphia a few years later to interview Dylan for Q magazine. They ended up talking in the seaside town of Narragansett, Rhode Island – and Deevoy’s memories chime with one regular observation of Dylan’s lifestyle: that whereas some artists glide through a world of luxury, Dylan seems to live and work in a fascinatingly higgledy-piggledy way. “It sounds weird,” he tells me, “but we were all on a double bed in a very small motel room: Dylan, myself, his manager Jeff Rosen, a willowy Scandinavian woman, and a massive dog.”

Categories
Music religion Suggestions

Best Songs for The Rapture

The End of the World Is Nigh

I’m sure I’m missing a few songs since this playlist took about ten minutes to compile, but here’s a good start for an End of the World Party soundtrack.

  1. MinutemenGod Bows to Math
    Double Nickels on the Dime
  2. Jimi Hendrix Experience…And The Gods Made Love
    Electric Ladyland
  3. Sun Kil MoonJesus Christ Was An Only Child
    Tiny Cities
  4. Dandy WarholsGodless
    Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia
  5. Big StarJesus Christ
    Keep an Eye on the Sky
  6. PoguesIf I Should Fall From Grace With God
    If I Should Fall From Grace With God
  7. Billy Joe ShaverJesus Christ, What A Man
    Old Five and Dimers Like Me
  8. Fahey, JohnIn Christ There Is No East Or West
    John Fahey, Peter Lang, Leo Kottke
  9. SloanIt’s Not the End of the World
    Never Hear the End of it
  10. A.A. BondyWorld Without End
    American Hearts
  11. Jello Biafra Mojo NixonJesus Was A Terrorist
    Sky Is Falling & I Want My Mommy
  12. Count BasieDark Rapture
    Ken Burns Jazz: Count Basie
  13. Rolling StonesI Just Want To See His Face
    Exile On Main Street
  14. MinutemenJesus And Tequila
    Double Nickels On The Dime
  15. Stills, StephenJesus Gave Love Away For Free
    Manassas
  16. ByrdsJesus Is Just Alright
    Live At Royal Albert Hall 1971
  17. Of MontrealRapture Rapes the Muses
    Satanic Panic in the Attic
  18. Josh WhiteJesus Gonna Make Up My Dying Bed
    Uncut – April 2008 – When The Levee Breaks
  19. CAKEJesus Wrote A Blank Check
    Motorcade Of Generosity
  20. Sonic YouthDo You Believe In Rapture?
    Rather Ripped
  21. Johnson, Blind WillieJesus Is Coming Soon
    The Complete Blind Willie Johnson
  22. Drive-By TruckersToo Much Sex (Too Little Jesus)
    Alabama Ass Whuppin’
  23. A.A. BondyRapture (Sweet Rapture)
    American Hearts
  24. Cash, JohnnyPersonal Jesus
    American IV: The Man Comes Around
  25. Nick Cave & The Bad SeedsJesus Of The Moon
    Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
  26. Little FeatBrides Of Jesus
    Little Feat
  27. Johnson, Blind WillieIf It Had Not Been For Jesus
    The Complete Blind Willie Johnson
  28. The Velvet UndergroundJesus
    The Velvet Underground
  29. Super Furry AnimalsIt’s Not the End of the World?
    Rings Around the World
  30. Costello, ElvisWaiting For The End Of The World
    My Aim Is True
  31. Friedman, KinkyThey Ain’t Makin’ Jews Like Jesus Anymore
    Old Testaments & New Revelations
  32. Sun RaIt’s After The End Of The World
    Soundtrack To The Film: Space Is The Place
  33. The Blind Boys of MississippiJesus Gave Me Water
    Theme Time Radio Hour – 23 – Water
  34. ZZ TopJesus Just Left Chicago
    Tres Hombres
  35. Vaselines, TheJesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam
    The Way Of The Vaselines
  36. Sill, JudeeJesus Was A Cross Maker
    Judee Sill
  37. Rivers, BoydJesus Is On The Mainline
    Living Country Blues – Mississippi Moan
  38. Kurt VileJesus Fever
    Smoke Ring For My Halo
  39. WilcoJesus, etc.
    Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
  40. Waits, TomChocolate Jesus
    Mule Variations
  41. Norman GreenbaumSpirit in the Sky
    Spirit in the Sky
  42. R.E.M.It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
    Document
  43. Lennon, JohnGod
    Plastic Ono Band
  44. Elton JohnWhere To Now St. Peter?
    Tumbleweed Connection
  45. U2Until The End Of The World
    Until The End Of The World
  46. Green DayEast Jesus Nowhere
    21st Century Breakdown
  47. Dandy WarholsHard On For Jesus
    Dandy Warhols Come Down
  48. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds(I’ll Love You) Till The End Of The World
    Until The End Of The World
  49. Circle JerksKilling For Jesus
    Wonderful
  50. BeulahMe And Jesus Dont Talk Anymore
    Yoko
  51. Rebirth Brass BandGlory, Glory/Jesus On The Mainline
    We Come To Party
  52. Depeche ModePersonal Jesus
    Best
  53. BlondieRapture
    Autoamerican
  54. Spacemen 3Walkin’ With Jesus (Sound Of Confusion)
    The Singles
  55. Prine, JohnJesus The Missing Years
    The Missing Years
  56. Cohen, LeonardThe Future
    The Future
  57. CoupMe And Jesus The Pimp In A ’79 Granada Last Night
    Steal This Double Album
  58. Jethro TullMy God
    Aqualung
  59. Flaming LipsJesus Shootin’ Heroin
    Hear It Is The Flaming Lips
  60. Green DayJesus Of Suburbia / City Of The Damned / I Don’t Care / Dearly Beloved / Tales Of Another Broken Home
    American Idiot

What it is

What else should I add?

Wordle: Rapture Ridicule part 2

Categories
Music

Bob Dylan’s 70th Dream Playlist per Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone Magazine has published a list of their top 70 Bob Dylan songs (and a few variant versions, mostly live versions, or bootleg versions with The Band in their Woodstock hoedown days) in the print edition called The 70 Greatest Dylan Songs – online has different lists, and their top ten Dylan songs. Of course I had to make an iTunes playlist for these songs, and am listening to it now.

Is Like A Rolling Stone my favorite Dylan song? No, probably not, but if I haven’t heard it in a while, I can appreciate it for the revolutionary track it is…

The next issue of Rolling Stone – on stands and in the digital archive on May 13th – celebrates Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday (happening on May 24th) by ranking his 70 greatest songs. Bono, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jim James and many other artists discuss their favorite Dylan tracks. “Every songwriter after him carries his baggage,” Bono writes. “This lowly Irish bard would proudly carry his baggage. Any day.” 

Selected in Playlist: 70 Dylan 93 songs, 7:35:24.839935302734 total time, 716.9 MB

# Title Album Year

1

Like A Rolling Stone

Highway 61 Revisited [2010 mono version]

1965

2

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (2010 Mono Version)

1963

3

Tangled Up In Blue

Blood On The Tracks

1975

4

Just Like A Woman

Blonde On Blonde [2010 Mono version]

1966

5

All Along The Watchtower

John Wesley Harding (2010 Mono Version)

1967

6

I Shall Be Released

The Bootleg Series

1967

8

I Shall Be Released

The Basement Tapes

1987

9

It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)

Bringing It All Back Home (2010 Mono Version)

1965

10

Mr. Tambourine Man

Bringing It All Back Home (2010 Mono Version)

1965

12

Visions Of Johanna (Take Eight)

Bootleg Series, Vol. 7 No Direction Home (Disc 2)

1965

13

Visions Of Johanna

Blonde On Blonde [2010 Mono version]

1966

14

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

Bringing It All Back Home (2010 Mono Version)

1965

15

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (Alternate Take)

Bootleg Series, Vol. 7 No Direction Home (Disc 1)

1965

16

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

Live 1966

1966

18

Subterranean Homesick Blues

Bringing It All Back Home (2010 Mono Version)

1965

19

Desolation Row

Highway 61 Revisited [2010 mono version]

1965

20

Highway ‘61 Revisited

Highway 61 Revisited [2010 mono version]

1965

21

Simple Twist Of Fate

Blood On The Tracks

1975

22

Positively 4th Street

Biograph

1965

25

This Wheel’s On Fire

The Basement Tapes

1975

26

Ballad Of A Thin Man

Highway 61 Revisited [2010 mono version]

1965

27

Blind Willie McTell

The Bootleg Series

1991

28

Blowin’ In The Wind

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (2010 Mono Version)

1963

29

Mississippi

Love And Theft

2001

30

Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (2010 Mono Version)

1963

31

Forever Young

Planet Waves

1974

32

Forever Young (Continued)

Planet Waves

1974

33

Lay Lady Lay

Best Of

1994

34

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid

1973

35

Masters Of War

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (2010 Mono Version)

1963

36

Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands

Blonde On Blonde (2010 Mono Version)

1966

37

The Times They Are A-Changin’

The Times They Are A Changin’ (2010 Mono Version)

1964

38

You Ain’t Going Nowhere #1

Genuine Basement Tapes (Volume 4)

1967

40

You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere

Essential Bob Dylan

2000

41

Girl From The North Country

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (2010 Mono Version)

1963

42

Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window? (single version)

A Musical History

1965

43

Chimes Of Freedom

Another Side Of Bob Dylan (2010 Mono Version)

1964

45

Idiot Wind (Unreleased Version)

The Bootleg Series

1974

46

Idiot Wind

Hard Rain

1976

47

Isis

Biograph

1975

48

Isis

Live 1975 – The Rolling Thunder Revue (Bootleg Series Vol. 5)

1975

49

Isis

Desire

1976

50

The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll

The Times They Are A Changin’ (2010 Mono Version)

1964

51

Maggie’s Farm

Bringing It All Back Home (2010 Mono Version)

1965

52

Maggie’s Farm (Newport Folk Festival)

Bootleg Series, Vol. 7 No Direction Home (Disc 2)

1965

53

My Back Pages

Another Side Of Bob Dylan (2010 Mono Version)

1964

54

Hurricane

Desire

1976

55

With God On Our Side

The Times They Are A Changin’ (2010 Mono Version)

1964

56

I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine

John Wesley Harding (2010 Mono Version)

1967

57

I’ll Keep It With Mine

Biograph

1965

58

I Threw It All Away

Nashville Skyline

1969

59

Gotta Serve Somebody

Slow Train Coming

1979

60

Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again

Blonde On Blonde [2010 Mono version]

1966

61

It Ain’t Me Babe

Another Side Of Bob Dylan (2010 Mono Version)

1964

62

Spanish Harlem Incident

Another Side Of Bob Dylan

1964

63

Sara

Live 1975 – The Rolling Thunder Revue (Bootleg Series Vol. 5)

1975

64

Sara

Desire

1976

65

Up To Me

Biograph

1985

66

Not Dark Yet

Time Out Of Mind

1997

67

Things Have Changed

The Very Best of Bob Dylan

2007

69

Tears of Rage #3

The Genuine Basement Tapes Vol.2

1970

70

Tears Of Rage

The Basement Tapes

1975

71

When I Paint My Masterpiece

A Musical History

1971

72

4th Time Around

Blonde On Blonde (2010 Mono Version)

1966

73

If Not For You

New Morning

1970

74

You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

Blood On The Tracks

1975

75

Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues

Highway 61 Revisited [2010 mono version]

1965

76

Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues (Take 5)

Bootleg Series, Vol. 7 No Direction Home (Disc 2)

1965

77

Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues (Live 5/14/66, The Odeon, Liverpool)

A Musical History

1966

78

Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues

Live 1966

1966

79

Percy’s Song

Biograph

1963

80

Million Dollar Bash #1

The Genuine Basement Tapes Vol. 3

1968

81

Million Dollar Bash

The Basement Tapes

1975

82

Buckets Of Rain

Blood On The Tracks

1975

83

Buckets of Rain

Hard Rain

1975

84

I’m Not There

Genuine Bootleg Series Vol 2

1967

85

It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry

Highway 61 Revisited [2010 mono version]

1965

86

It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry (Take 9)

Bootleg Series, Vol. 7 No Direction Home (Disc 2)

1965

87

Queen Jane Approximately

Highway 61 Revisited [2010 mono version]

1965

88

If You See Her, Say Hello

The Bootleg Series

1964

89

If You See Her, Say Hello

Blood On The Tracks

1975

90

Abandoned Love

Biograph

1975

91

Tough Mama

Planet Waves

1974

92

Shelter From The Storm

Blood On The Tracks

1975

93

Shelter From The Storm

Hard Rain

1976

94

Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat

Blonde On Blonde [2010 Mono version]

1966

95

Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (Take 1)

Bootleg Series, Vol. 7 No Direction Home (Disc 2)

1966

96

Every Grain Of Sand

Shot Of Love

1981

97

One Too Many Mornings

The Times They Are A Changin’ (2010 Mono Version)

1964

98

One Too Many Mornings

Live 1966

1966

99

One More Cup Of Coffe (Valley Bellow)

Live 1975 – The Rolling Thunder Revue (Bootleg Series Vol. 5)

1975

100

One More Cup Of Coffee

Desire

1976

101

To Ramona

Another Side Of Bob Dylan (2010 Mono Version)

1964

If you come over to my house, I’ll let you listen to the MP3s. Or even better, pick up the box set called The Original Mono Recordings.

Categories
Music

Bob Dylan Responds to So-Called China Controversy

Dylan memorobilia Hard Rock

We are certainly living in a new digital age when Bob Dylan directly answers his critics (who we’ve discussed, and dismissed, previously), on his own website, not needing to remain “inscrutable”, nor talk through a friendly journalist, with their own agendas. Much better, really.

Allow me to clarify a couple of things about this so-called China controversy which has been going on for over a year. First of all, we were never denied permission to play in China. This was all drummed up by a Chinese promoter who was trying to get me to come there after playing Japan and Korea. My guess is that the guy printed up tickets and made promises to certain groups without any agreements being made. We had no intention of playing China at that time, and when it didn’t happen most likely the promoter had to save face by issuing statements that the Chinese Ministry had refused permission for me to play there to get himself off the hook. If anybody had bothered to check with the Chinese authorities, it would have been clear that the Chinese authorities were unaware of the whole thing.

We did go there this year under a different promoter. According to Mojo magazine the concerts were attended mostly by ex-pats and there were a lot of empty seats. Not true. If anybody wants to check with any of the concert-goers they will see that it was mostly Chinese young people that came. Very few ex-pats if any. The ex-pats were mostly in Hong Kong not Beijing. Out of 13,000 seats we sold about 12,000 of them, and the rest of the tickets were given away to orphanages. The Chinese press did tout me as a sixties icon, however, and posted my picture all over the place with Joan Baez, Che Guevara, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. The concert attendees probably wouldn’t have known about any of those people. Regardless, they responded enthusiastically to the songs on my last 4 or 5 records. Ask anyone who was there. They were young and my feeling was that they wouldn’t have known my early songs anyway.

As far as censorship goes, the Chinese government had asked for the names of the songs that I would be playing. There’s no logical answer to that, so we sent them the set lists from the previous 3 months. If there were any songs, verses or lines censored, nobody ever told me about it and we played all the songs that we intended to play.

(click here to continue reading To my fans and followers | Bob Dylan.)

I didn’t realize the so-called China controversy started in May 2010, but His Bobness would know.

I looked for the Mojo article in question, but it is apparently not online, as none of the myriad articles I read on the topic include a link. Oh well.

Categories
Business Music

iTunes Royalties and the End of Corporate Media

Hard to be sympathetic to music label corporations – they’ve made many artists suffer through the years, and don’t have many friends in the industry.  They used to have vertical integration all sewn up: if you were a touring musician, there was no way to survive without using the clout of a music label for distribution of your music. But that era is vanishing, and quickly.Sunset 7 3680

Last year, global revenues from recorded music fell by 8.4%. A Universal Music Group insider recently told me that its owner, French media group Vivendi, has ordered the label to cut costs by $100m this year, meaning we’re likely to see more redundancies. No wonder the label is trying to downplay the implications of a recent US supreme court decision to turn down its appeal of a verdict stating that Eminem and the producers who helped him achieve success should get 50% of all revenue from iTunes downloads – around three times more than what the label has paid them so far.

The manager of FBT Productions, who first signed Eminem and continues to collect royalties on his music, told the New York Times that this means Universal owes the company $17-20m in back-payments. Considering that downloads of music Eminem (who was not party of the suit but stands to earn millions from it) keep selling, it could cost the label an extra $40-50m in the next five to 10 years. But it doesn’t look like Universal’s headache will end there. The estate of the late funkster Rick James has already filed a federal class action against the label, inviting other artists to join in, claiming that it should also have been paid 50% of all sales of digital downloads and ringtones.

At the centre of these lawsuits is the question of whether a download is a licence or a sale. A normal record deal today would usually give an artist 12-20% of revenue from sales depending on how successful they are at the point of signing (only the bigger artists get anything close to 20%). But if a song is licensed to be played in, say, a TV show or a film, they receive 50% of revenue. Buying a download on iTunes may make you feel like you own it, but the fact is that you’ve just bought the rights to play it. And so the court agreed with FBT that the Eminem downloads counted as licences.

Universal argues that it was simply the wording of Eminem’s specific contract that resulted in them losing the case, and it’s true that standard contracts have changed since the advent of iTunes and now clearly state that download sales count as sales. But thousands of artists signed their deals way before iTunes. If they did so before 1980, chances are they’re on a sales royalty rate that is lower than 10% – some artists from the 60s and 70s were on 4%, minus packaging deductions – which means they can up their digital royalty rate more than tenfold. It’s common that bigger artists, who are still signed to the same label, renegotiate their deals throughout their careers. Those artists will most likely have a clause about digital downloads in their contracts.

A series of successful claims could spell a much bigger problem for Universal than cutting $100m out of their budget: it could feasibly bankrupt every record label.

(click here to continue reading Behind the music: Why Eminem could spell major trouble for the major labels | Helienne Lindvall | Music | guardian.co.uk.)

 

Categories
Music

An Untold Story about Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks

Violence Inherent in the System

Fun recollection from an assistant engineer, Glenn Berger, who worked on the infamously scrapped Blood on the Tracks sessions…

In 1974, Bob Dylan was looking for renewal. His marriage to his wife, Sara, was headed for divorce. Over the previous few years, he’d left Columbia Records and the music he was making was indistinct and not well received.

That year I was working at A and R Recording Studios in New York City. Phil Ramone, the owner and “R” in A and R, was to eventually go on to become a legendary producer after working with Billy Joel on “The Stranger.” At that point, he was merely one of the world’s greatest recording engineers. I was his personal assistant engineer.

In September, Phil came to me with exciting news. Dylan was coming in to record his new album with us. The record marked Dylan’s return to Columbia. He would celebrate his renewal in other ways as well. We’d begin recording on September 16th, the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. The recording was to take place in the studio where he had recorded his first.

A and R’s studio A-1 was on the 7th floor of 799 7th Avenue on 52nd Street in New York City. It had once been Columbia’s studio, where Dylan had done his early work, but they had sold it to Ramone and company in 1968. This was Columbia’s earliest recording room, operational since the 1930’s. The walls rang with the echoes of sessions with artists from Sinatra to Streisand. Not least of the astounding hits recorded there was “Like a Rolling Stone,” Dylan’s signature.

(click here to continue reading Shrinky | Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks: The Untold Story.)

Conceptual Silence

Categories
Music

Interview with Founder of The Meat Puppets

Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets answers a lot of questions for Andrew Perry, including:

You were the fourth or fifth band on Greg Ginn from Black Flag’s label, SST — was it a chaotic operation?

We were there real early on. We were from Phoenix which is like a faraway suburb of L.A., in our minds at least. It’s 400 miles away, it’s where you’re always looking when you’re kid. Disneyland is there, Hollywood is there, the ocean. We would go over there and play, and what Black Flag saw in us was, we were way more pissed off and crazy, and played a lot faster than all the other punk-rock bands around. We weren’t even that good, we just played really fast, and were completely out of our minds.

But we weren’t typical, in that none of us were aggressive bruisers. We would play stuff from Broadway shows, and stuff that I really liked from my childhood, like The King And I, then we’d go as far out on the other limb as we could, and just really try to hurt people mentally. It’s all completely valid in the art realm, and we could see that — there’s just so much canvas here to cover, we can do anything. It’s still that way. I don’t like to repeat myself ever. So we did a screaming punk-rock record, then I just went, “I can’t do that again.” Then I heard Metallica, and I was like, “Fuck, let them do it!” But you know, they didn’t have to keep doing it.

Was country music a big influence?

We always knew about it, and had dabbled in it — we did “Tumblin’ Tumbleweeds” on our first record. Then I was just like, “Know what, we could use this stuff to really hurt punk rockers’ feelings.” Because I was starting to hate them. Like, “Oh yeah, freedom? As long as we don’t leave your box!” It has to be loud, fast, pissed off. It’s just like more classifications, that don’t really do you or your art any good. So, what we really need to do is not just be defiant, we have to actually hurt these people’s feelings. Let’s just do this as ass-backwards as we possibly can — like we thought Jimi Hendrix did it — get fucked up, and make a fucked-up fuckin’ record, exactly the way you want to.

How did the new direction go down with SST themselves?

They got it. They always got it, even Black Flag. Greg Ginn and Chuck [Dukowski] and The Minutemen and Hüsker Dü were all our best buddies — and are still some of my best friends. They had to be taken seriously as punk rockers. Then you got Rollins. Then it’s, Look out! Things get real serious. Everything was drawing a lot of mosh pit stuff, but they liked it, because we could open for them, and their crowd would just spit all over us, and hate us, and they’d be good and pissed off by the time Black Flag came on.

They figured it out, too, though — like, “This is funny, you guys came in like a punk rock thing, but you’re so not,” so it was part of actually the growing ethos that that label had. The Minutemen were doing it. We just tried to take the jock, macho element out of our thing, initially. What I saw with punk rock, especially in L.A., it was becoming like an athletic event for people to slamdance to. So it was like, let’s just play stuff that’ll put these people to sleep. That’s when people were going [aggrieved dullard’s voice], “Pink Floyd! Neil Young! Grateful Dead!” I was like, “Yeah, I like that stuff!”

You recorded Up On The Sun in three days flat. You wouldn’t have believed at the time that you’d be playing it in full at a festival in 2011, at the behest of one of the world’s coolest bands, ATP curators Animal Collective…

I would’ve said no! We hardly ever played it live that much. I see why we didn’t. There’s a lot of guitar parts on it, and it’s very artsy, it needs to be examined. Once again: more thought than I like to put into something when I’m onstage. I don’t know: God bless Animal Collective, I don’t know ’em, I don’t know what their motivation is here, probably self-indulgence — they just wanna sit there and drink beers and hear Up On The Sun played live.

(click here to continue reading eMusic Q&A: The Meat Puppets – eMusic Spotlight.)

The Meat Puppets were one of my favorite SST bands back in my UT – Austin days, especially their second album (wikipedia entry). I liked them for the fact that they weren’t afraid to abandon the jock-rock aggressive music template and play some unusual genres.

Categories
Music

Spoonful

Electricity Comes from other Planets

An all time favorite blues. But what does the spoonful refer to? Heroin? or…

Howlin’ Wolf favored a sexual metaphor—or rather, he literalized one when he played the song in his shows. He’d grab a big cooking spoon that drummer Sam Lay bought him at a flea market and brandish it at crotch-level, engaging in blatantly phallic monkeyshines. Wolf would work this raunchy shtick no matter the crowd. On two occasions—a benefit for a black Little League team, the other the International Jazz Festival in Washington, D.C., before an audience of gowned and tuxedoed dignitaries—many were not amused. At the benefit, someone closed the stage curtains on Wolf to spare the kiddies the sight of him getting busy with a kitchen utensil.

Howlin’ Wolf recorded “Spoonful” in 1960, backed by a top-notch studio band comprising the guitarists Hubert Sumlin and Freddie Robinson, pianist Otis Spann, Fred Below on drums, and Dixon on the double-bass. But its origins, like those of several other Dixon compositions on Rocking Chair, go back several decades further. It’s adapted (loosely) from Charley Patton’s 1929 “A Spoonful Blues”, which derives from Papa Charlie Jackson’s 1925 recording, “All I Want Is a Spoonful”. The song’s tailor-made for Wolf; like his own “Smokestack Lightnin’” and “I Asked Her for Water”, it’s the kind of modal chant with which he crafted his incomparable brand of gripping drama.

(click here to continue reading Rocking Chair Blues: Howlin’ Wolf – “Spoonful” < PopMatters.)

 

Categories
Film Music

The Year Punk Broke Finally Coming to DVD

I did not own The Year Punk Broke on VHS, but I did see it, and would like to see the film again.

If you were one of those kids who grew up on alternative rock in the 1990s, there’s a very good chance you owned a VHS copy of 1991: The Year Punk Broke, a documentary about Sonic Youth touring Europe back in the days right before alternative rock became the sort of thing your parents asked you about at the dinner table. Nirvana, Sonic Youth’s openers on that tour, were all over the movie, and it also featured footage of Dinosaur Jr., the Ramones, Babes in Toyland, and Gumball. Now, Slicing Up Eyeballs reoprts that the film is finally coming to DVD.

According to director Dave Markey, Universal Music is planning an extended 20th anniversary edition of the movie later this year. It will include a 42-minute film called “(This Is Known As) The Blues Scale”, which contains bonus performances from Sonic Youth (“Inhuman”, “White Kross”, “Orange Rolls/Angel’s Spit”, and “Eric’s Trip”) and Nirvana (“In Bloom”). Watch clips from “(This Is Known As) The Blues Scale” here. The DVD will also contain footage of a 2003 panel discussion with Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, and Steve Shelley, Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis, and Markey, as well as more performance material and commentary from Markey and Moore.

(click here to continue reading Pitchfork: Sonic Youth/Nirvana Tour Documentary Film 1991: The Year Punk Broke Finally Coming to DVD.)

 

Categories
Music politics

The Real Dylan in China

Exit, Zimmerman

Maureen Dowd whined in the Sunday NYT that Bob Dylan is a sell-out becaused he agreed to play in China, and didn’t denounce the Chinese government on stage.

Sean Wilentz counters

In 1964, Irwin Silber, the editor of the lefty folk music magazine Sing Out!, notoriously blasted Dylan for daring to lay aside his protest material. A product of the Popular Front Communist Left, Silber was offended that Dylan had ceased writing and performing narrowly political songs. Now Maureen Dowd, of the august liberal New York Times, is offended that Dylan failed to perform these same songs during his recent shows in Beijing and Shanghai. Apparently, unless Dylan performs according to a politically-correct line, he is corrupt, even immoral. He is not allowed to be an artist, he must be an agitator. And he can only be an agitator if he sings particular songs.

Dowd isn’t angry that Dylan performed in China. She is angry that he apparently agreed to do so under certain conditions, that he didn’t sing “Blowin’ in the Wind” or “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” and that he didn’t take the opportunity to denounce Chinese human rights policies.

I don’t know exactly what Dylan did or did not agree to. (I don’t think Dowd does, either.) But whatever the facts are, Dylan knows very well—as I tried to tell Dowd when she interviewed me for her column—that his music long ago became uncensorable. Subversive thoughts aren’t limited to his blatant protest songs of long ago. Nor would his political songs from the early nineteen-sixties have made much sense in China in 2011. Dowd, like Mr. Jones in “Ballad of a Thin Man,” is as clueless about all of this as she is smug.

How much more subversive could Dylan have been in Communist China? Especially when he went on to sing “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” “Highway 61 Revisited,” and, most unnerving of all, “Ballad of a Thin Man.” Depending on whatever agreement he made with them, I’d argue Dylan made a fool of the Chinese authorities, while getting paid in the bargain. He certainly made a fool of Maureen Dowd—or she has made a fool of herself.

(click here to continue reading News Desk: The Real Dylan in China : The New Yorker.)

Dowd should stick to doing what she does, making up imaginary conversations with political figures.

And like I’ve said before, artists shouldn’t be held to a higher standard than everyone, and everything else. If it isn’t forbidden to trade with China, eat Chinese food, it shouldn’t be forbidden to play there either.

Categories
Music Suggestions

Random Friday Shuffle -Accidentally Like a Martyr edition

Fierce

Haven’t played this game in a while, so here is what my iTunes randomizer coughed up this morning.

  1. Zevon, WarrenAccidentally Like A Martyr
    Excitable Boy

    Warren Zevon ballad that gets me every time. The hurt gets worse, and the heart gets harder . From his 1976 debut album chock full of gems, including this song, Werewolves of London, Lawyers Guns and Money, etc. Apparently Jackson Browne and J.D. Souther contribute background vocals, though that matters less than the tune itself. Sentimental, not maudlin.

  2. Clarence Frogman HenryAin’t Got No Home
    Chess Rhythm & Roll

    Famously covered by The Band, sung in alternatively falsetto and “frog” croak voice. Swinging tune, R&B as it used to be constructed, full of sly humor and danceable rhythms.

  3. The Velvet UndergroundAll Tomorrow’s Parties
    Velvet Underground and Nico

    A Nico song, famously loved by Andy Warhol. Nico is predominant, Lou Reed and John Cale let her take the spotlight. In fact, Nico often sang it sans accompaniment when she played this song in later years.

  4. Thompson, RichardBeat The Retreat
    Pour Down Like Silver

    For a while, this album was out of print, maybe because it was the last album Richard and Linda Thompson recorded before joining a Sufi group, and didn’t have any top 40 hits on it. Down beat, and yet joyous. Music for a rainy day.

  5. Jens LekmanBlack Cab
    Maple Leaves

    The opening bars sound a lot like a Planxty song, or something similar. A bit of a shaggy dog story about NYC nightlife and cabs without medallions, but catchy all the same.

  6. Nelson, WillieBlue eyes crying in the rain
    Super Hits

    One of my favorite Willie Nelson songs in fact. Originally from Red Headed Stranger, which everyone should own a copy of, btw.

  7. Gil Scott-Heron & Brian JacksonThe Bottle
    Winter In America

    Gil Scott-Heron often pegged as a proto-rapper, which is sorta, sometimes true. He does chant his poetry more often than sing on some songs, but not on this stellar autobiographical song about alcoholics. Obviously from the mid-70s, as evidenced by the flute trills.

  8. SeedsCan’t Seem To Make You Mine
    The Seeds

    Sky Saxon recently died, this song will remain part of the soundtrack for a specific era of garage rock.

  9. Little Stevie WonderCastles In The Sand
    Hearing Is Believing: the Jack Nitzsche Story 1962-1979

    Wonder if Jimi Hendrix realized how close the title of his song was to Stevie Wonder’s 1964 version1. I’d assume yes, even though the songs are much different in execution. Stevie Wonder’s voice is much higher octave than later in his career, but still sings the heck out of the track. A little too much buried in strings for my taste, but not bad.

  10. Max Romeo & The UpsettersChase The Devil
    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas K-JAH

    The Grand Theft Auto videogame franchise have quite excellent diegetic soundtracks2, including this classic reggae cut from Max Romeo, Lee “Scratch” Perry, and the Upsetters.

  11. Adams, RyanCome Pick Me Up
    Heartbreaker

    Usually my favorite Ryan Adams album. Folksy, for the most part, and strong lyrically. Such as this song with its chorus:
    I wish you would
    Come pick me up,
    Take me out,
    Fuck me up,
    Steal my records,
    Screw all my friends,
    They’re all full of shit,
    With a smile on your face.
    And then do it again…

    ha! I think he means it!

  12. Stevens, SufjanDecatur, Or, Round Of Applause For Your Stepmother!
    Come On Feel The Illinoise!

    My favorite song on this oddly compelling album about Illinois.

Previously I might have linked to Amazon, but since they don’t want to pay sales tax in Illinois, or elsewhere, screw those guys.

 

Footnotes:
  1. Stevie Wonder was 14 []
  2. diegetic in the sense that the car radio play these songs []
Categories
Arts Music

Ivy and the Wicker Suitcase

I am an official backer of this project, mostly because Glass Eye was one of my favorite bands when I lived in Austin1. Seems like they often came to the Magnolia Cafe too, which happened to be the place that, indirectly, paid my tuition, but that might have been more because the drummer was dating a fellow employee there. Memories fade over time, what I do remember is seeing Glass Eye perform live multiple times, over a multi-year span, and always enjoying it.

Anyway, not the point.

Here’s what Brian Beattle says about his project:

I’ve written a musical called “Ivy and the Wicker Suitcase”. It’s an epic surreal musical audio drama, a low tech extravaganza whose story is told complete with tunes, dialogue, sound effects and incidental music, packaged inside a beautiful 31 page fully illustrated book, not unlike the old Disney gatefold Buena Vista records. My wife, Valerie Fowler, drew the book, and I’m making the record.

The story is based in Austin, Tx., in 1938. The first day of summer vacation. Hidden away down in her favorite creek, 10 year old Ivy Wire sits with her battered guitar singing to the birds and the trees. Suddenly the sky darkens and she follows a mockingbird into a nearby cave. She hears a monstrous roar and sees a tumbling wall of muddy water rushing towards her. “FLASH FLOOD!!”. She barely escapes by scampering into a hole, but she immediately starts plunging into darkness. Thus begins her descent into the Underworld.

About 2 years ago, when the bottom really dropped out and the economy tanked, I got the spark of the idea. I started, much to the chagrin of my family, to watch depression era musicals every single night. By late summer 2009, my “spark” was named “Ivy and the Wicker Suitcase”. I’ve been working on it on and off since then, and I’ve been lucky enough to enlist my “Dream Cast”.

Daniel Johnston plays “the Big Boss”, the Lord of the Underworld.

Bill Callahan Plays “Everything”, a supreme deity.

Will Sheff is “Mister Kirby”, the Chief Admissions Officer of the Eternal Incarceration System.

K. McCarty plays “Celia Wire”, Ivy’s momma.

James Hand plays “Cosmo Wire”, Ivy’s daddy.

Brian Beattie plays the “Omniscient Serenader”, and also “Org”, an employee of the Eternal Incarceration System.

Grace London plays “Ivy Wire”, the hero. She’s 11. I met her at the Zilker Elementary talent show, where she turned a bunch of dozing parents into a standing ovation.

The record also features performances by Amy Annelle, Matt the Electrician, and my daughter, Ramona Beattie.

As of right now, 14 and a half of the 16 songs are recorded. The artwork is almost completely finished as well. If we meet our kickstarter goal, you will have financed the finishing of the project, which includes the composition and recording of the incidental music, finishing the dialogue/ foley work (the elements which make this an “ear movie”),  paying musicians, the finalization and scanning of the drawings, and the mixing and mastering of the record. Mostly, it will involve a good 3 months of straight work for me, and I need to finish or I will tear out my remaining hair. All of the composition and most of the playing is done by me all by my lonesome, so it’s mostly just a matter of me slugging away at it for a little longer here in my home studio.

If we exceed our goals, the money could go towards making videos based on Valerie’s drawings, and supporting the book and record store tours Valerie and I will be going on to support the record. We are soon going to look for a wonderful, savvy label to release the actual product, but if it seems appropriate, and if our kickstarter is very successful, we could release it ourselves.

Thanks for your curiosity. Please tell someone about “Ivy and the Wicker Suitcase”.

Project location: Austin, TX

If you’ve got a buck or two extra, throw it his way. What were you going to do with anyway? Piss it away on beer? Oh, that’s just me…

Footnotes:
  1. from 1981-1994, for the record []
Categories
Music

Robert Wilkins | That’s No Way To Get Along

Patience please

Heard this song today and thought, gee, these lyrics sound quite familiar. I was right, but had never heard why. I have listened to Beggar’s Banquet thousands of times, and never realized they lifted the song, its style, its lyrics, its mood, from Robert Wilkins. I hope they sent him flowers or something…

Eugene Chadbourne reports:

It is quite obvious to anyone with functioning ears that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had heard the late-’20s song entitled “That’s No Way to Get Along” by the Reverend Robert Wilkins, because the Rolling Stones album track “Prodigal Son” is a direct copy, at least to the point in the road where the imitation of Wilkins’ guitar style hits a technical roadblock. Yet the early pressings of the Stones’ cover listed the writers as Jagger and Richards, a deception that was only corrected following legal action. According to the Stones, the mistake was inadvertent and happened because the original artwork for the Beggars Banquet album had to be redone. Because a publisher connected with the original Vocalion label had nabbed the actual collecting rights to the song, this unfortunately did not result in a financial windfall for Wilkins. And although he took great advantage of the ’60s roots music revival and performed both concerts and new recordings in the absolute prime of his musical power, there is no way that every pimply high school kid who sat around listening to the Stones’ “Prodigal Son” actually was lucky enough to get a taste of the real thing.

A mix of Afro-American and Cherokee Indian, Wilkins hailed from De Soto County, MS, famous stomping grounds for Delta blues.

(click here to continue reading Robert Wilkins | AllMusic.)

Here’s the audio that someone uploaded to YouTube:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ki_Jcxv2nRg