Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers


“Gram Parsons Archive, Vol. 1: Live at the Avalon Ballroom 1969” (Gram Parsons, Flying Burrito Brothers)

Excellent. I’ve long been partial to Cosmic American music, discovering it first through Uncle Tupelo and Michelle Shocked, then working my way backwards in time to Gram Parsons, Dylan’s John Wesley Harding, The Band’s first few albums, and others. Being a musical historian in the age of re-releasing frenzy does have advantages.

Live at the Avalon Ballroom is the rock equivalent of the Jackson Pollock discovered at a flea market, or the first-edition William Faulkner found in the dollar bin at a used book store. These recordings of the Flying Burrito Brothers’ two shows in San Francisco in April 1969 were long buried in the Grateful Dead vaults (which many listeners speak of in the same terms explorers once used for El Dorado) until Dave Prinz, the co-founder of Amoeba Records, tracked them down and worked for more than a year to secure permissions from the Dead’s soundman, Owsley “Bear” Stanley. Prinz compiled the recordings into a 2xCD set (one for each show) and released them on the newly launched Amoeba Records label– its second release, in fact. The title, Archives Volume 1: Live at the Avalon Ballroom 1969, teases with the tacit promise of a second volume– more buried treasure.

For Parsons fans, this constitutes a major event– perhaps more anticipated than even Rhino’s long-awaited reissue of his two solo albums in 2006– not only because it contains numerous unheard covers, but primarily because Parsons didn’t leave a whole lot of live material behind when he died in 1973. Even the supposedly “live” medley from Grievous Angel was just a studio re-creation, and the real live recordings that survive are marred by poor sound quality or, in some cases, poor performances. Live documents of Parsons’ short tenure with the original Flying Burrito Brothers line-up are even scarcer. What makes Live at the Avalon Ballroom so special is that the performance is just as good as the sound quality. As professional hanger-on Pamela “Burrito Sister” Des Barres writes in the liners, “I have literally been waiting for this album for decades.”

[Click to read more about Gram Parsons : Gram Parsons Archives Volume 1: Gram Parsons with the Flying Burrito Brothers Live at the Avalon Ballroom 1969: Pitchfork Record Review]

Grammatical Errors
Parsons died too young.

Works of Igor Stravinsky


“Works of Igor Stravinsky” (Sony Classics)

Pretty reasonably priced set, I might pick it up.

With Works of Igor Stravinsky, Sony/BMG is offering Sony Classics’ massive Stravinsky box of 22 CDs, which once retailed at a faint-inducing price tag, for less than one-sixth of the original cost. Certainly more of these will get around than the old “Recorded Legacy” box did; so prohibitively expensive, such boxes would sit at the counter of finer classical music stores for years as a never-purchased luxury item. In the new edition, you don’t get much aside from the same 22 CDs in cardboard sleeves and a paper-thin booklet, which contains a highly generalized, four-page-long appreciation of Stravinsky’s artistry and as close to the most basic projection of the recording data as one can imagine.

Aside from the marketing angle, Sony/BMG’s Works of Igor Stravinsky has all the vicissitudes of the original Sony Classical set, apart from the old set’s monolithic dimensions. No other composer born in the 1880s — unless you count Leopold Stokowski as a “composer” — left behind a more extensive body of recordings than Stravinsky. Stravinsky didn’t make his first recording until he was 43 years old, only picking up conducting as an avocation a couple of years after that. The vast majority of Stravinsky’s recordings were made for CBS Masterworks starting in 1957 — when he was 75 years old — and extending to 1967, when he made his last public appearances, and Works of Igor Stravinsky includes, in one way or another, some 90 percent of the music Stravinsky is known to have composed. Save the inclusion of both the Firebird Ballet and its corresponding suite, alternate incarnations of works are not found here; the dreaded, posthumously discovered Sonata in F sharp minor for piano is likewise lacking, but so are several of Stravinsky’s other piano pieces and the Three Pieces for String Quartet.

[From allmusic [Works of Igor Stravinsky]]

Bound to be some good stuff here, $33 bucks for 22 discs sounds like a good cost-per-minute ratio. 433 tracks.

RIAA Hates the iPod

wired_rip_sampler

Of course, this means the RIAA also hates most of its own best music-purchasing customers.

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industry’s lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are “unauthorized copies” of copyrighted recordings. [snip]

The Howell case was not the first time the industry has argued that making a personal copy from a legally purchased CD is illegal. At the Thomas trial in Minnesota, Sony BMG’s chief of litigation, Jennifer Pariser, testified that “when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song.” Copying a song you bought is “a nice way of saying ‘steals just one copy,’ ” she said.

[From Download Uproar: Record Industry Goes After Personal Use – washingtonpost.com]

I think the music industry would be in much worse shape if the iPod revolution hadn’t happened.


update, poorly worded WaPo story (surprised?).

The only problem: No such claim was made. What RIAA lawyer Ira Schwartz wrote in a supplemental brief was: “Once Defendant converted Plaintiffs’ recording into the compressed .MP3 format and they are in his shared folder, they are no longer the authorized copies distributed by Plaintiffs.”

The critical phrase there is “shared folder” because the rest of the brief makes clear that the RIAA is claiming that Howell not only ripped his CDs but also put them in his shared folder in Kazaa, thus making them available for worldwide distribution. The RIAA has successfully argued that mere presence of copyright files in a shared folder constitutes “distribution” under copyright law.

“This is a garden-variety case with a very typical dispute over what constitutes distribution,” Eric Goldman, director of Santa Clara University Law School’s High-Tech Law program, said in a telephone interview.

from CIO Today and elsewhere.

Louis Armstrong American Hero


“The Essential Louis Armstrong” (Louis Armstrong)

Louis Armstrong is an American hero.

As David Margolick recounts, a 21 year old journalist student by the name of Larry Lubenow ignored the instructions of his editor, and asked Louis Armstrong about what was happening in the Civil Rights Movement of Eisenhower era America….

With the connivance of the bell captain, [Lubenow] snuck into Mr. Armstrong’s suite with a room service lobster dinner. And Mr. Armstrong, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts, agreed to talk. Mr. Lubenow stuck initially to his editor’s script, asking Mr. Armstrong to name his favorite musician. (Bing Crosby, it turned out.) But soon he brought up Little Rock, and he could not believe what he heard. “It’s getting almost so bad a colored man hasn’t got any country,” a furious Mr. Armstrong told him. President Eisenhower, he charged, was “two faced,” and had “no guts.” For Governor Faubus, he used a double-barreled hyphenated expletive, utterly unfit for print [like, mother-fucker, perhaps? Stupid New York Times pearl-clutching.]. The two settled on something safer: “uneducated plow boy.” The euphemism, Mr. Lubenow says, was far more his than Mr. Armstrong’s.

Mr. Armstrong bitterly recounted some of his experiences touring in the Jim Crow South. He then sang the opening bar of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” inserting obscenities into the lyrics and prompting Velma Middleton, the vocalist who toured with Mr. Armstrong and who had joined them in the room, to hush him up.

Mr. Armstrong had been contemplating a good-will tour to the Soviet Union for the State Department. “They ain’t so cold but what we couldn’t bruise them with happy music,” he had said. Now, though, he confessed to having second thoughts. “The way they are treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell,” he said, offering further choice words about the secretary of state, John Foster Dulles. “The people over there ask me what’s wrong with my country. What am I supposed to say?”

Mr. Lubenow, who came from a small North Dakota farming community, was shocked by what he heard, but he also knew he had a story; he skipped the concert and went back to the paper to write it up. It was too late to get it in his own paper; nor would the Associated Press editor in Minneapolis, dubious that Mr. Armstrong could have said such things, put it on the national wire, at least until Mr. Lubenow could prove he hadn’t made it all up. So the next morning Mr. Lubenow returned to the Dakota Hotel and, as Mr. Armstrong shaved, had the Herald photographer take their picture together. Then Mr. Lubenow showed Mr. Armstrong what he’d written. “Don’t take nothing out of that story,” Mr. Armstrong declared. “That’s just what I said, and still say.” He then wrote “solid” on the bottom of the yellow copy paper, and signed his name.

Pentangle Box Set

Not my most favorite British folk band (prefer Fairport Convention for instance), but Bert Jansch is an excellent, evocative acoustic guitarist.

Time Has Come 1967 - 1973
“Time Has Come 1967 – 1973” (Pentangle)

PlugInMusic.com : News : Pentangle 40th Anniversary Box Set To Be Released On Castle

Pentangle were a ‘60s British folk/jazz ‘supergroup’ that were simultaneously stars of the underground and darlings of the mainstream, gracing the Fillmore East one month and Carnegie Hall the next. The band was formed in 1966 by hip young guitar slingers Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, already leading lights of the folk scene at the time. With folk chanteuse Jacqui McShee on vocals and a rhythm section consisting of Danny Tompson on bass and Terry Cox on drums, the group mastered a breathtaking repertoire that encompassed the traditional ballads, blues, jazz, pop, and re-workings of rock oldies….

Spanning 1967-1973 they recorded six albums, toured and broadcasted extensively.

This lavish and definitive 40th anniversary box set covers the six year career of Pentangle. The Time Has Come features the best of the band’s album tracks, singles and B-sides – newly re-mastered, achieving the best sound to date – alongside no less than 20 previously unreleased tracks. Among the many rarities is a track from their very first recording session (1967); live concert and television performances; studio outtakes from The Pentangle (1968) and Reflection (1971); BBC radio session tracks newly in stereo and previously unheard film soundtrack work. This set features a 56 page booklet filled with extensive liner notes along with unseen photos and rare memorabilia.

Rock Snob

Had a lot of fun yesterday consuming the


Rock Snob Dictionary

in one sitting. Well, I did jump up a few times and add tunes to my new iTunes playlist, Rock Snobs. I guess I am bonafide, as the playlist has several days worth of material already, and I’m not done adding yet.

A few excerpts from the book at posted at snobsite.com. Fun stuff.

At last! An A-to-Z reference guide for readers who want to learn the cryptic language of Rock Snobs, those arcana-obsessed people who speak of “Rickenbacker guitars” and “Gram Parsons.”

We’ve all been there–trapped in a conversation with smarty-pants music fiends who natter on about “the MC5” or “Eno” or “the Hammond B3,” not wanting to let on that we haven’t the slightest idea what they’re talking about. Well, fret no more! The Rock Snob’s Dictionary is here to define every single sacred totem of rock fandom’s know-it-all fraternity, from Alt.country to Zimmy. (That’s what Rock Snobs call Bob Dylan, by the way.)

Haven’t managed to see Cocksucker Blues nor Eat the Document, yet. Though apparently, some of the footage from Eat the Document made its way into

No Direction Home

Clash News I did Not Know

Made in Medina
Rachid Taha

This album, my only exposure to Mr. Taha, is quite good. Spectacular, in fact.

Salon’s Thomas Bartlett writes:

Rachid Taha

This is the Algerian rock/pop/rai star Rachid Taha’s cover of the Clash’s “Rock the Casbah” — the verses translated into Arabic, the choruses left in English, and the whole thing decorated with the standard trappings of Arabic pop. It’s an intensely charged cover, not a simple tribute, complicated as it is by Taha’s belief that Strummer and Co. got their unacknowledged inspiration for the song from his ’80s French band Carte de Séjour, which they heard after Taha himself gave them a tape in 1981

and from Calabash Music

Rachid Taha, a man that knows the inside story! Never mind the war on terrorism, what about the war on fear, complacency, ignorance, racism, poverty and lies. That’s a struggle that Rachid Taha has been fighting for the past two decades and more, ever since he was a tear-away punk immigrant from Algeria gobbing metaphorically and no doubt literally at the good burghers of Lyon in France.

His band, Carte de Sejour (the French for ‘residence permit’), proved that rock power, punk attitude and Arabic roots could get along famously if mentored by a passionate, razor-sharp and mouthy soul like Taha. Being proudly North African on the one hand and truly rebellious on the other has always meant struggle on many fronts and Rachid Taha has spent his whole career lobbing musical molotovs at the latent and, as recent event have proved, not so latent racism of the French in the form of classic songs like ‘Voile Voile’ and ‘Douce France’ whilst berating his fellow North Africans for lack of ambition, obsession with tradition, cabaret complacency and enslavement to rai.