10 Months Late

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1947-2016


It’s hard to believe that David Robert Jones, aka David Bowie’s surprising death is already 10 months ago.

Days before he passed he promoted a strange tangle of an album called Blackstar, complete with a new band, a new sound, and an ominous video about dying.

Then he died. I couldn’t listen to the album even though I was fascinated by it’s story.

McCaslin

Donny McCaslin

Our hero knew he had a fatal illness but shared it with almost no one. He hunted the New York nights for inspiration, finding it in Donny McCaslin, the saxophonist that Bowie always wanted to be. McCaslin had a progressive jazz combo that Bowie caught one night and immediately set up a meeting.

Walking into this jazz band’s practice space, Bowie opened up his notebook and proceeded to free jam song ideas and melodies with this band of guys he had never played with, much less met before!

It was all recorded, and it was so magical that it was almost released as the album! Can you imagine, the ultimate improv?


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But business and engineering interests prevailed so they set up recording sessions to properly render their ideas.

Like his previous album The Next Day, this was a secretive project. The result was completed and shipped as Blackstar just two days before he met his demise.

And it has sat on my Pono in hi-resolution for 10 months now.

Too painful to press play and accept that this was Bowie composing very concisely about his pending demise.

I say go for it. I did.

It was amazing. His whole career, his whole artistic essence, facing the end and needing to channel this into music. It’s utterly devastating.

He can do anything. Accepting his ultimate fear leaves him fearless.


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This might be his best album ever. I shit you not. It has no hits or singles. Nothing fashionable. Nothing I can scream out to you in small pieces.

It only is the most perfectly sad moment of music I’ve heard in quite some time.

 

24bit or Bust: Bill Withers & Led Zeppelin

They trickle out slowly but at least they are finally coming:  24bit versions of classic albums by classic artists, ready for purchase for under $20. This is the full-quality studio master for your library so don’t pass up these opportunities.

Two classic artists that have gone 24bit lately are Led Zeppelin and Bill Withers. Jimmy Page, guitarist and leader of Zep, has completed his remastering project where all 9 of the legendary band’s studio albums have been given the modern HD treatment.

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This includes versions with the original track list but remastered to 24/96, and a deluxe version of each record complete with outtakes, alternate versions, demos, and other rarities. The remasters come in under $20, the Deluxe versions are about $25 each, and you can even buy the whole catalog on vinyl, CD, or HD-digital download, with the physical media including the digital downloads. Very nice.


 

The Bill Withers albums didn’t receive any rare add-ons, but it sure is nice to see them at 24bit and most of them are under $15. Bill is a traditionalist, so his piano, his voice, his guitar, and the rest of the arrangement should sound very warm and intimate at 24bit. Real instruments, real voices, real soul.

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Check out PonoMusic for the Zeppelin and Bill Withers pages.

 

Vinyl Sales Continue To Grow

More vinyl albums were sold last year than any year since 1991. This is because of quality not irony.

The mainstream music world has moved to streaming, locking in low-quality expectations. Streamers don’t even talk about sound quality anymore because it’s the elephant in the room.

Vinyl sounds better than streaming. 24bit digital sounds better than streaming. CD sounds better than streaming. Even radio sounds better than streaming.

Vinyl delivers artwork, lyrics, and a physical connection to your beloved music like streaming cannot.

Plus you own vinyl forever. Not a single penny needed in the future to hear it again and again.

Buying Musical Product – What Do You Want?

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So the CD is dead, the mp3 is going nowhere fast, everyone seems to stream or listen to their mp3 libraries, the HD Digital files are just starting to gain traction, and analog records keeps chugging along towards their 100th birthday.

What’s a music lover to do with their money these days? Many that I know go to shows whenever possible, buy vinyl, both new for around $25/LP and used around $2/LP. Many pay Apple, Google, Spotify or whoever to buy or stream an mp3 version. One strange dude I know still goes to BestBuy to buy new CD’s. Indie shops and truck stops still have random cassettes.

I’m getting a first generation Pono Player any day now, so I’ll be soon buying some HD digital albums to expand on the 5-10 I own now. I’ll also be re-ripping some of my favorite CD’s as 16/44 WAV’s to load onto the Pono Player – it’s high-end amp and DAC should make them fresh and new after years of mp3’ing my ears to death.

Figuring out what to buy from the world of music (and sadly, the fraction of it that is available in HD digital) will be tough but I’m all about getting as close to the “album” model of listening – put it on and let it play, in order, with no random access cueing, for 12-20 minutes, with an endless side. Then flip the side and play the rest.

Then’s there’s the issue of storage…. do we want nearly permanent discs of plastic, to be read by either vibrating stylus or laser light, for our precious music? Do we want to own nothing and just rent everything? Somewhere between those two extremes lies the answer.

More to come on this topic soon…

The First LP… ever

The year was 1948. The funk was about to go mobile.

Colombia dropped the first 33 1/3 RPM long playing vinyl disc.

Some serious fiddle by this guy playing this. The breakdown run at 0:34 is amazing. The audio linked is not from that vinyl however. See the actual label and read more info here:

http://www.33audio.com/enter/ML4001.html

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This format lasted 40 years as the market leader before digital compact disc outsold it in the late 1980’s. The CD format offered a lower noise floor, no dust issues, more portability, a wider allowable temperature range, more capacity, and instant access without manual cue. All great advances, and within 10 years of it’s introduction, CD’s were the market leader.

The CD format was a step back in three very important categories, however — sound quality, durability, and sustainability.

Durability is in the archival sense – stored correctly, vinyl LP’s appear to have an infinite life. I have records over 50 years old that play as they did when made. CD’s (which consist of a thin piece of foil filled with millions of holes sandwiched between clear plastic) on the other hand, have been exhibiting foil rust, mold, rot, cracking, and total failure at a alarming rate.

A "new era" indeed, complete with Lasers and Lightning

A “new era” indeed, complete with Lasers and Lightning

There is also the issue of playback for future generations: the vinyl record requires no computer, software, laser, or integrated circuit, even electricity – to be read. It is unknown if CD playback will be possible in 50, 100, 500 years. It is known that a stick can be dragged through a groove under a cone forever.

Sustainability is an issue in that CD’s are practically indestructible little plastic objects that are nearly non-recyclable. We have been warned about throwing them in the trash, and many recycling centers in the US don’t even accept them. Vinyl records (PVC) aren’t always recycled either, but they do not contain any harmful materials.

 

2MERICA’S Top Network

Done a lot of video in the last couple years and have a few more ideas in the cooker for both the 2MERICA and Ezraz projects. Here’s the list of the video yayas we’ve posted as designed for musical and visual enjoyment.

 

Videos From 2MERICA’s 1st LP Record Profits:

Record Profits

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“Indy Day” … “thinkin’ bout cashin’ in usin’ all these song lines”

“Green Screen” … “episode’s out the window, tracking’s well defined”

“Scribbling” … “contemplate what Sartre said” [featuring paintings by Jaimeson Lowell]

“Male Performance Issues” … remember the gapneck (minor key does not make it a rollerskating song)

“Night Talk @ The Mansion” … we are tonight’s soundtrack

“Zeestro” … he’s the maestro

 

 Videos From 2MERICA’s 2nd LP Sensors&Switches&Buttons:

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“Regina” … “fakin’ neutral glares cannot hide you”

“Extraordinary Rendition” … “this problem is hard – c’mon, join the party”

“Boom Seattle” … “there’s sparkles everywhere” [featuring paintings by Jaimeson Lowell]

“Alfie” … “look at this place see how it’s changed”

“Who’s Feeling Who?” … “my little sugar triangles who’s feelin who?”

“Tha Cop(s)” … “all this lying all this trying”

“The New Guest Who…” … “eww, it’s much worse than I thought”

 

Videos From 2MERICA’s 3rd LP Scherzo Elskorpion (unreleased):

Mass Entertainment EP

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“Never Met Tomorrow” … “never know who to follow, never met tomorrow”

“Mass Entertainment” … “we are all instruments playing our part”

“The Blood & The Sweat” … my life is the mess only I can clean

The Curious Case of W. Axl Rose

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It’s been 4 1/2 years, seemingly the right time to revisit something you might have dismissed,  you know, 4 1/2 years ago.

I dismissed this Axl Rose character, thinking for some unspecified reason that he was no longer the powerfully-voiced fighting machine that blew all other rock vocalists off the stage in the late 80’s.

Maybe it was drugs, women, insanity, or some cool rockstar mix of all three that had derailed him, I told myself. After all, Slash is just so cool! All that hair and those beautiful guitars! He was somehow more responsible for the classic GNR in my head. This was bullshit of course, I realize now.

Why this reversal? I finally listened to Chinese Democracy.

Played the whole record, loudly, from top to bottom. Finally. This record’s story and the characters behind it annoyed me so much it took me over 4 years to simply listen to the damn thing.

Continue reading

13,000 Records Lovingly Washed and Saved


Sound of the City: Last Night 13,000 Norton Records Were Lovingly Washed and Saved By Adoring Fans of the Label

Here’s a great story about a small record label in Brooklyn that was flooded by Hurricane Sandy. They decided to save their rare vinyl inventory with an army of volunteer record lovers, rubber gloves, and lots of dish soap.

The pollution-filled salt water from a nearby canal rose over 10 feet and made easy work of album covers and the rest of their warehouse. Everything electronic was ruined. Everything organic-based was rotted and stained.

Vinyl albums can hold out a bit longer, but mold and mildew will eventually grow in the grooves so it was decided if they were going to save the records, they needed to act fast.

Well done, Norton. So many things a storm destroys can be replaced and some of it wasn’t loved much in the first place. But in this case seeing thousands of rare and obscure pressings lay to rot would have been a sad event, given the wonders of dish soap on records.

 

 

The Pressure Is On, or Why I Decided To Record An Entire Album In One Weekend

I’ve produced quite a few songs at this point for a variety of artists and styles. I’ve also released many of my own productions – countless hours in the dark studio clicking, sliding, and space bar-ing my life away.

This spring is time for a change, a new challenge: Roaming Crazy is going to record an entire album in a weekend marathon recording session, and we are going to film the whole ordeal for a documentary.

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See, this is how we live. Being an independent artist in the 21st century is a strange existence, one that never seems to be documented besides the content of the creation itself. This challenge is the largest the band has ever faced, and the largest this producer has ever faced.

In short, there will plenty of opportunity for drama and fun so we are bringing a camera crew with us through the journey.

(BTW – I do hate most reality TV, so I’m going to be uncomfortable with the cameras around, but I think there is an excellent story to be told so I’m gonna go along.)

The plan is to make the best Roaming Crazy album we can in the shortest amount of time, at the lowest budget. This will not be 1-mic in the corner rehearsal punk rock stuff, this will be a full Flux-adel Multi-track Production. We will be using every bit of our resources in the name of ART and ROCK AND ROLL, amen!

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Plus there’s a little addition — YOU could be in the documentary. We are looking for recorded opinions on our chances, reviews of our song and sound, or whatever you want to send/post. Turn your camera phone on and sound off.

Ever heard of a band doing this? Think it’s a horrible idea? Need your gorgeous face in our goofy documentary? Just want to send best wishes? Here’s your chance.

Who is Jak Rody?

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Who is Jak Rody?
and why would you care?
No answers, only ideas
We need a water pistol man
and a traveling camera
for pre-reality documentarization
Whatever is clever

NOW CALLING:
ARTISTS WITH SOMETHING TO SAY

Have fun look young
Think old keep hold
2merica is just gettin started
we are a young nation
Growing pains
knowing strains
mashup games

We want photos
We want writings
We want drawerings
We want moving pictures
We have some and we want more
History is now
Let’s make it hot.

Record Review: Funkadelic – Standing On The Verge Of Getting It On

[originally published on WFNK.com on October 1, 1999]

funkadelic-ontheverge_1024x1024 Album Review by Coffee

Funkadelic, in my opinion is the GREATEST “black rock band” of all time. But let us put that in perspective. I am using the words- black, rock and band there. Obviously, almost every member in Parliament and Funkadelic was/is African American. And I use the term ‘rock’ somewhat specifically because I am targeting harder edged material when I am citing rock music.

For instance, The Temptations are probably one of the greatest soul groups of all-time. True, they may have had some more agressive and psychedelic spurts here and there. But the Temps are known for their squeaky clean and rhythmic doo-wop over anything else that they ever created. So let us consider the career of Funkadelic as a funk-rock band just for reference.

Like their siamese sister band, Parliament, Funkadelic has had an illustrious and colorful career in changing the concept of black music. George Clinton played with legions of musicians, so I won’t even try to name every Funkadelic member. Here is the general list of artists who appeared on the album at hand, “Standing On the Verge Of Getting It On.” Praise thee-

funkadelic-standingGary Bronson: Drums
Ron Brylowski: Guitar
Eddie Hazel: Guitar
Jimmy Calhoun: Bass
George Clinton: Vocals/Album Producer
Raymond Davis: Vocals
R. Tiki Fulwood: Percussion, Vocals
Clarence “Fuzzy” Haskins: Vocals
Tyrone Lampkin: Drums
Cordell Mosson: Bass, Vocals
Leon Patillo: Piano
Gary Shider: Guitar, Vocals
Grady Thomas: Vocals
Bernie Worrell: Keyboards, Vocals

Standing On the Verge Breakdown-

Intro- Some of the funniest first few seconds that I have ever heard on a record begin side One and Side Two of this album. My translation of intro 1: Our world can bite us in the ass if we don’t watch it! Check yourself and correct yourself. For Side two intro: Like peas of pod we’ll fit together until I introduce to you the cosmic highway to my mind.

Track 1: Red Hot Mama

– An Eddie Hazel guitar signature song and one of Funkadelic’s most successful singles ever. They hit the mark on this one. It is great when psychedelia sounds clean and cohesive like this. You can hear the layers working one another just as easily as they disappear into a sonic stew. If ever there was a funky song by P-Funk (without proclaiming funk’s name first), this is it. The story is of a fast woman from swamp country. She claims super diva status with her sexuality. You can sense brothers copping a jive talking session about it on the avenue.

Track 2: Alice In My Fantasies

-Wow. The thought of a blaxploitation version of “Alice In Wonderland” with this Hendrix-esquian echo funk sure sounds good to me. This song is on fire with acid headed freedom eruptions throughout. It is obvious that The Red Hot Chili Peppers were inspired by tracks like this ahead-of-its time motivator.

Track 3: I’ll Stay

-This R&B is sensual ebb and flow. It’s graceful romance deserves as much recogntion and cred as anything put out by the Temps or the Tops. Let Bernie W. and the rest take your head out to play with this smooth and slow jam. Making love music has never been so greasy and out of this world at the same time.

Track 4: Sexy Ways

-Disco dancefloor-doowop pick up lines in the groove. The funk has grabbed the soul of a thousand booties. The lust continues. Go ahead guys, do the first date thing- buy a flower, open her door and offer your coat in times of need. Then pop this track on in the den if you want her to know what you’ve really been thinking about.

standing_fullinsideTrack 5: Standing On the Verge of Getting It On

-The optimism and good intentions are offered here with absolute freedom. I have always thought that this song sounds like a more adventurous James Brown. This classic is still performed by Parliament-Funkadelic at concerts. If you can’t loosen up to this ode to the people, then your ass is in a coma. The harmonizing of the vocals and the lyrics see to symbolize the need for unsion and acceptance that is inherent to human nature. The funk is an aura of emotion that makes standing together part of the whole routine. It is not ironic that one of P-Funk’s most contagious groove has such an invitational message.

Track 6, Jimmy’s Got A Little Bit of Bitch In Him

-Hendrix is played on and quoted in this satirical look at his fashion sense and zoned out character. Jimi doesn’t take it too seriously watching P-Funk shows from up above. Parliament-Funkadelic’s attire and personality make Jimi look like Nat King Cole. Ok maybe that is a bit severe…

Track 7, Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts

George Clinton preaches spoken word funk over one of Eddie Hazel’s soul-searching psychedelic journeys that transcend emotion.

This is my 2nd favorite Funk album EVER. If you don’t own it- buy it now. Do not pass F, give up $15 or so and read those outrageous Sir Lleb liner notes when you open the merchandise. Check out the album artwork and vote for a virtual reality event to mirror its vision.

Peace and Funk,
Coffee

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