Sunday, May 22, 2016

Music Years Of My LIfe: 1983

We had a public access channel, it was called Channel 100, because it was located right before Channel 2.  In between odd local programming, the station would show music videos.  This was 1980/81.  But they showed the same ones over and over.  And yet I watched because there would be a newer video thrown in from time to time.  The videos on a loop:  Madness' "One Step Beyond", Devo's "Satisfaction", Gary Wright's "Really Wanna Know You", Talking Heads' "Once In A Lifetime", and others that escape me.

Until MTV premiered in 1981, music videos were always around.  They just didn't have their own 24 hour channel.  The Beatles made videos, "Bohemian Rhapsody" is the most famous and I can remember watching them on American Bandstand.    But MTV was something different.  Where I live we didn't get it until 1982, a year after it started.  Having read about it in Rolling Stone, Billboard and other music mags, I couldn't wait for it.

The best thing MTV did for me was play Indie, U.K. and later Metal and Rap videos.  In other words, stuff that I couldn't get on my local FM channels.  We're so spoiled now, but that's just how it was back then.

By the time 1983 rolled around, MTV was indeed a good old fashioned phenomena.  World Premiere Videos became can't miss TV.  Artists rushed to the channel to get some airtime and talk up there video.  First thing I'd do when I came home from work was put it on.  Being a music follower, I noticed lots of New Wave videos and few R&B ones.  "Billie Jean" helped change that.

Let's face it, those early videos  could be elaborate, but they were also hilariously overblown.  Once you get past  1983, then everyone thought they were making video masterpieces.  Some music critics hated MTV then and still don't have a nice thing to say about today.  To them, some artists were no longer making music but were heading to the studio thinking about there next video.

I wasn't one of those haters.  And think the 80's MTV was pretty diverse in their programming.  Today, the only time I pay attention to it is when they have one of their awards shows.  MTV changed music, and its early launch can still be seen today every time Beyonce teases another video project. And if you're feeling nostalgic, most of the VJ's are on Sirius' 80's channel.  We may no longer watch MTV,  but we can never escape it.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Playlist for 5/21

Peter Wolf - Cure For Loneliness
Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression
Santana - Santana IV
PJ Harvey - Hope Six Demolition Project
Janis Joplin - Joplin In Concert
Parquet Courts - Human Performance
Radiohead - Moon Shaped Pool
Keith Urban - Ripcord
Jennifer Nettles - Playing With Fire

Monday, May 16, 2016

Playlist for 5/16

All Things Must Pass (Documentary)
Revenge of the Mekons  (Documentary)
Art of Organized Noize   (Documentary)
Janis:  Little Girl Blue (Janis Joplin Documentary)
We Are Twisted F___Sister  (Documentary)
Ashford & Simpson - Gimme Something Real/I Wanna Be Selfish/Come As You Are
Gregory Porter - Take Me To The Alley
Corrine Bailey Rae - Heart Speaks In Whispers
Beyonce - Lemonade
God Don't Never Change:Songs of Blind Willie Johnson - Various
Rough Guide To The Blues Songsters - Various

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Music Years of My LIfe: 1999/2000

Who gets the blame for the file-sharing epidemic of the early 00's?  At the time I pointed the finger right at the Record Companies.  And guess what?  I still do.  I'm going to come clean here:  I stole some songs from Napster.  But I have an excuse.  The songs I downloaded were hard-to find tracks that at that time never made it on to a CD reissue/compilation, etc.
And this was the genius of Napster.  You could find everything.  Once I found one forgotten Top 40 hit, I couldn't believe that others were showing up. There was a giddiness to the hunt.  My attitude at that time was that if no one wants to put these out there for completists like me, then I'm going to find a way to get them. 

I should also point out that unlike some people who used Napster to download everything and anything, I continued to buy albums.  This was a problem, though. Even though the Now series of compiling the latest hits on a compilation had finally hit the U.S. in 1998, before that record companies stopped releasing singles.  Now was an eye-opener.  Suddenly I didn't need to buy full albums to get a couple of good songs.  I could wait for another volume.  Also,  Itunes wouldn't premiere until early 2001.  All in all, consumers were tired of buying albums when they only one song.

Then came the Ipod in October 2001.  Integrated with Itunes and the consumer was finally in command.  No longer did you have to purchase CD's for $15+ when you could get that one track you only wanted.

But my buying habits have always been different than most.  Throughout the Napster/Itunes birth, I was still buying CD's.  But more carefully.  One can't deny the rise of in how buyers spent their money. Comparison shopping became key for me.  And this is where the end was near for Borders, Tower Records & Circuit City.  How often did I go into Borders to check out the price of a CD and then go online to see what Amazon or a used retailer was selling it?  All the time.  And to the point where I rarely bought anything at the big box stores anymore.  

Napster stated the firestorm.  Artists got ticked because people were stealing their songs.  Then along comes Lars & Metallica suing Napster in 2000,  and a year later the fild-sharing giant is dead.  It didn't stop people from downloading.  The went elsewhere and the RIAA continued to threaten the most extreme abusers.  But still couldn't figure out that the problem lay in one thing: price.  

The roots of Napster are still being played out today.  Streaming services like Spotify, which offer and all-you-want deal for $10 are still a problem for artists.  Minuscule streaming royalty statements have made some acts rebel against Spotify.  You would think that in 2016 everything would be available to stream.  But that's not the case.  

I still buy Now volumes, still stream and more importantly, still buy albums.  But I gave up downloading files from elicit sites as finding obscure titles got easier.  Yet, while I'm sympathetic to artists who want a fair payday for their recordings, I have little for the record companies.  Album sales are never coming back to pre-Napster era times.  Occasionally, an artist like Adele will slip through and sell a bunch of CD's, but those won't happen much.  My advise to all involved:  consumers, artists, record companies, music stores.  Give us what we want, but don't try to rob us.  It's the same attitude many of us have had about the music biz since 1999.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Playlist for 5/10

Metallica - Kill 'Em All/Ride The Lightning/And Justice For All
Ozzy Osbourne/Randy Rhoads - Tribute
Descendents - Milo Goes To College/Fat EP/Somery
Kanye West - Life of Pablo
Teddy Thompson/Kelly Jones - Little Windows
Mekons - Fear and Whiskey
Waco Brothers - Electric Waco Chair/Going Down In History

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Blues Artists & The Rock Hall (Updated 2017 Eligibles)

Recent years have seen both Albert and Freddy King inducted. As well as Stevie Ray Vaughan.  But are there others?  The answer is a big yes, especially when you consider Early Influences.

So, I came up with some names that should be there.


In no particular order:

Charley Patton - He's the "Father of the Delta Blues".  So how did he slip by the Rock Hall.  An obvious choice for an Early Influence.  Howlin' Wolf and John Lee Hooker were influenced by him.

Sonny Boy Williamson II - There were 2 Sonny Boy's, but Sonny II was the giant.  A powerful harmonica player, he also wrote and sang some of the genres greatest sides on Chess.  Another should-be Early Influence inductee.

Junior Wells - Yet another influential Harmonica player of Chicago Blues  Wells is best know for his recordings with Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters.  Could be Early Influence, but didn't his own recording stride until the mid-60's.

Son House - Along with Charley Patton, another master of Delta Blues.  His slide-guitar playing alone influenced many.  Early Influence category.

Skip James -  Another excellent guitarist whose songs have been covered by everyone from Cream to Lucinda Williams to Gregg Allman.  Not as well known as others on this list, but still a seminal Blues name.  Early Influence category.

Mississippi John Hurt -   I wouldn't call it mellow, but Hurt's Blues were not of the gut-bucket variety.  "Warmth" is the word others have used.  Couple that with the fact that he was one of the genres greatest guitar players and Hurt is a strong candidate.  Early Influence again.

Big Mama Thornton - One of the great Blues shouters who also had an influence just as Rock and Roll was at its infancy.  "Hound Dog" was her ticket, and many female Rock & Blues singers were influenced by her.   Early Influence category.

Memphis Minnie - One of the early Blues guitarists, and a pioneer in that category among many of the women who followed her.  Somewhat forgotten today, but she was a popular presence throughout her life.  Early Influence category.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Probably more Gospel than Blues, but she did cut some records in the latter category.  Regardless, she's one of the best vocalists and guitarists from the early years of Blues and Gospel.

Blind Willie Johnson - Often called the most powerful Gospel meets Blues artist. Rough voice added to the drama of his best records.  He was also one of the genres best slide guitarists.  Early Influence.

Otis Rush - One of the originators (with Buddy Guy) of the West Side Chicago Blues sound and big influence on Eric Clapton, Mike Bloomfield and others.  His career didn't reach the legendary status of Buddy Guy, but among fellow players, his distinct playing was just as lauded.   

Slim Harpo - Harmonica (and guitar) player who also crossed over to the Pop charts.  His songs were covered by the Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Grateful Dead, the Doors and others.   

Johnny Winter - Winter's death has definitely spawned an appreciation of his recorded output.  But most agree it was in concert that he excelled.  Talk about someone who left it all on stage.


Greatest Mother's Day Song

The Greatest Mom Song?  I'm seeing many votes for 2Pac's "Dear Mama".  And I love the Spinners' "Sadie". But my #1 has always been the Intruders' 1973 "I'll Always Love My Mama".

Written by Gamble & Huff along with McFadden & Whitehead ("Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now") it was a minor hit, peaking in the Top 40 at #36 and the R&B chart at #6.

You could say my love of Philly Soul plays a bias in my pick.  But checking out other Best Mom Song lists, I rarely found this listed.

BTW- The Intruders are kind of a forgotten group in the Gamble & Huff stable.  Their biggest hit was 1968's "Cowboys to Girls" (#6 Pop, #1 R&B).  The followup, "(Love Is Like A) Baseball Game" peaked at #26 Pop in the same year.  But their Philly Soul years catalog has other buried gems and is worth checking out.

Here's a link to the single version.  The best Mom Song ever.

"I'll Always Love My Mama" - Intruders

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Magazine Update (2016)

Time for an update on magazines (print!!) I read.

Rolling Stone
Down Beat
Jazz Times
Mojo  (UK)
Uncut  (UK)

Big Takeover
Ugly Things
Shindig (UK)
Flashback (UK)
American Songwriter
Blues Revue
Living Blues
Under the Radar

Wax Poetics
Echoes of the Past
Oxford American  

Guitar Player
Guitar World
Vintage Guitar
Elvis The Man and His Music  (UK)
Endless Summer Quarterly
Now Dig This  (UK)
Blue Suede News

Record Collector  (UK)

New Yorker
New York Magazine
Vanity Fair

Tape Op

Prog (UK)
Blues Magazine  (UK)
Vintage Rock (UK)

Vive Le Rock  (UK)

Classic Rock  (UK)
Classic Pop  (UK)
Jazziz (UK)
Songlines (UK)
Q  (UK)
Bob Dylan Fanzine Isis  (UK)

Bass Player
Entertainment Weekly
Wire  (UK)
Empire Magazine  (UK)
Sports Illustrated
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