Vinyl records sales still on the rise

12 08 2011

This is hardly shocking news to anyone who follows music closely.  But it is still interesting to hear repeated that vinyl records sales continue to climb.  In an age where the album as a unit is virtually dead and more and more people — including the 30 and over crowd — jokingly ask, “CD? What’s a CD?” it’s kind of cool to see an old format revived.

I’m not sold that vinyl sounds better than CD’s.  I suppose that depends on the system, the turntable, the condition of the album, the speakers and the production quality of the record itself.  But I do understand why people find records to sound more genuine.

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14 01 2010

I’m breaking a bit of etiquette when it comes to critique or criticism.  I have some thoughts about The Stooges’ album The Weirdness and, well, those thoughts are mostly negative.  The problem is that I didn’t listen to the full album, simply because I didn’t feel like muddling through it.  I got five songs deep and had to turn it off.

It’s pretty simple.  The music is quite good but the lyrics are atrocious.  They are embarrassing.  I know that some of what made the early punk or even pre-punk stuff like the Stooges so great was that it deemphasized music as a craft, made it (again) more of a visceral experience.  Often that means throwing away the poetic, flowery words and getting right to the heart of things.  There’s a huge place in music for that approach.  The Ramones mastered that, I think.  The Stooges made amazing music that said very little.

But I felt embarrassed for Iggy Pop, 60 years old at the time this album was made, when I heard this little bit from the song “Trollin'”:

Baby, baby take a look at me
I see your long legs riding your Lee’s
I see your hair has energy
My dick is turnin’ into a tree

Offensive? No. Stupid? Yes.  Songs like ATM weren’t much better.  If you want the Stooges power, you’ll find some of that.  Otherwise, you’re better off sticking to old Stooges material and even Iggy’s solo work.

The Black Crowes “Cabin Fever”

13 11 2009

On November 24, the Black Crowes will release Cabin Fever, the DVD about the making of their recent double live album project, Before the Frost…/Until the Freeze… It looks like a pretty cool DVD, if you like the Crowes.  Here’s the first trailer —

Video Flashback: “Just Like Paradise” — David Lee Roth

8 10 2009

1988 — I was a huge Van Halen fan and had really liked David Lee Roth’s first solo LP, Eat ‘Em and Smile.  So it was a big deal when DLR released his second LP, Skyscraper.

I don’t remember when I first got my hands on the album, but I do know I was a “sandwich artist” at Subway, two doors down from the (now defunct) Harmony House music store in our town.  A young, cool musician-type — wannabe hair metal singer — came in for a sandwich and we struck up a conversation about music.  By that time I had heard Skyscraper and recommended it to him.  He raced over to Harmony House, bought the cassette and came back for more chit-chat.  Ultimately I put him in touch with a friend who was an excellent guitarist and a new band was formed, but that’s a different story.

Around that time I happened to be at my friend Brent’s house.  We didn’t have cable but he did, so I did most of my MTV viewing.  We were lucky enough to catch this video together — he had already seen it.  My memory of the video is that I thought it was quite cool.  I really liked the song save some of the cheesy synthesizer work.  It ended up being one of the more catchy and enjoyable songs on that album.

But like most of the things I loved when I was 16 or 17, I outgrew the song and the album within a few years.  I heard “Just Like Paradise” last night in a store and it brought back these little memories.  I was reminded of why I liked the song.  Watching the video tonight, I am reminded of why I outgrew this stuff.   The staff antics of DLR and his band are just plain corny.  Steve Vai is a guitar wizard, but his stage presence is almost embarrassing to watch.  Of course, there is no bigger cheeseball alive than David Lee Roth, and he’s in typical form in the video.

Despite all that, a part of me still likes the song and video.  Catchy is catchy, right?

43 years ago

6 08 2009

On August 5, 1966, one of the finest albums in pop-rock history, The Beatles’ Revolver, was released.

Back in 1987, when the Beatles catalog was released on CD and Sgt. Pepper’s turned 20, the Beatles’ “Summer of Love” was thought, in retrospect, to be the Beatles’ greatest work.  Many music critics and even the Beatles’ contemporaries, reflected that Sgt. Pepper’s might arguably have been the greatest rock record ever made.  Certainly that sentiment hasn’t disappeared.

It seems, though, that in the last 10 years or so, many Beatles fans and music lovers in general have looked back on Revolver, measured it against Sgt. Pepper’s, and concluded that Revolver was the better album.  I fall into that category.  “Tomorrow Never Knows” arguably broke more ground and sounded more ahead of its time than anything on Sgt. Pepper’s, “A Day in the Life” being the lone possible exception.  The album as a whole holds up better.  Sgt. Pepper’s, though still mind-blowing in many ways, sounds like a product of its age.  If you didn’t know that Revolver was a Beatles album, and you heard it today for the first time, it might be hard for you to peg it as a product of the mid-60’s.

Whatever the case may be, it’s a classic.  I always remember Revolver’s release date since it falls on my birthday; pretty cool, I think.

Chopping up the White Album

7 01 2009

white-albumMojo The Magazine (one of my favorites) website has an interactive feature, “Towards A One-Disc White Album.”  Here’s the link.

The premise is based on George Martin having said (see the Anthology video series) that the White Album should have, in his opinion, been made into a really good single album instead of the double album that was issued.  The Mojo feature asks you, the fan, to craft the White Album as a single disc.  Sounds like fun.  It also sounds like a daunting task.  I figured I would take a stab at it here at The Sound of the Pounding.

My White Album will be issued on vinyl, like in the good old days, and will have two sides.  If I had to shrink this great record to one platter, I would give it 9 songs per side and it would probably look like this:

Side 1

  1. Back in the U.S.S.R.
  2. Dear Prudence
  3. Glass Onion
  4. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  5. Happiness is a Warm Gun
  6. Why Don’t We Do It In the Road
  7. Blackbird
  8. I Will
  9. Julia

Side 2

  1. Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey
  2. Revolution #1
  3. Yer Blues
  4. Obla-Di-Obla-Da
  5. Sexy Sadie
  6. Martha My Dear
  7. Long Long Long
  8. Cry Baby Cry
  9. Helter Skelter

I played a bit more with the song order on side 2 than on side 1.  I like the idea of bookending the album with two of McCartney’s heavier numbers.  The album should start and end on high notes with bluesier songs (like Yer Blues or Revolution # 1) and ballads (Julia, I Will, Martha My Dear) sandwiched in between.

The only right way of doing this is to not do it at all.  The White Album is one of the greatest collections of songs in rock history.  The fans got a real bargain to get all that variety in one set.