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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Pre-owned discs mysteries

How I’d wish to know who owned this and many more discs bearing this elegant, old timey monogram.. second-hand disc shopping has unexpected mysteries... in a record I purchased several years ago, Gentle Giant's Three Friends on swirl Vertigo label, I found a joint and a Rizla cigarette papers inside the sleeve... it's still there...


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Reel to reel (almost) forgotten joys...

I still remember as a nightmare having to solve a troublesome 762 m tape pancake which decided to don't stay in its hub, anymore... spent one week strong to do not loose the recording on tape itself!

Yes, I know. judging the Buchla-style wall, it's a musique-concrete editing studio or something... yet!

Steve Hoffman insight about (why not) re-mixing

On the modern trend of remixing of Beach Boys' PET SOUNDS, BEATLES, LENNON, DOORS, JETHRO TULL, etc. 
Someone asked me if I liked new remixes of old rock, pop, jazz, etc. I told them that I did NOT. They were quite surprised and asked "why? You did a bunch yourself, didn't you?"
Yes, I did and now regret it.
So I wrote this, reprinted here:
"Artists seldom own their own work. Hundreds of years ago, the patrons paid for it, and owned it, unless an artist like Vincent was such a failure that it collected in their workshop. Once a piece of art was purchased, it was no longer the property of the originator, correct?
In the music world, record companies always owned the music, this "reverting back to the artist" contract clause is a recent thing (I mean, like 1960s recent). Before that, only the record company could do anything with the recordings, and they seldom did. They moved on to new releases, the old stuff died or was remembered as an "oldie."
It was only with our weird era that anything like going back to an album and messing with it was even thought of. Guys like me are the most guilty of this. Even the best of us remix weirdos of that era, Bill Inglot, always used an original mix if he could.
In the 1980s the back catalog of a major label was rediscovered as a way to make money for record companies that had current product that was bombing so they started "looking back" which was really unnatural for a record company to do.
I've remixed so many hit records and have CRINGED so many times in after years when I hear these mixes on the radio and on compilations all over the world that I'm sorry I ever did it. They sound like what they are: Remixes, lovingly done, respectful but containing none of the energy, stress and immediacy of the originals.
In the 1980s I was working on reissuing the third Mamas & Papas album "Deliver" and having a long distance admiration affair with Diana Reid Haig, my counterpart in Nashville. I was playing the music for her and told her in my opinion that it was about the worst stereo mix I had ever heard, ever! She agreed it was terrible. I said "What I wouldn't give to be able to remix this album so it sounded good but the multi-track tapes were destroyed by ABC so they could make room for Pat Boone tapes so it can't be done."
She said a surprising thing to me. She said, "Good, I'm glad you can't do it."
Why, I said? 
She stated:
"Because the original mix is the original mix, the published version, that's the only version that is legitimate. The only version that counts."
I said the mix was terrible! She said "That's the breaks! Anything else is just not right."
I scratched my head at this but I never forgot it. She told me that "my remixes, although sounding in better in fidelity, were not real. Not authentic, not anything but an exercise in playing God. She said that if something out of the past sounds less than wonderful, then it sounds less than wonderful. Still, the energy of the music comes through, and the vibe of the era comes through and the whirlwind of creation and authentic feel of the era comes through as well. She said to change that is basically to laugh in the face of all the people who worked on the music to begin with, and that includes the songwriters, musicians, producers, engineers and everyone else. You can't wipe that all away for the sake of a change for the better in fidelity or to reveal a hidden lute or to make the Celeste louder. It's not legitimate.

Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks

Now, I didn't agree with her at the time, but her words totally stuck with me, even all these years later (obviously), and I began to change my tune (pun intended.)
Some engineers can claim "I can match the exact mix but with better fidelity or something."
They can't. I can't. I've tried for 30 years and it's not possible. It comes out as a new creation, enjoyable, but it's no longer the original album anymore and anyone who says it is, has never tried doing it.
At no time in history has an "artist" looked back. The "Blue Period" was in the past and it was time to move on. Pablo didn't go back 20 years later and say "I like Red now so I'll change blue to red."
That's just silly. No artist would have ever stopped to fix an old painting, they would just create a new one. It's only when the artist or musician is old and broke that the idea would even present itself that, "Hey, people seem to love my first album even though I haven't listened to it in 30 years and I don't look back, only forward, maybe I can make some dough with it."
Musicians and artists don't LOOK back, they don't revisit old works, they create new ones. Unless that creative spark is gone and it's either making something "NEWLY REMIXED!" or selling real estate.
Brian Wilson once told me in the 1990s (during a memorable lunch at Jerry's Deli) that his 1966 mono PET SOUNDS was perfect the way it was, and starting in the late 1970s he dared to listen to it again for the first time since his "retirement." He said he still loved it, and since the fire of creation was no longer on him about it, he could listen with an open mind and he still wouldn't change a thing.
He told me all of that and then five years later, it's being remixed in stereo and Brian's all for it!
C'mon, really? Let's not be so innocent here, folks. You're smarter than that."
Anyone agree? I doubt it but thanks for reading!

Thanks to you, Steve!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Web-detoxing 2019

Here we go...

Woodstock Diaries - some random notes

During these days commemorating the 50th anniversary of the most famous music festival, ever, I enjoyed playing my 4-tracks Woodstock tape and the 5 classic discs: my most beloved tracks are CSN&Y, Jefferson Airplane, Canned Heat, Joe Cocker and Jimi Hendrix... but... yesterday evening I watched at the TV the documentary "Woodstock Diaries"...

My '69 Sovereign's headstock...

I loved the interviews with the organizers and, as a guitar player and a recordist, I noticed for the first time something really weird: the microphones used on stage during all the 3 days of love and music were the ubiquitous, cheap, then iconic Shure 565 and they were used for vocals, acoustic guitars, guitar amps reinforcement... everything was miked with these rugged mikes!

My Shure 565 Unisphere...

No Neumanns', AKGs, Telefunkens'... dynamic Shures', rugged and honestly sounding... able to flawlessly work in rain and high humidity conditions where many sought-after mikes would have succumbed.

Talking about guitars... Country Joe McDonald used in his "Gimme an F... gimme a U..." rag a Yamaha FG-150 acoustic... John Sebastian in his dyed trouser and t-shirt played an Harmony Sovereign H-1260, Tim Hardin also played the very same Sovereign's... nothing too expensive or esoteric, yet this pop choices didn't make the performances lesser.

Harmony Sovereign H-1260 ladder-braced (1969)

Only Joan Baez used a majestic, pre-War Martin 0-45... something similarly esoteric was played by Steven Stills and Neil Young, with their vintage D-45s.

Richie Havens of "Freedom" fame played-to-the-bone a Guild D-40... if you're intrigued by the topic, have a look here for more guitar trivia.


Nonetheless, despite the cheapos or vintage instruments choices, everything was recorded with 565... same mike which used, among the many, Freddy Mercury... a microphone - whose suggested use is as a vocal-mike - recorded one of the most iconic events ever... the dad of Shure SM-58 with its 50Hz-15kHz limited bandwidth didn't, ahem, limited the enjoyment of people attending the concert or the zillions people listening to the discs.

This makes me think about audiophiles and their obsession for "uncolored sound" and "flat frequency response"...  an Harmony Sovereign is more colored than a Martin D-28, a Shure 565 Unisphere is rolled-off and colored compared to a  B&K/DPA 4001... so what?

Music wins over technology... creativity, communication, empathy of musicians is more important than onanistic technicist paraphernalia!


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

... not just listen to... feel it!

... thanking Peter Sikking.

A definitive book about horns speakers out, soon

1070 pages... 14 years in the making... an awesome effort.

it's official: after 14 years of work, our book "High-Quality Horn Loudspeaker Systems" is finally going to print as of today. Bjørn Kolbrek and I (Thomas Dunker) are both a bit exhausted after the past months of getting all the final details overseen.

The final page count comes to 1070 pages. In keeping with the non-commercial profile of this group (ETF 2019), further info and details on the publishing, the schedule for making it available for sale etc. will be posted on a dedicated web page in the near future. 

Let's just say the book will be available before ETF19, when we will give a presentation of the project.

For now we just need a well deserved break for a little while. The authors would like to point out that this book project is in fact a huge DIY type project dedicated to the collection, organization and sharing of as much useful knowledge, insights, know-how, history and science on horn speaker systems as we have by now managed to pack into a book. Though not available for free, it is ALL about sharing information, ETF style, we feel. 

Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Louis Moholo's masterpiece reissued!

If you don't own this very disc in its classic Ogun pressing, now fetching quite high sums, here is your second chance, folks...

Otoroku is extremely proud to present the first vinyl reissue of one of the most legendary free jazz records ever produced. Originally released in 1978 on Ogun recordings, Louis Moholo Octet’s Spirits Rejoice! is a high achievement in the movement of the era as it soars beyond oppression with a raucous and spiritually uplifting surge of movement and melody 
Featuring Harry Miller, Johnny Dyani, Keith Tippett, Evan Parker, Nick Evans, Radu Malfatti and Kenny Wheeler, this is former Blue Note artist Louis Moholo’s first album under his own name and is a classic example of the cross-pollination between South African and British players. Mongezi Feza’s ‘You Ain’t Gonna Know Me ‘Cos You Think You Know Me’ alone is enough to make your life a better place.
From Matthew Wright’s new liner notes: 
The South African melodies, now so familiar, were wholeheartedly taken on board by the individual musicians, their unity of purpose mirroring the belief in the strength of the collective. Stunning solos, often close to the edge, feature throughout –  Evan Parker and Keith Tippett on “Shine Wherever You Are”; the contrasting trombone styles of Nick Evans and Radu Malfatti on “You Ain’t Gonna Know Me...”; the octet sounding like a full big band; and behind them, the relentlessly rhythmic urgency of the piano, bass and drums. Add to this Kenny Wheeler’s moving and all-encompassing trumpet on the elegiac “Amaxesha Osizi” and the joyous flamboyancy of “Wedding Hymn” with Parker’s relatively straight-ahead tenor and Tippett’s dextrous piano solo over a bed of riffing horns, (fast) walking bass lines and a supreme sense of swing. Louis’ early hero, Big Sid Catlett, would have loved it!
This 2019 re-issue has been made with permission and in association with Ogun records. Features an exact reproduction of the original artwork and liner notes along with new liner notes from Matthew Wright. Remastered by Giuseppe IIelasi and packaged in a high gloss sleeve this is the definitive release of one of the absolute free jazz classics of the 20th Century.
Edition of 1000 copies.

Grab it, you won't regret and will thank me.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

An evening with John Renbourn and Jacqui McShee

Loved and still love John and everything Pentangle... BUT,  I truly seldom saw such an ugly picture on a disk cover...

... why not choosing a better one?

Nonetheless, I will buy it, of course... out on next September.

Bill Frisell goes Blue Note!

Beloved, esteemed musicians's musician re-joined the iconic label...

Acclaimed guitarist Bill Frisell has signed with Blue Note Records and will release the first album under his own name for the legendary label with the arrival of his newest project, Harmony, this coming fall.

Though his association with Blue Note stretches back nearly 3 decades to his appearance on John Scofield’s 1992 album Grace Under Pressure — and has included invaluable contributions to Blue Note albums by Don Byron (Romance With The Unseen), Ron Carter (Orfeu), Norah Jones (‘The Long Day Is Over’ from Come Away With Me), the collective project Floratone, and Charles Lloyd & The Marvels (I Long To See You & Vanished Gardens featuring Lucinda Williams) — Harmony is Frisell’s bona fide Blue Note debut: an opportunity for jazz’s most storied label to document the work of “the most significant and widely imitated guitarist to emerge in jazz since the beginning of the 1980s,” according to The New York Times.