The world's supposed "Greatest Music Collection," consisting of three million records, 300,000 CDs and more than six million song titles, is currently being sold via eBay. The comprehensive hoard of five generations worth of music was amassed by music aficionado, or rather junkie, Paul Mawhinney, who bought his first record, a Frankie Lane song, some 60-odd years ago and has persisted in fiendishly purchasing ever since.
As soon as his collection grew to 160,000 records, his better half urged for the displacement of this space-consuming desire. Instead of conceding altogether, Mawhinney sought out a 16,000-square-foot, climate-controlled warehouse and continued to augment the genre-spanning collection—the estimated value of which exceeds 50 million dollars. The starting bid, however, is set at three million, without reserve. Whether it be guilt from downloading or the opportunity to call yourself the owner of the world's "Greatest Music Collection" that compels you to bid, one thing is certain: Whoever wins will own a significant chunk of history.
While I may be a plebian for preferring CDs over vinyl (yes, I am a child of the digital age), I gotta admit that I could only wish to own that much music, but what I'm really jealous of is his storage units! I would kill for a library-style shevling system for all my music and DVDs. Custom-shelves, made to fit all your entertainment items, cataloged and alphabetized--this is pure music geek wish-listing!
Do you have a large collection and some serious shelving? Are you proud of them? Send me your pictures to email@example.com and we'll post them! Make all us geeks jealous!!!
While I was never personally a fan, I know Bruce and many of you were huge fans of the alt-country mag NO DEPRESSION. Well, sorry to say, but it's time to load up on the prozac--NO DEPRESSION is going out of business. Here's what they have to say:
Barring the intercession of unknown angels, you hold in your hands the next-to-the-last edition of No Depression we will publish. It is difficult even to type those words, so please know that we have not come lightly to this decision.
In the thirteen years since we began plotting and publishing No Depression, we have taken pride not only in the quality of the work we were able to offer our readers, but in the way we insisted upon doing business. We have never inflated our numbers; we have always paid our bills (and, especially, our freelancers) on time. And we have always tried our best to tell the truth.
First things, then: If you have a subscription to ND, please know that we will do our very best to take care of you. We will be negotiating with a handful of magazines who may be interested in fulfulling your subscription. That is the best we can do under the circumstances.
Those circumstances are both complicated and painfully simple. The simple answer is that advertising revenue in this issue is 64% of what it was for our March- April issue just two years ago. We expect that number to continue to decline.
The longer answer involves not simply the well-documented and industrywide reduction in print advertising, but the precipitous fall of the music industry. As a niche publication, ND is well insulated from reductions in, say, GM's print advertising budget; our size meant they weren't going to buy space in our pages, regardless.
On the other hand, because we're a niche title we are dependent upon advertisers who have a specific reason to reach our audience. That is: record labels. We, like many of our friends and competitors, are dependent upon advertising from the community we serve.
That community is, as they say, in transition. In this evolving downloadable world, what a record label is and does is all up to question. What is irrefutable is that their advertising budgets are drastically reduced, for reasons we well understand. It seems clear at this point that whatever businesses evolve to replace (or transform) record labels will have much less need to advertise in print.
The decline of brick and mortar music retail means we have fewer newsstands on which to sell our magazine, and small labels have fewer venues that might embrace and hand-sell their music. Ditto for independent bookstores. Paper manufacturers have consolidated and begun closing mills to cut production; we've been told to expect three price increases in 2008. Last year there was a shift in postal regulations, written by and for big publishers, which shifted costs down to smaller publishers whose economies of scale are unable to take advantage of advanced sorting techniques.
Then there's the economy...
The cumulative toll of those forces makes it increasingly difficult for all small magazines to survive. Whatever the potentials of the web, it cannot be good for our democracy to see independent voices further marginalized. But that's what's happening. The big money on the web is being made, not surprisingly, primarily by big businesses.
ND has never been a big business. It was started with a $2,000 loan from Peter's savings account (the only monetary investment ever provided, or sought by, the magazine). We have five more or less full-time employees, including we three who own the magazine. We have always worked from spare bedrooms and drawn what seemed modest salaries.
What makes this especially painful and particularly frustrating is that our readership has not significantly declined, our newsstand sell-through remains among the best in our portion of the industry, and our passion for and pleasure in the music has in no way diminished. We still have shelves full of first-rate music we'd love to tell you about.
And we have taken great pride in being one of the last bastions of the long-form article, despite the received wisdom throughout publishing that shorter is better. We were particularly gratified to be nominated for our third Utne award last year.
Our cards are now on the table.
Though we will do this at greater length next issue, we should like particularly to thank the advertisers who have stuck with us these many years; the writers, illustrators, and photographers who have worked for far less than they're worth; and our readers: You. Thank you all. It has been our great joy to serve you. GRANT ALDEN PETER BLACKSTOCK KYLA FAIRCHILD
What does this all mean? Not only is the CD business dying, it looks like print is too...what are your thoughts?
JANGLE ON! By Eric Sorensen, written exclusively for NOT LAME
I finished last month’s column with a thank you to Ray Verno, and I will begin this month’s column with similar appreciation. Ray’s INTERNET research has brought two more artists to my attention: Fred Hoffman and Kevin Michael Moyles. Fred features a number of songs on his www.fredhoff.com site, but the four instrumental tracks that feature Fred on his Rickenbacker 12-string guitar are standout tracks that should appeal to Byrds fans everywhere. Fred gets a nifty sustain from his compressor on “Rickenbacker Rumble,” “Ric Cycle,” “Your Tiffany Bird’s Joy” and “McGuinn Tribute” – leaving no doubt that he is a dedicated Roger McGuinn disciple! Moyles’ country-rock tracks can be found on his www.Kevinmoyles.com site. The very jangly “Hold On” reminds me of material released a decade ago by both the Electric Range and the Headlights. Thanks are extended to Fred and Kevin for sharing their music on the INTERNET … and to Ray for mining these jangly nuggets!
Speaking of Roger McGuinn, I had the pleasure of seeing him perform at the beautiful 1800-seat Mondavi Center for Performing Arts at the University of California-Davis campus on February 1st. This was Roger’s first public appearance since recovering from a broken wrist. Although he had a banjo, 12-string acoustic guitar and his 12-string Rickenbacker guitar within arm’s reach, McGuinn showed a strong preference for his signature Martin seven-string acoustic guitar, which allows him to showcase the best features of both a six-string and twelve-string guitar. I am looking forward to seeing him again in May – in the more intimate confines of the historic Vergennes Opera House in Vergennes, Vermont.
So … what else is new in jangly music? How about several discs featured on the Not Lame website – such as:
IKE-WHERE TO BEGIN No album better meets the definition of “power pop” than this latest release from John Faye and his bandmates. It doesn’t always have to jangle to be top-notch pop. However, the guitar riffs do ring and chime a bit on the swell track “Atomic Rose.” I get a Comanche Moon/Paul Kaminski vibe from this excellent track.
THE MEADOWS-FIRST NERVOUS BREAKDOWN Hard to put my finger on who they remind me of (Bruce makes references to a rootsy-Petty and Gin Blossoms sound) but it sure sounds good! “Wheels On The Road,” “Take Me Down” and “Forever California” feature enough chiming riffs to warrant jangle enthusiasts’ attention.
STONECAKE-ALWAYS IN MY MIND Solid power pop in the same vein as the Merrymakers, with enough jangle on three out of four of the tracks to whet my interest!
ICE CREAM HANDS-THE GOOD CHINA I have the complete library of discs by this “under the radar” band, but this latest disc really demonstrates how good this band is. Songs on this disc combine elements of Teenage Fanclub, Michael Carpenter and the more pop-oriented Hoodoo Gurus – resulting in some terrific melodic power pop. “Come Along,” “This Is What I Want” and “Anyway” are my favorite tracks.
Other jangly finds include:
EMANUEL TRANSMISSION-ETERNITY Every once in a while, a search of CDBaby unearths a terrific find. This ten-song disc by a six-person church ensemble is certainly directed at the “inspirational pop” audience … but if you’re a jangleholic like me, you will dig “Peter’s Story,” which is drenched in chiming, ringing riffs. The message is melodic, jangly and joyous – the way pop music should be!
THE PEACES-IS/ARE WAS/HERE Every year, a disc comes to my attention after I have compiled a “Top Ten” list for the previous year. Is/Are Was/Here, released on the Cherry Bomb Records label and available through the Not Lame website, was my late add to the Best of 2006. This disc sparkles with timeless vocal harmonies and chiming guitars. Tracks like “Don’t Take It For Granted,” “Oasis,” “She Stands So Close,” “Telephone’s Ringing In My Ear,” “Sunny Day” and “Something Wrong Could Be Right” remind me of the Cyrkle, the Blow Pops and the Resonars. Byrds fans will certainly dig “She Stands So Close” – which grabbed my “Song of the Year” honors for 2007.
Another superb release on the Cherry Bomb Records label is...THIS IS MY LIFE by the ALAN WAUTERS ALLIANCE. The twelve songs represent studio recordings by Alan Wauters and a changing lineup over a 15-year period. (NOTE: The guy playing Rickenbacker 12-string guitar on the 1982 Electric Lady Studios tracks is none other than Les Fradkin, who I now consider to be the Kevin Bacon of the pop music industry. Les can trace a connection to every other pop musician within six degrees of separation!) Terrific Wauters-penned tracks include “Aquariana,” “Living On The Edge,” “Looking For Love,” “Called It Fate” and “Resolution.” Wauters and his studio mates also recorded excellent cover versions of “Sounds of Silence” and “My Back Pages.” On some of the tracks, I get a D.L. Byron vibe – which is a very good thing! Fans of jangly music should snap this up. This compilation makes a great companion to the Starry Eyed and Laughing compilation - That Was Now And This Is Then - that was released several years ago on the Aurora Music label.
Eric Sorensen, has over 40 years of passion inside his ears for all thingsruled by the misty, mystical jangling spells of a 12-stringed Rickenbacker and his postings here will unearth and enlighten all as to finding that next great jangled strum. No one owns a larger collection of cover-versions of "Eight Miles High" than this Janglemeister, as well. Eric was the lead project honcho with putting together tribute albums to Gene Clark (FULL CIRCLE) and Buffalo Springfield(FIVE WAY STREET) and his earlier column writings appeared on the fabulous Fufkin.com site under the name "Further Observations From A Jangly Music Fan".
Bruce's NEW AT NOT LAME Update for early Feb. 2008!!!
Straight from the boss, here's Bruce's list of what's new at NOT LAME...
Here are the Top New Releases on the Not Lame web site for early February. There are many new releases on da 'ole home page, but for the time starved, these are the ones worth of your precious time. Click on the links for full mini-reviews on each CD and listen 'n sample lots of soundbites, as well. Have Fun!
THE LOLAS - LIKE THE SUN 20 new songs from The Lolas! For fans of The Beatles, Kinks, Silver Sun, Steve Miller Band, The Cars, The Byrds, The Sweet, T.Rex, 60's, 70's, and psych pop, jangle pop, mod pop – all here and accounted for! The Lolas just keep finding their stride and get better and better in the songwriting department with all their cool chord changes and bubble-gummy melodies inside a sharp, loud guitar sound with lots of handclaps and sing along choruses.
IKE (John Faye) - WHERE TO BEGIN John Faye is back for 2008 with another stellar, special effort! "Where To Begin" their new 14-song album, puts a magnifying glass to the ups and downs of staying together and starting over. This is a bit of living water for the pop soul, and let it nurture any pop fix you may need. Clean vocals, razzle dazzle hooks and all the great riffing that macho talented folks like does like few others. Ever youthful, ever optimistic, IKE shows no sign of giving up, slowing down, or losing validity, with an album that acknowledges how hard it can be to keep going and rebuild what's broken, while looking forward to the limitless possibility of things to come. EXTREMELY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!
NADA SURF - LUCKY 2008 Studio album with limited 4 song bonus EP! "Their most accomplished record yet, in that the band finally articulates a fully developed point of view that distinguishes them from similar-sounding acts like the Shins and Rogue Wave.what works so well about Lucky is the interplay between the band's buoyant arrangements and lyrics. While the notion that there's beauty to be found in futility is far from revolutionary, Nada Surf have matured into a strong enough band to make an album like Lucky, which is full of such existential hand-wringing and one of the year's first great pop records." - Slant.
BRANDON WILDE - SONGS FROM THE DEEP SLEEP WHERE did Brandon Wilde come from?! WOW!! For fans of Chris brown, a bit of the spirit of David Grahame, Ken Sharp, early solo McCartney, mellow Ice Cream Hands, Elliot Smith and a whole host of other wonderful songwriters of such ilk are all over this. The influences peek out from the corner, creep through closed doors and dart `n dash out of focus, which makes it all the more delightful, pleasurable.
SMASH PALACE - EVERYBODY COMES AND GOES A perfect combination of jangle-filled Tom Petty, Long Ryders, The Byrds, World Party, The Smithereens, Todd Rundgren and lots of Lennon-styled Beatles. On the more obscure side, the second album from Little America, Diesel Park West and The Rainmakers.
THE BON MOTS - FORTY DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS"The Bon Mots stretchuncanny abilities to write intelligent lyrics as complex and significant as Elvis Costello, Squeeze’s Difford/Tilbrook, Ray Davies (The Kinks), and even of XTC, and marry them to tight, hook-filled compositions that breathe the late 70s punk-New Wave style with a modern studio bent that accentuates a 60s garage sensibility, which in turn, looks at matters that convey a more mature appreciation for subjects as far reaching as common relationships, classical literature, global consciousness, and even siring a new generation. The band has expanded their sound with more lush harmonies and deeper instrumentation."-IndiePenDisc.
THE AFTERNOONS - ROCKET SUMMER RESTOCK of important indie power pop release!! The tunes are like a warm breeze blowing over you, disguising the slightly bittersweet lyrics. The Afternoons are the sort of band that would take a festival by storm if the weather is right! From the opening bars of the first feel-good track `Rocket Summer` it`s clear that the there`s a west coast feel to the record. Tight harmonies that you`d associate with the likes of `Teenage Fanclub`, melodies that Belle and Sebastian would be proud of, wrapped around an element of `James` when they were at their most poppy!
STONECAKE - ALWAYS IN MY MIND Sweden's STONECAKE returns! This is a special and very limited 4 song EP from them as we wait for their next album! As always w/ Stonecake, it's dripping w/ classic clean Beatle memories, pristine production values, ringing and chiming guitars, massive hooks and sophisticated craftsmanship and a singer like Mimi Betinis from Pezband. This is Power Pop that represents our much loved genre very, very well! Lots of Merrymakers and Jason Falkner and bits of XTC, Squeeze.... Pure Pop Delight.
DAVE FOSTER - BLUE CIRCLE Dave Foster was in the late 90s power pop band Bubble - he returns magnificently! Listen the fabulous soundbites at this link, in particular, the first one “One Day” which upon my first listen – I promptly played three straight times right afterwards! Very Highly Recommended!
THE MEADOWS - FIRST NERVOUS BREAKDOWN 2nd album - The Meadows built upon the sound with vocal harmonies, organ, strings, violin, viola and noise to create an album that is expansive and cinematic. Good as their debut was, “First Nervous Breakdown” puts lasers on ‘stun’ and leaves their self-titled debut in the dust! Their spirit, and sometimes musically, does remind me of Michael Carpenter`s gripping reinterpretation of Tom Petty rootsy jangle, but fans of The Gin Blossoms, The Rembrandts. Brimming with poignant lyrics, wistful harmonies and a upbeat, postitive attitude, deftly balances shimmering acoustic driven songs and vaguely rootsy jangle.
SOFT GONG - PRETEND YOU NEED ME An Idaho pop band - yeah! And REALLY, really good one! Reminds us of a lot of the great indie power pop sounds of the late 90s but what works on all the 12 songs here is focus and commitment to the hallmarks of really good pop – solid, workman-like rhythms, meaty hooks, guitars that bite down hard and soft-pure-pop styled vocals that hold it all together. Listen to the soundbites at th is link and get the story in the most direct and accurate manner!
RUNNIN' WITH THE BRUCE-MAN! - Bruce goes to VAN HALEN!!!
Inner Rock Dude.
I don't have one. I'm 45 and while I'm a musical pantheist, worshiping at the altar of most musical styles 'n genres, I have owned only one OUTER ROCK DUDE since 1971 when I first heard Led Zeppelin II. Hear me loud, hear me proud, Helen Reddy - I AM ROCKER, hear me ROAR!
That alter-rock ego has never been once to be silenced or suppressed to 'inner-status', its always lived alongside my poly-loves of power pop (naturally!), prog-rock, early proto punk, 70s punk, early 70s funk and soul, novelty and bubblegum music, disco (ahem!) and on and on.
But if I'm honest, this preachers' son must rock. Always. Now and Forever. Amen.
My absorbing passion the last few years has been to discover rare, hard-to-find hard-rock obscurities from, say, 1969-1976. Yes, it's a pitiful, reflective dance back into my oh-so-naïve, 'those were the days' of my younger years, sure. But you gotta see my "Mirror Star" air-guitar alter-being to know "I mean it, maaan!".
So where is this going? Simple. Van Halen is back. With Diamond Dave. The band died when he left. Did you know, you puss-sucking owner of "5150"? It was another band that arose in aftermath of that swallowing painful chunking of clashing (musical, the worst kind!) egos. Sigh. What could have been. What was.
No more. Eddie cleaned up (finally). David Lee Roth has grown up a bit knowing to turn his deal down a few notches with his bandmates, Alex (the drummer, come on!) is, well, he's the drummer! Original bassist Michael Anthony is M.I.A, presumably, because the Van Halen brothers have pushed him out of the newly rebuilt rawk-fortress - too much weight of the past. So, in drops, Eddie's 16-year old son, Wolfgang (Hollywood just is not a normal place to raise a children, don't tell me otherwise!) and - lives up inside a dream that can only be imagined in fantasy comics. (He's the 'real deal', for the record. Let's see YOU play in front of 16,000 people when you were 15!)) Still, Anthony was a rock 'n roll animal and I'll call up the ancient Indian spirits to bring him back someway, somehow, someday.
So, this past Friday, I go see them live. In concert, in person, in the flesh. JUST as I was supposed to in 1979 when they were opening for Black Sabbath, who I was a 'freak' for (naturally!) and after being smitten by WBCN in Boston playing Van Halen's debut in its entirety January 1, 1979. Radio stations did that back then. Drop the needle, go get high, come back 15 minutes later and flip to the other side.
Anyway, the trouble back in 1979 was that I had a nasty (not!) habit of getting fabulously stoned with my fellow rock buddy and the ticket I bought blew away in the crisp, fall Boston wind in the parking lot minutes after the transaction and high-fiving ("We’re going to see OZZZEEE!! Uh, where's my ticket!?!"). Cue Scene 73 in retro-rock B movie: stoner dudes crawling on the pavement looking underneath parking lots filled with Camaros and Roadsters emoting proto-Ur version of "Duuuudddee-Speak".
That show was not meant to be.
This past Friday was.
Van Halen stunned me silly. They played ONLY tunes from the six albums with Roth (damn straight!) and did not draw heavy breath until 2 hours and 20 minutes after they started. They tramped out any and every single song I wanted to hear from the bands' six-album catalog, deep album tracks, too! There was the obligatory 7 minute drum solo filled with every single classic-rock 70s drum solo cliché ever performed - it was....PERFECT!! Hey, who better than one who helped create the archetype!
The band jammed it out, too. What a surprise. 6, 7, 8 minute plus versions of “And The Cradle Will Rock”, “Somebody Get Me A Doctor”, “Everybody Wants Some”, “Unchained”, “Mean Street”, “DOA”, “Panama”, “Ice Cream Man”. They stretched it, they explored, tripped in some places but picked themselves up, enlivened by the repartee of old-friends exploring the boundaries of 'acceptable rock 'n roll'.
My buddy and I had kick-ass seats, too. Yes, as Nazareth wrote about in 1976, it was all "Close Enough for Rock 'n Roll"(great song, btw!). What is CEFRR? That is the zone of buzz, the area of rock rectitude, the inner sanctum of sonic overload where - well, remember the old ads for Maxell tapes in the 70s with long-haired rock stud sitting low-backed in comfy chair, in front of massive speakers and the sound blowing into his face and blowing his hair back.
THAT is 'close enough for rock 'n roll'. Its the inside place in large arena, mid-level auditoriums and cavernous clubs where the music is loud, (at a minimum) borderline uncomfortable and where you *most definitely* can NOT - repeat CAN NOT - have any kind of conversation with the person next to you *except* to nod knowingly that you are most righteously rocking together in rock 'n roll buddy and! Got it?
You say "Bruce, come on. You can't be serious. Van Halen? You, the promoter of pure power poppin' passion fruit sucking and swallowing whole the rock 'n roll balls of a tired old, suspectingly and pathetically reunited who helped make MTV the shell of its name?!"
Yup. That's me.
Now, don't get me wrong. I paid $250 for front row seats the other night. Insane? Risky? Ooohhh, yeah, after all the rumors of years past. I threw those dice down, though. Had to. You see, I had a heavy chain ridden ghost to exorcise. The one that came into being in that parking lot in Dedham, Massachusetts in 1979. This evil presence *had-to-go*. And, you know - you could not pay me $250 to see Sammy Halen. Serious. Go ahead - email me - offer me $500 to waste 3 hours of my life seeing Sammy Halen. Me Sez "No". No, not "No, Thank You" - just "No-Freaking-Way". (Don’t get me going on this poor excuse of a band using the 'Van Halen' name all those years!)
For the record, Sammy Hagar has some truly excellent songs strewn out all over this 70s solo records. Side one on "Danger Zone” is wildly under-rated by hard rock folks, for example and one can present the argument that the first Montrose album from 1973 is one of THE unrivaled and influential hard-rock debuts ever - uh, after Van Halen "I".
So, come hither my middle-aged, thinly haired rock brothers 'n sisters. It's time to come out of the closet, back into the light and crawl into the basement for the last stack of vinyl records you have stored away because you just could not, with finality, say 'goodbye' to those fair-weathered, seed-ridden 12"ers. You know, my friend, that was your Inner Rock Dude talking, knowing best. Knowing Truth. Knowing Life Needs Rock.
Bring the Inner Rock Dude back to The Outer. Turn it up. Louder, then louder. Make anyone, everyone around you wonder what on earth is up with you - find the "Close Enough For Rock 'n Roll" Zone in your own home and re-live, re-experience and re-immerse yourself in the beginnings of why music mattered so much to you 'back then' and why it does now and find yourself ready to take on the world with your old friends beside you the tough trenches of overly plugged-in, wired up modern-day life.
You, friend - ROCK ON!
Bruce Brodeen Not Lame Recordings
BONUS! Here's a clip from the Denver show of the opening number, "You Really Got Me"!!!
DOUBLE BONUS! From the WFMU Blog, here's an mp3 of DLR's isolated vocals on "Runnin' With the Devil"!!!Download here!
For over ten years the NOT LAME RECORDING COMPANY has been the world's foremost distro (and part-time label!) of the best power pop mankind has to offer. Led by our fearless leader, founder Bruce Brodeen, NOT LAME offers everything from Jellyfish to Sweet, Pilot to the Shazam--we only offer the best. After all, we're fans just like you! So please, feel free to comment, discuss, argue, and, most importantly, have fun.