Category Archives: Articles

Playlist: History of British Rock (Sire Records, 1976)

I had this cassette in high school. I can’t remember exactly where or why I bought it, but my guess is that it probably came from the Columbia House tape club. Or maybe I bought it at the mall because it had a rare Beatles song on it.

It’s a weird compilation. Released by Sire Records in 1976, it’s not arranged chronologically but it spans from the first single by a British group to reach the American Top 20 (“Silver Threads and Golden Needles” by the Springfields, 1962) through Beatlemania and psychedelia all the way to 1971’s earthy noodlefest, “Layla.”

There’s nothing by the Rolling Stones, the Who, Herman’s Hermits, Hollies, Small Faces, Zombies, Them, Moody Blues, Pretty Things, Spencer Davis Group, or the Yardbirds, and the Beatles song is a goofy throwaway recorded in Hamburg before they had a record deal. Some of the songs never even charted on this side of the pond at all (“Black Magic Woman” by Fleetwood Mac, “Massachusetts” by the Bee Gees). So it’s just a strange listen. But it was my introduction to most of these songs, and to be honest, I haven’t heard many of them since I left home for college.

This comp is a distillation of the four-volume Sire Records series of historical releases issued between 1974 and 1975: History Of British Rock, Vols 1-3 plus Roots of British Rock. Seymour Stein created an ambitious program of double LP packages chronicling rock music’s history. Each original volume contained 28 songs with lots of cool photos and liner notes by Greg Shaw. So my tape was clearly a cheapo knockoff of the original set with no photos or notes. And Sire kept the crappy version in print. Weird!

It’s hard to imagine now, but at the time most of these recordings were otherwise out of print and generally unavailable to the public. Stein told Billboard in 1975: “It is our feeling that rock does need to be available in some sort of historical context for today’s market.” He noticed that jazz and blues “have virtually everything ever recorded available on some sort of collection” and he wanted to do the same for rock and roll.

His plan didn’t last very long. Within a couple years Sire refocused on new music like the Ramones and Talking Heads. This type of historical release would be taken over — and perfected — by Rhino Records.

In fact, shortly after I rescued this tape from the budget bin, Rhino started releasing its nine-disc collection, The British Invasion: The History of British Rock, which seems to have been inspired by the Sire series, by then out of print. The Rhino box was compiled by Harold Bronson and contained 180 British songs that charted in the States. That’s a cool project and all, but my dumb tape was enough for me.

So I recreated it for you to stream…

Continue reading Playlist: History of British Rock (Sire Records, 1976)

50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 5

Issue #5 had a cover date of February 10, 1968. 24 pages. 25 cents.

This was the issue when Rolling Stone started giving away roach clips to new subscribers. (“Act now before this offer is made illegal.”) You can scoff, but for its entire first year the Stone remained a DIY organization, run by Wenner and a handful of cohorts. The only real grownup in the group was Ralph Gleason.

Continue reading 50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 5

Hey What’s Up? Glorious Noise Is 17

Time flies. Seventeen years? Crazy. GLONO is the same age as the lead singer of my favorite band. There are kids in bands today who weren’t even born when we started this. That blows my mind.

I remember turning 17 the summer before my senior year of high school. John Cougar had told us to “hold on to 16 as long as you can” and I took that advice seriously. But that was almost 30 years ago. That blows my mind too.

Over the past year we’ve been trying to publish something every weekday, which has required seeking out a lot of new music. That’s been rewarding for me, personally. Too many grownups get stuck in the rut of feeling like there’s nothing good being made anymore. As if music peaked your senior year of high school. When you were 17. The same age as this website.

That’s baloney. Of course it is, but the older I get the more I realize that you have to consciously and actively look for good stuff. It doesn’t just fall in your lap like it used to when you were always hanging out with friends and listening to records together and going to bars and shows all the time. It’s work now to find new music.

Is it worth the effort? Yeah, for sure. It’s awesome. We’ve found tons of great new songs by artists I’d never heard before, and many of them happen to be young women. There’s still plenty of old dudes kicking out the jams (and GLONO will always love classic rock), but most of the exciting new music is being made by girls. (Neil Portnow’s a moron.) Look back at the past year’s worth of songs we’ve covered and you’ll see that about half are from bands fronted by women. And way more than half if we’re talking about brand new bands. So that’s cool.

But I get why my fellow grownups don’t want to put in the effort. That’s fine. I am happy to listen to 80s music and drink wine while our kids play videogames in the basement. That’s fun too.

On the other hand, if you want to be exposed to some good new music, we’re here for you. At Glorious Noise we work hard so you don’t have to. Like Scrubber Bubbles. Tune in, and we’ll turn you on to good music.

And if all goes well, we’ll be doing this for another 17 years. I hope I’m still digging new music in my sixties. I have no doubt that kids will still be picking up guitars and playing rock and roll. The only questions are: Will my ears still work, and if so, will they still be open to hearing new sounds?

We’ll see…

Continue reading Hey What’s Up? Glorious Noise Is 17

50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Jann Wenner, Beatles Fanboy

I’ve been reading Sticky Fingers, Joe Hagan’s new Jann Wenner biography and it’s really fascinating. One of the things that has surprised me was how DIY those first several issues of Rolling Stone were. It really was a bunch of volunteers hustling to pull those 24 pages together. Granted, some of those volunteers might not have realized they were volunteering until they never got paid, but still. DIY.

It’s also interesting to read how provincial toward San Francisco bands Wenner was, balanced only by his fanaticism toward the Beatles and the Stones. Looking back at those early issues it’s not surprising that many of the ads were local. Television station KQED took out full page ads. So did Bill Graham, promoting shows at the Fillmore.

Local record stores advertised too, including one called “Music 5 is Alive” at 887 Market Street, who in issue #4 boasted a “Special Price on the New Beatles LP.” Although their ad doesn’t specify the price it does include a psychedelic illustration that I’d never seen before.*

Continue reading 50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Jann Wenner, Beatles Fanboy

2017 Soundscan Data: Total Music Sales and Consumption

So it looks like fewer and fewer people care about owning their music. This is the first year that I didn’t buy a single new release on compact disc (although I picked up a few deluxe reissues on CD). I bought a bunch of vinyl including Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy, the Mountain Goats’ Goths, Jason Isbell’s The Nashville Sound, Neil Young’s Hitchhiker, and the Replacements’ Live at Maxwell’s.

But most of the new stuff I listened to this year was streamed including tons of miscellaneous singles as well as new albums by Spoon, Conor Oberst, Aimee Mann, Strand of Oaks, Diet Cig, Lorde, Micah Schnabel, Tristen, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, St. Vincent, Last Leaves, Taylor Swift, and my absolute favorite album of the year: Feel Your Feelings, Fool by the Regrettes. I’ll pick that stuff up on vinyl if I see a deal, but I’m in no hurry. Patience is a virtue, after all.

I’m apparently not alone. Music sales are down down down. But streaming is way up and if you accept the industry’s argument that 1,500 streams is equivalent to one album sale then things are about the same as they were in the early- to mid-90s, before the brief, turn-of-the-century bubble. So maybe all’s well. Who knows?

Seems like only yesterday that we were all celebrating the certain death of the major label system, but just like everything else about the early internet age, we were overly optimistic and grossly naive about the resilience of corporate America. So it goes. Anyway, here’s the data…

Total U.S. Album sales (physical + digital in millions)

Total Album Sales (physical + digital albums)

2017: 169.15 million
2016: 205.5 million
2015: 241.39 million
2014: 257.02 million
2013: 289.41 million
2012: 315.96 million
2011: 330.57 million
2010: 326.15 million
2009: 373.9 million
2008: 428.4 million
2007: 500.5 million
2006: 588.2 million
2005: 618.9 million
2004: 666.7 million
2003: 667.9 million
2002: 693.1 million
2001: 762.8 million
2000: 785 million
1999: 754.8 million
1998: 712.5 million
1997: 651.8 million
1996: 616.6 million
1995: 616.4 million (I’ve heard the figure is 616,957,000)
1994: 614.7 million (I’ve heard the figure is 615,266,000)
1993: ~573 million (1994 was 7.4% increase over 1993)

Continue reading 2017 Soundscan Data: Total Music Sales and Consumption

Wrapping up a lousy year: 2017

A lot of people died this year. This happens every year, and we’re all gonna die someday, of course, but it’s still a drag that we’re no longer inhabiting the same plane of existence as Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. We also lost Glen Campbell, Tom Petty, Walter Becker, Grant Hart, Clyde the Funky Drummer Stubblefield, Charles Bradley, J. Geils, Malcolm Young and his brother George, Tommy Keene, Maggie Roche, Gregg Allman, David Cassidy, Mel Tillis, Don Williams, Jim Nabors, Chris Cornell, Al Jarreau, Pat DiNizio, Prodigy, Chester Bennington, Charlie Murphy, Joanie Cunningham, Benson, Batman, Judge Wapner, Roger Moore, Jerry Lewis, Chuck Barris, Hugh Hefner, Don Rickles, Mary Tyler Moore, Harry Dean Stanton, Martin Landau, Dick Gregory, Jonathan Demme, Sam Shepard, Kevin Garcia (Grandaddy), Frank Deford, and Jake Lamotta.

Phew. That’s a lot. Rest in peace.

We also lost a common definition of reality, and although it had been on its deathbed for a while, it was still a little shocking when it finally kicked the bucket. I remember getting wasted with pals in the early 90s and bullshitting about memetics and alternate realities and it’s very weird to see it all come true. Or, maybe not “true” since truth no longer exists, but whatever. Oh well. Never mind.

One good thing that happened in 2017 is that Glorious Noise started posting new content regularly again for the first time since 2011. Shortly after our 16th anniversary online in February we committed to posting something new every weekday. Did you notice?

It’s been fun. I’ve listened to a lot of new music that I might have skipped over had we not set that goal. There’s tons of new stuff released every week and some of it is actually good! It’s become our mission to find the good stuff and share it with you.

There are plenty of sites that post every new press release that hits their inbox. Glorious Noise does not do that. We listen to stuff and if it’s boring or if it sucks we ignore it. Just like you should. Unless it’s noteworthy or hilariously bad or we think we should warn you about its suckiness. We will filter out the crap.

We are not an algorithm. We are a few dudes with dayjobs and strong opinions who tend to gravitate toward guitar music with something to say. You can trust us.

In fact, we’ve been compiling the songs we’ve posted about this year into a massive playlist which you can stream for yourself to decide if our taste jibes with your own. Dig it. And have a happy new year.

Continue reading Wrapping up a lousy year: 2017

New Father John Misty video: Leaving LA

Video: Father John Misty – “Leaving LA”

Father John Misty – "Leaving LA" [Official Music Video]

From Pure Comedy, out now on Sub Pop.

I know I know I know, a thirteen-minute hymn to your own hyper-awareness (a “10 verse chorus-less diatribe”) is self-indulgent horseshit. It’s impossible to argue with that.

And yet…

Try to forget for a sec what a bloated self-righteous asshole Josh Tillman has become, and just listen to the song. Listen to the string arrangement by Gavin Bryars and think of “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me” or “The Sinking of the Titanic” and just listen.

“Leaving LA” is arranged, performed, and recorded perfectly. It sounds great. It’s a beautiful song even if the sentiment is bitter.

Tillman claims to assume this song will cost him some fans. The “teenage rosebuds” and “college dudes” will “all jump ship” and think, “I used to like this guy but this new shit makes me want to die.” I dunno. Maybe. I’m a couple decades past being a college dude, and I’ll admit I prefer the manic hedonism of Fear Fun over the grumpy cynicism and misanthropy of the more recent stuff, but I’m guessing his core fanbase knows exactly what they’re getting into.

What I find fascinating about Father John Misty in general and this song in particular is Tillman’s quest to find some kind of balance between his onstage persona and his true self. I don’t think that’s a put on. I believe him. I think he honestly struggles with this dichotomy. Maybe everybody in showbiz does, but Tillman is unusually open about it.

Continue reading New Father John Misty video: Leaving LA

New Sufjan Stevens video solidifies theory of 50 States Project

Video: Sufjan Stevens – “The Greatest Gift”

Sufjan Stevens – The Greatest Gift (Official Video)

From The Greatest Gift Mixtape – Outtakes, Remixes, & Demos from Carrie & Lowell, out now on Asthmatic Kitty.

The mention of Asa Lovejoy (founder of the city of Portland) in this song is further evidence to prove the theory that Carrie & Lowell was indeed the “Oregon” installment in Sufjan’s “50 States” project, despite the fact that in 2009 Stevens dismissed the project as “such a joke” and admitted it was a “promotional gimmick.”

Almost every song contains at least one specific reference to Oregon: the Death with Dignity Act of 1994, the Oregon breeze, Spencer’s Butte, Eugene, Emerald Park, the Tillamook burn, Sea Lion Caves, Cottage Grove, The Dalles, the Blue Bucket Mine.

The outtakes from this newly released collection keep it going: Wallowa Lake, Asa Lovejoy, the hidden river, Hathaway Jones, the City of Roses, Pig-n-Ford races, Nike, Beavers, Ducks, and Trailblazers.

I mean, come on. This is as clear and obvious as anything on Illinois or Michigan, right?

There was also a mention of Rogue River in “Mystery of Love,” one of the songs Sufjan contributed to the soundtrack of the film, Call Me By Your Name.

And just yesterday, he released the “Tonya Harding” single, about the unlikely skating star who many considered to be “Just some Portland white trash.”

You could easily compile the most Oregony of these songs into an “Oregon” playlist to get the full effect.

And I’m not the only one who thinks this, either. Tuneage wrote a post about it and found a 2005 interview where Stevens discussed Oregon as a likely contender as a follow up to Illinois. Local publications mapped out every Oregon reference on Carrie & Lowell.

Carrie & Lowell is unquestionably the third installment of Sufjan’s Fifty States Project. Three down, only 47 to go! Snap to it, Soofy!

Sufjan Stevens: web, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Sufjan Stevens video solidifies theory of 50 States Project

What’s In a Name?

Walter Becker died on September 3, 2017, from esophageal cancer. Now Donald Fagen is suing his estate. [Update: Becker’s estate responds.]

The issue, it seems, is the name “Steely Dan.” Or whatever that is.

The two had signed what is known as a “Buy/Sell Agreement” after the band formed in 1972, which essentially lets one member to buy the shares of the other, on behalf of “Steely Dan,” should there be a departure or death. The Becker estate wants Becker’s widow to have the shares.

It is worth taking a look back at the band, such as it was, as one could say that it has always been a duo with an array of supporting musicians.

The first album, Can’t Buy a Thrill, was released in 1972. It was followed with a series of annual releases: Countdown to Ecstasy, ’73; Pretzel Logic, ’74; Katy Lied, ’75; The Royal Scam, ’76; and Aja, ’77. There was a short break, as Gaucho didn’t appear until 1980.

In 1995 Alive in America was released. The next studio album was Two Against Nature, 2000, the same year another live album was released, Plush TV Jazz-Rock Party.

The final Steely Dan album was released in 2003, Everything Must Go.

Fagen had four solo albums: The Nightfly, ’82; Kamakiriad, ’93; Morph the Cat, ’06; Sunken Condos, ’12.

Becker had two: 11 Tracks of Whack, ’94; Circus Money, ’08.

According to steelydan.com, in 1973, “The band in various configurations tours the U.S. and Britain.”

Then there was something of a touring hiatus, it seems.

The site notes that in 1980 “Becker and Fagen go their separate ways.”

So the first tour had an assortment of musicians and seven years later, after that flurry of annual albums and then Gaucho, that was it.

Continue reading What’s In a Name?

Taylor breaks a million for the fourth time

Three years ago this month, we reminded everybody that Selling a Million Albums in a Week is a Big Deal after Taylor Swift released 1989 and sold 1.287 million. At that time only 18 other albums had hit that mark since Soundscan began tracking sales in 1991.

Before Swift’s new album, Reputation, sold 1.216 million last week, only one more album had sold more than a million: Adele’s 25. And 25 crushed all sales records, selling 3.378 million copies in its debut week, 1.112 million in its second week, and 1.157 million in its fifth (Christmas). Which was historically bonkers. Since then, nobody’s come close and nobody probably ever will.

But 1.216 million is still a lot of albums. And those are sales. In just the United States. 709,000 digital albums and 507,000 CDs (no vinyl yet). As Billboard points out, that’s the “10th-largest sales week for any album since Nielsen Music began electronically tracking sales.” In fact, it sold 1.05 million copies in the first four days. That is a dedicated fanbase.

If you factor in streaming and track downloads, it moved 1.238 million equivalent album units (not much more because she’s holding it off streaming services for now).

Continue reading Taylor breaks a million for the fourth time