In the latest issue of TapeOp, there’s a fantastic interview with Bob Johnston, the legendary producer who made all the best albums by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, and Simon and Garfunkel. He’s a character who has left a remarkable legacy of refusing to take shit from label executives. He was asked about where he thought the music industry is going and his response is classic:
The future of the industry is that the major labels will collapse, and the attorneys and all those people will be gone. There will be a few because there will always be rap and they’ll be a few [big] things. But when somebody finds out that the company doesn’t control them, they don’t pay them, they run their debt up, turn down what’s good, put out what’s bad and charge them for everything in the world – promotion, marketing, merchandising, girls, hookers. You have the septic tank cleaners judging music. “We don’t like this. We don’t want this.” They get you caught up for a half a million so they won’t have to pay you, and that’s what they do. You’re at the mercy of sitting at a big table, listening to a bunch of clones watching their president to see what he’s going to say. It’s a horrible situation.
The whole interview is great, so you should seek it out. And if you don’t subscribe to TapeOp already, you really should. It’s one of the best music magazines out there (which isn’t really saying a lot these days, ha ha), and it’s free.
My love for British music and fashion is well known. I had a “mod” band in Kalamazoo, Michigan in the mid-90s, for heaven’s sake. I also have a deep passion for garage rock and early R&B and that passion was sparked by a video I saw while working at Blockbuster Video. We had a VHS tape of the British musical variety show called Ready, Steady, Go! These clips in particular set my world on fire. It’s two of the best soul voices in rock and roll on the same stage: Otis Redding and Eric Burdon of The Animals.
As awesome as these clips are they do pose some interesting questions. How is it that these British kids can so effortlessly and without a hint of self-consciousness affect a musical style and approach so foreign to them? In other words, how can these white kids get away with acting black? And make no mistake, they’re doing it and doing it justice. Is it because blacks do not make up the predominant minority in Britain and therefore there’s less racial strife? Is it because there’s little to no guilt associated with slavery and segregation (unlikely given the “No blacks, No Irish, No Dogs” signs adorning pubs at times)? Or are they just so cool that it simply doesn’t matter? They FEEL it.
I don’t know but these clips of Otis, Eric and fellow British soulman Chris Farlowe should be enough to get you through this cold December afternoon. Shake!
Among the many, many unsung bands of the 1960s are The Pretty Things who have an impressive lineage, if little commercial success. Central to that lineage is Dick Taylor, who was briefly in the nascent Rolling Stones and that band’s precursor, Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys. The latter band was the first that featured Mick Jagger and Keith Richards as bandmates.
Most music snobs know The Pretty Things and they’re beloved in the garage rock world, but if this video didn’t turn them into international stars then the 60s truly were crazy times. Dig this appearance on Dutch TV.
It’s well known that I am the resident Oasis apologist in these parts. I am comfortable with that. It’s one of the things that made me and Loftus friends in the beginning. And I had genuine excitement listening to the last two Oasis albums because I felt like they’d moved beyond pub rock and rip-offs to a point where they could wear their influences with flair, rather than defensive posturing. They embraced their love of the 60s British Invasion and let the tones ring through instead of burying them under layers of overdriven guitars. Noel even let some of the other guys contribute more than token songs!
And then Oasis broke up.
Well, Liam has moved on and taken a few of the old boys with him to form Beady Eye. They released a digital single a couple weeks ago and much to my delight it’s continuing down the line the Gallaghers started with 2005’s Don’t Believe the Truth. It’s a lot of jangly piano and space-echo vocals and killer back-up singers. Give it a go. It’s a free download, why not? (Free download no longer available. Boo!–ed.)
I finally watched Stones in Exile last night after recently finishing Keith’s Life. The thing that struck me about the documentary was that none of them—especially Mick, but not even Keith—have the slightest clue about what made that album so great. Everybody interviewed for the documentary seemed clueless… Except for Bobby Keys. Yes sir, buddy. The saxophone player was the only guy who didn’t seem like a bumbling old man. Bobby Keys is still cool.
But the best is Keith’s explanation of why Keys got kicked out of the band in 1973:
Bobby went down in a tub of Dom Perignon. Bobby Keys, so the story goes, is the only man who knows how many bottles of it it takes to fill a bath, because that’s what he was floating in. This was just before the second-to-last gig on the ’73 European tour, in Belgium. No sign of Bobby at the band assembly that day, and finally I was asked if I knew where my buddy was — there had been no reply from his hotel room. So I went to his room and said, Bob, we gotta go, we gotta go right now. He’s got a cigar, bathtub full of champagne and this French chick in with him. And he said, fuck off. So be it. Great image and everything like that, but you might regret it, Bob. The accountant informed Bobby afterward that he had earned no money at all on that tour as a result of that bathtub; in fact he owed. And it took me ten goddamn years or more to get him back in the band, because Mick was implacable, and rightly so. And Mick can be merciless in that way. I couldn’t answer for Bobby. All I could do was help him get clean, and I did.
Ha ha ha. Sole remaining Pumpkin Billy Corgan just shot off a series of tweets dissing Pavement, calling them sell outs who “represent the death of the alternative dream.” So awesome.
“Just found out SP is playing with Pavement in Brazil. It’s gonna be 1 of those New Orleans type funerals. I say that because they represent the death of the alternative dream, and we follow with the affirmation of life. Funny how those who pointed the big finger of ‘sell out’ are the biggest offenders now…yawn. They have no love. By the way, we’ll be the band up there NEW songs because we have the love xx.”
Does Billy really believe in “the alternative dream”? Or is he just being ironic? Whatever.
When asked for comment, Stephen Malkmus replied, “I don’t understand what they mean and I could really give a fuck.”
He sold merch for the Specials and the Clash. He was the tour manager for the Beastie Boys at the beginning of their career. He got A Tribe Called Quest a record deal. But the first I ever heard of the Captain was in a column he wrote—”In Defense of the Mullet”—in the second issue of Grand Royal magazine, published in 1995. His irreverence at the time was striking.
To me the Mullet is as American as pick-ups with rifle racks, tractor pulls, Wal-Mart, wet t-shirt contests, slapping your girl upside the head with a frying pan and living in the woods. In fact, I think it’s time the Mullet became the official cut of the U.S. Armed Forces. Fuck the crew cut. Crew cuts are soft. You won’t see no Mullet on Christopher Street. The Mullet is the white man’s jheri curl. Hell, maybe I will get me a Mullet after all. A Mullet, an El Camino with Nitros, a six of Coors, an eight ball of meth and just ride.
No surprise that his ever increasingly righteous editors at Grand Royal (the Beastie Boys) felt the need to tame his prose and censored his freeform “Beefs” column. Reading it again today, it’s kind of amazing they printed it at all, considering the shit he throws around about “Baba Yauch,” pistol whippings, “fat women in stretchy pants,” etc. Check it out and have your mind blown (click for larger, legible images).
While I hadn’t followed the Captain in the 15 years since then, it turns out he became a major contributor to 4Chan and Encyclopaedia Dramatica, and even stirred up a bunch of trouble with the Church of Scientology, who allegedly poisoned his cat and got him arrested on charges of “Criminal Threats” (which were eventually dropped). He took his own life on Saturday, October 30.
The official word from the Beasties camp: “what the fuck captain !?! we love you and miss you.”
This is exciting news for audiophiles. While the general earbudder might not give a shit about audio quality or dynamic range, people who really enjoy listening—and listening hard!—to music are going to be surprised by the following note from Abbey Road’s Allan Rouse regarding Paul McCartney’s remastered reissue of Band on the Run.
As is common with releases using Topspin’s tools, customers have a number of options, including CD only, deluxe CD package, vinyl, MP3 download, etc. This time, you can also purchase a High Resolution (24bit 96kHz) download for $19.99. The really cool thing about this is you get both limited and unlimited versions of the audio. For non-audiophiles, “limited” audio is a little louder, while the “unlimited” version will “sound quieter, but retain the dynamic range of the original master recording.” The fact that they’re giving people both may signal a real turning point in the Loudness Wars. Let’s hope so anyway…
I haven’t even listened to any of it yet, but I had to share this with you. As I repeatedly say in the video above, this is the coolest packaging on a box set I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to dig into the 15 CDs and DVD. Amazing.
Full review to follow, but very briefly: Throughout 1951, Nashville radio station WSM broadcast a 15-minute segment where Hank Williams and his band would tell some jokes and play a couple songs; this box contains all 70 of the surviving segments. Since most of these were recorded to acetate, the sound quality is apparently as good as many studio recordings. I can’t wait to find out for myself if that’s true.