Please, Mr. Postman

The Rolling Stones was established in 1962. Jagger, Richards, Wyman, Watts, Jones. The band, like many British groups at the time, was inspired by American music. But whereas, say, the Beatles (formed in 1960) were influenced by Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry, the Stones were more influenced by Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. There was far more grit and growl to the Stones from the very beginning. It is hard—if not impossible—to imagine the Stones doing “A Taste of Honey” or “Till There Was You.”*

While the Stones were performing “Paint It Black,” the Beatles were having their faces plastered on lunch boxes and dishes (“Eat your peas, kids, and then you can see the Fab Four!”). There was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band released in the spring of 1967. And there was Their Satanic Majesties Request before the year was out. The distinction can’t be much clearer.

The live performance of the Beatles that is probably the most widely known is that of “The Ed Sullivan Show” in February 1964 (although the band opened with “Till There Was You,” the second song they did, the one that gets all the “remember-when” clips, was “She Loves You”).

The live performance of the Stones that is most memorable in the collective consciousness is that. . .at Altamont, in 1969. (The Stones also appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” in October 1964. The opening number was Chuck Berry’s “Around & Around.” The close was “Time Is On My Side.” So while the Beatles did a soft cover and ended with something more raucous, comparatively speaking, the Stones did exactly the opposite.)

Think only of one of the Stones’ most famous love ballads, “Angie,” and compare it to the Beatles’ “Michelle.” One has edge. One has schmaltz.

It would seem that there would be strife and discord and conflict such that the band would have centrifugally flown apart years ago, but although age has caused there to be departures from the Stones, there was the quitting/firing of Brian Jones in ’69 and the quitting of his replacement, Mick Taylor, in 1974, which seem to be the most contentious.

Meanwhile, one would imagine, even after watching Get Back, that the Beatles could have had a long, pleasant run, rather than their dissolution in 1970, a 10-year run.

Clearly there are dynamics at play in any organization that are never clear to those outside of it.

In 1964 Hallmark, the card company, released Beatles stamps. They resemble postage stamps. In the years since there have been a number of bona-fide Beatles stamps released by various governments. Remarkably, last year the U.S. Postal System released a John Lennon stamp, which seems bizarre given that the FBI had had Lennon under investigation for a number of years and the Immigration and Nationalization Service tried to have him removed from the country. However, the reason why stamps with pictures of people like Lennon are created is not so that they can actually be used, but collected. Money comes in for the stamps but money does not go out in the form of having a stamped envelope collected, processed and delivered. For fiscal year 2021 the USPS had a net loss of $4.9 billion; perhaps it needs to print more stamps.

And it is philatelic activities that has gotten me here.

On January 20, 2022, the U.K. Royal Mail** is “Celebrating 60 Years of Iconic Music and Legendary Shows.” Simply, celebrating The Stones.

Continue reading Please, Mr. Postman

New Christian Lee Hutson video: Rubberneckers

Video: Christian Lee Hutson – “Rubberneckers”

Christian Lee Hutson - "Rubberneckers"

Directed by Zoe Donahoe and Adam Sputh. From Quitters, due April 1 on Anti-.

Does this song sample Wilco’s “Born Alone” or just interpolate it? Either way, it’s a good use of a great riff.

I really like Christian Lee Hutson. He’s about 20 years younger than me but he reminds me of people I knew growing up. He just seems like somebody I would’ve hung out with. His lyrics are sad and funny and nostalgic and a little hopeful. And his melodic sensibilities and delivery reveal an appreciation of Elliott Smith, which gets me every time. I’ve been a fan since the first time I heard “Northsiders” with its references to Morrissey apologists and pretentious college kids.

Anti- is calling “Rubberneckers” the lead single from the upcoming album Quitters, so does that mean “Strawberry Lemonade” — released in November — was a standalone single? Doubtful. But whatever. Who knows what “lead single” means anyway. It can mean whatever you want it to mean, I guess, or it can mean nothing at all. Who cares, the song is good and the video is silly.

Hutson says, “The last time I danced was at the 8th grade social and it was mainly just swaying to ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing’ but I wanted to showcase what a natural, gifted dancer I am.” Absolutely!

If you tell a lie for long enough
Then it becomes the truth.
I am gonna be okay someday
With or without you.

There’s nothing truer than the lies we tell ourselves.

Christian Lee Hutson: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Christian Lee Hutson video: Rubberneckers

COVID on the Beach

“Despite ambitious protocols, the Omicron variant with its unexpectedly high transmissibility rates is pushing the limits of health safety, travel and other infrastructures. Thus, Sundance Festival’s 2022 in-person Utah elements will be moving online.”—the Sundance Institute

The event timing: January 20 to January 30
The decision to go virtual: January 5

==

“After careful consideration and analysis with city and state officials, health and safety experts, the artist community and our many partners, the Recording Academy and CBS have postponed the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards Show. The health and safety of those in our music community, the live audience, and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly to produce our show remains our top priority. Given the uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant, holding the show on January 31st simply contains too many risks.”—the Recording Academy and CBS

The event timing: January 31
The decision to postpone the event: January 5

==

“With much sadness and after great consideration of every possible scenario, the @PlayTheSand shows in Riviera Cancun on January 7-10 and January 13-16 have now been canceled by @CID_Presents due to the spiking COVID-19 cases…Dead & Company and @CID_Presents tried everything possible to bring normalcy and to deliver a great experience and amazing music, but with each day it became increasingly clear that canceling is the correct thing to do for the fans and for our crew… Please refer to the Playing in the Sand email that will be sent shortly with all details about refunds. See you soon, hug your loved ones, stay safe and be kind.”—Dead & Company

The event timing: January 7, 9, 10, 13, 15, 16
The decision to cancel: January 6

Continue reading COVID on the Beach

Data: 2021 Total Music Sales and Streams

The big news from MRC’s 2021 year-end report (if you’re a dork like me) is that vinyl finally surpassed compact discs as the most-sold physical format for the first time in the Soundscan era (i.e., since 1991). Still though, people bought over forty million CDs — nuts!

Also, total album sales (physical + digital) actually went up a little bit for the first time since a little blurp in 2011. Other than that it had been all downhill since 2000. Probably has a lot to do with Adele, whose 30 sold 1,464,000, and to Taylor Swift, whose four most recent albums sold a total of 1,975,000 in 2021. Out of Adele’s 1,464,000 album sales, 1,219,000 were physical copies and 318,000 of those were vinyl.

Swift sold 260,000 copies of her new version of Red on double vinyl at $50 a pop. That’s a gross of $13 million.

Personally, I just can’t bring myself to pay $50 for a record. I felt silly spending $30 on folklore. Then again, I’m totally paying $37.64 (including tax and shipping) to get my favorite album of 2019 (Hallelujah The Hills’ I’m You) on vinyl via a special program from Bandcamp where if 250 people pre-order, they press the vinyl for you. I’m excited about that.

I think of physical media these days almost like a “fan club favor,” as Bill Wyman put it. Wyman also pointed out, surprisingly to me, that after adjusting for inflation the “~$25 or so a dumb kid might pay for Rumours at Walmart today is about the same as what this dumb kid paid for it in 1977.” Who knew!

Maybe I’m a cheapskate (fact check: I’m definitely a cheapskate) but I miss being able to buy good used records in near mint condition for $4.99. Then again, back in the 90s you could find vintage Herman Miller furniture at thrift stores and garage sales. In fact, one summer I pulled both an Eames shell chair and a Marantz receiver off the curb on garbage day. Times change.

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

Total Album Sales (physical + digital albums)

2021: 109.0 million
2020: 102.4 million
2019: 112.75 million
2018: 141 million
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 Data: 2021 Total Music Sales and Streams

Wrapping up 2021

Looking back I guess it was naive to think 2021 would be better. In reality, January 6 set the tone for the year. The kooks are mad and they’re going to fuck it up for the rest of us. Whether it’s democracy, public health, education, the environment, or basic civil rights, there’s a deplorable 15% of this country that throws a hissy fit whenever the reasonable majority doesn’t bow to their fragile feelings. And there’s an even larger number of people who are willing to either just ignore the lunatics or give them exactly whatever bullshit they’re demanding. Like eliminating mask requirements in schools and overturning Roe v. Wade.

So here we are. Is it me, or do things just keep getting worse and worse, year after year after year? Is there any good reason to think that 2022 will be any better in any way than 2021?

Who knows?

Once again, I got so bummed out that I often couldn’t bring myself up to the task of finding good new music to share with you all. And once again, every week without fail, Stephen Macaulay filed a new post every Saturday, keeping the site alive, and inspiring us all to keep on keeping on.

The thing other than doomscrolling that kept me from seeking out new music was spending an inordinate amount of time researching and compiling my ridiculous playlist of 94 years of rock and roll, wherein I selected one song per year going all the way back to 1927. That was a fun project but exhausting. (If you only listen to one song from it, at least check out Bessie Smith’s “I’m Wild About That Thing” from 1929. It’s awesome, hilarious, and dirrrrrty.)

Like every year, a lot of great music came out in 2021. An Overview on Phenomenal Nature by Cassandra Jenkins blew me away, and I listened to it non-stop on a loop in February. I loved the new Lucy Dacus, Lorde, and Liz Phair albums. And there were dozens of great singles, perhaps nothing quite as unexpected as Taylor Swift’s 10-minute version of “All Too Well.” I had never even heard the original version! But wow.

I enjoyed Todd Haynes’ visually stunning Velvet Underground documentary, although it gave short shrift to the Doug Yule era, which I made up for by digging back into The Complete Matrix Tapes and the deluxe editions of the self-titled album and Loaded.

And of course we Beatlemaniacs got the best Thanksgiving treat we could’ve ever hoped for with Peter Jackson’s 8-hour edit of the Get Back footage. I’ve been studying the Beatles since I was 15 — I’ve read countless books and watched countless documentaries — but this was the first time I’ve felt like I really understood them as human beings.

Another bit of overdoing it came in the form of Andrew Sandoval’s enormous, 740-page The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story. I’m so happy I ordered this because it’s sold out now. But it’s bittersweet because it makes me regret not venturing out to catch Micky and Mike on their farewell tour. They played Detroit in November and then Nesmith died a month later. I had a few opportunities to see Nez in concert over the years and sadly I blew them all.

I only managed to get out to two concerts in 2021: my homies Mustard Plug at the Pyramid Scheme in August and then four days of Riot Fest in Chicago in September. Being in a small club like the Pyramid Scheme with a bunch of sweaty young people jumping around and screaming along to the songs was probably the riskiest thing I did all year. Sure, I was vaccinated — we all were, the band and venue required proof — but yikes we were all breathing the same dank air, and while some of us put our masks back on when we weren’t drinking, we were drinking most of the time we were there. Of course, back in August things weren’t nearly as bad as they’d get. Riot Fest, being 100% outdoors and requiring vax or negative tests, felt pretty safe.

So I managed to get through 2021 without getting covid. So that’s good.

And we did manage to share over 100 new songs in 2021. Six hours of music. That’s not a ton, but it’s not nothing. It’s something. Something good. And there’s always good new stuff coming out. Which gives you something to look forward to. It might even contribute to making 2022 better than 2021… But let’s not get carried away.

Continue reading Wrapping up 2021

The Bizarre World of COVID Continues

As 2021 came to the close, it was reported, by ESPN, that 36% of the league’s referees, 25 out of 70, were in COVID “protocols,” which presumably means isolation. At the very least it means that they’re not referring games. While the refs are all fully vaccinated, some of them hadn’t been boosted, which they are required to do. The day that was reported, according to the NBA there were 132 players on COVID protocols, as well as seven head coaches. There are 30 NBA teams. In the ESPN reporting about the number of refs it points out, “Officials don’t have the protections that teams do with charter flights and five-star hotels.”

The point is that refs are pretty much like the rest of us, being out in the world, doing our jobs, grabbing recreation and entertainment where and when we can. We are vaxxed, wearing masks and are highly familiar with the scent of hand sanitizer (at least I have an assumption, perhaps incorrect, that GloNo readers fall within the category of those who acknowledge that (a) this is still a bad situation and (b) moderate mitigation measures aren’t exactly some sort of violation of human rights: people dying in hospitals because some people refuse to make minor changes is a violation of basic social existence).

That situation in the NBA, which strikes me as a test case, came to mind in relation to some number that had been reported by Live Nation: As of November 30, 2021, 17% of tickets that had been purchased for concerts—acts ranging from the Flaming Lips (who postponed their New Year’s Eve shows due to the COVID surge (which brings up a question: can you postpone a New Year’s Eve show to any other date than New Year’s Eve?)) to Dead & Company—weren’t scanned. On the one hand, this simply means that it doesn’t matter to the promoter because even though the seats are empty, the seats have been paid for. On the other hand, it means that the venue isn’t going to get the take that it thought it would have gotten for things like breathtaking expensive beers, popcorn and other items. And were there a third hand, it would be that the bands would be impacted by a reduction in the amount of merch that gets sold at a given show (although this is probably not as much as it could be because odds are those who decided not to attend the show for whatever reason—and statistically one could opine that a non-trivial number of no-shows would be those who have concerns about or are in COVID protocols—are not the die-hard fan base (pun intended) who would buy still another couple of T-shirts, sweatshirts and headbands).

Continue reading The Bizarre World of COVID Continues

(Un)faithful: Coldplay, Catalogues and Covers

Here’s an interesting development vis-à-vis the existence of a band, a perennial theme in this space (about which Henry Melrose tells me, “You’re not beating a dead horse because you’ve been at it so long that all that’s left are the shoes”).

Chris Martin of Coldplay said in an interview on BBC Radio 2 last week regarding the group, “Our last proper record will come out in 2025 and after that I think we will only tour.”

He added, “Maybe we’ll do some collaborative things but the Coldplay catalogue, as it were, finishes then.”

And on the topic of said catalogue, Martin said to NME earlier this year, “We’re going to make 12 albums.”

Presumably “proper record” means “studio album.”

So, for those of you not counting, Coldplay’s first album, Parachutes, dropped in 2000. It was followed by A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002), X&Y (2005), Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008), Mylo Xyloto (2011), Ghost Stories (2014), A Head Full of Dreams (2015), Everyday Life (2019), and Music of the Spheres (2021).

Which is to say that there will need to be three more albums before they’re done. Given the cadence with which it had been putting out music, it is going to have to speed things up if the end is 2025.

Continue reading (Un)faithful: Coldplay, Catalogues and Covers

On the Potential Commercialization of Bruce Springsteen

And here you have it:

NEW YORK – December 16, 2021 – Sony Music Group today announced it has acquired Bruce Springsteen’s entire recorded music and songwriting catalogs through separate agreements. The two agreements cover the recorded music and music publishing rights to all of Springsteen’s songs, including “Born to Run,” “Born In The USA” “Dancing in the Dark” “Glory Days,” “The River,” “Hungry Heart,” “Brilliant Disguise” and “I’m On Fire,” among many others. Sony Music Publishing partnered with Eldridge on the songwriting catalog purchase.

And the news release goes on from there, including a quote from Springsteen: “I am one artist who can truly say that when I signed with Columbia Records in 1972, I came to the right place. During the last 50 years, the men and women of Sony Music have treated me with the greatest respect as an artist and as a person. I’m thrilled that my legacy will continue to be cared for by the Company and people I know and trust.”

A few things.

First know that Springsteen is 72 years old, and according to the Social Security Administration, a 72-year-old has a life expectancy of 13.25 years.

It is reported that the purchase is on the order of $550 million. Presumably, that would be liable to the 37% federal tax rate, which would leave him with $346,500,000.

Serious walking around money.

Continue reading On the Potential Commercialization of Bruce Springsteen

New Superchunk: Endless Summer

Video: Superchunk – “Endless Summer”

Superchunk - Endless Summer (Official Lyric Video)

From Wild Loneliness, out February 25 on Merge.

It’s 54 degrees right now here in Michigan and the meteorologists say it might get up to 60 tonight. Now I understand that there’s a difference between weather and climate but this is fucked up.

Now I’m a broken record
I’m a year-round bummer, but
I’m not ready for an endless summer.

Mac says the new song was “written on New Year’s Day 2020 which was unseasonably warm here in North Carolina. Of course, by the time we recorded it, ‘endless summer’ had other meanings… The 7” sleeve features Roe Ethridge’s beautiful photos of broken beach umbrellas which capture the vibe of the song perfectly.”

“Endless Summer” features the harmonies of Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley. The rest of the upcoming album contains contributions from Sharon Van Etten, Mike Mills, Wye Oak’s Andy Stack, Tracyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura, Owen Pallett, Kelly Pratt, and Franklin Bruno.

New Linda Lindas video: Nino

Video: The Linda Lindas – “Nino”

The Linda Lindas - "Nino"

Single out now on Epitaph.

I’ll admit I assumed the Linda Lindas were going to be a one-hit wonder. Their breakthrough song “Racist, Sexist Boy” was fun and scrappy, but kid bands can get annoying quickly if they lean too much into novelty.

On its surface you might think “Nino” would fall into the novelty category. It’s about their cat. Except it’s good. They’ve got cool harmonies and a gnarly guitar tone. And that’s the difference between annoying and not annoying.

The Linda Lindas: web, twitter, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Linda Lindas video: Nino

Rock and roll can change your life.