Ella Fitzgerald’s totally swingin’ cover of Cream’s ‘Sunshine of Your Love’
09.11.2014
06:10 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
jazz
Cream
Ella Fitzgerald


 
In one of those often unitentionally goofy attempts of an older, established artist trying to be hep with the young cats and kittens, the great Ella Fitzgerald recorded a live set in 1969 with Ernie Hecksher’s Big Band and the Tommy Flanagan Trio in San Francisco where she mixed some pop standards of the day with some perhaps more avant garde choices. Well, at least one…

It’s fairly innocuous stuff for the most part (Bacharch and David, Lennon McCartney) but who would have expected the First Lady of Song to cover Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love”? And yet cover it she did. It’s not too bad, either. In fact, Fitzgerald made it the album’s title and a part of her live act for a while, even performing this improbable number during her concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival that year:
 

 
Thank you kindly Michael Simmons!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’ gets an impressive sonic make-o’er
09.11.2014
03:17 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Who


 
I wouldn’t describe myself as the biggest Who fan.  Although I do own nearly all of their albums recorded while Keith Moon was still among the living, the only ones I ever pull out with any regularity are The Who Sell Out or the Tommy soundtrack, which I think is a freaking masterpiece although conversely, I detest the original.

I like them fine, but I don’t really care that much about them. The one classic Who album I have never even heard, however, is Quadrophenia. The only song I knew from it, until recently, was the album’s magnificent closer “Love Reign O’er Me” which was big on FM radio when I was a kid.

I’ve never seen the film, either. Sting is in it. I don’t think I have to elaborate further there, do I?

I’m telling you all of this, not because I want to parade my ignorance of The Who or of Quadrophenia in particular before tens of thousands of readers, that’s not my goal. What I am intending to impart, though, is that I am hearing the album with fresh ears, for the very first time in September of 2014 and in the form of the newly released 5.1 surround Blu-ray put out by the Universal Music Group.

I won’t offer my opinion on the music therein, because who honestly gives a damn what I think? It’s considered a classic album. Case closed. Suffice to say, I had a terrific listening experience and I played it three times start to finish in a 24 hour period and I have to say, wow, I really loved it. Best Who album. They always seemed like a “greatest hits” band to me, but this is a truly great album and it blew my doors off, bigtime. I consider myself lucky to hear something “new” like this.

What I do wish to discuss, however, is what an amazingly high tech product this audiophile toy is. The only real information that’s important, if you care about this album is the answer to this question: “I already own this, do I really need to buy it again or not?” Right? Well, admittedly as someone who has never owned Quadrophenia before, I would say the answer is probably yes. It is done very well, to the highest specifications and produced by Pete Townshend himself.

And it’s not like you’d be merely swapping one CD for another. On the back cover it reads:

“The 96kHz 24-bit audio on this disc has 256 times more resolution than a CD, providing greater detail and reproducing the music’s full dynamic range, from the softest to the loudest sounds.”

People will argue endlessly about whether or not the human ear can detect the difference between a 320 kbps MP3 and a wav file or redbook CD, but those same people would notice it immediately if you took away their 1080p HDTV flatscreen and replaced it with a top of the line SONY Trinitron from 1999. If you’re one of those people who are fine with Spotify or iTunes or carrying around your portable AM radio rubberbanded to your ear, this post is not for you.

So many people have their living rooms wired for 5.1 surround sound to watch movies, but even here in LA where you think people would be hipper to this kind of thing, most people really aren’t. You’d think the mighty behemoth-like Amoeba Records would have the best “Pure Audio” Blu-ray section in the entire country. They do not. Really, unless you’re buying something similar to it already on Amazon, it’s getting harder and harder to even find out that this stuff exists. Many cities don’t even have a single decent record store anymore. You can’t just bump into something that looks interesting like in ye olden days. “Browsing” for digital content housed on shiny little discs isn’t done much anymore as a human sport. The music industry did a really shitty job of selling the SACD and DVD-A formats to the public. So far it’s doing marginally better with the 5.1 surround sound stuff on Blu-ray, but sales I’d imagine are 95% Amazon transactions. I’m a big fan of 5.1 surround material and when it’s done this well and is this exciting for me personally to experience, I feel like, well, telling people about. It’s my duty. If you came to my house, I’d get you stoned and sit you down in the “sweet spot” and play this for you.

This new Quadrophenia has one of the best surround mixes I’ve heard in some time. It always annoys me when there’s a conservative approach to reimagining a classic album in surround sound, where it’s sort of like a bastardized stereo and the rear speakers are providing “echo.” This isn’t a conservative mix, it’s one that completely envelopes you like the seaside mist of a British coastal town. When it wants to be, it’s powerful and bombastic, like a thunderstorm, or by turns quiet and dynamic. There is a lot of space around each instrument. It’s not overly gimmicky, either, never calling attention to itself, even as it wows you. The “tone” of Townshend’s guitar has never sounded quite as “immediate” as it does here. Moon’s characteristic flamboyant drum fills are wisely not confined to front or back speakers, giving the listener a visceral experience of his octopus-armed pounding. It’s very, very impressive (and please do keep in mind that I’m the same guy who started this review off by telling you how blasé I am about The Who).

The UMe “Pure Audio” Blu-ray of Quadrophenia has a list price of $26 but many Amazon merchants offer it for around $15. Forget about the whole “I already own this” factor, because you don’t own this version of it and it’s damned good. There’s a gallery of photos from the original Quadrophenia booklet that runs as a really gorgeous slide show and then repeats itself about about 15 minutes. There is also a flat transfer of the original master tape, but I have to say, listening to it folded down into stereo (that’s my perspective, at least) makes it sound terribly flat. If you’re already a fan of this album, it would go the other way—opening up like a 5.1 flower—and as I have been saying, the experience is a pretty spectacular one for audiophile music lovers.

My sole criticism is that there isn’t enough bass in the mix, but you can simply turn up your subwoofer if you want to hear more of “The Ox.” Otherwise, I can’t recommend this highly enough. 10/10. The Amazon reviewers seem to agree.

I’m still not planning to see the film though. Sting is in it.

After the jump Darren Lock shares his opinion of the new 5.1 Blu-ray of Quadrophenia…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘God Likes Big Buts’: Louisiana church pays homage to Sir Mix-a-Lot
09.11.2014
11:33 am

Topics:
Belief
Music

Tags:
Sir Mix-A-Lot


 
Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” has got to be one of the most irresistible songs ever written—there seems to be no end to the adoration and mirth it can elicit. Its fans include the Journey Church of Pineville, Louisiana, which recently uploaded a video adapting the funny and sexy “Baby Got Back” to a Christian context, calling it “God Loves Big Buts”—because God is all about embracing contradiction, yo.
 

 
The clip is in that “words moving around” style pioneered by the video for Cee-Lo Green’s “Fuck You.” Making Christian propaganda out of “Baby Got Back” isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. Four years ago DM brought you “Baby Got Book,” which replaced the concept of a lady’s huge posterior with The Greatest Story Ever Told.
 

 
via William Caxton Fan Club

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Medical Marijuana 101: Learn to navigate the coming tide of legalized weed
09.11.2014
09:36 am

Topics:
Drugs

Tags:
marijuana


 
Seven years ago, Mickey Martin was obliged to plead guilty to conspiracy after his edibles company in California was shut down. Today Martin is channeling his hard-won experience in what not to do by founding the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis in Natick, Massachusetts. As the inexorable tide of cannabis legalization sweeps the nation, it’s leaving a grey area big enough to steer an aircraft carrier through, as states have already legalized the drug, while the federal government most decidedly has not. So in states like Colorado and Washington, carrying and distributing is entirely legal—unless you happen to cross paths with a grumpy FBI agent or federal judge. The situation has led to a huge collective WTF? on the part of legalization supporters. Even as we speak, Washington has hired UCLA professor of public policy Mark Kleiman to serve as its “hemperor” to navigate the thorny legal issues and decide on a policy that does the most good for most Washingtonians.
 

 
Martin, like most observers convinced that drug policy reform is likely to continue, sees an opportunity to fill a necessary gap in the market, to educate those entering the pot retail business not to repeat his mistakes. As the Boston Globe reported, interest is significant—the school has fielded about 1,500 enrollment inquiries, some from as far away as Nepal, India, Spain, and Russia. As Martin says, “What you have is people investing heavily into these businesses and going through a competitive application process—dealing with pages of regulations from the Department of Public Health, strict security protocols, strict handling protocols—there’s just not a lot of room for error.”

As an example of the kind of “error” that can occur, consider that 9 of the 20 groups approved to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts had their privileges revoked for reasons such as misleading profit models and a lack of support from local communities. These are the aspects of selling legal weed that the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis is designed to inform future retailers about.
 

Northeastern Institute of Cannabis founder Mickey Martin
 
Classes at the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis start on September 15th. There are 12 courses, which cost $199 each; the full program costs $1500. The classes will cover regulations, the history of pot, cultivation techniques, the science of reefer, and media relations. Cultivation classes will have to make do with video instruction feeds coming from approved dispensaries.

It’s a little weird that the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis is located in a state that has not yet embraced marijuana legalization, but Martin is confident that pot will be legalized completely in Massachusetts in 2016—as long as advocates are able to get it on the ballot.

Here’s a radio interview Martin conducted with Boston radio station WAAF:
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment