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The free jazz alchemy of Ornette Coleman: See the jazz giant in action in seldom-seen studio footage
05.28.2018
05:54 pm
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“I’m in love with eternity . . . I don’t care about how many changes that go on, as long as it keeps going on.”

Ornette Coleman

In 1965 a bohemian American expat in Paris named Tom White shot an almost silent B&W art film “happening” titled Who’s Crazy? His movie depicted the inmates of an insane asylum who are being transported somewhere by bus when they are able to escape to a farmhouse where they frolic, eat, dance, prance, primal scream, make a mess, pull faces, drip candle wax on each other, light stuff on fire and generally “act out” and get their Vietnam-era freak frenzy on, plus there is a kangaroo court enacted at one point. And a wedding. If this sounds like what a Living Theatre production of King of Hearts might have looked like should they have attempted one, well you’re in the immediate ballpark already as the inmates were in fact played by actual members of the Living Theatre, then living in exile in Europe while their married leaders Julian Beck and Judith Malina did a stint in prison back home in America for tax troubles. White’s film was screened at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival and Salvador Dali was reported to have loved it, although the Becks hated it, telling White that his film did not represent the Living Theatre’s “energy vector.” (“Well they would think that, wouldn’t they?” I can almost hear you saying under your breath.)

Who’s Crazy? never found any sort of distribution and was forgotten for fifty years, with just one extant 35mm print stored in White’s garage when it was rediscovered in 2016 by Vanessa McDonnell, a programmer at Brooklyn microcinema Spectacle. Since then the film has screened at Lincoln Center and Anthology Film Archives and been written about in the New York Times.
 

 

“To be a man, whatever a man is… There is something that is very important about being a man. And it’s not necessarily your honesty, or your philosophy; but it has more to do with you being able to get away with what you can do and someone else saying, ‘Well that’s him.’”

—Ornette Coleman

But White’s oddball film is not really our topic here, it is the film’s remarkable soundtrack, which was improvised in Paris by Ornette Coleman and the two other members of his trio—David Izenzon on bass and Charles Moffett on percussion, the same musicians who accompanied Coleman on his classic Golden Circle albums. In 1966 Ornette Coleman would have been considered perhaps the most far-out of the furthest-out avant garde jazz musicians of that era (and long past it) and in the mid-1960s he was on a creative hot streak that had been going on for quite some time. He met White while touring in France and agreed to do the soundtrack for Who’s Crazy? The trio improvised some nervous and beautifully chaotic music whilst watching the film as it was screened for them in the recording studio.  A young Marianne Faithfull sings lyrics written especially for her by Ornette “Is God man? Is man God?” in a track titled “Sadness.”

But Coleman’s music—released as bootlegs in the late 70s and a Japanese CD in the early 90s—was not the only ancillary result of Tom White’s pre-hippie art film: English documentary filmmaker Dick Fontaine made his own short film, titled David, Moffett, and Ornette, about the soundtrack recording session. The film is an amazing treat, by far the most intimate portrait we have of this giant of jazz at the height of his powers. Comparable to being able to watch the master painting in The Mystery of Picasso or indeed the footage of Miles Davis and his Quintet similarly improvising as he watched Louis Malle’s film noir, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (“Elevator to the Gallows”) unspool, we get to SEE a great musical genius at work and in Ornette’s case we see his fingers on his violin and piano (yes piano, an instrument Coleman never played on any album) and his lips on his horn. You get to see him THINK and it’s absolutely an extraordinary thing to be able to witness.

Ornette Coleman: The Atlantic Years deluxe 10-LP vinyl box has just been released by Rhino. Enter below to win.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.28.2018
05:54 pm
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Scratching The Door and Seeing the Unseeable: Flaming Lips, the early years
04.19.2018
09:50 pm
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The original line-up of the Flaming Lips when they formed in Norman, Oklahoma in 1983 was Wayne Coyne on guitar, his brother Mark sang lead; Michael Ivins was on bass and Dave Kotska played drums. When Kotska left the following year, he was replaced by Richard English, who would stay with the band until ’89. In 1984 they recorded their sole release with Mark Coyne singing lead vocals–The Flaming Lips—put out in a green vinyl pressing on their own Lovely Sorts of Death Records (a label name they’d revive in 2011.)

Then there was a flip of the Coynes, and with Mark’s departure to get married in 1985, Wayne took over his brother’s microphone and became the Lips’ frontman. In 1986 the band released their first full-length album, Hear It Is, on Pink Dust Records (a sub-label of Restless Records’ Enigma imprint) and this incarnation of Flaming Lips would record two more albums: 1987’s Oh My Gawd!!! and 1989’s Telepathic Surgery.

Drummer Nathan Roberts replaced English and guitarist Jonathan Donahue (also a member of Mercury Rev) joined in 1989. It was then that the Lips started working with producer Dave Fridmann, who helped them greatly expand their sound in the studio for In a Priest Driven Ambulance, which was recorded in a studio at SUNY Fredonia for $5 an hour on a $10,000 budget.

Soon after this, the band got noticed by Warner Bros. Records and were snatched up in 1991 when one of the label’s A&R execs saw them nearly burn down the American Legion Hall in Norman, Oklahoma when their pyrotechnics got out of control. Thus began one of the oddest arrangements in major label history.

Today—and I’m thinking it’s no coincidence that it’s 4-20 day—marks the release of Scratching The Door: The First Recordings Of the Flaming Lips, a 19-track compilation of early work by the band’s original lineup.  The album highlights tracks recorded with Mark Coyne on vocals including the band’s first and second cassette demos, and the Lips first self-released EP, remastered from the original 1/4” analog tape master. Among the featured tracks are covers of The Who’s “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere,” Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown” and the theme song from the Batman television series.
 

 
Then a second release of the Lips early music comes out at the end of June with Seeing the Unseeable: The Complete Studio Recordings of The Flaming Lips: 1986-1990, a six-CD boxed set comprised of the band’s first four studio albums with Restless Records, and two discs of rarities, B-sides, flexi disc and compilation releases. Over 40 tracks will be released digitally for the first time.

All of the music on both releases has been remastered from the original masters by longtime producer David Fridmann with help from the Lips’ Wayne Coyne and Michael Ivins.  Later in the year, the Restless albums will be made available on vinyl.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.19.2018
09:50 pm
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‘Well forever changes, baby!’: Arthur Lee & Love’s psychedelic masterpiece turns 50
04.05.2018
08:12 pm
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Fun fact: The title of Love’s Forever Changes album, according to Arthur Lee himself is actually Love Forever Changes, inspired by a story that Lee had heard about some guy who had broken up with his girlfriend. She told him “You said you would love me forever!” and he apparently replied, “Well, forever changes, baby, forever changes.”

As anyone lucky enough to have seen Arthur Lee live in concert can tell you, it was a very special experience. I saw Arthur in performance three times myself, including an early 90s gig at the fabled Palomino Club in North Hollywood with Baby Lemonade where the electricity went out and he did an intimate candle-lit (literally) “unplugged” set without the group. Pure magic. The entire audience was grinning from ear to ear. To this day it remains one of the very best shows I’ve ever seen.

The second time I saw Arthur Lee play was even more memorable. After spending 5-1/2 years in a federal prison as a result of California’s harsh “three strikes, you’re out” sentencing guidelines, Arthur was released and in 2003 he began a tentative series of performances around Los Angeles playing Love’s classic 1967 album Forever Changes in its entirety, again with the members of Baby Lemonade.

The night I saw him do that set, at a packed Henry Fonda Theatre, Lee looked tiny, frail, old, and just plain scared. He stood in the wings as the band started playing, but he was visible to me where from I was standing and I could see the “oh shit” look on his face as he sized up the audience. When he walked onstage his long fringe suede jacket looked way too big for his slight frame. Everyone was pulling for him, we all wanted this to be amazing and triumphant, but frankly it didn’t look very promising. Within seconds however, he had strapped on his big hollow body electric guitar, smiled broadly, stood straight up and he became the great Arthur Lee before our very eyes. It was like watching Clark Kent turn into Superman and it was another truly magical musical event. Lee’s voice had lost none of its beauty and range during his prison stint; the songs none of their power over the decades. Audience members were moved to tears. It felt like a holy moment, it really did. (Of the third occasion, a tragically ill-fated show at UCLA in front of an audience that included some major celebrities and rock stars, the less said the better.)

Around that time, a friend of mine told me that Arthur ate nearly every day at a Mexican restaurant in Studio City called Casa Vega, which was near where I lived and sure enough when I walked in one day, curious if this was true, there he was sitting at the bar by himself. There were only two other people in the place. I told the waiter to please tell the gentleman seated at the bar that I was a huge fan of his work and that he should bring Arthur’s tab to me. The waiter informed him and Lee swiveled around on his barstool, held up his water glass and nodded to me. When I left I went up to him to pay my respects and said some fanboyish things—among them that Forever Changes was my #1 favorite album of all time and it was the album that I had played the most in my lifetime. He told me that an English tour was being set up and humbly how he was just so grateful that people still cared so much about him and his music. Before it got awkward I said goodbye, but believe me when I tell you that I was thrilled to have met him. Just to thank him for what he’d given to me. How often do you get a chance to do that?
 

 
And it’s true what I told him about how Forever Changes being my favorite record. I’ve played it in the thousands of times. Not hundreds, but thousands of times. I’ve probably played it over a dozen times so far in 2018. It’s an album for virtually any mood. One that never loses its power after that many listens. It’s one of the best albums to drive around Los Angeles listening to ever made. It’s a masterpiece of a ridiculously high caliber and it’s being feted by Rhino in a new deluxe box set which features a new digital remastering by the original co-producer Bruce Botnick which is on CD, an LP cut by Bernie Grundman and on a DVD as a high resolution 96/24 file. Additionally the little heard mono mix of the album is present, along with a host of alternate versions, non-album cuts and the video for “Your Mind And We Belong Together.” 

One of the things included in the new box set that I wanted to point out is the alternate version of the Forever Changes’ closing number “You Set the Scene.” If this is my favorite album, this is my favorite song on my favorite album. First heard on the 2001 CD release of the album, the alternate version, which clocks in about fifteen seconds longer, contains a sort of shouted/sung proto-rap skat singing double-tracked call-and-response section at about the six minute mark. If you know this song well already, and have never heard this alt version, be prepared to be stunned. A song that is already soaring so high and then it soars A LOT HIGHER at the very end? The first time I heard it was like a mental orgasm (not trying to be arch here, but trying to describe a sincere mental explosion of pure “Holy shit!” psychedelic righteousness the song’s extra moments engender. Can it really be as good as I say? You’ll just have to listen below won’t you?)

But WHY did they not release THIS version on the album? I think it’s better than the canonical version. It’s certainly not worse, that’s for sure. The only reason I can think of is length, that it was edited for time constraints on a 33 1/3 rpm record album. First pressings of the album are known for their excessive surface noise. At 42 minutes, Forever Changes had to be mastered very quietly due to its length, dynamic range and stereo separation. Fifteen seconds might have made a real difference at the end of side two. It’s just speculation, but I’m guessing that the reason for the “alternate version” being jettisoned for the classic version—which isn’t exactly inferior, of course, I don’t want to imply that—probably came down to a compromise like that. Really, how else to explain not using this amazing version???  Imagine an extra section section of “Hey Jude” or “I Am the Walrus” or “Good Vibrations” or something like that that had to be cut out.

You will notice the difference just after six minutes in. Love Forever Changes 50th Anniversary Edition is available starting today.
 

 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.05.2018
08:12 pm
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Andy Warhol meets the Cars: The notorious NSFW ‘nude’ version of the ‘Hello Again’ video
04.01.2018
07:23 pm
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Ric Ocasek on the cover of Andy Warhol’s Interview 

When the Cars released their Heartbeat City album in 1984, they garnered a massive MTV hit with the iconically “totally 90s” computer animated music video for “You Might Think,” so pop artist Andy Warhol had his work cut out for him when he was tasked by band leader Ric Ocasek with directing their next video.

Technically the “Hello Again” video was co-directed by Andy Warhol and Don Munroe, who had worked with Warhol on his various cable access TV shows in the early 1980s and later Warhol’s short-lived MTV series, but other than showing up I can’t imagine that Warhol actually that all had much else to do with it.
 

 
There are however, some distinctly Warholian touches to “Hello Again”: As the video begins we see bartender Andy watching a fake youth culture show on TV, with one kid arguing how every skyscraper is a phallic symbol (a nod to Warhol’s film Empire, his eight hour and five minute long “portrait” of the Empire State Building.) Voyeur Andy also watches people kissing like in his 1963 film Kiss.  We see several glamorous “superstars” dancing and prancing around with revealing costumes. One of them (John Sex) has his own pet python wrapped around his body. A gorgeous young Gina Gershon is seen with alphabet soup letters on her tongue. Busty New York City clubland “It Girl” of the early 80s Dianne Brill is her usual effervescent self and there’s Warhol’s studio assistant Benjamin Liu appearing in drag as his alter ego Ming Vauze. And of course the Cars, let’s not forget them.
 

Gina Gershon
 
At least that’s what happens in the tamer, PG-rated version of the video. The “uncensored” version features small cars driving all over some exposed breasts with stop motion animation! WHERE did they think this could or would be exploited? Only HBO could have aired something like it at the time. I guess it was for nightclubs. Most Cars fans didn’t even know the sexier version existed until YouTube came along.

From an entry dated Thursday, March 29, 1984, pages 560-561 in The Andy Warhol Diaries:

It was raining and snowing out and this was the day we had to film all day doing the Cars video for their song “Hello Again” at the Be-Bop Cafe on 8th Street. Benjamin [Liu] came in drag to pick me up for shooting. He was going to be in it, too.

I had to be a bartender and wear a tux. The crowd of extras looked like the old Factory days—Benjamin in drag, and a bald-headed mime in a Pierrot outfit, and John Sex with this snake. And then there was Dianne Brill with her big tits and hourglass figure. The Cars were cute.

They finally got to my part at 8:00 and I had to sing a song but I couldn’t remember the words. And I had to mix a drink while I was doing it, and with my contacts on I couldn’t see the Coke button on the soda dispenser.

And that meant being face to face with the Cars for a while, and it was hard to talk to them. I didn’t know what to say. I finished at 9:15. One of the kids gave me a ride home.

The words Warhol couldn’t remember were apparently just “Hello again”...
 

Dianne Brill
 
According to Cars keyboardist Greg Hawke:

“I think [Warhol] mainly did some of the conceptualizing and showed up to be an extra. And he invited his various friends to be in it. It was like any video shoot, but with a more interesting cast of characters. And you could always look over on the set and go ‘Hey that’s Andy Warhol.’”

Sounds about right!

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct The Cars—Ric Ocasek, Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes, Benjamin Orr and David Robinson—later this month and Rhino has just released expanded editions of two of The Cars’ most iconic albums Shake It Up and Heartbeat City on CD and as a double-LP set. Each release features the remastered original album expanded with rare and unreleased bonus tracks. Illustrated booklets accompany the music and contain extensive liner notes written by rock journalist David Fricke. Enter below to win.
 

 
After the jump, watch the notorious “uncensored” NSFW version of “Hello Again”...

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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04.01.2018
07:23 pm
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‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay’ turns 50
03.15.2018
08:45 pm
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Otis Redding‘s famous set at the Monterey International Pop Festival was just a few weeks behind him in the rearview mirror and he sensed that he was on the cusp of becoming a very big star, his crossover appeal to young white audiences already proven by his reception for that legendary performance. He could become one of the “greats,” like Ray Charles or Sam Cooke. Redding—the epitome of the Stax Records sound—was hoping to move beyond the soul shouters he was known for and into something more complex musically. Something that was more along the lines of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s. Additionally that fall he’d had throat surgery and wanted to develop some numbers less demanding on his vocal cords.

Redding was playing a six-night residency at Basin Street West in San Francisco and had been staying at a houseboat owned by rock promoter Bill Graham that was docked in Sausalito. It was here where he saw the ships rolling in from San Francisco that inspired “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” He very simply and directly wrote about what he was experiencing one perfect sunny California day:

“I left my home in Georgia,
Headed for the Frisco bay”

This much was surely true: Redding was born in Macon, although it was his co-writer Steve Cropper (of Booker T. & the M.G.‘s AKA the Stax house band) who suggested that bit.

“If you listen to the songs I wrote with Otis, most of the lyrics are about him. He didn’t usually write about himself, but I did. “Mr. Pitiful,” “Sad Song Fa-Fa,” they were about Otis’ life. “Dock Of The Bay” was exactly that: ‘I left my home in Georgia, headed for the Frisco Bay’ was all about him going out to San Francisco to perform.”

I think it’s pretty safe to assume that this entire verse came from direct personal experience well:

Sittin in the morning sun,
I`ll be sittin’ when the evening come,
Watching the ships roll in,
And I’ll watch ‘em roll away again, yeah,
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay,
Watching the tide roll away, ohh,
I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay,
Wasting time.

But while these words are on a surface level merely descriptive of a day of (apparent) mundane laziness experienced by an up-and-coming Georgia-born soul singer chilling out on a sunny dock, for the past half century, each and every person who has ever listened to Otis Redding sing those immortal words has been able to adapt the song to their own circumstances, and mentally project their own lives onto it, whether or not they were fishing or barbecuing on a hot summer day with a cool beverage in their hand or standing with a gun in a rice paddy in Vietnam. It’s one of those “one-size-fits-all” occasion classics that can be happy or sad depending on who sings it, or how.

It’s a mirror of humanity itself in that way and this is the reason why music licensing company BMI has cited “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” as being the sixth-most performed song of the 20th century. It’s been covered by the likes of Cher, Peggy Lee, Bob Dylan, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, Dennis Brown, Jacob Miller, Pearl Jam, even T.Rex (Bolan’s version was on the B-side of his “Dreamy Lady” single in 1975). Sammy Hagar and Michael Bolton have both covered the song. All in all, BMI has clocked over six million known performances. That’s not including all the karaoke renditions.
 

 
(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” is recalled by most people as having a joyful or whimsical message, but just two lines later than what’s quoted above he’s singing:

“I have nothing to live for,
Look like nothing’s gonna come my way”

The lazy day in the sun gives way to a far bleaker-sounding reality, but no one ever uses the latter verses in TV commercials or rom coms:

“Sittin’ here resting my bones,
And this loneliness won’t leave me alone, yes,
Two thousand miles I roam
Just to make this dock my home”

Redding didn’t have much more than the basic chords, first verse and the chorus when he brought the song to Steve Cropper. Cropper wrote the bridge trying to ape the style of the chart-topping Association. Redding’s manager Phil Walden and Stax Records’ Jim Stewart were unsure of their artist’s search for a new direction, but not even his own wife Zelma was not all that encouraging of what she’d heard of his new style. Cropper and Redding felt sure that they’d written a #1 hit.

When Redding and Cropper recorded the song, they had yet to come up with a final verse, so Otis just whistled it. The plan was for him to return to Memphis and fill in that last verse after performing a set in Madison, Wisconsin, but that never happened. When Steve Cropper produced the song, he left the whistling in,and it is probably the most famous whistling in any song. Sound effects of water, seagulls, and so forth were added to the unfinished recording by Cropper with Stax Records’ newly purchased 4-track recorder.

(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” went to #1 as Redding and Cropper predicted and it won Redding a posthumus 1968 Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Performance, plus the Best Rhythm & Blues Song for writers Redding and Cropper. It’s been fifty years since mankind first heard this classic song and that’s an anniversary worth marking.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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03.15.2018
08:45 pm
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How a Confederate flag nearly stalled Otis Redding’s career
02.23.2018
05:33 am
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One could be forgiven, perhaps, for thinking that the ongoing national conversation (or racist jagoff chest-thumping tantrum, if you prefer) about the appropriateness of Confederate flag display is a new thing. But that point of view is ahistorical; this isn’t new, just newly launched into noisier, more vigorous debate. That symbol has been considered divisive and offensive for quite a long time.

For example, as early as 1961, that flag kept an early Otis Redding single from receiving airplay! Redding’s second single, the acutely Little Richard-ish “Fat Gal/Shout Bamalama,” was released in 1961 on a label called “Confederate Records,” an imprint owned by a young white Georgia car salesman named Bobby Smith. The center label on Confederate’s releases, unsurprisingly, was a design based on the Confederate flag, which all by itself was a good enough reason for R&B DJs to utterly disregard the single. From an article in the December, 2007 issue of Atlanta magazine:

A rebel flag crisscrosses the first vinyl single of “Shout Bamalama,” released by the Confederate Records label in 1961. Consequently, African American disc jockeys chucked it into the trash without bothering to listen. Had they put the needle to the groove, they would’ve heard Otis Redding belting out his jump-blues tribute to Bamalama, a one-eyed busker who played a washboard with a thimble. It was another inauspicious break for the Macon vocalist, who was reportedly booed off the stage, in tears, the first time he performed outside of church.

 

 
Georgia had incorporated that flag into its own in 1956, as an explicit thumbs-up to white supremacy and segregation. Having been advised that adopting it as a logo for his wares was doing him no favors with his intended audience, the no longer so clueless Smith reissued the recording on Orbit Records, an ad hoc label he started for the sole purpose of getting the pariah Dixie flag off of Redding’s single. Per Smith himself:

Otis and I went on the road promoting “Shout Bamalama”. Stopping at Augusta radio station WTHB, we were told by the DJ it would be played if it were taken off the Confederate-flagged record label. I promised to do so. We went on to Columbia, SC and met with a program director, Big Saul at radio station WOIC, who also promised heavy play, but only if the label was changed. Otis and I hit it off very well with Big Saul. As we drove and listened to legendary DJ John R on Nashville ’s WLAC, Otis said, “Bobby, if that man played my record I would think I had made it”. When we returned to Macon, I wasted no time creating the Orbit label and putting “Shout Bamalama” on it. The following week I went to Nashville and talked to John R, and I explained the situation with Confederate and Orbit. John R was impressed with the record and promised me he would give it heavy duty air play.

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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02.23.2018
05:33 am
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Shinola Audio introduces the new high fidelity Canfield Headphone Collection
11.16.2017
08:12 pm
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Shinola—yes, the Detroit-based design brand—is introducing the new Canfield Headphone Collection part of their distinctive range of Shinola Audio products, which also includes the eye-popping Runwell Turntable and matching bookshelf speakers.

There are four items in the Canfield line, including two different types of traditional headphones (over-the-ear and on-the-ear) that are manufactured with the sort of attention to detail and design that Shinola is known for, utilizing the finest component parts, high quality finishes and quality leathers. The Canfields feel good to the touch, comfortable on your head and the craftsmanship is top notch. Before you even listen, they simply feel quite luxurious. I don’t think this is an accident. The Canfield Over-Ear and On-Ear headphones are joined by the Canfield In-Ear Monitor and the Canfield Pro In-Ear Monitor.

So they look good? Shinola is essentially a fashion company. All of their stuff looks good. How do they sound?

Really, really good. The Canfields were “tuned” by Alexander Rosson, the world-renowned audio designer behind the Audeze LCD-3 reference-level headphones and you really have to credit Shinola for having the savvy to tap someone like him—Rosson’s involvement screams quality to knowledgeable audiophiles—to launch their audio products. It was a smart move and immediately conveyed a sense of seriousness about the endeavor. (Full disclosure: I think Alex Rosson is a genius, the “new” Rupert Neve if you will, so maybe I’m biased.)

Some headphones initially impress you with their brightness (“Wow, you can really hear the cymbals”) but the Canfields are all about clarity, neutrality and glorious glorious nuance. There’s no noticeable processing or colorization of the audio signal—I’m lookin’ at you Beats and Bose—and you can listen to the Canfields for hours on end without any sense of fatigue.

I was sent both the Over-Ear and On-Ear models for review and here’s the main difference between them: The On-Ear cans are more for mobile use, walking around a city, on the subway, airplanes, etc., while the larger Over-Ear variant is more for a kicked back listening experience at home boasting a 50-mm dynamic driver with a neutral frequency response.

The On-Ear Canfields are a little less power hungry than the Over-Ear phones which are perhaps best heard with the use of an outboard headphones amplifier, whereas the On-Ear version doesn’t require that and sound absolutely fantastic plugged directly into your iPhone. While both designs are quite impressive to be sure, I think that I personally would go for the On-Ear for the reasons listed above. Lucky me I don’t have to chose.

The Canfield line is available now in Shinola stores and online at Shinola.com.
 

 

Posted by Sponsored Post
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11.16.2017
08:12 pm
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Get it on: The Replacements cover glam rock king Marc Bolan on legendary 80s bootleg
10.05.2017
08:38 pm
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The Replacements + Marc Bolan
 
Cover tunes have always been an element of live performances by the Minneapolis band, the Replacements. For decades, their only official live album has been the cassette-only release, The Shit Hits the Fans. Confiscated from a fan bootlegging a 1984 gig, it’s a covers-heavy set—everything from the Carter Family and the Jackson 5 to Robyn Hitchcock and Tom Petty. Many are requests from the audience, with the ‘Mats acting as a kind of human jukebox.

Though they didn’t cover them that night, the band had a particular affection for the English group, T.Rex. The Replacements covered a number of T.Rex tunes, including one they recorded in the studio and put out as a B-side. On the surface, it seems the two groups are very different. The Replacements were outsiders, never all that comfortable in the limelight, while Marc Bolan, the leader of T.Rex, was the first glam rock superstar and fully embraced his fame.

I reached out to the Replacements’ first manager, Peter Jesperson, to see if he could shed light on the group’s affection for Bolan and the songs of T.Rex.

How did the Replacements come to record/release their version of “20th Century Boy”?:

Peter Jesperson: Like most bands as they’re first getting together, the Replacements started out primarily doing covers of other people’s songs. Even after they began doing original material, a cover could be the most impassioned and exciting performance in the live set. If memory serves, the first time we recorded one for real was “Rock Around the Clock” during the Stink sessions in 1982. In 1983, as we were recording tracks for what became the Let It Be album, several cover ideas were considered and recorded. The two that turned out the best were “Black Diamond” by KISS and “20th Century Boy” by T.Rex. We figured one should go on the album and one on the flip of the single, “I Will Dare.” I clearly remember having a discussion about which one should go where and we all agreed that putting the KISS song on the album would be less expected, less “cool,” so that’s what we did.
 
I Will Dare
 
Why do you think they were so drawn to the T.Rex material?:

Peter Jesperson: All the guys in the Replacements were big fans of simple, catchy songs and T.Rex certainly fit that bill, but I seem to remember it was Paul [Westerberg] who especially liked them, especially the singles. I had the Bolan Boogie compilation, which had the semi-obscure B-side “Raw Ramp” on it, and I remember him asking me to play it quite often. The band toyed around a bit with that one, “Bang A Gong” and maybe “Jeepster,” but the only two they did seriously were “Baby Strange” and “20th Century Boy.”

Was the period in which Westerberg wore eye make-up on stage inspired at all by Bolan?:

Peter Jesperson: I never heard Paul credit anyone specifically with inspiring the make-up so I’m only guessing but I’d say it was bands like Alice Cooper, the New York Dolls, T.Rex, and later the Only Ones, that inspired the make-up.

                                                              *****
 
Paul makeup
 
In 1973, “20th Century Boy” came out as a standalone T.Rex single and went to #3 on the UK chart. It didn’t come out in America until 1985, when it was included on the stellar comp, T.Rextasy: The Best of T. Rex, 1970-1973.
 
20th Century Boy
 
The “I Will Dare” single, with “20th Century Boy” and a live rendition of Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin’” on the flip, came out in 1984, ahead of Let It Be. “20th Century Boy” can currently be found amongst the bonus tracks on the 2008 reissue of Let it Be.
 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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10.05.2017
08:38 pm
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Sexy shoes and surrealist foot fetish: The provocative photography of Guy Bourdin
08.16.2017
08:33 am
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A photo taken by Guy Bourdin for shoe and fashion designer, Charles Jourdan.
 
Celebrated photographer Guy Bourdin’s career spanned nearly 40 years. In the mid-50s, the young Frenchman got his big break after scoring a dream gig with French Vogue. Bourdin was inspired by the vitally important Man Ray, and the revered American Surrealist would become a mentor to the young Bourdin. In fact, when Bourdin held his first gallery show in Paris in 1952, Man Ray himself wrote the introduction for the show’s catalog.
 

A photograph taken by Guy Bourdin inside Man Ray’s studio in Paris.
 
As the 1960s rolled in, Bourdin’s services would be engaged by shoe and fashion designer Charles Jourdan to create ads for his sexy footwear. Bourdin’s photos for Jourdan were wildly unconventional and routinely featured disembodied legs, nudity, and fetish-like imagery. Jourdan would use a vast number of Bourdin’s images for various ad campaigns until the early part of the 80’s—many of which look more like provocative movie stills than ads for shoes. As you might imagine, Bourdin’s work has been compiled into a wide variety of books including Exhibit A (2001), Guy Bourdin: Polaroids (2010), and Guy Bourdin: A Message for You, (2013). Fans of the masterful innovator say that Bourdin was incapable of taking a “bad” photograph, something I think you will agree with after looking at the examples of his work posted below. Some are NSFW.
 

Another image by Bourdin used by Charles Jourdan.
 

1964.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.16.2017
08:33 am
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The Singer: Why Nick Cave is the greatest ‘serious’ rock musician of our time. Period. The End.
05.05.2017
11:37 am
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There’s a fairly compelling—I’ll go so far as to deem it “persuasive”—argument to be made that of any musician of the modern era who has sustained a long, long multi-decade career, that Nick Cave has—consistently—been the greatest “serious” rock musician of our time.

Woah, woah, woah! Wait just a minute there, buddy! Greater than Bob Dylan, the Beatles, or the Stones you say? Well, no, not necessarily, obviously that’s a pretty subjective opinion just to throw out there—although it does actually happen to be the one that I hold—but do consider that the Rolling Stones had (definitively) peaked by 1972, that the best of the Beatles’ solo work was in the rear view mirror by 1974 and that the last truly great album made by Bob Dylan was probably 1975’s Blood on the Tracks. Don’t get me wrong, I hate U2 and always have, but even I can give them credit for having had a remarkably good run of it, certainly maintaining quality in their output, some level of reinvention and a decent hit single every couple of years for four decades. Face it, the Rolling Stones couldn’t do that, so they turned themselves into the world’s greatest Rolling Stones cover band. David Bowie? He burns brightly for a good few years, that’s true, but then Let’s Dance happens. Joni Mitchell? Nope. What about Neil Young? How many Neil Young songs from the 80s, 90s, 00s or the current decade can you even name let alone hum? Prince’s post 80s output was always a mixed bag. Roger Waters hasn’t exactly embarrassed himself over the years, of course, but in terms of new music, unlike Prince, he’s not been all that prolific. The same could be said of Tom Waits.
 

 
Now, Nick Cave on the other hand, has released 16 studio albums, numerous film soundtracks, live albums and recorded many significant contributions to projects spearheaded by others. There’s also the matter of his work with the Birthday Party, novels, screenplays, films, lectures, acting and much more. He’s a prolific creator and most of his output—nearly all of it if you ask me—is really fucking good. There is simply no equivalent to Let’s Dance in Cave’s entire body of work. He’s never put out a shit album, just ones that were less good than others. Nick Cave might not sell out football stadiums or go platinum, but neither did Johnny Cash. How many middle-aged rock stars put out one of their very best songs (“Jubilee Street”) entering the fifth decade of their career? Have any? Did even Frank Sinatra do anything like that? I don’t think so.
 

Photo of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds by Sam Barker
 
What if I shifted my premise (ever so slightly) to “Nick Cave is the greatest serious rock artist of the past 30 years”? I suspect a few more of you might come on board with that revised assessment as nearly all of the competition drops off when you frame it that way. But don’t take my word for it, there’s a brand new compilation—the first in 19 years—out today via BMG, that covers 30 years of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ output. Handpicked by longtime collaborator Mick Harvey and Cave himself, there’s not a single bad track on any of the different versions of Lovely Creatures: The Best of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (1984-2014) but having said that, as a longtime Nick Cave fanatic myself, going back to the first Birthday Party album, I’d have largely chosen a much different selection. Some overlap, but honestly not a lot. This is not to say that “my” version would be any “better” than theirs, naturally, only that it would be significantly different—how could they have left off “A Box for Black Paul” I wondered—but this is merely a mundane testament to the fact that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ back catalog is both vast, and brilliant. My selection would need to be spread across many more discs, I guess. Like 20 CDs or so.
 

 
Order Lovely Creatures: The Best of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (1984-2014) as a standard double CD, a triple vinyl LP, a deluxe 3CD with DVD and the “Super Deluxe Limited Edition” which comes with a full-color 256-page book and inserts in special packaging. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds will be touring North America soon.

The trailer for ‘Lovely Creatures’

Further evidence that Nick Cave is our greatest rock star, after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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05.05.2017
11:37 am
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