In Aural Robert in the April issue of Stereophile, Amoeba owner David Prinz and I discuss his label, Amoeba Records, and his ongoing program to reissue Gram Parsons live sets. Needless to say however, I also talked with him about the ever more bizarre situation that the record business now finds itself in. As the owner of the biggest and best independent record stores on planet Earth, his opinion carries more than a little weight. Here's a sampling of what he said about the biz and the specter of iTunes.
Never did I think the day would come when I’d be standing in a line at 10:30 am on a chilly April Saturday to get into a record store. A record store mind you that is directly across the street from the now spacious, high-ceilinged NYU offices that were once the Tower Records on Broadway in downtown Manhattan.
Having heard from the good folks at Ralston Purinasorry, "good folks" seems to be a trigger for 60's TV commercial flashbacks for puppy chow or something. Lemme try again...When I heard from the good folks at the burgeoning minimega empire that Concord/Fantasy Telarc has become that a new series called Stax Profiles was about to begin, I anxiously tore open a Concord box that arrived in the office yesterday.
It was with great pleasure that I slapped on my recently arrived LP copy of Dave and Phil Alvin’s Lost Time, which was released on September 18. Not surprisingly, given the brothers’ roots rock leanings, the sound here also has a healthy respect for the past. Dave Alvin’s guitar is drenched in reverb throughout, the mix is balanced (which is a minor miracle given lead singer Phil Alvin’s forceful voice and presence) and all the instrumentseven the piano!have great presence in the mix.
For better or worse, some musical careers are defined by a single searing moment in time and for Richie Havens, who died on April 22; his career will forever be linked to his appearance as the opener for the Woodstock Festival in 1969.
His screams, rapid fire delivery, and end-of-line trills in tracks like “Lucille,” “Jenny Jenny” and of course, “Tutti Frutti,” every one recorded with an overloaded microphone, are impassioned in the extreme.
If you like freak shows, then the current travails of the Republican Party are incredibly sweet. Marc Sanford’s “I’m gonna try and fall back in love with my wife” nonsense [need dental work? try repeating that one to your wife?], Palin’s rambling, basketballanddead fishladen resignation speech, and now the pride of Long Island, U. S. Rep. Peter King, calling Michael Jackson names on the day before he is buried. “Lowlife,” “pedophile,” “child molester,” oh yeah, King hit `em all. The run of bad news on Jackson is about to begin againhis toxicology report is gonna cause a circus, not to mention the end of several medical careersso I’m thinking King coulda waited a day or two before giving us another dose of some righteous Republican extolling the heroism of firefighters, cops and soldiers. The fact that all three of those professions are paying gigsno one is being drafted latelyis clearly beside the point for King. And okay, we all know Jackson had some unhealthy sides to his life, but couldn’t King have waited a day or so before becoming a new hero to the haters in the Republican Party. The appetites for hating and hypocrisy in the GOP are apparently insatiable. I loved it when one of King's colleagues questioned whether this outburst would help or hurt King by saying that it might help if has a lot of racists in his district.
Whenever I fly into one of those, "I gotta get rid of some of these CDs" moods, I inevitably settle on my seemingly endless boxes of blues records. But then like magic, hard–edged questions like "Do I really need 15 B.B. King records" eventually morph into expressions like, "Damn, I haven't heard this record in a hundred years." I am genetically unable to dump blues records.
Back before music fans morphed into gaming fans, before lip synching became the rage, before utter horseshit like American Idol was even a wet dream, there were thriving clubs and committed music freak club owners like Clifford Antone.