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.
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.
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.
How anyone was surprised that Britney Spears has shaved her head is beyond me. As Stereophile's assistant editor, the intrepid Stephen Mejias reminded me, she was brainwashed as a toddler thanks to that malevolent mindfuck known as The Mickey Mouse Club. Add to that she's a piece of unreconstructed white trash from Louisiana, who's now been coddled beyond all description and suddenly head shaving looks like the least of her worries.
Okay, so now that we’ve all done our duty and held new babies, eaten dry turkey, listened to insane political diatribes and generally spent nothing but super terrific quality time with our families, not to mention paid fealty to the whole “it’s more blessed to give than to receive” rot, it’s time to get serious and talk about what WE want.
There are a lot of reasons to love Gothammost of them having to do with humans `cause let’s face it there just aren’t many mountain vistas herebut the one that tickles my fancy the most is what Billy Joel (sorry) famously called, the “New York State of Mind.” JayZ would have it “Empire State of Mind,” but you get the idea. After a premiere showing of Sounds and Silence, Travels with Manfred Eicher, the new film about the ECM founder, owner and inspiration, there was a brief Q&A period chaired by WNYC's Julie Burstein (left in JA's iPhone photo). The first hand up was in the back of the IFC Center in the West Village.
I can see the scene now, Gary, the mighty Max, the Big Man, all standing around the studio, looking at their feet, afraid to tell Bruce that one of his new songs, the otherwise very charming, “Outlaw Pete,” has a melody very similiar to the one found in KISS’ “I Was Made For Lovin’ You Baby,” their successful quasi-disco single off their otherwise weak 1979 stylistic stumble, Dynasty.