Music and Recording Features

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Robert Baird Posted: Feb 02, 2016 1 comments
"With all due respect, what the hell is the matter with you?"

Over the years, I've felt obligated to ask this question of several friends who somehow concluded that their life's work involved founding a record label.

"That is the best question isn't it?" Shane Buettner said with a big laugh. "Why do I want to hurt myself this badly and spend a lot of money doing it?" He smiled again, with a mild shake of the head.

"Actually, yes—that's exactly what I mean."

Robert Baird Posted: Jan 04, 2016 2 comments
Let's face it: If you're one of those sedentary audiophilic types or you have a genetic disposition to growing pear-shaped later in life (genetic . . . right, that's it: nothing to do with couches or hooch), it's wise to adjust your fashion sense accordingly. And nothing says "portly gentleman in disguise" like a guayabera—a shirt that, I have just discovered, blues guitarist Bob Margolin and I both love. He even wears one on the cover of his new record, My Road.
Robert Baird Posted: Dec 02, 2015 22 comments
Talk dirty to me!

"I had to master this record 11 times to get it to sound the way I wanted," Joanna Newsom growled with the knowing grit of someone who's worked through a sonic ordeal.

"Instead of test pressings, we had test lacquers for this one."

"I have no way to listen to music digitally in my house."

Oooh, baby!

At a time when the future of print is troubled, Newsom can make even a magazine editor feel slightly more secure.

"I love your magazine. I love your publication."

Robert Baird Posted: Nov 04, 2015 2 comments
Tinseltown. La-La Land. Smell-A. First, of course, there's the climate. No way to hate sunshine and ocean breezes. And if you were somehow able to erase all the people in Southern California, the land itself—rising from the blue Pacific to high desert to timbered, sometimes even snowy mountaintops—is gorgeous. Then, of course, there's the unusually attractive human flora and fauna roaming SoCal. How did Brian Wilson put it . . . ? "Dolls by a palm tree in the sand."
Robert Baird Posted: Oct 15, 2015 1 comments
Playing the blues gets old fast. Since this most fundamental American popular music, stopped being the African-American party music of choice, and became a traditional music, celebrated as the precursor of rock'n'roll, blues players face a stark choice: change, or be content with playing small clubs and bars.
Robert Baird Posted: Apr 15, 2015 4 comments
Violet- and orchid-colored LED banks shimmer across the room. Green and pink spots radiate out and back. A steady stream of beats and keyboards from other electronica luminaries rumbles out of the speakers. Let's dance! Or maybe just listen?

Onstage, Dan Deacon is busy tweaking his gear. Out on the floor, the audience is oddly antsy. To fight the waiting, one woman hangs on her boyfriend. Clumps of hipsters conviviate. Very strong drinks (a sponsorship deal?) flow for seven bucks a pop. Anticipation thickens. Impatience turns to pacing. Young men make solo air grooves.

Robert Baird Posted: Apr 10, 2015 1 comments
He is easily among the most accomplished and influential slide-guitar players ever to put a ring of glass or metal around his finger. In 1977, on the golden record carried by the space probe Voyager, alongside the first movement of Beethoven's Symphony 5 and recordings of "footsteps, heartbeat, and laughter," his greatest song, "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" went off to represent humanity to the stars.
Robert Baird Posted: Jan 29, 2015 8 comments
For famously civilized and jaded New York City, the crowd at the resplendent Beacon Theatre is uncommonly involved. Loud requests, many in tangled liquor dialects, boom from the balcony:

"'REDNECK FRIEND'!"

Onstage, Jackson Browne smiles and shakes his head.

"'COCAINE'!"

"I could do that, but it would have to be the rehab version." [crowd roars]

"'FOR A DANCER'!"

Oh, wait—I'm yelling that.

Robert Baird Posted: Oct 08, 2014 1 comments
Fifty-four years after it was recorded, Hank Mobley's immortal Soul Station has become a tale of two LPs.

One, the original pressing (mono or stereo), is an artifact, an insanely valuable antique, the object of fevered jazz collectors the world over.

The other is a fresh vinyl reissue, cut from a high-resolution digital remastering of the original master tapes, that's meant to bring in younger listeners, or those interested enough in the music that they'll pay $19.95 for a new LP.

Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Sep 20, 2014 9 comments
Move over John, George, Ringo, and Paul. There's another remastering that's come on the scene, and it's every bit as important as the Beatles Mono Edition. It's Warner Classics' high-resolution, 24/96 digital remastering of soprano Maria Callas' entire studio-sourced discography. Consisting of arias, recitals and complete operas recorded 1949–1969, the remasterings reach the international public on September 22, and US music lovers on September 23. Their sound, whether in the 69-CD box set of her entire studio recordings, or HDtracks' 24/96 downloads of its individual components, is revelatory.
Robert Baird Posted: Sep 03, 2014 1 comments
He was a victim of his own success. From 1925 to 1929, when he was in his mid-20s, Louis Armstrong changed the world of jazz music forever with his Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings, and his solos in tunes like "Cornet Chop Suey," "Potato Head Blues," and "West End Blues." Almost immediately, however, he was faced with a question: Now what?
Robert Baird Posted: May 06, 2014 Published: May 01, 2014 0 comments
Making a recording is always a personal journey—everyone has a story to tell. Jazz violinist Regina Carter's latest, Southern Comfort, is an eloquent musical expression of Carter tracing the roots of her paternal lineage back five generations. For the project's sound engineer, Joe Ferla, it's the final project of a engineering career, and the beginning point of his new life as a practicing musician. The entwining of these journeys gives the album's music and sound a rare honesty.
Corey Greenberg Posted: Mar 17, 2014 Published: Jun 01, 1991 8 comments
Today is the 60th anniversary of the iconic Fender Stratocaster electric guitar, the instrument that in the hands of Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Mark Knopfler, Buddy Guy, Hank B. Marvin, and many other virtuosi, shaped and guided rock music ever since. To celebrate the day, we are reprinting the tribute by Corey Greenberg, himself a Strat player, to the guitar's inventor, the late Leo Fender, that was published in our June 1991 issue.—Ed.
Robert Baird Posted: Mar 05, 2014 2 comments
As songwriters go, Guy Clark has been touched by the muse more than most. Unfortunately, in recent years he's also been visited by illness and heartache. In June 2012, his wife of 40 years, Susanna Clark, who was both a songwriter ("Easy from Now On") and an artist (the cover of Willie Nelson's Stardust), died in Nashville. In the past several years Clark, 72, has battled lymphoma, had his knees replaced, and undergone an arterial replacement in one leg. He was being treated for skin cancer when I visited his home, south of Nashville, in October 2013.
Robert Baird Posted: Dec 24, 2013 Published: Jan 01, 2014 8 comments
Party like a rock star!

Or not.

Damned rock stars! Those useless black voids of overweening ego who spend their days wallowing in unfulfilling, sybaritic cycles of mass adoration, endless wealth, and meaningless sex with hard bodies—what do they add to the greater good, to the advancement of human understanding, to the furtherance of art? In most cases, the answer is: Nothing. Zip, zilch, zot.

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