I was very sad to learn of the death of Ahmet Ertegun, one of the three visionaries behind Atlantic Records. Having met him several times, it makes perverse sense that he would have met his end due to complications from a fall at a Rolling Stones concert. He was a man of music to the end.
On Saturday night, in New York City, upstairs in Manhattan’s 54th Street Yamaha piano studios, which by the way is very close to that other keyboard shrine, Steinway Hall, Stereophile’s own contributing editor Bob Reina and his group, Attention Screen recorded their third live album for Stereophile Records, a label owned and run by editor in chief/sound engineer John Atkinson, our fearless leader. Just so there is no confusion, I mean that last term as an endearing salute rather than in the sense of Rocky & Bullwinkle’s Germanesque dictator of Pottsylvania.
Please let me explain. Because I've never been especially adept at making lifelong commitments and irrevocable decisions, when it came to naming this new column, Managing Editor Debbie Starr and I decided that we would gather the passionate (and supremely efficient) minds of the Stereophile production staff, add a near–life-threatening amount of margaritas, and put the question to them.
The music business needs to start developing talent or the slump they're currently in is not gonna get any better any time soon. One reason people aren't buying records anymore, or downloads if you must, is that in some genres there's a lack of compelling talent.
Course that's common sense, and this is a business that seems to always be looking for a silver bullet. Or backward at its glorious past.
Fitting right in with that last vision is the "new" Beatles album that's in the offing. Amazing how many new albums come from people who've been dead for years ain't it? This one will use music from the Cirque Du Soleil show in Vegas. Sounds classy right? Not. Check this quote from Giles Martin, Sir George’s son that appeared on NME's website:
"What people will be hearing on the album is a new experience, a way of re-living the whole Beatles musical lifespan in a very condensed period."
Uh Huh. Maybe it's me but the real Beatles album experience seems to have aged rather well thank you. What we don't need is another remix album. What we do need is for Sir Paul and Ringo to spend some time in the tape vault and then release some of the jillion outtakes, alternate takes, live material, etc. that have been mouldering away there for years. No release date yet on the new album.
So call me a wild colonial boy, but while I found European record stores fun and alland being in huge Virgin megastores stuffed full of jazz and classical records made me long for the days when they were still in the U.S.one visit to Jerry’s Records in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania made me realize what that rock and roll immortal Chuck Berry said best “Anything you want, we got right here in the U.S.A.” Jerry’s is easily, I mean EASILY! one of the top five record stores here on Starship Earth. The man is a mensch, the store is a huge, rambling barn of a place, and my God does he have the product. No onesies at Jerry’s. You often have many different copies of a single title to choose from. Never, ever miss Jerry’s when you’re anywhere near Pittsburgh. Seriously, the place is as much a shrine to the vinyl LP as it is a store.
During my Barcelona sojourn, I made a trip to the leading high end gear store in that beautiful city, Casa Werner, which is downtown, on the Ronda Sant Pere. Open since 1933, this former music store which began selling Victrolas along with 78’s, before moving entirely from content to gear, has been in the same family now for about a decade.
Now that Christmas has come and gone, and my need to hear Bobby Helms' "Jingle Bells Rock" has subsided — I'm not sure but I think it has something to do with those electric guitar flourishes, it's seems an appropriate time to say something about the continuing and astonishing turmoil in the record business which according to most sources experienced a nearly 20 percent decline in sales of physical product compared with last Christmas.