I swear I did not plan it, and it wasn’t obvious on the Google maps I pored over before we left but the back door of the fabulous Soho Hotel spilled right out onto Wardour Street, which was a block from Berwick Street, famous for its cluster, or more like the best cluster of independent record shops in London.
The Royal Mile has now unfortunately become the Scottish equivalent of Times Square, in all its crowded, annoying commercialism run amok glory. No topless women with the Union Jack or Saltire painted across their breasts yet, but give it time.
Call me a hopeless romantic but I could not get “Penny Lane” out of my head as I sat in the back of a black cab whizzing across a remarkably deserted London early one morning a couple weeks ago. “On the corner is a banker with a motorcar…” I was on a pilgrimage. More like THE pilgrimage. The one every serious fan of twentieth century music needs to make at least once. Out to St. John’s Wood and Abbey Road Studios.
Is it because no one takes pot shots at you unless you're on top? Or are the most recent criticisms of Klaus Heymann and his diversified Naxos Digital Services empire on to something more?
To refresh: Heymann, a German entrepreneur who began selling cameras and stereos to American GIs in Vietnam, and later become the Hong Kong distributor of Bose and Studer audio gear, launched Naxos, a classical-music label specializing in budget-priced CDs, in 1987 (footnote 1). The label's name is also easy to pronounce in any language. Heymann began to build the Naxos catalognow one of the largest classical labelsby recording young and often unknown artists and orchestras, most from Eastern and Central Europe. Soon, displays of Naxos CDs, all of their covers conforming to a uniform, instantly recognizable design, became to crop up in record stores large and small.
Sly and the Family Stone: Live at the Fillmore East, October 4th & 5th, 1968
Epic 88843023712 (4 CDs). 2015. Sly Stone, orig. prod.; Bob Irwin, reissue prod.; Vic Anesini, mastering. AAD? TT: 3:27:31
The first thing you hear is not Sly Stone's keyboards or harmonica. Not Freddie Stone's guitar. Not Greg Errico's amazing drumming. Not Larry Graham's slapping bass. Not the voices of Rose Stone (also keys) and Cynthia Robinson (also trumpet). Not Jerry Martini's saxophone.
No. The first thing you hear is pure energy: the nuclear reaction of musical power that Sly and his Family Stone generated onstage on two October nights in 1968 at the Fillmore East. James Brown and his band(s) had nothing on these seven. This is prime Sly, when the band was still hungry, before the hits, before his life spun out of control, the music suffered, and the family split.
Perhaps the greatest strength left in the music business these days, and the major labels in particular, is their catalogs of recordings and on the reissue side of the business, no one has been better at exploiting a catalog and actually creating new releases of older unreleased music than Sony Legacy.