November 21, 2015

Rush | Xanadu – R40 LIVE

Filed under: Cancon, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

November 20, 2015

QotD: Rolling Stone

Filed under: Humour, Media, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Rolling Stone morphed into AARP Magazine so slowly, I hardly even noticed.

Ed Driscoll, “Plutocrat Millionaires Insult Military Veterans”, PJ Media, 2014-11-14.

November 17, 2015

Rush | Subdivisions – R40 LIVE

Filed under: Cancon, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

November 9, 2015

Rush | Tom Sawyer – R40 LIVE

Filed under: Cancon, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

November 1, 2015

Terry Teachout on the great Victor Borge

Filed under: Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Terry Teachout wrote about Danish comedian/pianist Victor Borge back in 2005:

I doubt that many people under the age of forty remember Victor Borge, the comedian-pianist who died in 2000 at the miraculous age of ninety-one. He was a star for a very long time, first on radio, then TV, and Comedy in Music, his 1953 one-man show, ran for 849 consecutive performances on Broadway, a record which so far as I know remains unbroken. From there he went on the road and stayed there, giving sixty-odd concerts in the season before his death. Borge spent his old age basically doing Comedy in Music over and over again, which never seemed to bother anybody. I reviewed it twice for the Kansas City Star in the Seventies, and loved it both times. His Danish-accented delivery was so droll and his timing so devastatingly exact that even the most familiar of his charming classical-music spoofs somehow remained fresh, as you can see by watching any of the various videos of his act.

It’s hard to imagine that there was a time when so popular a comedian started out as a serious musician, much less one who became popular by making witty fun of the classics. Such a thing could only have happened in the days when America’s middlebrow culture was still intact and at the height of its influence. Back then the mass media, especially TV, went out of their way to introduce ordinary people to classical music and encouraged them to take it seriously–which didn’t mean they couldn’t laugh at it, too, as Borge proved whenever he sat down to play.

Borge’s act resembled a straight piano recital gone wrong. He’d start to play a familiar piece like Clair de lune or the “Moonlight” Sonata, then swerve off in some improbable-sounding direction, never getting around to finishing what he started. Yet he was clearly an accomplished pianist, though few of his latter-day fans had any idea how good he’d been (he studied with Egon Petri, Busoni’s greatest pupil). He usually made a point of playing a piece from start to finish toward the end of every concert, and I remember how delighted I was each time I heard him ripple through one of Ignaz Friedman’s bittersweet Viennese-waltz arrangements, which he played with a deceptively nonchalant old-world panache that never failed to leave me longing for an encore. Alas, he never obliged, and in later years I found myself wondering whether he’d really been quite so fine as my memory told me.

Rush | The Spirit of Radio – R40 LIVE

Filed under: Cancon, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

October 30, 2015

Al Stewart re-issues reviewed

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

In Goldmine Magazine, Dave Thompson reviews three Al Stewart albums (Orange, Past Present and Future, and Modern Times) being re-issued by Esoteric Recordings:

Here’s a dilemma. Sacrifice the last round of Al Stewart reissues, with their healthy helping of bonus tracks, but not precisely stellar sound; or eschew this most recent bundle, which skip a few of the extra songs from before, but return to the original CBS tapes for a remastering that comes as close as Christmas to sounding like the original vinyl?

That’s for your ears to decide, but the fact is, these are the best-sounding Stewart CDs yet, and the most enthrallingly packaged too, with the original UK artwork restored; liners built around a brand new interview; and, between them, a large part of any self-respecting “best of Al” that predates the cat.

Certainly it’s difficult to play favorites between them – Orange boasts “You Don’t Even Know Me,” “I’m Falling” and “Night of the 4th of May,” perhaps the all-time great mea culpa confessional (hit Youtube for the Old Grey Whistle Test rendition, and marvel in speechless joy), then adds the scintillating 45 version of “News From Spain” alongside the already wonderful album take. Plus the b-side “Elvaston Place.”

PPF starts slowly but quickly finds its feet with “Last Day of June 1934,” “Post World War Two Blues” and the remarkable “Soho (Needless to Say),” before marching resolutely into epic territory with “Roads to Moscow” and “Nostradamus” – plus another stray single, “Swallow Wind” (and the 45 mix of “Terminal Eyes”); and Modern Times opens with “Carol,” closes with the title track, and … okay so if you only want two of the three reissues, that’s probably the one to pass over. Like Zero She Flies, earlier in the canon, it’s the sound of Stewart pausing for breath after one brace of brilliance, and before marching onto his next masterpiece.

Which, on this occasion was Year of the Cat, and all the fame and fortune that followed it. And which was also something of a mixed blessing, in that that album and single were so astonishingly huge that they drew a thick black line across his career, and rendered all those earlier albums “formative” works in the eyes of the Great Unwashed. When, in fact, it was simply one more highlight in a career that had positively overflowed with the things.

Three albums precede this batch in the catalog – among them a maiden effort (Bedsitter Images) that stands, in either of its originally released incarnations, among the most important, inspirational and, most of all, lasting of all late sixties singer-songwriter debuts; and a sophomore set whose subsequent renown is so unfairly focussed on the sidelong title track “Love Chronicles,” when it’s side one’s “Old Compton Street Blues” and “The Ballad of Mary Foster” that are truly its greatest accomplishments.

Hopefully we will be seeing similarly exacting reissues of both, plus the aforementioned Zero and many more besides. But for now, to paraphrase another cut from Love Chronicles, you should be listening to Al.

October 29, 2015

QotD: Culture, the arts, and elitism

Filed under: Media, Quotations — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Of course not all liberal-arts professors think this way, and not all universities have become cultural wastelands. There are yet islands of excellence in the dead sea of mediocrity, meretriciousness and cultural Marxist rot.

Let us stipulate that there are excellent liberal-arts programs and professors out there. What value do they bring to students?

The usual answer is that a committed teacher can inculcate in a student a lifelong love of the subject matter, whether it be ancient Greek sculpture or medieval French poetry or American jazz music. However, this happens seldom enough to bring the whole axiom into question. It’s the whole “you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink it” problem. You can make a class full of bored young people listen to Mahler and explain to them why you think it’s wonderful, but the point is to convince them that it’s wonderful (or at least worth “appreciating”). This is a much harder task, and one that not many college professors are particularly good at.

This is called the “arts appreciation racket”, and it goes back to the Romantic belief that exposing the hoi polloi to high art would make them more well-rounded people. Somehow. The belief has persisted in spite of mounds of evidence to the contrary. Forcing people to imbibe high art is like forcing a kid to eat broccoli — not only will the kid probably spit it out, he will probably develop a lasting dislike for it. Without context and some motivating purpose, high art simply doesn’t have much relevance for most people.

This is not an inherently bad thing. “High art” has never really been aimed at or intended for a mass audience. The whole notion of “high art” implies a kind of elitism, as a calculus equation is elitist (if you don’t know calculus, the equation will not yield its meaning). The creation and consumption of high art requires a level of literacy, wealth, and leisure that until recently not many people had. But now we live in an age when the jewels of world culture can be had for almost nothing, immediately, anywhere. The limiting factor is no longer literacy, or wealth, or leisure time, but rather motivation. All prerequisites have been removed except the “Why?”. Why spend time listening to a Mozart concerto? Why attend a Wagner opera or study a Turner painting or look up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? The problem with University liberal-arts programs is that they can only give you their “Why?”, not your own “Why?”.

Monty, “DOOM (culturally speaking)”, Ace of Spades H.Q., 2014-10-28.

October 25, 2015

Rush | Closer to the Heart – R40 LIVE

Filed under: Cancon, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 23 Oct 2015

Pre-order “R40 LIVE” today!

October 24, 2015

The (vicious) economic model of the music industry

Filed under: Business, Law, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

A post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch from a few years ago, talking about the “standard” abuses musicians were subject to under 1990s-era studio contracts:

Those of us who exist on the periphery of the music industry have heard for years that new artists and even established ones can’t make money in the traditional music industry.

I didn’t understand that until I read Jacob Slichter’s So You Wanna Be A Rock ’N Roll Star several years ago. He wrote about a system in which a musician who signed a deal with a major record label could end up owing the label tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. He delineated it all out in a long book that showed just how the label ended up taking a naïve artist and putting him into debt.

Slichter said this was why so many rock bands disbanded — because the band itself was a legal entity and as a legal entity it was in hock to the studio. The only way the musicians could continue to perform and try to earn money from their music was to create a new legal entity and abandon the old one. Otherwise, they were working in a kind of indentured servitude.

Think this is just sour grapes from one musician who didn’t make it big? Look at a link that a reader from last week gave me. It’s from a magazine I’ve never heard of called Maximum Rock ’n’ Roll and was written by rock producer named Steve Albini. I’m not so sure how dodgy this website is that I’m sending you to — I don’t know if they violated Mr. Albini’s copyright by reproducing this piece. I’m going to trust that they didn’t, because y’all need to see these numbers.

For those of you who can’t be bothered to check the link, Albini lays out the line-by-line “costs” that the musicians agreed to when they signed their record deal. The musicians received a $250,000 advance. But by the time the album got released and the tour was completed, the advance was gone — and the musicians owed the record label $14,000.

You’re understanding me right. The “standard” contractually negotiated costs that the musicians agreed would come out of their pockets came to $264,000. The only way for the artists to recoup that loss was to sign a new deal with the label, often at lesser terms. If the label even wanted to sign them. (That part is courtesy of Slichter)

How much did the label earn — with the same costs deducted?

$710,000. In 1990s dollars.

Albini also lists how much each “player” made. He includes a producer ($90,000), a manager ($51,000), an agent, ($7500) and a lawyer ($12,000).

He writes, “The band is now ¼ of the way through its contract, has made the music industry more than 3 million dollars richer, but is in the hole $14,000 in royalties. The band members have each earned about 1/3 as much as they would working at a 7-11, but they got to ride in a tour bus for a month. The next album will be about the same, except that the record company will insist they spend more time and money on it. Since the previous one never ‘recouped,’ the band will have no leverage and will oblige.”

October 7, 2015


Filed under: Media, Science — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Everyone who knows musicians has heard at least a few drummer jokes. Open Culture attempts to put a bit of science into the casual abuse drummers have been subjected to over the years:

An old musician’s joke goes “there are three kinds of drummers in the world — those who can count and those who can’t.” But perhaps there is an even more global divide. Perhaps there are three kinds of people in the world — those who can drum and those who can’t. Perhaps, as the promotional video above from GE suggests, drummers have fundamentally different brains than the rest of us. Today we highlight the scientific research into drummers’ brains, an expanding area of neuroscience and psychology that disproves a host of dumb drummer jokes.

“Drummers,” writes Jordan Taylor Sloan at Mic, “can actually be smarter than their less rhythmically-focused bandmates.” This according to the findings of a Swedish study (Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm) which shows “a link between intelligence, good timing and the part of the brain used for problem-solving.” As Gary Cleland puts it in The Telegraph, drummers “might actually be natural intellectuals.”

Neuroscientist David Eagleman, a renaissance researcher The New Yorker calls “a man obsessed with time,” found this out in an experiment he conducted with various professional drummers at Brian Eno’s studio. It was Eno who theorized that drummers have a unique mental makeup, and it turns out “Eno was right: drummers do have different brains from the rest.” Eagleman’s test showed “a huge statistical difference between the drummers’ timing and that of test subjects.” Says Eagleman, “Now we know that there is something anatomically different about them.” Their ability to keep time gives them an intuitive understanding of the rhythmic patterns they perceive all around them.

September 28, 2015

Rush | Roll The Bones – R40 Live in Toronto (OFFICIAL AUDIO)

Filed under: Cancon, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 25 Sep 2015

Jack, relax. Get busy with the facts…

Rush revealed their first offering from the forthcoming R40 Live concert film – “Roll The Bones”, a song from their fourteenth studio album Roll the Bones, that was originally released in 1991.

This R40 Live version of “Roll The Bones” was recorded in the band’s hometown of Toronto on June 17 & 19th during the sold out shows at the Air Canada Centre on the R40 Live tour and was mixed by David Botrill (Tool, Muse).

“Roll The Bones (R40 Live)” features an array of special guests in the rap part of the song: Jay Baruchel (She’s Out Of My League), Les Claypool (Primus), Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), The Trailer Park Boys, and Jason Segel & Paul Rudd (I Love You, Man).

It is the first time the band put the RTB song back in the setlist since the Snakes & Arrows tour in 2007/2008. During the R40 Live tour, “Roll The Bones” gained new life and became a fan-favourite with an arena sing-along to the chorus “Why are we here? Because we’re here – Roll The Bones”.

The Rush R40 Live concert film will be released on November 20th. More details to be revealed soon.

September 24, 2015

Al Stewart – “Constantinople”

Filed under: Europe, History, Media, Middle East — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Uploaded on 24 Sep 2010

A song about the fall of Constantinople.

Al Stewart – Constantinople Lyrics

Across the western world
The fights are going down
The gypsy armies of the evening
Have lit their fires across
The nether side of town
They will not pass this way again
So here in the night
Leave your home it’s time for running
Out of the light

I see the hosts of Mohammed coming
The Holy Sister bars her doors against the East
Her house has stood too long divided
The uninvited guests are breaking up the feast
She may not bid them leave again
So here in the night
Leave your home it’s time for running
Out of the light

I see the hosts of Mohammed coming
I dreamed I stood like this before
And I’m sure the words that I heard then
Were much the same
It’s just an old Greek tragedy they’re acting here
Held over by popular acclaim
So here in the night
Leave your home it’s time for running
Out of the light
I see the hosts of Mohammed coming

September 12, 2015

Nash The Slash – Psychotic Reaction

Filed under: Cancon, Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 20 Jun 2013

From His 1984 LP American Bandages

September 10, 2015

Rob Paravonian has a thing about Pachelbel

Filed under: History, Humour, Media — Tags: — Nicholas @ 02:00

Uploaded on 21 Nov 2006

A comedian rants about how much it sucks to play Pachelbel’s Canon in D on a cello. Recorded live at Penn State, this piece by comedian/musician Rob Paravonian has been a favorite on the Dr. Demento Show.

H/T to Never Yet Melted for the link.

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