Itunes And Music Companies Out To Reinvent Albums

FT.com – From the “where have we heard THIS before” file comes a story off the Financial Times about iTunes & 4 of the largest record labels trying revitalize music sales by bringing back the golden age of albums.  Key word there, GOLDEN age (cha ching).   And I apologize in advance but to read the entire linked story you’ll have to register with that site (but it’s free at least).

Anyhow, it seems that with declining physical album sales yadda yadda this little consortium is out to change buying habits of the online community by including artwork, liner notes – all the stuff that used to come with physical albums – as a package deal with the electronic download of the entire album (I’m assuming).  Trying to get away from the single song download, it would seem.

Now, this sounds like a good idea on the surface.  Heck, I can remember spending many an hour sitting in a friend’s room pouring over the lyrics to Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’, discussing each song as it came up, staring at the artwork, and then falling silent when ‘Comfortably Numb’ came on, in absolute awe of David Gilmour’s artistry on the guitar.

But see, here is the problem with this new packaging idea as I see it.  How can you have such a communal experience with a digital download?  As Rob Zombie once said “You can’t autograph a download”.  Now for record completists, this new angle might work – if the price is right.  Don’t issue a digital album and then expect $18 for it.  Ain’t gonna happen.  But for the collectors, you might have a shot with this format.

Regardless it will be interesting to see what they come up with, although I am skeptical.  I think the package deal days are over sadly enough, but would love to be proven wrong.  Time will tell, I guess.  I still have plenty of my old vinyl. . . and yes, including The Wall.

Grolsch Introduces Iphone App To Test Drunkiness

Ad Age – Not sure if you had more than enough to drink? Now you can test yourself (sorta. . .kinda) with a new Iphone app being marketed by Dutch brewers Grolsch. Isn’t their company name kind of it’s own sobriety test? But I digress. . .

Follow the link above to learn about the ‘Walk the Line’ app that launched at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Netherlands. Obviously, it’s not guaranteed to give you your literal blood alcohol level etc. but Grolsch says it was designed “to encourage festival-goers to monitor their alcohol consumption in a “fun, Innovative way” and share it with friends”.

Reminds me of a bar I visited up at Purdue University (my alma mater) that had a coin-op breathalyzer for 50 cents a pop.  Of course, in that instance it had the opposite effect I think that was intended. My buddies and I took turns seeing who could get the HIGHEST score.

Rock N’ Resort 2009 Part II

In my last post I talked about the headliners at this year’s Rock N’ Resort music festival up in Canal Fulton, Ohio.   Out of about 40 bands for the weekend, the VAST majority are tribute acts.  Makes sense when you think about it ’cause you can fill up a classic rock stage list with acts that you either can’t afford (AC/DC) or who no longer tour (Jimi Hendrix).  Plus the crowd will know the songs, or at least they should.

Three significant acts I saw this weekend are Ball & Chain, Thunderstuck and Stranglehold.  Keep in mind, I usually don’t care much for tribute acts as I’d rather see either the real thing or hear originals.  Just my preference.  But each of these bands stood above the rest for one reason or another.  Here’s the breakdown;

Stranglehold – Ok, truthfully, didn’t actually get to hear these guys as we arrived too late on Friday but did spend a few minutes with drummer Frankie Garisto (ex-The Godz/American Dog) on Saturday.  According to Frankie, guitarist/vocalist Ronnie Hughes is a former guitar tech for the Motor City madman himself, and even sports some previously owned Nuge gear as part of the act.  Who better to do a tribute to Uncle Ted than someone who’s had to set up his equipment a few 100 times?  I’ll make sure to hear these guys when next they’re in C-bus.

Thunderstruck – These guys opened with “Hell’s Bell’s” and I watched the crowd rush to gather around them as if Angus himself was prancing the stage.  All in all, they had a pretty decent resemblance to the real AC/DC but whoa, it was their ability to reproduce the songs that blew me away (and everyone else, for that matter).   For about 5 minutes at the end of their set, I thought we were in for a riot as the crowd demanded ‘One more, ONE MORE!’ but were denied by the venue management.  How often does a tribute band get that kind of respect?

Last but certainly not least was Ball & Chain, a masterful tribute to the work of Janis Joplin. They didn’t look so much like Big Brother & The Holding Co. as they freakin’ SOUNDED exactly like them. I mean, “close your eyes and you’re there” sound like them.  Vocalist Geri Ciacchi needs an exorcist ’cause she’s possessed by all that is Janis Joplin.  No wait, scratch that & hide the holy water – we all benefit from the spirit of Pearl still being amongst us.  Haven’t had ‘Mercedes Benz’ outta my head since I saw their show.

That, and the distant sound of bongos. . .

Back From the Dead

Rock N’ Resort was a blast again this year, despite being forced to camp next to a group of what must’ve been at least 4 families, all with kids under the ages of 10 (probably 10-15 kids in all).  Yep, felt like I was running Daycare of the Damned, there were so many rugrats running through my camp.  And there’s nothing like being awoke at 7am Saturday morning, after a night of 5 quart beer buckets, to the sound of BONGO DRUMS.  That child doesn’t know how close to death he came. . .

Of the headliners this year, I was most impressed by Kansas, Dennis DeYoung of Styx and 38 Special.   Not so much by Survivor or Asia (go figure, eh?).  I’ve always wanted to check out a Kansas show and now I cannot recommend them enough.  Technically proficient, extremely talented 5 piece that have been jamming together now 35 years (most of them, anyways).  I’d heard that singer/keyboardist Steve Walsh didn’t sound as good anymore – thankfully that couldn’t be more untrue.  Steve sounded exactly like on their albums, even on difficult tracks like ‘Carry On My Wayward Son’.

38 Special I’ve seen before, knew what to expect and they didn’t disappoint.  There are precious few decent southern rock bands left from the 80’s/90’s, glad to see Don Barnes & Donnie Van Zant are still kickin’ it oldschool.  And yeah, they played all their hits plus a medley of the 90’s soundtrack songs like “Back to Paradise” off the Revenge of the Nerds II soundtrack.

Now I expected Dennis DeYoung to be well, a bit tough to sit through.  After all, the man wrote  two of the most everlasting and schmaltzy ballads on radio – ‘Lady’ & ‘Babe’.   But he also performed ‘The Best of Times’ and ‘Mr. Roboto’ which are guilty pleasures for me ’cause they remind me of high school.  DeYoung has a great backing band and sounds timeless so I was pleasantly surprised by his set (ok, and winced a few times during the ballads).

I’ll talk about some of the great tribute bands I saw over the past 3 days, but it’ll have to wait until tomorrow.  Dead tired now.  Damn kids.

Miss Me While I’m Gone

Rock n’ Resort starts tomorrow (well technically some crazies are there tonight, but my peeps won’t be there until the ‘morrow).  I will be wired for this event, so we’ll see what kind of madness ensues, eh?  3am blog updates by the campfire?  perhaps. . .

Still, will most likely be quiet here at the Rim whilst I get involved in this mayhem for the third year in a row.  Ah, but the stories to be told later, such fun we’ll have.

“Space Internet” is Coming

Albuquerque Express – According to this linked article, NASA will have a viable “space internet” by 2011, which will allow for broadband access between planets, space stations, shuttles etc.   Sounds frivalous at first until you realize how much that kind of communication is a necessity for continued space exploration.

Which begs the question – how long before we get the first “Twitter From Mars”?  Sounds like a porn title, doesn’t it?  Or how long before an astronaut is busted for illegal file sharing (UFO – Unidentified Filesharing Object)?  Or the first Facebook break-up IN SPACE??

These are the things I think of when sitting on the toilet at 4am.

Thanks to my buddy Steve for submitting the article.

REVISION: PORN!  I totally forgot about that which the internet was created for. . . downloading PORN!  I’ll bet 50 bucks that a 10 year study in 2032 shows that 85% of internet bandwidth is used for I-Tunes 2020 and downloading porn!  Now I just hope to live long enough to see if I’m right. . . .

Ozzy Parts Ways with Zakk Wylde

I’m out of it for a few days and all hell breaks loose. KNAC.com is reporting that Ozzy is working on his new album SANS Zakk Wylde. That means, “without” for my more illiterate followers. Yep, it would seem that the Prince of Darkness thinks his songs with Zakk are all starting to sound too much like Black Label Society. Uhm, Ozzy – I have your last CD. A little Black Label wouldn’t exactly be a bad thing, mmk?

Well, maybe Zakk will tour more now, y’know? Oh, and John 5 (Marilyn Manson/Rob Zombie) is rumored to be a contender as Zakk’s replacement. I hope not, personally as I LOVE John 5 and would prefer to see him stay with Zombie. But that’s my own selfish wish.

Anyhow, it’s gonna be interesting, don’t ya’ know. . .

Woodstock Lovers. . . still together

woodstock

This is cool. If you don’t think so, well fuck you – it is. Said ‘Fuck You’ just cause my sis reads here sometimes and hates the profanity. 🙂 But I digress. . .

Remember the Woodstock album? Y’know, the FIRST non-corporate Woodstock? Yeah, that one. Well the lovers under a blanket from the album’s cover [above] are STILL TOGETHER 40 years later.  Heartwarming, eh?

You can read all about it at the NY Daily News. Peace.

Watching the Tribute to Michael Jackson

Y’know, when I was about six I wanted to be a member of the Jackson 5. Go ahead laugh but racial and familial difficulties aside, think about WHY that was? When I was six or so, you couldn’t turn on a radio or a TV and not hear either the Jackson 5 or the freakin’ Osmonds. Girls swooned whenever Michael Jackson was mentioned and everybody knew the lyrics to ‘ABC’ or ‘I Want You Back’.

Despite my more extreme musical tastes, I am still saddened by MJ’s passing and am watching the events of today with a strong sense of melancholy. Love him or hate him, he was an undeniable entity that forever changed the face of music & popular culture. He united fans of different races like few ever have, in part because he seemed to transcend any one group or one ethnicity. He was just Michael Jackson.

As a fan of music, ALL MUSIC, even I can appreciate that we as a people have just lost something special. For my entire waking life, there has always been Michael Jackson out there in the world – on the TV, the radio. Not anymore. From here on out, I go it alone. We ALL go it alone.

Anyhow, rest in piece Michael.

As an aside, Smokey Robinson is a VAMPIRE! That dude has not aged since he was like 30. If you ever want proof of the living dead, you have Keith Richards (zombies) and Smokey Robinson (vamps).