Repost Essentials: An Interview With Marshall Blonstein of Audio Fidelity

This is a repost of a 2004 interview with Marshall Blonstein of Audio Fidelity that commanded to be rerun.  With Audio Fidelity an even much bigger, more important entity than it was when the interview originally ran, the repost is a timely one with the company’s re-entry into SACD with the upcoming Counterparts (Rush), and Close To The Edge (Yes) classics.  And yes, we’re THAT excited.  I hope you enjoy it (forgive any cut ‘n’ paste errors in the formatting):
With his humble beginnings and his prominent forward movement in the music industry during Rock’s infancy and teen years on through to the present time, Blonstein continues to provide music lovers with the best he can offer in the best sound that he can provide.

Sound has always been foremost in the agenda of Marshall Blonstein and his various endeavors and accomplishments, which makes for fascinating and surprising reading. With Marshall‘s history and propensity for ‘the human touch’, it’s no surprise to us that success has virtually lived on his doorsteps. It’s Marshall‘s hard work and perserverence that provides the words that makes up this lengthy and revealing interview.

With stops at CBS, as Island Records‘ President, as co-founder of Ode Recordsand founder of DCC Records as well as his present venture, Audio FidelityMarshall has been there and done that.

Marshall Blonstein is not afraid to talk and even more willing to spend time to explain how the industry works. We, as consumers, think a magic wand gets waved and an SACD recording of our favourite artists ends up on store shelves months later. While many of us realize that conversion takes time, we may not realize that licensing is much more prickly and involves a ton of stipulations, many of them impossible to concede to. Marshall has graciously given up a lot of his time to explain many singular instances to me on the phone. And he doesn’t stop there. He is frequently in the forums of his website where many people congregate to suggest SACD conversions and he answers many of them if not all of them. Committment to fans and to a better product is what drive Marshall Blonstein.

We wish to thank Marshall Blonstein for his answers to our interview questions and for his constant accessibility. We hope that he’ll allow us the pleasure of such an interview in the future. But, even more, we hope that you’ll enjoy the interview.



MusicTAP (Matt Rowe): Marshall , the shadow that follows behind you stretches for years and has a strong stamp of innovation on it.  You’ve helped to advance the CD in its early years, worked at several great labels, co-founded Ode Records, and even serving as President of Island Records.  In addition, you have fostered the careers of many bands, helping to break historical albums such as Carole King’s Tapestry.  Can you elaborate on your career, perhaps provide deeper insights into your roles in all these things previously mentioned? And please, toot your horn..we want to know.

Marshall Blonstein (Audio Fidelity): I actually started with Dunhill Records in the stock room.  ABC bought Dunhill and the company became ABC Dunhill.  When the company was purchased I then became a local promotion man for ABC records.

MT:  Tell us about your involvement with ABC and Epic Records as Promotions Executive.

MB: While at ABC Dunhill I worked records by artists such as Mamas and the Papas, The Grass Roots, and Ray Charles. After several months in this position, a job opened up as Regional Promotion Director on the West Coast.   I was offered the job and accepted.   After several more months as a regional promotion director, CBS started a new division and began distributing small independent labels.  Some of these were Date, Ode and Immediate Records. I then accepted the position of West Coast Regional Manager for CBS Custom Labels.

MT: What notable albums and bands with both ABC and Epic Records have you nurtured?

MB:We had a great run of artists.  We worked with Peaches and Herb, Scott McKenzie, Spirit and The Small Faces, to name a few.  After several months I was then offered the position in Chicago as Regional Sales and Promotion Manager based in Chicago covering the Mid West. Soon after, I accepted a new position in New York as Head of Promotion for Epic and Custom Labels.  Then Epic Records and the custom label division joined forces.  While at Epic, I worked with such artists as Donovan, The Hollies and Sly & The Family Stone.

MT: Have you worked hard to break an act that you knew was extraordinary only to have them not catch the fancy of the public?  Can you give us a name of a band or someone from those years at ABC and Epic?

MB: As far as working a band or a record that I knew was going to be a hit, that occurred with  Carole King’s “Snow Queen”, which falls into that category perfectly.  This was off of her “Writer” album”, and I knew this was a sure hit.

I bugged the local radio stations week end and week out begging them to give this record a chance. Finally after months of this, the program director at KRLA looked out his window and pointed to a mountain and said when that mountain gets snow on it “I will play this record”.  Remember, we were inCalifornia but it was the winter so I had a shot.  About three weeks later the mountains in California had a freak snowstorm and I thought fate was with me, which was further proof that this was a hit record.  Well, KRLA played the record for two months, no sales, no phone requests, nothing!

MT: How is the public different now as opposed to the 60s, the 70s, 80s, 90s.  I’m more interested in the musical consciousness of the 60s and 70s vs today but I’m sure every decade has had its changes.

MB: The difference in the music business today as opposed to the 60’s and 70’s is that a handful of conglomerates now controls radio.  At one time each city had its own flavor.  You could be in Louisvilleand know that you were in Louisville by the sound of it’s radio stations.  Chicago , New York , L.A. ,Portland , Hartford … on and on.  They all had there own distinct sound that captured the feel of their town, their city.  Retail was the same way, the local buyers were just that, local buyers.  They knew and understood their city and their town better than anyone and worked hand and hand with the local radio stations.

Today you can be in any city listening to the radio and, other than the morning shows, they all sound the same.  There is little if any local programming.  Radio is now programmed out of one central area where one sound fits all.  With the advent of Wal-Mart, Best Buy, TransWorld, etc. there is very little local buying.  It is all bought out of one central location.

MT: In your estimation, which decade was the best in terms of music?

MB: To me, the best decades for music was the 60’s and 70’s.  There was the blending of R&B, Blues, Rock N’ Roll and Country.  This is when Rock N’ Roll came of age with an attitude and a style. The 60’s and 70’s took you from the hit 45’s to the albums…which were stories told by the artists.  This is when you could listen to a 10-minute version of a song on the radio.  This is when FM underground radio was born and it created a whole new genre of music and a new lifestyle was created.  The artists were free to be artists and creative and radio and retail were as free and creative as the artists. People are still trying to copy it today.  You could listen to the radio and hear Led Zeppelin followed by The Temptations followed by The Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa and  Otis Redding.

MT: Your years at Ode Records is of interest.  What was your job and/or involvement with this label?

MB: After a year at Epic, Lou Adler called to tell me that he was forming a new label called Ode 70 Records in California and asked that I join him in this new venture.   I moved back to California .  I moved from corporate life to the world of the independent…and haven’t left since. We started Ode records in 1970.  At the time it was just Lou Adler and myself and one assistant.  I had just moved back from New York and looked at this as a terrific opportunity.

Lou Adler was then, and is today, one of the most creative record executives the industry has ever had. Lou brought with him from Ode-CBS Carole King.  The new company was called Ode 70 Records.  For the first 9 months we couldn’t buy a hit, and then came Tapestry.  The world changed.  Not only for Lou and I but the industry and the world of music.  Tapestry was the first album to sell muti-platinum.  Carole was the first singer-songwriter, and a female, to put it all together… a true multi-million selling superstar. Prior to Carole selling multi-millions, gold was the highest designation for sales.  The platinum category was created because of Carole and Tapestry. The next act that fell into place for us was from far out of left field, Cheech and Chong.  Comedy on album had always been Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart, etc.  This was a something brand new.  We coined the phrase “hard rock comedy”.  That fit them perfectly.  To this day they are the only comedy group to ever have nine singles hit the Billboard Charts.  All of their albums went platinum.  Between Carole and Cheech and Chong we were on a roll.  Grammy’s for Carole King’s Tapestry were multiple and even Cheech and Chong were nominated for a Grammy for their first album. More success followed with Mary Clayton, David T. Walker and Tom Scott and the LA Express.  We expanded the company from three people, including Lou and myself, to seven. We were truly a boutique company.

A&M was our distributor; this was a relationship made in heaven.  Carole King continued to put out hit after hit and Cheech and Chong kept amazing everyone with their hit albums and selling out 10,000 seat arenas.  We also released the London Symphony Orchestra’s Tommy and we were the first company to have an album played in its entirety across the country on radio stations all at the same time, nine o’clockNew York time and six o’clock Los Angeles time. Just before we decided to move on from Ode we came up with the Rocky Horror Picture Show, a play that was successful in London that Lou brought to Los Angeles where it ran successfully for a year.  We then took it to Broadway where it failed and then, of course, the film was made…which initially failed also.  The movie later was to find new life at midnight shows near college campuses and would become the phenomena it is today…a cult classic.   Needless to say we sold a lot of these albums.

After nine years of incredible success, Lou wanted to move into movies and I wanted to stay in music, so we decided to sell the Carole King and Tom Scott catalog to Sony Music.  We then sold the Cheech and Chong catalog to Warner Bros and Ode kept the Rocky Horror Picture Show and all the other titles.  To this day the Rocky Horror Picture Show continues to be a huge seller.

MT: I remember as a young child of around 9, listening to a new talent by the name of Carole King.  Her Tapestry album embodies the spirit of the 60s and it was her ‘hip’ look that endeared me to more album oriented music.  Can you provide an anecdote or two from those years at Ode?

MBWhen Carole recorded Tapestry, listening in the studio we knew it was something very good.  We had no idea how good was good.  In order to help break the album, Lou had Carole go on tour with James Taylor as the opening act.  I went to radio and retail trying to get them to come see Carole…with not much interest until I told them Carole was opening for James.  Then they were interested.  From the time that Carole first walked out on stage the crowd was her’s.  By the end of the week’s engagement at the Troubadour, Carole was the star and people were begging for tickets to see her.  Same thing happened all around the country.  Carole was the opening act but by the end of these concerts, it was Carole and her songs from Tapestry everyone was talking about.  The next time Carole played the Troubadour, she was the headliner and there was a line around the block and I was a very popular guy at radio and retail.  There was something very special about Carole walking out, sitting down at a piano.  She became one of the most beautiful women in the world!  It was magic…it was Tapestry.

MT: Being installed as president of Island Records was an incredible step for you.  How did it impact you and the label’s direction?

MB: After Ode Records, I decided I wanted to move to London and represent American groups in Londonand European in groups in America .  I went over to Europe to start setting up my contacts and find a home for my wife and I.  My first meeting was with an Island Records rep that suggested I meet with Chris Blackwell in New York when I returned to the states.  After setting up my European contacts I flew back toNew York and met with Chris Blackwell, who offered me the position of  President of Island Records. I had always been a big admirer of Blackwell and Island Records and, as my wife wasn’t too eager to move toLondon , I accepted the presidency.

MT: Which acts did you introduce to the label?

MB:
 Island had always been known as the label of Bob Marley and Robert Palmer.  It was thought of as an album company. I had an eye to take the company in a more singles- oriented direction.  I wanted to maintain its integrity, respect and its independence as an artists label but at the same time I wanted to crash the single charts in order to generate broader sales.  We accomplished that with Robert Palmer “Bad Case Of Loving You ” and now Island had its first top ten single on the Billboard Charts.  We also scored with hits by a new artist named Charlie Dore with “Pilot Of  The Airways” as well as a singles chart success with Third World ‘s “Now That We Found Love” and, of course, Bob Marley and Steve Winwood.

MT: You took an even bigger step beginning an independent label that eventually garnered deserved praise and respect.  DCC Compact Discs was as innovative as it was essential.  Tell us about those years.

MB: After several years at Island I walked into a stereophile store and heard an incredibly clear sound called the compact disc.  I immediately bought a CD player and every CD they had at the time, which was only four or five mainly GRP records.  I was hooked!   I resigned my position at Island Records and started Dunhill Compact Classics, which was later to become DCC Compact Classics.  We changed the name from Dunhill Compact Classics to DCC Compact Classics because of a lawsuit with the Alfred Dunhill Company, which was primarily a cigarette and cigar company.  They claimed we were infringing on their copyright, which was untrue.  We were only about nine month’s into the company but had established a reputation for quality of sound and unique packages.

We were one of the fortunate early labels into CD as we were able to get CD pressings on a consistent basis.  At one point I had more CD pressings available to me then Capitol Records, who got into it late. With the lawsuit with Dunhill eating away at our financial resources and knowing that the European market would block us from using Dunhill we chose to change the name to DCC Compact Classics.  I am sure had the lawsuit proceeded we would have prevailed, but in the end and the long run we wound up prevailing anyway.

The 15 years I spent at DCC Compact Classics was filled with great music and great people.  From the inception of the company we were known as a label that would not compromise on the quality of sound.  If we couldn’t find the master tapes, whether it was a single or an album, we would not use them.  We were able to compete in the world of compilations with companies such as Rhino and at the same time be one of the leaders in the Audiophile market with our 24 KT Gold series and our 180+ virgin vinyl analog pressings.

I enjoyed every release that DCC put out…whether it was Toga Rock or Club Verboten and everything in between.  We always tried to put a theme to our compilation series, whether it was Too Cute, The Best of Tragedy, or Music For a Bachelor’s Den.  We were one of the first companies to use magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Omni, and Rolling Stone to create a musical series.  Our series on underground radio with Tom Donahue and Mitch Reid and then Wolf Man Jack were some of my favorites.  It was a joy to open up the ears of generations to these talents.

Our 24KT Gold series and 180+ Virgin Vinyl Analog are still the standard by which other audiophile titles are measured.  This is largely due to a guy who walked into my office one day and said “I can make all your music sound better”.  His name was Steve Hoffman and he is one of the most talented people I have ever had the pleasure of working with.  Steve always amazed me in that he could look at the color of a reel in a box and tell you what year the tape was from.

After 15 years at DCC, the company had evolved to more than just a music company but also an audio book company and camera company.  It was no longer the company I had founded in 1986.

MT: Heading into the present time, you find yourself at the helm of a new and exciting technology.  SACD is the basis of your latest venture, Audio Fidelity.  Why did you choose to produce DSD realm recordings?

MB: In 2002 I started Audio Fidelity.  After investigating the different formats I settled on SACD.  In some cases I like the sound of the multi channel but I always felt I wasn’t entitled to remix someone else’s work.  I always felt it was like taking a Monet and changing the colors of the painting to suit a new picture frame.  The SACD format allowed me to take music to new heights while staying in the two-channel format.  We chose hybrid SACD’s as we want our music to reach the broadest audience possible.

MT: Given your track record of foresight, do you see SACD becoming a de facto standard in the industry? Will they inevitably replace CDs or will they exist side by side?  Will the implementation of Hybrid be the logical answer or wiil they all co-exist side by side?

MB: 
 I feel that the audiophile format, and that’s what SACD or DVD-A is, will remain a niche market. When CD’s came along there hadn’t been a new format in 40 years.  The CD was completely different than the LP or the cassette.  It looked different, it felt different and sounded different.  The SACD and the DVD-A does have superior sound but it doesn’t look or feel different than the CD.  I doubt if the masses are willing to once again buy new equipment and once again get rid of their CDs to buy a new format because of a superior sound.  It is the audiophile that cares about a better sound and the audiophile is our niche market.

MT: At the present time, you only do Stereo SACDs.  Is this because you are a stereo purist and do not wish to subjectively move sound around or will you eventually embrace surround sound for your releases?

MB: If the opportunities were to come along and the multi-channel would be applicable I wouldn’t be opposed to it but I do prefer the simplicity and the superior sound of the SACD format.  All in all I feel very fortunate to have chosen music as my profession and a way of life.  If I were to die tomorrow and come back I would want to come back as a music man.

Review: Sounds That Can’t Be Made – Marillion

I have been a fan of Marillion since their first album in 1983.  Back in those days, Marillion rekindled interest in Progressive Rock, which had taken an unjust kick in the teeth from Disco, then Punk, then New Wave and the apparent revulsion for long songs and technical playing.  Sounding like a cross between early Genesis (mainly) and Van der Graaf Generator (some), they astounded the anti-intelligentsia by selling out concert venues all across Britain.  They were so popular that EMI signed them, released some singles, moved many copies of their albums, and gave rise to the new resurgence of Prog and opened doors for many Prog bands who today still owe them a debt for their current careers.  Though Marillion weren’t the only band at the time to reinvent Prog, they had a big label, tapping into music fans that were tired of three-chord rock.  (Hey, before I start getting hate mail, let me be clear that I love some Punk, New Wave, and Alternative bands – but I was angry that the other music I loved got suddenly thrown out with the leftovers by greedy record labels that needed to manufacture a new market).  Anyway, I digress.  Marillion lost their original lead singer and lyricist, Fish, after Clutching at Straws (1987).  At that point, Steve Hogarth stepped in.  Here’s where the changes began to take place in a big way.

Marillion from that point on began to evolve continually, creating Prog, true, but also delving into all kinds of music – from Electronica to Folk to Rock; from long concept pieces to short bursts of songs.  To hear them today, I don’t think you would easily classify them as Prog in the sense of the Genesis family – they are a modern sounding Rock band with elements of Porcupine Tree, Talk Talk, and other bands within that spectrum plus the coolness and catchiness of bands like the sadly missed Sad Cafe.  And here they are with their 17th album, and I have to say, it knocked me right over.  Even after all this time, they surprise me, involve me, and suck me into their particular style of powerful Rock music.

Sounds That Can’t Be Made is made up of 8 songs with a total running time of over 73 minutes.  Besides the occasional tasteful guitar solo or keyboard line, you will not hear any noodling about or long instrumental segments.  Marillion is about the song and the message firstly, and they use beautiful arrangements and soundscapes to tell their stories.  When you listen to Marillion, you should be prepared to immerse yourself as you would a Classical symphony – the fast sections, the quiet sections, the emotional, beautiful interludes, and the particular warm parts that make you hum along.  All the elements are there within a Rock format, so you get the best of both those worlds for your listening pleasure.

Marillion has had the same lineup since Hogarth (h) came in, and besides the lyrics, he is the lead singer who also plays keyboard parts and percussion.  Mark Kelly plays keys, Pete Trewavas (TransAtlantic) plays bass and contributes backing vocals, Steve Rothery plays guitars and the great Ian Mosley (Daryl Way’s Wolf, Steve Hackett) drums.  They all contribute to the compositions.  The CD comes with a nice little booklet with all lyrics and Hogarth’s notes about the opening track, Gaza.

So about the songs:

As I said, “Gaza” opens the album and is an electrifying seventeen and a half minutes – really a suite of sorts.  Steve Hogarth explains that he interviewed the people of Gaza, and has written about the plight of the Palestinians in a terrible situation.  The melody takes on a Middle Eastern flavour with very modern elements of heavy chording.  Through the course of the piece the music changes to reflect the quiet sorrow with his plaintive vocals (he has never sounded better) and can erupt on a dime into a pulsing, bass-driven riff.  The lyrics are not only gripping, but the music is very heavy to match.   It makes a statement about the band too; they have never rested on their laurels and still want to challenge you with their words and music.

“Sounds That Can’t Be Made”, at just over seven minutes, follows with an uplifting, beat-driven melody that brought me back to some of the ’80s beat bands and in particular the more Pop side of Talk Talk and features some really nice keyboard work and a hot recurring guitar line that brings the song to a major crescendo.

“Pour My Love” is a smooth, jazzy, almost Doobie Brothers-like catchy melody.  Steve Hogarth shows his wonderful range and soulfulness.  This song could have fit well on Mike and the Mechanics and comes in at just under 6 minutes.

“Power”, at just over six minutes, continues the same sort of music – but with a tougher edge and a larger vocal sound.  There is an element of desperation to the sound and the band really soars.

“Montreal” is another suite, coming in at fourteen minutes.  Observations about a flight from England to Canada, and observations once there and how they miss their loved ones and home.  Simple stuff, but beautifully told and played, it starts off with a slow, wistful melody.  Then about half way in, the music begins to expand and once again, the band’s penchant for memorable melodies hits you hard.

“Invisible Ink”, another nearly six minute track, is a soulful ballad with minimal instruments.  We hear Hogarth’s wonderful ability to go from his deeper tones to his high falsettos that always lend so much character to the songs.

“Lucky Man”, at nearly seven minutes, changes pace and is a straight ahead Rocker that incorporates a similar riff of The Beatles’ I Want You (She’s So Heavy).  It has that While My Guitar Gently Weeps kind of slow guitar lead and a building chorus that reminds me a lot of Spooky Tooth too.

The final track, “The Sky Above the Rain”, is over ten and a half minutes and begins with a lovely solo piano melody and Hogarth’s vocal with Rothery and the rest adding little bits in the background.  The song soon becomes more stark with key strings giving the overall piece a large and full sound.  It ends with Rothery playing through a Leslie amp – talk about nostalgic.  And the solo piano comes back quietly to end the album.

So there you have it.  This is not the Marillion you might remember all those years ago when Phil Collin’s said “they sound like us” (Genesis).  Marillion is a modern band with influences from the past for sure, but also with a unique sound and vision.  They have surged ahead against all fashion, created their own label, and raised money through fans to help with album production.  They are doing what Robert Fripp predicted way back in the ’80s with his “Drive to ‘85” and the coming of the independent music movement.  If you have dismissed them as being “not your style”, then you owe yourself to give them a chance with this wonderful album.

They just might surprise you.

Release Date: October 2, 2012
Website 

— Bob Metcalf

 

TAPSheet: Release Notes – 11/28/2012 (US Report)

Rhino Records have two slated ‘best of’ collections on the calendar for January 22 featuring the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.  The two titles are Gold Vault of Hits, and Second Vault of Golden Hits.

Concord Records will release As Time Goes By: Great American Songbook Classics featuring music from Tony Bennett.  The album is planned for February 5.

Vagrant Records will release a 2CD Deluxe Edition of Wonderful, Glorious by The Eels on February 5.

Columbia Records plan to release the vinyl version of Live At River Plate by AC/DC on December 11.  Other vinyl discs scheduled are Bad (25th Anniversary) by Michael Jackson (January 8), Cheap Thrills by Janis Joplin (January 8), and Screaming For Vengeance (30th Anniversary Edition) by Judas Priest (January 8).

Chimera Music will release Alter Egos by Sean Lennon on January 15.

Mobile Fidelity will reissue Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis on vinyl LP on February 5.

Silvertone schedules Live at Legends featuring Buddy Guy for December 18.

Century Media have Target Earth from Voivod scheduled for January 22.

Artists Intelligence will release Landed from Can on January 8.

Plastic Head Distribution plan Limited Edition vinyl LPs for seven Saxon titles that include Denim and Leather; Innocence Is No Excuse; Power and The Glory; Rock the Nations; Crusader; Wheels Of Steel; and Strong Arm Of The Law.  All LPs are planned for January 8.

Also on January 8 (via Plastic Head) are vinyl LP editions of The Least We Can Do Is Wave; H To He Who Am The Only One; and Godbluff, all from Van der Graaf Generator.

Misfits Records will release De A.D. Alive from Misfits on CD and Vinyl scheduled for January 22.

 

The Art of The Selection

Taking yesterday’s discussion down another route, I’m now interested in the psychology of a completist’s nature especially if an album was marginally interesting.  The listings were fascinating.  But it didn’t stop me from thinking, “what if an album was horrible”?

I am a big, BIG, Wishbone Ash, especially of the Mark I version with Ted Turner.  I find Wishbone Four to be an extraordinary album, highly under appreciated.  It is unfairly blasted for being a mile away from its predecessor, Argus, when everyone wanted Argus II.  But Wishbone Ash did eventually sour for me.  While I did enjoy Number The Brave, it was not a favorite.  But even it was classic in comparison to Twin Engines Burning, or even Raw To The Bone, both which I could not listen to, they were so awful.  Today?  Easy. Those albums are NOT in my collection.  Nor do they ever tempt me to say, “what the hell.  Wishbone Ash”, then pick them up for the sake of completion.

On the opposite side, there isn’t a Pink Floyd album I don’t have because they are all excellent (I’m talking Waters era).  Even The Final Cut, another under appreciated album.  King Crimson.  If they created a bad album, then it needs to be pointed out to me.  Talking Heads.  Joni Mitchell.  Hundreds  more.  Many that are just simply great works of varying degrees, but completely desireable.

Sometimes I find early albums leading to a favored period unlistenable.  The Beatles (for me) fall into this category.  (Sorry Beatles fans.)  Sometimes its the insufferable latter stage of a band, or artist’s life.  Bruce Springsteen falls into this category for me.

Lots to discuss here but now, after naming loved bands, do you have orders of preference, or does every album do it fairly easily, listenable at any time, and in any order?  Or are there albums, while acquired, just really suck and never get played?

It’s ok to let it out.  Maybe even therapeutic!

What Kind Of Music Fan Are You?

Our love of music runs on several tracks.  On the one track, we dig a collection of songs and popular albums from known (or obscure) bands and artists.   Those fascinating songs and albums likely make up the bulk of our collected music.  The first album by Boston, one or two Green Day albums, and a bunch of iPod-filling tracks from a wide selection of interests represent these tunes.

But there are bands and artists that we simply cannot get enough of.  We have everything recorded by them.  Some of us have every Led Zeppelin album released.  Some of us have all of The Beatles albums, or The Rolling Stones works.

In the later years of the ’70s, on through to the first half of the ’80s, many bands not only released their LP issues, but they often went a step further by releasing non-LP songs, remixes, and special issue 12″ singles, cassettes, and EPs.

The question today is this: out of your entire collection, are there bands and artists that got your royal treatment, where you collected everything released by them or for them?  If you were an ELO fan, do you have all of their albums?  Porcupine Tree?  Led Zeppelin?  The Jam?  The Beatles?

Tell us!  And if you’re more a collector of just favorite albums and popular songs, tell us that too.

TAPSheet: Release Notes – 11/22/2012 (US Report)

Legacy Recordings will release vinyl for The Fabulous Johnny Cash on January 8.  They will also release vinyl for Miles Ahead; Porgy and Bess; and the great Sketches of Spain, all three from Miles Davis, same date.

Epic Records have listed Stray Arrows: A Collection of Favorites from Chevelle as being on the calendar for December 4.

Epic Records and Immortal Records will issue vinyl LP for Incubus titles that include A Crow Left Of The Murder…; Light Grenades; Make Yourself; Morning View; and S.C.I.E,N.C.E., all on January 8.

The End Records will release a Premium Edition of Straight Out Of Hell by Helloween, on January 22.

Reprise Records will release All That Echoes, the new album from Josh Groban, on February 5.

Blue Note Records will release My True Story from Aaron Neville on January 22.

RED will release Transition by Steve Lukather on January 22.

Vinyl is forthcoming from The Walkmen of Bows+Arrows on January 22.

And finally, an LP Expanded Edition of Strangers In The Night from UFO is expected on February 5.

Happy Thanksgiving To TAP Readers Everywhere!!!

I have great hope that you will all enjoy the remaining days of 2012 (which have slipped by so amazingly fast).  As well, I wish that you will have all of the promises of the upcoming year of 2013, which, like this year, will move on fast rails.  It’s a part of life.  Maybe the days really ARE that fast, and we spend far too much time paying attention to the hours that “mark” our ‘time-space’.  Instead, perhaps we should pay less attention to the actual time and just view our existence as one large span of life.  It’s a good pledge for the upcoming year.

In the meantime, I’m thankful for the readers of TAP, who take time out of their ‘time-space’ (see, I’m working toward that suggested concept already), and read a bit of my awful ramblings, take part in a robust community of fans, and to learn a little about meaningful new releases.  Every once in a while, I mean to give you a lead-in to an exciting new band.

I also would love to thank you for the opportunities to learn new behaviors in my life.  For example, I have decided to revisit those bands that I’ve paid little attention to (or none at all) back in my younger years.  God knows that there were a wealth of music, much of which was impossible for me to have heard everything, much less collect album releases (and other collectibles).  For decades, it was was need to keep fresh that made me concentrate heavily on new bands.  Eventually, I found, that while some of them are extraordinary, there are more bands from the past with far more satisfaction than many newer bands could award me with.

As such, I have begun to heavily split my time toward finding and reuniting with earlier bands and artists.  Re-collecting LPs have become a new passion of mine; my goal to regain as much of my old collection as I possibly can.

I’m thankful that you have bestowed a trust on me to make me a part of your routine.

I’m thankful that you enjoy meaningful lives away from TAP with families, jobs, and music (and books, and film too)!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving.  I will be back after the holiday!

Oh yeah, that Dan Fogelberg Netherlands cover shot?  It’s what I’m listening to quite heavily at the moment. i’ve always been a fan and find this album to be his pinnacle of perfection.  If you’re so inclined, and you are a Fogelberg fan, which of his albums is the best of his career?

Night, all!

TAPSheet: Release Notes (And More) – 11/21/2012 (US Report)

Before I kick in with the release news (what little there may be; holidays y’know), I have a few pieces to give up.  The first is the small article in Prog Magazine, where Steve Howe says that he doesn’t see a new Yes release in the future, a place many of us were hoping would see a reconciliation Yes album that featured principle collaborators, Howe, and Jon Anderson.  In fact, that bit of news is so sad that I sort of view it as a death in the family, as it were.

I always sort of had a feeling that the band would drop the bad feelings and reunite, perhaps giving another  – and final – Yes album that might please us as a good sign-off.

In the article, Steve Howe, acknowledges the greatness of Close To The Edge, admitting that the likelihood of another classic coming from them of that ilk would be slim indeed.  While I may agree with that, I’d like to hear the attempt.  Yes, this little piece reflects the sad part of me.  I just hope that they get back together (where they belong), and move forward.

{sigh}

The second preface to this set of release news include a better run-down of the upcoming Rush Anniversary set of 2112:

The three configurations of 2112 will include two 2-disc Deluxe Editions with CD/DVD, and CD/BD, and a Super Deluxe Edition, which will contain CD/Blu-ray (BD)/and a hardbound book casing.

The album will be remastered with the CD adding in three live bonus tracks (“Overture”; “The Temples of Syrinx”, both from the Northland Coliseum, Edmonton, AB – June 25, 1981 show, and “A Passage To Bangkok” from the Manchester Apollo, Manchester, England – June 17, 1980 show.  The included DVD (or BD) will offer 5.1 Surround audio mix of 2112 in 48kHz /24-bit Dolby Digital for DVD video players, and a higher resolution  96kHz / 24-bit PCM Stereo for DVD-Audio machines, and a 48kHz / 24-bit Dolby Digital Stereo mix for standard DVD machines.

The Deluxe Editions will add in a booklet with photos, liner notes from David Fricke, and more.  But the Super Deluxe Edition will contain a hardbound book with a 40-page comic that represents the songs on 2112 along with 24-pages of Rush goodies (photos, memorabilia, notes).

And now:

Warner Brothers will issue vinyl and CD for Heartthrob by Tegan and Sara, scheduled for January 29.

Atlantic Records plan CD and LP for Wolf’s Law from The Joy Formidable, both on the calendar for January 22.

Word has Only A Mountain coming from Jason Castro on January 15.

Time/Life will issue The Greatest Hits Live, Volume 1 featuring Hank Williams, planned for January 15.

Reprise has listed an LP version of Koi No Yokan by Deftones on January 8.

Legacy Recordings will issue a 3CD/1DVD Box featuring Miles Davis in their ongoing – and excellent – revitalization of Davis’ legacy, called Live In Europe 1969.  It is scheduled for January 29.

429 Records will release No Fairy Tale by Lisa Loeb on February 5.

Iconoclassic Records will reissue For Earth Below by Robin Trower in time for the holidays on December 18.

And Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs will reissue Floodland from The Sisters of Mercy in a Limited Edition remaster scheduled for January 29.

80s Bands I’ve Never Heard Of

The 80s were incredibly rich in bands.

In a time where independent labels were gaining a foothold into the tightened world of the big labels, uncountable bands were making inroads to some kind of popularity.  Many became big hits, but many more achieved only a kind of cult importance.  IF some were lucky, they had a hit however minor it was.  But even a minor hit was enough to catch the ear of a decided group of fans that would follow and collect everything those bands created.

The ’80s were era to not only the various – but RICH, styles of new wave, rock, and pop, but it also was an incubator for the so-called hair metal bands, of which there are many.

Throwing some names out there like The Church, Half-Church, Lene Lovich, BoDeans, Bauhaus, and Contraband (just to name a few, very few examples).

And, quite frankly, this weak and short piece does absolutely ZERO justice to the subject that I’m trying to lay out here.  However, it’s not a piece on the history of the ’80s that I’m trying to compile here.  No, I’m merely trying to bring some interesting remembrances to the community at large here, and to be brought to mind again – or surprised by – band that I have merely heard of or never heard of before.

So, let’s give this one over to you folks.  In short, give us lists of the ’80s bands that I’ve – or many of us – may never have heard of.

Your turn.

(I’m quite sorry for the brevity of this post.  Actually, I could have written something quite fun to read.  Maybe in the near future.)

Yes, Rush, SACDs, Audio Fidelity…It’s All Great News

Apologies, especially to all those who HAVEN’T heard this great news yet.  I did know about this Friday, but was traveling and so was unable to post an announcement.  But, if you don’t know yet, and the above title makes you take extreme notice, then read on.

The first, and certainly impressive and newsworthy statement, is that Audio Fidelity, a label owned by the great Marshall Blonstein (Ode Records, DCC, Island Records) have decided that a return to the niche market of SACD is the right idea in a good time.  (We think so too!)

With their signature packaging applied, they have reached deep into the great titles vault, and emerged with two that will catch your attention.  I’m especially excited about one of the titles.

With actual releases dates not yet known, Audio Fidelity will be releasing the coveted reissue of Close To The Edge by YES, as well as Counterparts by Rush.

Yes, this is surely a great time.  I have waited an exceptionally long time since the long ago announcement that the title would be released on DVD-Audio (like other ill-fated announcements – 5D by Byrds, Rocks by Aerosmith, and others).  But now…

Get ready!