September 19, 2008


When XM Satellite Radio started back in 2001, closely followed by Sirius Satellite (2002), neither had an inkling of a thought that they would be joining forces to help solidify a slacking market in the face of a melting economy.  Both companies offered a wide variety of stations that ranged from moderately sized sets of music playlists to specialized music and talk channels.  One of the best of those is the Little Steven Underground Garage with its stated intent to revisit obscure classics and to introduce music from the promising bands trying to find a future.  In addition, each company offers live on-air concerts that many times have been transitioned into purchasable CDs from bands.  In short, the makings of two great subscription radios entities were in full stride.

Interest in the two companies rose, although not dramatically but enough to define territories between the two and keep things competitive.  But in 2008, both companies are clasping hands as they drop from their before-attained heights, hoping to survive and become a singular force in radio.  The arguments have swirled around whether either could hold on in tough times.

Well, we’re in those tough times.  While I don’t know the actual numbers of active subscribers either companies have, I hold hope that their combining will give them the fiscal strength they need to carry on as an alternative to terrestrial radio.  On the bad side, the company is expected to pay on $300 million dollars of debt in early 2009 but has stated that they currently lack the funds to do so.  The hope is that the newly merged company can find a way to alleviate that debt.  Unfortunately, that might mean charging more, a fear that this merger spelled out to opponents of the deal before the merger was approved.

 I’d love to see satellite radio survive.  With excellent leadership, brilliant ideas, and a commitment to current and future subscribers to make a radio that subscribers want, I believe that it can thrive.  Here’s my two bits:

A streamlined channel smorgasbord of music, sports, talk, specialized content, weather, and traffic should continue to make it an attractive spinning wheel of content. Winnowing current channels from both brands to create that single network of compelling programming can help to reduce the expenses required and make this offering a ‘must have’ radio experience.  Further brainstorming ideas should create better music-related channels that are all encompassing. 

I’d love to see channel innovations such as an a la carte selection of popular city stations.  Sirius XM could contract with literally hundreds of stations around the world and funnel them to desiring listeners. For example, Sirius XM could offer me a chance to add WXRT-FM or WLS-AM Talk from Chicago for a small extra fee.  Driving and listening to WXRT in LA would make me feel like I’m “home” and for that the extra fee would be worth it.

However, I also feel that the company needs to innovate further their receiving radios to technologically gain more serious traction.  A completely portable unit needs to be designed that will not only make the jump from house to car, but could also be carried anywhere one can walk or travel independently of a need for a connected base.  This new radio would have to be iPod-sized and therefore, antenna reception would have to be improved upon to avoid cut-outs. 

And what about deals with cell-phone companies to stream all content through enabled phones?

If satellite radio is to survive, it must be mobile, compact, fun to listen to, and absolutely compelling.  Sirius XM’s CEO, Mel Karmazin, has strong responsibilities to be attentive to.  He must be fully committed for the company to survive.  He has my support.

I ran across something interesting on the internet, one of my YouTube excursions. As you all know, Yes is determined to go out on the road despite the fact that Jon Anderson is unable to participate due to health reasons. Even Rick Wakeman has bowed out citing the dangerous unsustainable level of touring activity. Squire and the boys has scoured the internet a la Journey and has found a replacement singer for Jon Anderson. And like the singer (Arnel Pineda) for Journey, this guy has an eerie vocal similarity. I'm posting this YouTube video for you so you can get an idea of the change that is coming. Good luck to not only Yes and new singer originally from a Yes tribute band, Benoit David (I'm super impressed), but also to Jon Anderson.


Video Two
Video Three

We'd like to take a brief moment here to mourn the passing of noted Motown producer and songwriter ("Ball of Confusion," "War," "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)," and "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," among other co-written classics), Norman Whitfield. His contributions are immortal and will forever be mourned in the annals of great R&B classics. We wish you the best of journeys, Mr Whitfield. That Great Band is going to be unreal!! Help take care of 'em!

Norman Whitfield

We updated our reviews with two more, these of the Blues genre. They are reviews of One Kind Favor by B. B. King, and The Blues Rolls On by Elvin Bishop.

Back in May of this year, we had reviewed an album that we liked pretty well. It was Keep Color by The Republic Tigers. For those that have iPods, you can go to the iTunes Store and download a free single from that album. For a look at the review, just click on the Keep Color link found above. Enjoy!

We will continue to provide you an opportunity to vote on the Black Sabbath ‘Best Album’ poll, results which will be posted on Monday, September 22.

We'll see you Monday with some fun stuff.

If you have missed the last As The Disc Spins (updated), check it out here.

To access the previous site and catch up, click here.






Lovespirals has released a DD 9-track remix EP called This Truth that features Lovespirals "This Truth" song remixed by various artists. It can be downloaded at iTunes or the band's website.

Decca Records will release the new Boz Scaggs disc called Speak Low on October 28.

Rhino Records will issue vinyl for the previously released Stephen Stills album, Just Roll Tape on November 11.

Time/Life will release a DVD of Manhattan Transfer 35th Anniversary for the popular band, The Manhattan Transfer.  This DVD is expected to street on November 11.

Watch for a 4CD Box called Packaged Goods Collector’s Edition from Sevendust that is expected on November 4.

RoadRunner Records will release a 2LP set for Cradle of Filth called Godspeed on the Devil’s Thunder.  This LP is planned for October 28.  There will also be a CD and a 2CD Special Edition of this title available on the same date.

RoadRunner Records will also release a CD/DVD Special Edition of The Blackening from Machine Head.  This is planned for October 28.

Warner Bros have a few Metallica vinyl LP configurations for you.  On October 28, they will reissue the band’s popular …And Justice for All in a 2LP set and a 180g 4LP set for a 45RPM Limited Edition.  Nice!  The former LP set retails for $21.98 while the latter 4LP set is planned for retail at $54.98.  Line up…

Rhino Records plan a Ry Cooder collection called The Ry Cooder Anthology: The UFO Has Landed.  This album will be released on October 28.

Flashback Records have a whole new selections of barebones re-releases of titles from the following artists with titles in parentheses: Blackfoot (Tomcattin’); Carly Simon (Come Upstairs); Devo (Greatest Misses); George Carlin (FM and AM/Jammin’ in New York); Ratt (Reach for the Sky); Skid Row (Slave to the Grind); Dokken (Tooth and Nail); Joe Walsh (The Confessor); and The Pretenders (Isle of View).  All of these Flashback titles will retail at $5.99 and will be made available on October 28.

Rhino Records will reissue Number Ones from the Bee Gees, planning the album for October 28.

Nonesuch Records will release Buena Vista Social Club at Carnegie Hall by Buena Vista Social Club in a 2CD set planned for October 14.

Watch for a 2CD ‘best of’ from War called Greatest Hits Live.  This will be released on October 14.

Angel Records will release A Winter Symphony by Sarah Brightman on November 4.

I Am Alphamega, originally planned for release on October 14 is now being moved to the beginning of next year.  The new date for this album by Alfamega is now being planned for January.




Review - B.B. King - One Kind Favor - CD

B.B. King, who at age 83, is STILL pumping out the greatest of Blues music. On his newest effort, One Kind Favor, he nails one of the best of his long career.


Review - Elvin Bishop - The Blues Rolls On - CD

The blues is second nature to Elvin Bishop who has played it virtually all of his life. The Blues Rolls On, his latest album, is a continuation of that journey.


Review - Al Stewart - Sparks of Ancient Light - CD

Al Stewart has been in the business of music for many years. At a point, he was as popular as you could get with his spectacular Year of the Cat album. His newest, Sparks of Ancient Light does a magnificent job of traveling those same pathways.







Copyright 2002-2008 Matthew Rowe.
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212 Frech

"Even though most of the people I knew in my youth are gone, I still reach out to them..." Norman Maclean - Paraphrase

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