Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When there's Ke$ha, Always Embed the Video


It doesn't even have to be funny. Just enjoy.

Robyn Hitchcock Invisible Hitchcock Covers





Compilations and rarities and releases that are created with an ad hoc sort of mentality have always appealed to me. One of my favorite releases of all time is the original Glass Fish label release of Invisible Hitchcock.

I found it at a record store somewhere in Minneapolis about as long ago as I can probably safely recall. It was the late 1980s. Each purchase was carefully considered and quite dear. A few misses, but a lot of hits that I still have. Is this completely and utterly out of print and forgotten? It should not be.

Embedded somewhere on this disc is an early performance of the Screaming Blue Messiahs, backing up Hitchcock. Virtually all of these tracks are weird, but wonderfully so, and they possess magical properties. Recorded in small studios with virtually no money across the years throughout parts of England, these tracks were cobbled together by the label and released into the world with careful liner notes.

It's too bad that the use of lightly colored text on a light background makes them hard to read. The interior credits weren't even worth scanning--it would tax your eyes to try to read them. Suffice it to say, they are worth reading, just not worth reproducing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pixar's Brave has a Trailer


I have to say that, of all the films coming out, I have a lot more enthusiasm for this film than for the planned sequels that Pixar and Disney are lining up. It looks like they are spending a fortune on this one, and I'm glad that they are willing to make that kind of investment for what I hope is a new story.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A note about MP3 files


I cannot ever see myself posting MP3 files, so I apologize if you clicked over and came looking for a quick download. I don't mind telling you that the two sides of that whole argument are fairly well stated elsewhere, and I don't need to revisit the debate. Yes, stealing is wrong. Downloading MP3s that are not lossless in order to "sample" music helps improve sales. I get all of that.

For numerous reasons, I debated using scans of other people's artwork. My intention is not to "rob" them or deny them anything. I think that by scanning and commenting on what people have done, I am providing context and getting some fair use out of what they have done (and I think praise and giving people credit is vitally important). Where I can, I will always try to cite and list who does what and why I think it's important to note what's going on with this site. Comments are wonderful and lovely and all that, and I will respond quickly to any concerns, ethical or artistic or otherwise.

I think that the overall intention was to find the things that relate to music and marketing and put them in one place and give them a good airing out. The spark was the inspiration of the song and the single "The Killing Moon" and continuing from there has brought enormous success to this site--more than I ever would have imagined. I have to take a deep breath and thank everyone for coming. It's been a great run and I'm excited about adding more stuff.

I have to branch out and begin incorporating fashion and video and other kinds of commentary and content. My own recollections are just not complete enough and my own CD collection isn't complete by any stretch of the imagination. Every day, my collection ages and I am not adding titles. I just don't buy music anymore, and that troubles me a great deal. I say on one hand to support the artists but, on the other hand, I just don't have the bug to expand what it is I have. I am hoping to find a reason to start buying music again. That's the toughest part of this blog--admitting that I just can't get excited about new artists.

Ideally, this would be a group blog and it would be a project for a community. Until that happens (and I doubt that it will go that far), I have to note the success I've had and declare fully my intention to try to improve and do better by the stuff that's already sitting in the archives. It's time for more context, more design, and more of what really interests me, which is the history of trying to get people to pay money for something they haven't heard based on the packaging that it comes in. I am hoping that this will lead me to find new artists and support them.

That's why I have to add this disclaimer--the actual, physical music made by the artists isn't going to appear in the posts. It isn't going to be made available on this blog or on a downloading service--you need to support the artists and go buy their music. I think it's interesting to look at the design, the art, and the marketing of music, but the actual product is something that has to be acquired through a method that actually supports the artist and lets them continue to do what they're doing. Give the artists your money. Support them however you can.

The music business has changed so dramatically in the last few years. I do not want to be a party to anything that denies badly needed compensation to artists who make music. I just don't believe in that sort of thing. By the same token, I can't continue to tell people to support musical artists without actually supporting them myself.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Arctic Monkeys Suck it and See Covers



Sorry for the blurry images--this is all there is. That's it. Minimalism. Arctic Monkeys have a new disc out and it's called Suck it and See. And that's the cover, and the back of the cover, and that's all you get.

Does it work? Right idea, wrong font? If you're going to go minimalistic, why not use a handwritten cover and print out the words "suck it and see?"

And, no. There's not period at the end. That would make it a statement, I suppose, and a proper sentence, rather than a title. If you put a period at the end, would that change it, as far as titles go?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Verve All in the Mind EP


When Verve put out the All in the Mind single (I should really call it an EP because of the importance of the songs here), it was as if the whole flaccid music scene of the early 1990s needed to be blown up. And Verve blew through it without a care in the world.

A better song than U2 could have done, All in the Mind hits with the kind of mastery no one was attempting at the time. One Way to Go and Man Called Sun are two of the greatest B-sides ever. You could rotate them around and any one of these tracks could have led off the EP.

I love the design, and the feel of this sleeve. I think the text disappears at the bottom, but the rest of the sleeve is so well done.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

1980 Forward 4AD Compilation



Pretty much everything you will see from the 4AD record label is exceptionally well designed and thought out, and this simple compilation is no surprise whatsoever. I love the labeling done with the circles on the face of the CD itself. I think that this is exactly the sort of thing that should be celebrated when it comes to design smarts and things like this. It's no throwaway. This is really special stuff.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Julian Cope Fried Covers










If you feel like climbing upon a mountain of weird, take Julian Cope with you. It'll make the journey all that much more of a joy.

This, the second solo album from Julian Cope, is a miracle of sounds. The format of rock and roll and popular music has never been up to date enough for Cope, and so he has made his own genre and created his own place in music. This album is just one of the many stops along the way. Who else was making music like this in 1984? No one anyone has ever heard of. There was Cope and everyone else. To hell with commercialism--Sunspots and Reynard the Fox are singles of note. But everything on here rings true and defies convention.

There was a bit of glee when Cope donned the turtle shell (and, even recorded himself singing in it, later calling those vocals "crap"), and then proceeded to allow himself to be photographed in it. If he'd donned his leather pants, and worn them for the cover (as he would do several years later when it came time to release his more commercially-accessible, but nevertheless, brilliantly executed Saint Julian album), it wouldn't have worked. Without the turtle shell, you can't experience the whole album. The two go hand in hand.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Seahorses Love is the Law Promo Single




The Seahorses were a band with great promise that lasted all too briefly. Formed in the wake of the slow demise of the Stone Roses by John Squire, the band exploded onto the late 1990s scene in Great Britain. Their performance on Jools Holland was legendary and their Love is the Law single is one of the all-time greatest guitar solo singles.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Bizarre Plot to Murder Joss Stone


This is one of the scariest things you're going to read about a celebrity:
Two men armed with swords have been arrested in connection with an alleged plot to rob and kill British singer Joss Stone, according to reports.
Citing sources, Sky News said the suspects were found with rope and a body bag when they were stopped near her home in Cullompton, England, on Monday morning.
Devon and Cornwall Police Detective Inspector Steve Parker said: "The two men in custody had in their possession information relating to an individual in the Cullompton area and items which lead us to suspect that they may have intended to commit a criminal offence."
Sky News reported that the suspects — aged 33 and 30 — were carrying maps and aerial photos of Stone's property.
This comes from the British news media, so excuse the spellings and whatnot. Doesn't that just sound like the craziest thing ever? They're caught with swords and a map of how to get to her home and I just can't even being to imagine how frightening this must be for this young woman.

The next time you see a celebrity with a security person, or with a huge fence around their property, or using a private jet in order to avoid the general public, think of this story and then try not to judge them.

How utterly, utterly awful.

Here's more:
Two men have been charged over an alleged plot to target soul singer Joss Stone, police in southwest England said on Wednesday.

Devon and Cornwall Police were alerted by suspicious locals and arrested the pair near Stone's home in the town of Cullompton, in the county of Devon, on Monday morning.
The men, Junior Bradshaw, 30, and Kevin Liverpool, 33, both from the northern English city of Manchester, were charged with conspiracy to rob and conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm. They will appear at Exeter Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Peter Hook Opens Up


I don't know if this will settle anything, or reopen old wounds, but Peter Hook has spoken out in the Guardian about the loss of Ian Curtis:
We didn't have much money; we weren't eating properly and couldn't afford to drink. We played three nights at the Moonlight club in West Hampstead and supported the Stranglers at the Rainbow – four gigs in three days. Ian's illness was getting worse and we didn't help him, through ignorance really. But also, Ian was his own worst enemy – he never wanted to upset you, so he'd tell you what you wanted to hear. So we never knew what he was suffering or thinking.
He made two unsuccessful attempts. First, when he was really drunk, he self-harmed – chopped himself up with a kitchen knife, which I think was an Iggy Pop moment out of sheer frustration. Then he took an overdose. Tony Wilson, the boss of our label, Factory Records, brought him to rehearsal – straight from the hospital, I think. We'd ask: "Is everything all right, mate?" and he'd reply: "Yeah, fine, let's carry on." As an adult and a father now, I feel guiltier than I ever did then. If that had been my son, I'd have gone round there and headbutted Rob Gretton, our manager, and taken him home. But there were doctors, consultants, psychiatrists, and not one of them was able to sort it out. Unbelievable.
Rob had booked a gig in Bury. Ian decided he couldn't do it, but for some insane reason he was delivered to the gig, even though we'd arranged for Simon Topping and Alan Hempsall to stand in for him. Ian insisted on doing a couple of songs, and when he couldn't do any more the audience rioted. That destroyed him. Then our last gig in Birmingham was a grim affair. Ian's illness was dragging the whole thing down, but we'd spent three years going from playing to no people in Oldham to being revered. It was what he'd fought for all his life. None of us wanted to let it go. We all felt that if we stopped we might never get it again.
At some point, Hook might need to reconcile with his former New Order bandmates. Let's hope that this article of his opens up some channels of communication, rather than closes them.
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Morrissey Has a Cat on His Head


I saw this last week when I was on my tumblr account, and, naturally, I thought it was fake. Apparently, it's a real photo.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Girl and a Fender Bass


This is one of the most interesting photos I have seen in a great long while. I found it on internet k-hole, and it's one of those classic early 1990s (I'm guessing) photos that really intrigues me.

If I had to pick a word that fits, I would say, "musician." It doesn't matter if she can actually play. She's playing the Fender Bass and she's trying to become a working musician. I can honestly say that I just love music, and I don't care who plays it. I don't care what she looks like--she looks like she gives a shit about what she's doing. She's not a poseur. She has a look that goes with her instrument and it's natural on her.

I don't know who she is (it would be great to get a name and face and find out if she had a career of some kind, modest or otherwise) but she cares about what she's doing. She looks like she plays the kind of music that I would have listened to back in the early 1990s and that's the stuff I listen to today.

This is as good of a reason as any to do a blog about music that doesn't give away someone's music for free. There's more going on in this photo than my lame essay can capture. This is just a brief stop on the way to where I wanted to take this blog, and thanks for sticking with me.
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Rachel Goswell Promotional Photos




These are wonderful. Would that every artist could get something of this kind of high quality together.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Mother Thought They Were Trouble Shoes




A wonderful little piece of New Romantics history, featuring a lot of Duran Duran and little bit of Ultravox.

I am not a huge fan of this movement, but it touched off several other reactions, most notably, in Manchester, which is sort of the home and heart of the music I have always listened to. The Factory movement out of Manchester may get more press, but Duran Duran certainly sold more records.

Echo and the Bunnymen Poster for the Royal Albert Hall

I love this poster. Back in 2008, the Bunnymen performed their Ocean Rain album, with an orchestra, and they did it at the Royal Albert Hall. I have the audio recording of this show, and it was very well done. The intimacy of that album is difficult to describe. Much of it sounds exactly like you would think it would sound--seated string musicians on folding chairs in a big room, all of it lovingly played and immaculately executed.

Ocean Rain is a masterpiece. What do you have from 1984 that rivals it?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mojave 3 Puzzles Like You Digipack Covers







This is a wonderfully packaged album from Mojave 3 called Puzzles Like You. All of the Mojave 3 releases that I have are a treat to behold. This one is a fantastic example as to why their stuff is special.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Church Pangaea EP Covers





This beautiful packaging comes from a collaboration between Tiare Helberg (a significant recording artist in her own right) and Rachel Gutek at guppyart.com. Has it been two years since I picked this up in Annapolis, Maryland, just before the Church put on a masterful show? What memories. If you're going to support live music, please, if you can. Always budget in an extra twenty or thirty dollars, if not more, that you can spend at the door on merchandise for the artist. That goes a long way to keeping them on the road in comfort and it goes a lot further for the artist, I would hope, in placing money in their pockets for the music they have made.

I have added guppyart.com to my list of links, and I hope to be able to study more of what they have put out. Rachel Gutek has done some masterful work.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Darling Buds Various Covers




Various covers and releases by The Darling Buds. The use of their "big blue splotchy" flower motif and what looks like a kind of flattened jellyfish shows up across these records. I love the vinyl pressing of this with the single small hole in the middle--very indie. Someone named Lance caught Andrea's eye, apparently.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Refo:mation Covers






So far, this is still just a one-off project from The Church. At this stage of the game, why dilute the brand and take a chance on having numerous fans miss this project?

I have been a Church fan for decades (beginning in 1985) and I missed this project, which was released during their somewhat fallow period before roaring back to life with Hologram of Baal in the late 1990s.

This is one of those brilliantly executed packages, much better than the Radiohead version of computer madness stamped all over grainy color photos. Given the limits of the time and of the record label on which this was released, be glad it was even put out at all.