Back in November 2015, on the WTF podcast, Marc Maron interviewed Robert Trujillo (Metallica bass player) and Flea. Trujillo had made a documentary about, self-appointed greatest bass player in the world, Jaco Pastorius… turns out he was the greatest! In the course of the interview they discussed a phenomenon that I am all too familiar with because it’s happened to me a number of times.

So what is it? Well, it’s when you have a band or an artist that you really like and then, for some reason, you find yourself not liking the individuals any more and you’re now left in a situation where it’s difficult to listen to the music because there’s always the spectre of the artists hanging over it.

It’s happened to me on three occasions:

The Police – or more specifically Sting. I’ve been in to them since 1980 and it was sometime after Ten Summoner’s Tales that I just got fed up with Sting’s preaching to people but, more specifically, I got hacked off with how he always seemed to go to great pains to try and minimise Stewart and Andy’s contribution to the band. When the reunion happened he seemed to be a total diva. This was the artist that Flea said he’d experienced this with although he didn’t elaborate on why.

Frank Zappa – to a lesser extent than Sting but, nevertheless, in the last 10 or 15 years (can’t believe it’s nearly 26 years since he died) it’s become more and more apparent that FZ was a bit of a douche. Not sure why this bothers me particularly given that a bunch of his band members wrecked his last tour (just desserts?) but, there you go…

Edward Van Halen – I’ve played guitar for about 33 years and Eddie was the one who inspired my to go from just playing songs to actually aspiring to be a lead guitarist. VH were a fantastic band – I like both Dave and Sammy eras. I moved on after ‘For Unlawful…’. Although I didn’t follow them through the Gary Cherone era, and watched, with amusement, from afar regarding the in fighting that developed, I was still able to enjoy the first 9 albums… BUT… when Mike was kicked out to be replaced by Eddie’s son on bass I thought that was a dick move. That said, Mike seemed to be OK and promptly formed a supergroup with Sammy, Joe Satriani and Chad Jones. Then, when Eddie started running Mike down publicly and minimising his contribution to the band I soured on Eddie. His drink problems are well known about and, I guess, maybe this was him being bitter that he was no longer viewed as the king of rock guitar. Even the most ardent fan would have to admit they haven’t really done anything new or significant since the mid 90s.

This seems to be becoming a more common phenomenon – I’ve heard people commenting that present day Morrisey has soured them on the Smiths. I sometimes struggle with Miles Davis due to his tendency to have song authorship credited solely to him when you know he didn’t write it… Blue In Green? Grrr.

Maybe this is due to the fact that we just get too much information about artists that we like. Seems that in the 80s/90s you didn’t know as much about the artists that you liked beyond liner notes and music magazines. That may have been a good thing.

In closing, happy to say that I recently heard a Sting song from Dream of the Blue Turtles – Fortress Around Your Heart – and was able to enjoy it again. Ended up buying the CD (5 bucks!) as I’d only ever had it on tape. It’s still a great album.

Sting may be about to be granted parole! Here’s a live performance from the subsequent Dream of the Blue Turtles tour…

This is a great piece by Ted Gioia. If you don’t know him, he wrote a great book called ‘The History of Jazz’ (1997) that is a great read. I was given it as a gift when it came out – I’d never heard of him and, to be honest, haven’t heard much since. I recently stumbled across his YouTube channel – he has less than 700 subscribers and this video has less than 5000 views.

I don’t think Ted is doing it for the views. Given the regular discussions that come up about streaming services – physical media or streaming, which streaming service is the best – this may be of interest. It’s only 10 minutes long and it takes a wider view of what streaming might mean for music and, indeed, what it might mean for visual media too.

For the record (pun absolutely intended!), I’m with Ted on this one.

Someone (forget who) recently posted about the inability to have liner notes with streaming services. I’m not a user of streaming servs, but recently got the 70th anniversary vinyl reissue, from original tapes, of Birth of the Cool. Two discs with 16 pages of awesome liner notes. Actually a booklet in gatefold, with amazing reproductions of band pictures. The quality is amazing, and comes with a new essay about the recording. I’d definitely miss this on streaming!

This is a summary of what has recently come to light regarding a Universal Music Group fire in 2008 when a LOT of music master tapes were lost. This is the music equivalent of the fire at the library at Alexandria.

A longer discussion about this was was posted by Rick Beato (about a week later) talking about what this might mean for music fans, foe Universal, and also for artists. A fair point made is that Universal seem to be more active ‘protecting’ their music by issuing ‘take downs’ against people on YouTube than in actually protecting the original music tapes.

If you’ve ever watched Rick Beato’s ‘What Makes This Song Great’ videos you’ll see the advantage in being able to access original tapes where you can isolate particular instruments or vocal performances. Consequently, I think there is going to be a big impact on scholarly activity, particularly in relation to 20th century black music in America as well as the golden age of rock and pop.

You can watch the longer discussion here…

@matthewlang recently posted a link to a tweet referring to the closure of the Microsoft ebook store and the fact that it meant that DRM’d books would no longer work. A book working… that in itself is a sentence that causes a double take.

Personally, I never got in to the whole ebook thing. I will read PDFs if that’s all I can get but I don’t have a Kindle, don’t use iBooks, or any other technology of this type. It’s not a philosophical stance, just a preference. I like a physical book or magazine, it’s as simple as that.

BUT… there is another aspect that is important and that is the control over the content that you have purchased. I have plenty of books and they don’t rely on someone else continuing to grant me access so that I can enjoy them. That, to me, is worth the price.

The same applies to music. Continue reading

There are no certainties and no absolutes in life, so I would be going out on a limb to say mainstream western popular music is dull and uninteresting. It’s a fair generalisation but just occasionally my teenage daughters introduce me to new music that I find exciting and engaging.

When I look at my favourite music from 2019 — I see English hip-hop, Sudanese and Scandinavian jazz, re-imagined folk music, love songs by a Syrian-American, classical music from Poland and music inspired by Orkney. I really enjoy just how much easier it is to discover new music now.

Just as a sample, here is the video for the song Everybody by Sinkane.

To Be Clear … Originally written by my friend in 2003 … ‘JP – the other one’. Still true today … no?

Lately I haven’t derived the same pleasure from my music collection, or even music in general, that I’ve been accustomed to my whole life. I’m trying to figure this out.

It used to be simpler, I think. You would reach an age – let’s say 30 on average – and pretty much drop out of the current music scene. Your record collection would begin to age like fine wine. You’d stop going to gigs and reading Rolling Stone and Down Beat, and the station presets in your car were no longer college stations playing the wide range of emerging new stuff, but the major commercial channels playing bands who are all 6 months away from being featured in a Lexus commercial. There was a clear dividing line between the stuff the kids and the grown-ups listened to that has faded, blurred and, finally, today, disappeared.

Continue reading