Failed Format Maven

For the last several years, I have felt like a champion of what seemed initially to be a failed format:  SA-CD and DVD-A – I arrived there by the very amusing possibilities of 5.1 audio, on album titles that I was fond of.  Failed formats?  There are 2011 new releases in both formats!  I just got King Crimson “Starless & Bible Black” as a CD + DVD-A title and I also just got brand new Japanese issues of Yes “Fragile” and Deep Purple “Machine Head” as 2011 5.1 SA-CD’s!  So, renewed interest in Japan is keeping rock music on SA-CD alive?  There are still literally tons of new classical titles on SA-CD (mostly in Europe).

But it does really look like DualDisc is dead – despite those high profile Talking Heads ones – CD on one side and DVD on the other? I’m ready for DualDisc to join the crate of failed formats.

I was and am very fond of Sony MiniDisc.  It’s still my favorite digital recording medium, largely due to the sophisticated editing capabilities.  But – there are certainly no new pre-recorded MD’s anymore – even the black discs are getting tough to source locally.

Cassettes had a stellar run, didn’t they?But it seems to be a doomed format now, with no more car decks, and even the mighty Walkman is now a museum curio (I bet they still sell the Walkman knock-off in downtown L.A.!)  are DCC’s 100% gonzo?  I bet they are.  I do have an example of one for my format crate, however.

Laserdisc – great!  DVD – great!  Will DVD really get shunted aside in favor of BluRay?  Goodbye tape!  No more VHS. Beta, 3/4″ U-Matic – all out to pasture!  So nice to see vinyl holding it’s own – with 45, 10″, LP – but for how much longer?

Reel-to-reels, L Cassettes, Playtape, 8 track, 4 track…I say that they should bring back (or introduce) a device that records music and stores it on tape or disc, with really amazing editing possibilities, and instant access – of, wait.  They already did they with MD.

Ken Russell (Obit)

Ken Russell (1927 – 2011) – I can’t tell you how many hours of my young life were spent watching Ken Russell films!  I saw “Mahler” and “Savage Messiah” so many times!

After “discovering” Russell’s films in the 70’s, I did quite a bit of 80’s video-sleuthing for Ken Russell films – differing versions etc.  “The Devils”!

So, we usually talk music around here, but…Ken Russell is one of the British directors that I really enjoyed and found ‘important’.

– Ron Kane


Where’d the Time Machine go?


Where’d the Time Machine go?

For some now inexplicable reason, I did not get a Phonolog sheet for each and every week of 1971.  I wish that I had.  40 years ago, it could’ve been for any reason that I didn’t get a Phonolog sheet for that particular week – illness, lack of money etc.  But it was certainly never because of “Lack of interest”!

Clearly, by the end of 1971, my tiny little brain was being dominated by the LP’s in the “Imported LP” bin at the hippie record store.  New regular US records would’ve been $2.98 or $3.98 – and the LP’s in the “Imported LP” bin were $4.99 or $5.99 – but they looked better, cooler…more colorful…different…

By the end of 1971, I wasn’t leaning too heavily on the FM radio just yet.  That would come in the next year or so.  But I was really taking record collecting seriously, by then.  Through circumstance, I was becoming interested in music that came from beyond America and England – Focus, from Holland, Neu from Germany, Bo Hansson from Sweden…I think Focus was particularly influential to me then, having seen them perform “Hocus Pocus” live on the TV, it seemed to me that American bands were starting to “lose the plot”.

And once you cast your net a bit wider, it’s hard to go back to what you were doing previously.  I was also cultivating an interest in esoteric music, after a chance-finding of a John Cage 2LP boxed set, “Indeterminacy” (Folkways Records, 1959).  With my Groundhogs “Split” LP tucked under my arm, I ventured over (for the first time) to the Classical Music section – in search of the “20th Century Music” bin – where lurked Christian Wolff LP’s, Milton Babbitt, Harry Partch etc.  To paraphrase John Cage, “I was becoming excited about new music!”.

The fall of 1971, I was 13 years old.  I had already endured the disillusionment of the break-up of The Beatles.  Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin had already died.  Jim Morrison had already vanished.  Which way to turn?  Towards cold and clinical “new music”?  Take a look back on American music?  Ahead to European music?

My directives began to clear up a bit in 1972.  A lot more German music became available.  I started hitting the FM radio quite a bit.  I was hearing more music.  I still wasn’t old enough to go to a rock concert by myself.  I was in junior high (now referred to as ‘middle school’).  Stuff hadn’t really began to happen yet.

But over the next few years, I was lucky enough to experience all the joys of nascent record collector behavior – I spent my food money on records, I lost my virginity, I found people to drive me to L.A. record stores (my brother, my cousin etc.), I was on my way towards my occupation (record store clerk, record distributor “associate”).

But, we have to get from 1972 to 1976, when my first record store job made itself apparent.

Time Machine 1971


Time Machine

Phonolog Reports – New Releases

Week of November 22, 1971

Caught my eye:

FAMILY – Fearless (U.A. UAS-5562) (LP/CD)

ELTON JOHN – Madman Across The Water (Uni 93120) (LP/SA-CD)

Two decent LP’s for this week – the 99 cent bin provided the former, and it took me a few years to get around to the E.J. – I like it better now than I did then!  (And there’s a 5.1 SA-CD of it!)  This Family LP has a “gimmix” die-cut cover, which shredded easily, in the “used” bin.

Also of interest:

JAMES BROWN – Revolution Of The Mind (Polydor 25-3003) double LP

BILLY JOEL – Cold Spring Harbor (Paramount 2700)

CARLY SIMON – Anticipation (Elektra EKS-75016)

SANTANA – Abraxis (Columbia CQ-30130) QUAD issue

Having left King, James Brown now records for Polydor; the debut solo album of Mr. Billy Joel; Elektra releases a Carly Simon LP for $1 more than usual (75000 series, as opposed to 74000 series); Quad (4-Channel SQ) LP for Santana (it was also likely a Quad 8-track tape).

Notable singles:

BADFINGER – Day After Day b/w Money (Apple 1841)

THE CHAKACHAS – Jungle Fever (Polydor 15030)

JOE COCKER – Cry Me A River b/w The Letter (A&M 8546)

FREE – All Right Now b/w The Stealer (A&M 8550)

RARE EARTH – Hey Big Brother (Rare Earth 5038)

JOHN ENTWISTLE – My Size b/w I Believe In Everything (Decca 32986)

ROD STEWART – (I Know) I’m Losing You b/w Mandolin Wind (Mercury 73244)

TRAFFIC – Rock & Roll Stew (Parts 1 & 2) (Island / Capitol 1201)

Great week for singles!  Fine Badfinger A-side; Belgian weirdness from The Chakachas; fine Joe Cocker A-side (live, yes?); Big hit for Free; I remember this Rare Earth single!; Yes, I found a copy of this John Entwistle single – I just loved the “Smash Your Head” LP!; a single from “Every Picture Tells A Story” by Rod Stewart (separate from The Faces); the single from “The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys” – took a few years for it to ever find it’s way to a CD – when you put the 2 parts of “Rock & Roll Stew: together, it is a bit longer than the LP version (and, yes, I have a copy – numbering also looks like it’s the U.S. debut for Island Records singles).  FYI – A&M also released some “Back-to-back Hits” re-issue 45’s this week, but I’m not going to list ‘em).

Time Machine 1971


Time Machine

Phonolog Reports – New Releases

Week of November 15, 1971

Caught my eye:

CHICAGO – Live At Carnegie Hall (Columbia C4X-30865) 4 LP boxed set (LP)

HARRY NILSSON – Nilsson Schmilsson (RCA LSP-4515) (LP/CD)

SEALS & CROFTS – Year Of Sunday (Warner 2568)

SLY & THE FAMILY STONE – There’s A Riot Goin’ On (Epic KE-30986)

TRAFFIC – The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys (Island/Capitol SW-9306) (LP/CD)

Gearing up for Xmas ’71!  Big, bad boxed set for Chicago; decent Harry Nilsson album; I heard the Seals & Crofts in the hippie record store, and liked “When I Meet Them”; always intrigued by Sly & The Family Stone (I had loved “Stand!”); a die-cut cover for the Island / Capitol debut LP for Traffic – dang, I loved this album!!!

Also of interest:

DAVID AXELROD – Messiah (RCA LSP-4636)

DAVID BOWIE – Hunky Dory (RCA LSP-4623) (LP/CD)

FIVE MAN ELECTRICAL BAND – Coming Of Age (Lionel 1101)

ANDRE KOSTELANETZ – Plays Chicago (Columbia C-31002) (LP)

Never heard any of these (at the time), except for the Andrew Kostelantez.  The Bowie is, of course, a classic.  Does the F.M.E.B. have a “Greatest Hits” LP I could try?  I really only know Axelrod from his Capitol albums and the Mo’ Wax CD from earlier this century.

Notable singles:

PORTER WAGONER – Rubber Room b/w Late Love Of Mine (RCA 74-0581)

SEALS & CROFTS – When I Meet Them b/w Irish Linen (Warner 7536)

JOHN SEBASTIAN – We’ll See b/w Well Well Well (Reprise 1050)

JETHRO TULL – Locomotive Breath b/w Up To Me (Reprise 1054)

THE DOORS – Tightrope Ride (Elektra 45757)

THREE DOG NIGHT – Old Fashioned Love Song b/w Jam (Dunhill 4294)

DANDO SHAFT – Coming Home To Me b/w Kalyope Driver (Neon 72-0100)

Nice novelty C&W from Porter W.; that good Seals & Crofts A-side; a John Sebastian single I never heard at the time; an “Aqualung” single for Jethro Tull; Non-‘Jim’ Doors 45, which really isn’t too bad, c’mon!;  Big hit for T.D.N.; the U.S. debut 45 on the Neon label!  (No, never seen it, and I don’t even remember what they sounded like!).