Sunday, July 29, 2012

Why I should win an iPad... 17 reasons for 17 days of givewaways!

1. I'm a jounalist.
2. I spend all my money on audio equipment and musical instruments.
3. They are giving away 17 iPads, one for each day of the Olympics on KSDK Newschannel 5 (there's a plug, now give it up!)
4. I'm eligible, living in St. Clair County, Illinois, an eligible county.
5. I could use it with an Android app to remotely control my media player.
6. I could use it at any wifi hot spot.
7. I need to stay up-to-date with the latest technology.
8. I don't use a cell phone.
9. I have no touchpad devices.
10. They are portable.
11. I already have a PC (which I'm typing on).
12. I "liked" KSDK Newschannel 5 on Facebook.
13. I'm entering once every day of the contest!
14. I don't own a camera.
15. I don't own a laptop computer.
16. I'm running out of reasons...
17. Did I mention that I want to win an iPad from KSDK Newschannel 5? (plug #2!)

I also accept iPad donations, new or old, I'm not proud. Free is free, fercrissakes!! I promise if given one I will review it here, after a suitable break-in period (I require break-in on the product). So, if anyone is able to gift me I'll gladly meet them halfway (what the hell, just tell me where to show up!!!) to pick it up!

Keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you later (sooner if you've got my iPad!)!!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony tonight

It's finally time!!! All the anticipation, publicity, and excitement leading up to the grand opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics is nigh upon us. The eyes of the world are trained on jolly ol' England, namely London, and the athletes are arriving there en masse to commence the every-two-years event. The opening ceremonies will be graced by one Sir Paul McCartney, which promises to be a much-anticipated event in its own right.

Last year's opening ceremonies were so ostentatious, so garish, so over-the-top, that I'm sure that the powers-that-be who design these festivities will be hard-pressed to top their past achievements! For 17 days the world buries their differences (to an extent) and gets it on with healthy competition as an example of how we should behave on a day-to-day basis. As long as the politicizing and grandstanding can be put under control, the Olympics can be a sporting event and not a lame propeganda statement. Short of the 1972 Munich Olympics, where hostages were taken by Palestinian terrorists, the events can have a unifying effect on nations and the world in general. So far, the only controversy surrounds a moment of silence being eschewed in favor of a generic tribute, citing no precedence of such an event.

I am an armchair sportsman. I do not participate, and never will (unless there's a new event on the horizon, the 1000 meter hot tub soak!), but I do enjoy the opening ceremonies, I enjoy seeing the fresh young faces as they strive for prominance in their chosen activities, and I especially enjoy the biographical stories and human interest features. It makes for excellent journalism, and the photos and videos are exquisite, to say the least! I'm good until they start testing armchair sportsmen for doping!

So, grab your snack, get your potty break out of the way, and settle in for a coupla weeks of pageantry and pomp in the name of good ol' sporting competition! Thank God that there are still things like this that are so big that they can't be made pay-per-view like the majority of sporting events on TV! I'm definitely logging some long hours in front of my big screen, perched in my recliner!

Go USA!!! If I'm AWOL from the blog for a spell, you'll know where to find me. I'll be here watching the 2012 Summer Olympics from London, England, along with the rest of the world!! When I return I'll detail some new items I'm anticipating receiving to kick off my long-awaited recording project, and this blog will serve as a diary of that Olympian effort! I hope I'm up to the challenge, and stick my landing, so to speak! Perfect 10? We'll see... Keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you soon!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Long-lost Max Load LP to be released

Anyone who knows me knows I was a member of the very first punk band from my home town of Belleville, Illinois back in the late 70's (before Uncle Tupelo, for one). The whole punk thing got cooking on either coasts (NY first, like everything else) before it hit the midwest, and St. Louis was no exception. As a regional hub (like Lambert International Airport) St. Louis spawned an entire punk/new wave scene that lasted from roughly 1977-1984. After that, music was sufficiently watered down to be almost superfluous as it regarded genres and subdivisions. Every style known to man had been developed and subsequently played out by then.

In 1978 I joined what was then a pretty new band that was considerably different than the run-of-the-mill bands of the time. Max Load grew out of the fertile mind of one Terry Jones, also known as Terry X of 3-D Monster fame. We were toying with pseudonyms at the time, and I was known as Mike Y (the first initial of my last name, and next alphabetically, convenient, eh?). I first joined Max Load as drummer (I was brave enough to replace their drummer never having played before, despite his having years of playing experience to show for his percussive abilities). I knew I could inject a certain energy that would propel the group to bigger and better things. We had our day in the sun locally but despite a few close calls, never really broke out in a big way. We were featured in an international rock mag originating from New York (Rock Scene), in July of 1980, and were featured prominently in a local rag called Jet Lag (thank you, Steve Pick and John Korst), but by the late 80's I was living in LA and trying the whole thing from a similar angle out there. We were collectively known as the Fun 100, our own thriving little punk scene.

Back to Max Load...We played a lot in Belleville to start, branched out to shows in St. Louis proper, and in fact (no surprise), struggled against the non-punk forces that constantly conspired against a flegeling band. We were hated by some in Belleville (we taunted them from onstage relentlessly!) but loved by the hipsters in STL, where we would play to hundreds at shows. We had a 45 vinyl record out at the time, and that was the one thing that set a band apart from the also rans of the time, because it gave us promotional material that was more noticeable and accessible than a tape. We recorded much more material thn we could afford to release at the time, and for over 30 years those tapes languished in our personal collections, never to be released.

Enter Jason Rerun of BDR Records, out of St. Louis. His idea has been to release LP's from bands from that period that made an impact on the local scene, and he approached me a couple years ago about an album project concerning Max Load, knowing that since we were pretty well-known locally at the time, and I subsequently had gone on to play in other St. Louis bands at the time, that we'd be a worthy subject for archival release by his label. His goal is to put out vinyl on every band that was noteworthy and had recordings from the original punk/new wave era in St. Louis. So far, bands featured on his label include The Retros, The Welders, and an LP by the ultra-obscure raymilland. BDR plans a reissue of the compilation record that started it all, Test Patterns, originally released by Jet Lag magazine back in the day.

It's cool to rehash the stories, remember the personalities, and relive a slice of my own personal musical past in this way. It won't change my life when it comes out, but to have a slab of vinyl was our main goal then, and will be a nice reward for our past efforts even now. It reunited Terry and I, and I was also responsible for introducing Terry to Jason , getting the ball rolling originally.

Tomorrow we fight the heat with cool once again (seems like a lot of that going on lately, both the heat and the fighting it with the cool!), so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up. See you then!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tascam DP24 - initial thoughts

After tracking all day today I'm pretty wiped out, but I want to get my initial impressions blogged about the Tascam DP24 and how well it's working out.

So far the only bummer is that the SD card is too small to actually finish a whole song of more than 13-14 tracks! I get that far and it reads: "SD Card Full". SUCKS!!!

It won't be long till I get a full-size card and I'll be rolling. In the meantime I keep dumping my results down to my Sony CD recorder and reformatting the SD card. Major hassle but it is what it is.

Just like any recorder, garbage in, garbage out. I'm getting the hang of setting levels, the bleedover between tracks is non-existant, and I'm generally very very pleased. Now I'm hitting the hay. Rules concerning tubes and antennas still apply. See you tomorrow!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tascam DP24 - bit of a learning curve...

This is a big upgrade from 8 track multitrack, which is all I've ever operated on my own. It always pays to have an engineer on staff, but it's not always possible! I find that with anything, if I just take it slow and follow directions I can usually figure different machines out. This one has more to figure out than most because it's laid out completely differently and has certain limitations, which I'll get into eventually.

This thing is intuitively laid out, but, as I mentioned already, has a few limiting factors that require workarounds to accomplish basic necesssities in multitrack recording. For one, you can't put more than one effect on any one track, and you're limited to two effects per song. That's pretty unusual! I can use outboard effects, so that solves that problem. Outboard effects can be tailored more to your exact needs, so that's not a big problem, just a slightly inconvenient workaround. I would have left off built-in effects myself if it was going to be this limiting. Part of including them is to make their use more convenient but the workaround on this one isn't convenient in any way! Other makes have more dedicated internal effects sections, especially Yamaha and Roland/Boss. They cost considerably more too! ($800 MSRP for the DP24, my price $600, yip yip yahoo...)

If it were actually 24 momo in I would feel as if I were truly working in 24 track, but in reality it's 12 monos and 6 stereo ins. You can only use the stereos with one source for each of the six, so it's in effect 18 output channels that can be controlled with sliders that have dedicated metering per channel. Again, a workaround but not a gamechanger. There are knobs but there are still a few menus to navegate, and the manual is less than completely explanatory. I found a 14-page thread on the item on Home Recording forums. I joined so I can enter the fray! I'm soon going to be a major voice on that thread!

For sure, the recording quality is excellent, and the system is dependant upon SD cards to store the song files, as opposed to HDD's. Hard drives have a tendency to break down after transporting these machines over time, so that's actually a plus among the gripes I've detailed. Like any thing involving electronics (computers especially) it takes a lot of detailed info to be fully up to speed on any given system of operation at any given time. These are no exception, and every model brings new features and changes of ways to access the functions that keep even the best engineers on their toes, studying manuals and going to seminars and following tutorial information.

All in all I give the Tascam DP24 a rating of 4 stars out of a total of 5 for its portability, slick looks and ergometric design features. One point is taken off for its fiddly layout and the attendant learning curve I'll be dreading! Its robust build quality is definitely a plus, more metal than plastic...

Tomorrow I'll probably be lost in trying to smooth out more of what makes this thing tick, so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you next time!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tascam DP24 preview

I ordered a Tascam 24-track multitrack digital recorder a few days ago. Needless to say I'm anxious to fire it up and get some tracks laid, so I'll be back with a preliminary report as soon as the thing arrives. Bear with me. It's on the truck and on its way. The thing about tubes and antennas still applies in the meantime.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jon Lord dies from complications of pancreatic cancer, he was 71

Jonathan Douglas "Jon" Lord (9 June 1941 – 16 July 2012) was an English composer, pianist and Hammond organ player known for his pioneering work in fusing rock and classical or baroque forms, especially with Deep Purple, as well as Whitesnake, Paice, Ashton & Lord, The Artwoods and Flower Pot Men.

In 1968 Lord founded Deep Purple, where he was virtually the leader of the band until 1970. In addition, Lord wrote the organ riff on "Child in Time". He and drummer Ian Paice were the only constant band members during the band's existence from 1968 to 1976 and from when they reformed in 1984 until Lord's exit from Deep Purple in 2002. On 11 November 2010, Lord was made an Honorary Fellow of Stevenson College, Edinburgh. On 15 July 2011, he was granted an honorary Doctor of Music by his home city's University of Leicester. Lord died on 16 July 2012 after suffering a pulmonary embolism. He had been suffering from cancer of the pancreas and was surrounded by his family at the London Clinic.

Deep Purple, 1968–1976
It is in this period that Lord's trademark keyboard sound emerged. Ignoring the emergence of the Moog synthesizer as pioneered in rock by players like Keith Emerson, he began experimenting with a keyboard sound centred on the Hammond organ but heavier than a blues sound and often featuring distortion. This delivered a rhythmic foundation to complement Blackmore's speed and virtuosity on lead guitar. Lord also loved the sound of an RMI 368 Electra-Piano and Harpsichord, which he used on songs like "Demon's Eye", and "Space Truckin'". In 1973, Lord's original Hammond C3 gave out, and he purchased another from Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac. Around this same time, Lord and his keyboard technician, Mike Phillips, combined his Hammond C3 Organ with the RMI. (Lord kept this particular Hammond C3 until his retirement from the band in 2002.)

Lord pushed the Hammond-Leslie sound through Marshall amplification, creating a growling, heavy, mechanical sound that gave a rhythmic counterpoint to Blackmore's lead playing. It also allowed Lord to compete with Blackmore as a soloist, with an organ that sounded as heavy as a lead guitar.

Said one reviewer, "many have tried to imitate [Lord's] style, and all failed." Said Lord himself, "There's a way of playing a Hammond [that's] different. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that you can play a Hammond with a piano technique. Well, you can, but it sounds like you are playing a Hammond with a piano technique. Really, you have to learn how to play an organ. It's a legato technique; it’s a technique to achieve legato on a non-legato instrument."

In early Deep Purple recordings, Lord had appeared to be the leader of the band, though it never made chart success in the UK until the Concerto for Group and Orchestra album (1970). For example, the band's first hit song, a cover of Joe South's "Hush", features an extended organ solo and no guitar solo. Later, Lord's willingness to play many of the key rhythm parts gave the guitarist the freedom to let loose both live and on record.

On Deep Purple's second and third albums, Lord began indulging his ambition to fuse rock with classical music. An early example of this is the song "Anthem" from the album The Book of Taliesyn (1968), but a more prominent example is the song "April" from the band's self-titled third album (1969). The song is recorded in three parts: (1) Lord and Blackmore only, on keyboards and acoustic guitar, respectively; (2) an orchestral arrangement complete with strings; and (3) the full rock band with vocals. This enhanced Lord's reputation among fellow musicians, but caused tension within the group.

Blackmore agreed to go along with Lord's experimentation, provided he was given his head on the next band album. The resulting Concerto For Group and Orchestra (in 1969) was one of rock's earliest attempts to fuse two distinct musical idioms. Performed live at the Royal Albert Hall on 24 September 1969 (with new band members Ian Gillan and Roger Glover, Evans and Simper having been fired), recorded by the BBC and later released as an album, the Concerto gave Deep Purple their first highly-publicised taste of mainstream fame and gave Lord the confidence to believe that his experiment and his compositional skill had a future. The Concerto also gave Lord the chance to work with established classical figures, like conductor Malcolm Arnold (knighted in 1993), who brought his technical skills to bear by helping Lord score the work and to protect him from the inevitable disdain of the older members of the orchestra.

Classical dalliance over, Purple began work on In Rock, released by their new label Harvest in 1970 and now recognised as one of hard rock's key early works. Lord and Blackmore competed to out-dazzle each other, often in classical-style, midsection 'call and answer' improvisation (on tracks like "Speed King"), something they employed to great effect live. Similarly, "Child in Time" features Lord's playing to maximum tonal effect. The organ riff on "Child in Time" was written by Lord,although it is similar to It's a Beautiful Day's 1969 psychedelic hit song "Bombay Calling". Lord's experimental solo on "Hard Lovin' Man" (complete with police-siren interpolation) on the album is his personal favourite among his Deep Purple studio performances.

Deep Purple released a sequence of albums between 1971's Fireball and 1975's Come Taste the Band. Gillan and Glover left in 1973 and Blackmore in 1975, and the band disintegrated in 1976. The highlights of Lord's Purple work in the period include the 1972 album Machine Head (featuring his rhythmic underpinnings on "Smoke on the Water" and "Space Truckin'", plus the organ solos on "Highway Star" and "Lazy"), the sonic bombast of the Made in Japan live album (1972), an extended, effect-laden solo on "Rat Bat Blue" from the Who Do We Think We Are album (1973), and his overall playing on the Burn album from 1974.

Roger Glover later described Lord as a true "Zen-archer soloist", someone whose best keyboard improvisation often came at the first attempt. Lord's strict reliance on the Hammond C3 organ sound, as opposed to the synthesizer experimentation of his contemporaries, places him firmly in the jazz-blues category as a band musician and far from the progressive-rock sound of Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman. Lord himself would rarely venture into the synthesizer territory on Purple albums, often limiting his experimentation to the use of the ring modulator with the Hammond, to give live performances on tracks like Space Truckin' a distinctive 'spacey' sound. Rare instances of his Deep Purple synthesizer use (later including the MiniMoog and other Moog synthesizers) include "'A' 200", the final track from Burn, and "Love Child" on the Come Taste the Band album.
In early 1973 Lord stated: "We're as valid as anything by Beethoven."

These guys set the standard for my in-between generation, who were too young for the Beatles' invasion of the world (not as teenagers, for me, I was 6 when the Beatles played Ed Sullivan, for instance), and yet still very influenced musically by the late British invasion (an extension of the initial movement). My first bands emulated the Deep Purple mark II lineup (pictured above) with excellent organists and dramatic, visual vocalists, serious drummers and enigmatic guitarists. They were definitely the model band for the early 70's as we entered our teen years. Led Zeppelin was the only other band that directed more fledgling bands with style and substance, not to mentiom lifestyle.

They're dropping like flies, and, as far as I'm concerned, it makes me appreciate these musicians' contributions to culture even more than ever. Music today has a long way to go before it has the social import of a Deep Purple or a Led Zeppelin, and I seriously doubt if anything from the latest era in music will have the emotion, staying power, and sheer virtuosity of this era. Many will play it off as pompous, artrock musical masturbation, but this is just a weak foil to cover for a lack of real musical ability, certainly indicative of the Guitar Hero started in the schools as budgets for certain programs (music included) were sacrificed in lieu of sports programs. Big mistake. The bands that came out of this morass are so undertrained in basic music theory that they can hardly play their ways out of wet paper bags, truly. Twenty years from now the chasm created by the useless gameplaying nonsense of game rock will be SO huge that there, hopefully, will be a huge return to this so-called "pompous crap" as a major backlash. The musicians will be self-trained in the serious music of their parents' eras, and the chasm will shrink. Bring on the pompous and get rid of the gameplaying nonsense, for what it's worth. Somehow I have faith in the human race. There's no choice if we care to continue featuring the human element in performance-driven music and not just karaoke and canned Guitar Hero crap.

Tomorrow we'll find yet more creative domains to key on, so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pandora is a great idea...

...but the sound quality SUCKS. Can you hear me, Pandora, over your shitty sound quality???

For those of you who don't keep up with these things (and you wouldn't be here if you didn't), Pandora is a great service that allows you to build stations around a music theme, group, artist, genre. You name it, it designs a station based on their theory of the Music Genome, as they call it. Great idea in theory, but they only broadcast in 128 kbps mp3, which can be bettered by simply playing a CD! Sucks royally in practice, not to mention the useless commercials you're forced to endure. There are also rules about how many times you can skip a song you don't like, as part of the licensing agreement between Pandora and the record companies. I personally think it's a Pandora thing that gives them a bit of leverage when offering benefits of subscribing over free play, myself. I'm getting pretty jaded over the whole idea of Pandora myself. The record companies should see it as a means to promote their music products without taxing the consumer in the stinking process...

Subscription Pandora raises the bar to 192 kbps (no forced commercializing as well), but that's barely listenable to boot. They pay too much for licensing, obviously, otherwise they could offer better quality. They seem to be going on the theory that we as consumers don't know the difference, but we know that the consumer is getting smarter every day, and most, if not all peole know the difference between mp3 and lossless audio quality. If record companies would get on board with lossless we'd all be better off, having a choice at least. They leave no alternative but to seek out alternative resources. This alone is killing the industry as we knew it. And no one seems to care...

There's a mentality that people have about mp3 that lets the quality slide for the increased portability convenience and additional room on hard drives that mp3 provides, and many refuse to relinquish the space necessary for flac or wav. The latter can easily be used on ipods and portable devices, it just takes up more space. I for one would rather have one good file versus five bad ones! I for one of many would use a player that decoded flac vs. mp3, if in-ears could replicate good speaker audio...

Back to record companies: the more I think of this the more I want to get a posse together and get to lynchin' some of those bastids...They are more concerned with quantity than quality, and they are running the music business into the ground by denying the importance of lossless digital music and the vast improvement it makes on the sound quality. See, we're not all 13-year-old girls who wear their ipods as a fashion statement or a sign of feigned hipness, there are still real audio freaks in this world, and we're not all old bearded tube audio professors smoking a pipe as we listen to classical.

I get really frustrated at the shape of things as we approach 50 years into this hobby since music got really hip, to be honest. I'm sure I'm not alone. There are some who won't touch digital with a twenty foot pole, who only listen to vinyl as the original high-def source, and rightly so. Almost all digital sucks compared to a well-pressed, well-recorded album, and the sheer size makes sense, to admire and appreciate the artists' vision and concepts concerning cover art and lyrics. It only makes sense to have these essential elements represented in proper size perspective to fully enjoy the listening experience as it was originally intended. There's simply no substitute for Sgt. Pepper's with the inserts or DSOTM with full-size posters and stickers.

Personally speaking, I have no need for portability with regards to music, I would rather have a comfortable chair and a beverage to assuage myself while listening than to jog with crappy in-ears while trying to avoid getting hit by a car in traffic. I don't know, maybe I'm funny that way. I like to give the music my undivided attention, and rightly so. That's why I never have car stereos, I'd be diverting my attention from important things like making sure I didn't cause an accident because I wasn't looking. Doesn't something as important as music deserve that, at the very least? Whatever happened to safety first??? There was a recent news story about a local middle-school student who got hit by a train while walking down railroad tracks with ear buds...this was totally avoidable!!!

Rant over. Keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you tomorrow. Avoid those trains!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Should I buy a tablet computer???

Big question! I need to propel myself into the 21st century, so I can compete intellectually with the cognoscenti nowadays. Actually I mainly intend to use the pad for remotely controlling my JRiver Media Jukebox (a free service that catalogs your music and provides tagging and artwork). Gizmo is the name of the app that allows Android devices to remotely control JRiver from a wifi connection, from anywhere, wirelessly.

I have a 37" Vizio LCD television that doubles (and triples) as my computer monitor and my movie screen, and I can read it from my couch, so the tablet isn't even necessary, as I use a wireless mouse and keyboard. I wonder how many people who own tablets have them for "Necessary" reasons, and not just for fun (games, music, wifi internet access)...They sure seem fun, with limitless possibilities!

The internet has not only changed my life but life in general for everyone has shifted greatly as a result of instant gratification and info dispersal. It's great to be able to ask a question via Google and elicit an immediate response, answers at the drop of a hat. That alone is worth the price of admission, with prices low enough for almost anyone to have high-speed content and a nice setup to compute with! Info-hungry people have a good excuse to pay the price to get that instant answer when desired.

Research is the thing that will yield answers to my necessary questions, and I should be able to afford a nice piece of equipment as the prices are coming into focus nicely. If I have to purchase the latest media player (a one-time license fee of $50) that will be one more expense I'll encounter to have the convenience of wireless access to my media library. I'm on the fence right now, but if I can decide that it's a neccesity (other important uses and not just entertainment only) I'll probably go for it. I don't think that having computer access at McDonalds is really a necessity though!

We'll see. I need to figure out how to access this newest technology. I feel as if life is passing me by as I get older! At 54 I'm definitely going through a midlife crisis of, I need to decide if a motorcycle is a neccessity! I'm pretty sure that it is (hehe)...

Tomorrow we'll undergo more musings of necessity and priority, so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thorens TD-165 manual turntable

I peruse St. Louis area Craigslist daily, maybe obsesssively for someone who merely collects items of interest, without any significant needs in vintage audio. I consider myself lucky in that I have the majority of the items I need to accomplish my audio goals, at least within a certain budget. I get by pretty well, and have a number of bonafide scroes to show for my scavenging.

Imagine my surprise the day I located a genuine Thorens TD-165 for a measly $100 on CL. I was running to get to the phone and firm up the buy. I could care less about the condition, at least I could rebuild, worst comes to worst. I was shocked to see what the individual selling this thing was powering it with, in terms of a belt. It looked more like a rubber band, to be honest! It was nowhere near spec, speed-wise, and I now realized that I had to locate a dustcover (or facsimile) to make the package even remotely look complete. I sourced the belt online and patiently awaited its arrival.

How this guy could have made do with a useless rubber band was beyond me. The table was simply not being used in this useless condition, or it sounded like total dogshit. Either way, the fact that it was near-mint otherwise was more than encouraging. As long as the correct belt could propel the platter properly I was in business. Upon receiving it and slipping it on, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the clarity of pitch and the sonority of the period-correct (the actual original cart) Pickering P/AT cartridge, not to mention that the stylus had little to no wear to throw me another curve (another problem I ostensibly had to throw money at to make right). The P-O7 stylus was nearly perfect, and I was up and running. Big load off my shoulders for my meager investment so far. I could see the light at the end of the refurbing tunnel.

Dustcover next...I had hoped for a stock replacement when I realized that there was no cover at all, but quickly, upon perusing CL and epay, discovered that this item would NOT be cheap, if in fact I could source the original at all. I realized after a couple weeks of trying that an aftermarket copy cover had to suffice. It was not going to be cheap, because it had to have a pair of holes positioned for pins (which were misssing and available from the aftermarket guy, thankfully) and slots to allow the cover to slide into an upright position for holding it open while changing records, adjusting and so forth. It was going to be specially designed to do the same service as the original, and priced accordingly. I had just bought a Technics cover from Kevin @ KAB ($45, actually cheap considering it was brand new), and was using that as a reference. I was sadly mistaken to believe I would get off that cheap for my Thorens replacement cover. It was nearly $200 in total, but, like everything else, I had to have it to semi-complete the experience of owning a real, operating Thorens. The cover alone was twice the cost of the table itself.

I'm listening to it now, and admiring the cover after it all came together some time ago. The experience is exquisite to say the least, it qualifies as my #1 table in every category of measure, and plays records with precision and beauty. I couldn't be happier after a bit of diligence to nail down some important details, and it should serve me well into this century. Bee Gees Cucumber Castle is singing sweetly in glorious analog, tube, Klipsch audio excellence!

It's simplicity and no-frills design make it a definite winner, 5 out of 5 stars total, and an experience I'd recommend for anyone looking to get into analog after a bout with computer or portable audio (if you can call it audio, portable listening never took off with me). Get a proper belt, make sure the stylus isn't worn beyond usefulness, get a halfways-decent cover and you're off and running back to the analog future with a table that excelled in its day and is still considered excellent by today's standards. You'll have a table with name recognition from a company with pedigreed products that stand the test of time.

Tomorrow we rediscover another arty-fact from the past that makes today's BPC look and sound like just that, crap! Keep your tubes hot and your antenna up, and we'll see you then!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Keith Richards: "It's damn fun!"

I know it's only rock and roll, but I like it! There's something to like about a job that involves traveling, playing music to thousands of screaming girls, and generally being treated like royalty everywhere you go.

It wasn't always that way, but for the better part of 50 years the Rolling Stones have trotted out their traveling road show and non-stop party to great success, and enormous profit as well. From Brian Jones to Mick Taylor to Ron Wood and beyond with a host of able sidemen (and women), the Stones still put out the tightest product imaginable for rockers in their 70's. Bill Wyman is long gone, rerplaced by the capable Darryl Jones, and Woody has outlasted any guitarist ever in the band besides Keef himself.

These guys made the perfect foil for the Beatles, as they were pitted against each other as good vs. bad in a morality play that propelled each band to superstardom first in their native England, and not long after, around the entire civilized world as they conquested across the North American continent and Europe, Asia, Russia, you name it. Anywhere a stadium full of teenagers could support a concert the Stones provided the entertainment for decades on end, and 2012 is no exception.  Their first North American tour was a flop but even before it was over they could see the writing on the wall, and it was the perfect kind of graffiti that forcast their eventual meteoric rise to fame and fortune.

No immediate plans for a 50th anniversary tour have been served up, but according to Charlie Watts, they are trotting out an array of books, rereleases and media that chronicle the rise to superstardom that could only befit the Greatest Rock And Roll Band (perhaps of all time, arguably), The Rolling Stones. I'm sure that, before the year is up, there will be another record set for attendance somewhere (Wembley Stadium?), an entire tour sold out in record time, and a new album (do they still call them 'albums'?) of music for the band to promote. After all, what does the Greatest Rock And Roll Band do on their 50th anniversary, sit back and rest on their laurels? Not this one! Not this time! Even if it's one last big hurrah, which I personally doubt, that sort of sendoff to retirement land would befit a music/entertainment legend such as they.

What an amazing history, what an amazing band for such an amazing time in music and beyond...If they'd packed it in back in 1975, ostensibly they'd still be regarded as the greatest, for all their seminal music had already been created before and up to that point. Keith might have required a few less blood transfusions in the long run, Charlie could have survived without a few less suits in his wardrobe, and Ron Wood would still be with Rod Stewart! Mick would have had a couple fewer divorces and Bill...well, we all know that Bill had a thing for young girls...despite his elder statesman status in the band. Jagger's latest object of lust is the indescribable Angelina Jolie, rightly so! Ronnie's kicked booze once and for all, so the boys oughtta be tuned up and ready to barnstorm the planet anytime soon.

Tomorrow we'll serve up another portion of the dish called rock and roll, and you WILL like it. Keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Julian Lennon - Everything Changes

Me and Jules go way back - all the way back to 1986 when I bumrushed him at the Muny Opera in St. Louis before his show in support of his second album, 'The Secret Value Of Daydreaming" (which has the dubious distinction of becoming the first cutout CD ever!). He signed (since sold!), posed (no chance I'll sell that!), and spent a minute talking to us despite the cold shoulder from his security detail. At that time he was still fairly new to the music scene, had his share of screaming girls to contend with, and had a few more years of musicmaking before he was chewed up and spit out by the relentless machine that either makes you or breaks you in the music business.

I imagine he was gifted to be the Lennon progeny, and all the perks that came with that lot in life served to give him a leg up in the album sales stakes. He put out a remarkable debut effort, produced by Phil Ramone (no, not the elder Ramone brother!) and even that couldn't save him from sophomore jinx as regards "Secret". I happened to love the album (I was, admittedly, still under the spell of his first release), and followed him as he made records through 1988 or so. He took a break (good thing; metal was making a resurgence and metal Jules ain't) well into the 90's, put out a great comeback album (Photograph Smile) that totally redeemed him in the eyes of the critics, and off and running was he once again.

Flash forward to 2011, Julian was sitting around, messing about with musical ideas, and after 30 or so came along, he mentions that that was the time to call some friends to begin the arduous process of creating this new work. He regards it as more "free-flowing, my favorite so far", and admits, "Obviously, if you sit down and play around for a bit, you’re going to come up with ideas. One thing led to another and pretty soon I had about 30 ideas, so I invited some friends to come over and flesh them out into songs."

To these ears it sounds very contemporary, new-agey almost, and very sophisticated, even for Julian friggin' Lennon (who I love and respect a great deal as a singer/songwriter in his own 'write')...He mixes ballad and abstract lyrics easily and the textures he weaves are so beautiful and complicated at times. He lives up to the promise of being a Lennon so completely that it's seamless how he melds songs and sounds into cohesive units of enjoyment, with love and good at the thematic heart of his work. I'm always looking forward to his latest work and I'm never dissappointed. His work is constantly amazing. It was definitely in the genes with Julian and his famous father.

Tomorow we review yet another gem in the realm of music/audio, so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up. See you then!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ringo turns 72 with peace and love

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The 1960s mop top is gone, but Ringo Starr is still flashing a peace sign.

The former Beatle marked his 72nd birthday in Nashville Saturday by holding a "peace and love" moment at noon. He asked people worldwide to do the same at 12 o'clock in their time zones.

The idea came to him in 2008 when an interviewer asked him what he wanted for his birthday. Since then, he has held events each year in cities such as New York, Chicago and Hamburg, Germany.
"It's sort of catching on more and more, the more we do," Starr said before the festivities. "We got lots of blogs from Japan and China and all over the world saying, `We did peace and love.' So it's working."

Hundreds of fans joined Starr at Hard Rock Café, shouting "peace and love" at the magic hour and holding two fingers in the air. The crowd sang "happy birthday" and the chorus of "Give Peace A Chance." One fan held up a sign declaring the last time she saw Starr in person. He pointed to her and joked, "I hugged this woman in 1964, and she still can't get over it."

Organizers presented him with a star magnolia tree that will be planted nearby. He also cut a cake shaped like a flower pot with a giant sunflower growing out of it. Party favors included frosted cookies and white, "peace and love" rubber bracelets.

Starr's family and friends showed up, including country singer Vince Gill and Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh. Walsh played in the 72-year-old's first All Starr Band in 1989, which features a rotation of celebrity musicians. Now they're related. Walsh married Marjorie Bach, who is the sister of Starr's wife, Barbara Bach.

"He is my brother-in-law, so it's kind of family business. I've been to the last couple, and I didn't want to miss this one," he said. "I think a peace and love moment would be good for the entire planet."
Starr is touring the U.S. with his 13th All Starr Band and was set to perform at the Ryman Auditorium Saturday night.

Tune in tomorrow for more peace and love! Till then, keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dual 1225 Automatic idler-drive turntable

When I was little I dreamed of having a swank stereo in my swinging bachelor pad when I was older (before I got married, in my bachelor life, of course). As a teen I window-shopped at a local stereo store (CMC Stereo Center, St. Louis, Missouri area) almosrt everyday after school. Those salespeople were so sick of us kids asking questions, nowadays kids know ipods and that's about it. We were excited about the latest Pioneer, Dual, Marantz, and McIntosh offerings as they became available. As a 16-year-old I couldn't afford anything close to what I would have wanted, my job as a part-time dishwasher was pretty inadequate as far as affording an entire stereo component system, let alone a nice Dual TT and a real Marantz receiver.

To find this calibur of gear in a second-hand store would be the coup de grace, as far as stereos go. You could build an entire system around something like that, and you would be the envy of your neighborhood. If you could afford that stuff back then you either had a good job or your parents were rich. Since I could score on neither of those fronts I was relegated to a Western Auto stereo, a plastic POS, with crummy speakers and a built-in turntable. No power to speak of and no speakers to handle power if the receiver had any in the first place! I was so glad to move beyond that when I was first into system-building.

A friend of mine had a Sony all-in-one with a Dual turntable built into the top, so the logical step-up to that was a Dual separate. They sold complete systems for a couple hundred off the individual piece price, so those who ended up getting systems usually bought the package deals to save money. The 1225 was commonly offered with a Pioneer or Marantz receiver, and the price reflected how much power the receiver had or how nice a TT was included. The 1225 was fairly far down on the list but at least it was still a Dual. No horrible BSR or Garrard or Panasonic, although a new company that came out of Panasonic, Technics was starting to bring out some nice new turntable models, with quartz-lock speed controls and s-shaped tonearms. Not to mention nice Shure cartridges and automatic features made these pretty cheap, desireable and plentiful. Nowadays they go for good money and are generally pretty well-regarded in audiophile circles.

Tomorrow we focus on another facet of my musical/audio life and all it has to offer, so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Emitt Rhodes - one man band

Emitt Lynn Rhodes is an American singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and recording engineer born February 25, 1950 in Decatur, Illinois. When he was five his family moved to Hawthorne, California. Considered by many as "the one man Beatles," his solo recordings of the early 1970s show a clear Paul McCartney influence in both vocals and musicianship. Rhodes began his career in musical ensembles The Palace Guard (as the group's drummer) and The Merry-Go-Round (multi-instrumentalist), leaving the drums to the expertise of Joel Larson.

Recording career

The Merry-Go-Round had a recording contract with A&M Records when they disbanded in 1969. Rhodes recorded songs at A&M to fulfill that contract, but A&M decided to not release it at the time. Rhodes then decided to go out on his own and bought equipment to make a recording studio in his parents' garage. Rhodes recorded his first album (Emitt Rhodes) in that home studio. He got a recording contract with ABC/Dunhill Records, who released his album, as well as the next two albums he recorded (Mirror and Farewell to Paradise). Rhodes got a $5,000 advance for Emitt Rhodes, which he spent on recording equipment. His first album was a critical success – Billboard called Rhodes "one of the finest artists on the music scene today" and later called his first album one of the "best albums of the decade". The album reached number 29 on the Billboard charts. The single "Fresh as a Daisy" reached number 54 on the pop chart. Meanwhile, shortly after Emitt Rhodes was released by Dunhill, A&M decided to release their old recordings of The American Dream, which confused record buyers. Mirror was released in 1971 and did reach the top 200 on Billboard's album chart. In 1973 Dunhill released Rhodes' final album, Farewell to Paradise.

Rhodes wrote all of the songs on his albums. On Emitt Rhodes, Mirror, and Farewell to Paradise, he played all of the instruments and sang all of the vocals while recording himself in his home recording studio. He used a four-track recorder for the instruments for Emitt Rhodes and transferred those to an eight-track recorder to add the vocals. He used an eight-track recorder for Mirror, and Farewell to Paradise. The mixdown engineer on Farewell to Paradise was Curt Boettcher, the producer and musician who is best remembered for his work on the "soft pop" albums by Sagittarius and The Millennium.

Rhodes' contract with Dunhill called for an album every six months (six albums over three years) – a schedule that was impossible for Rhodes to meet, due to writing all of the songs and recording each instrument and vocal individually by himself. Dunhill sued Rhodes for $250,000 and withheld royalties because of his failure to deliver albums on the timescale required by the contract. Emitt Rhodes took nearly a year to record, the album Mirror took nine months, and Farewell to Paradise took over a year.


After Farewell to Paradise, Rhodes left the music business as a performer and released no more material, except on compilations. He continued to record his songs in his studio, but they were unreleased except for one song on Listen, Listen. He worked as a recording engineer and record producer for Elektra Records. He runs his own studio for recording other acts.
Rhodes' song "Lullabye" (from Emitt Rhodes) was featured in the 2001 Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums.

In January and February 2009, Italian director Cosimo Messeri shot a documentary movie about Emitt Rhodes's vicissitudes: life, past, present, troubles and hopes. The movie, entitled The One Man Beatles, was selected for the International Rome Film Festival 2009, and received standing ovations. In 2010 "The One Man Beatles" was nominated for David di Donatello Award as Best Documentary of 2010. Its US Premiere screening is scheduled for May 29, 2010 at the Rhino Records Pop Up Store in Westwood, California.

New songs

Also in 2009, after many years of rumors as to the possibility of a new CD, Emitt once again entered the recording studios with a new band and all new material. He is joined by the co-founder of The Grass Roots and The Merry-Go-Round drummer Joel Larson, co-founder and former bassist for Counting Crows, Matt Malley, and guitarists Jim Rolfe and Dan Mayer. Also participating on three of Emitt's new songs is legendary guitarist Richard Thompson, whose band Fairport Convention covered Emitt's song "Time Will Show the Wiser" in 1967. Bangles' members Vicki Peterson and Debbi Peterson, who covered Emitt's song "Live" on their debut album, also make an appearance.
In 2010, Emitt, along with Rhodes Band’s Matt Malley, joined another ex-member of Fairport Convention, Iain Matthews, on a new version of "Time Will Show the Wiser", arranged, produced and performed by Nick Vernier Band. This recording, initially released on Nick Vernier Band's "Sessions"-album, marked Emitt's first new release as a featured artist in almost four decades. Both Emitt and Iain recorded this Rhodes-original early on in their careers, the song being starting points as well as signature works for The Merry-Go-Round and Fairport Convention respectively. The new version united the two singers in an Indian musical setting. Also in 2010, a tribute album titled Long Time, No See was released. It contained Emitt Rhodes songs recorded by various artists. On November 3, 2011, Emitt released three new songs on iTunes titled "Just Me And You", "What's A Man to Do" and "This Wall Between Us", featuring back up singing by Vicki and Debbi Peterson of the Bangles, and guitar work by Richard Thompson.


Studio albums
  • The Merry-Go-Round (1967, with The Merry-Go-Round) reached #190 on the Billboard 200
  • Emitt Rhodes (1970) #29
  • Mirror (1971) #182
  • The American Dream (1971) #194
  • Farewell to Paradise (1973)
  • Daisy-Fresh from Hawthorne, California (The Best of the Dunhill Years)
Daisy-Fresh includes all of the songs from Emmit Rhodes, six songs from Mirror, four songs from Farewell to Paradise, plus the single "Tame the Lion".
  • Listen, Listen: The Best of Emitt Rhodes
Listen, Listen contains five songs from The Merry-Go-Round, one song from The American Dream, seven songs from Emitt Rhodes, four songs from Mirror, two songs from Farewell to Paradise, plus the single "Tame the Lion" and the previously-unreleased 1980 song "Isn't it So".
  • The Merry-Go-Round: Listen, Listen: The Definitive Collection
A nearly complete collection of Merry-Go-Round songs, almost all written and sung by Rhodes. The The Merry-Go-Round (stereo version) and American Dream LPs are included in their entirety, as are the mono mix of "Time Will Show the Wiser" and a few non-album singles. Not included are the mono mix of The Merry-Go-Round and the unique single mixes of "Come Ride, Come Ride" and "'Til the Day After".
  • Royal Tenenbaums: Collector's Edition CD
"Lullabye" appears.
  • The Emitt Rhodes Recordings (1969–1972), two CDs:
    • CD 1: The American Dream (all thirteen songs from both versions) and Emitt Rhodes
    • CD 2: Mirror, Farewell to Paradise, plus the single "Tame the Lion"
with The Merry-Go-Round:
  • "Live" #63 on pop chart
  • "Time Will Show the Wiser"
  • "You're a Very Lovely Woman" #94 on pop chart
  • "She Laughed Loud"
  • "Listen, Listen"
  • "'Til the Day After"
  • "Fresh as a Daisy" #54 on pop chart
  • "You Take the Dark Out of the Night"
  • "Live Till You Die"
  • "With My Face on the Floor"
  • "Love Will Stone You"
  • "Really Wanted You"
  • "Golden Child of God"
  • "Tame The Lion" / "Those That Die"
  • "Just Me And You", "What's A Man To Do" / "This Wall Between Us" Released on iTunes, November 3, 2011

Emitt's influence on me has been immense, as I have various traits in common with him. I started with the punk band Max Load in 1979 as a drummer, never having played before (more or less...I considered myself a drummer and studied drummers from Latin percussionists to rock drummers to drum and bugle corps players, as well as studying them while in junior and high school band, but never even owned so much as a snare drum). It's safe to say that if I'd have been allowed to have a set I would not be a multi-instrumentalist in the Emitt Rhodes style, I'd simply be a drummer. My curiosity drove me as a musician, and after starting as a brass player at age 9, I moved to bass at age 15, left brass at age 16, and eventually learned enough to release my own Emitt-inspired solo LP in the mid-90's, "Not To be Found". As a matter of fact, it never did get found! That's an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy if I ever saw one! Obscurity is the name of the game with this project, as I used the pseudonym (my on-air DJ moniker as well) Nowhere Man.

Tomorrow we get into more of the things that either drove me as a kid or influenced my path as an adult musician/fan/audiophile. Keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!

I'm pretty upset.

I wrote a review of the latest Beach Boys LP ("That's Why God Made The Radio") a couple days ago... the next thing I noticed is that it was accidently deleted or taken down somehow. I don't know exactly how it disappeared, but it did. I Googled my review and there was an entry to the specific review that led to my site, but no review! So, in its absence I recommend that everyone go get a copy, send me a review and I'll post the findings here, whether you thought it sucked or ruled. I think it rules despite a couple weak spots. Get on it. Write your review, however long, and email it to me at my email address: I'll recap the reviews. I'll be trying to figure out if I blew it or if my site was sabotaged somehow. Anyone?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tom Petty with and without the Heartbreakers

Thomas Earl "Tom" Petty (born October 20, 1950) is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He is the frontman of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and was a founding member of the late 1980s supergroup Traveling Wilburys and Mudcrutch. He has also performed under the pseudonyms of Charlie T. Wilbury, Jr. and Muddy Wilbury.

He has recorded a number of hit singles with the Heartbreakers and as a solo artist, many of which remain heavily played on adult contemporary and classic rock radio. His music, and notably his hits, have become popular among younger generations as he continues to host sold-out shows. Throughout his career, Petty and his collaborators have sold 60 million albums.

Childhood and early life

Tom Petty was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida, and attended Gainesville High School. His interest in rock and roll music began at age 10 when he met Elvis Presley. In the summer of 1961, his uncle was working on the set of Presley's film Follow That Dream in nearby Ocala, Florida and invited Petty to come down and watch the shoot. He instantly became an Elvis Presley fan and soon traded his Wham-O slingshot for a box of Elvis 45s. In a 2006 interview on the National Public Radio program Fresh Air, Petty said that he knew he wanted to be in a band the moment he saw The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. One of his first guitar teachers was Don Felder, a fellow Gainesville resident, who would later join the Eagles. As a young man, Petty worked briefly on the grounds crew for the University of Florida, but never attended as a student. An Ogeechee lime tree that he planted while employed at the University is now called the Tom Petty tree.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1976–1987)

Shortly after forming his musical aspirations, Petty started a band known as the Epics, later to evolve into Mudcrutch. Although the band, which featured future Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, were popular in Gainesville, their recordings went unnoticed by a mainstream audience. However, their only single, "Depot Street", remains popular amongst fans. The original Mudcrutch included guitarist Danny Roberts who was later replaced by bass guitarist Charlie Souza.
After Mudcrutch split up, Petty reluctantly agreed to pursue a solo career. Tench decided to form his own group, whose sound Petty appreciated. Eventually, Petty and Campbell collaborated with Tench and fellow members Ron Blair and Stan Lynch, resulting in the first line-up of the Heartbreakers. Their first album, simply titled Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, gained minute popularity amongst American audiences, achieving more success in Britain. The single "Breakdown" was re-released in 1977 and peaked at #40 in early 1978 after the band toured in the United Kingdom in support of Nils
Lofgren. The debut album was released by Shelter Records, which at that time was distributed by ABC Records.

Their second album, You're Gonna Get It!, marked the band's first Top 40 album and featured the singles "I Need to Know" and "Listen To Her Heart". Their third album, Damn the Torpedoes, quickly went platinum, selling nearly two million copies; it includes their breakthrough singles "Don't Do Me Like That", "Here Comes My Girl" and "Refugee".

In September 1979, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performed at a Musicians United for Safe Energy concert at Madison Square Garden in New York.[15] Their rendition of "Cry To Me" was featured on the resulting No Nukes album.

1981's Hard Promises became a top-ten hit, going platinum and spawning the hit single "The Waiting". The album also featured Petty's first duet, "Insider" with Stevie Nicks.

Bass player Ron Blair quit the group, and was replaced on the fifth album (1982's Long After Dark) by Howie Epstein; the resulting line-up would last until 1994. In 1985, the band participated in Live Aid, playing four songs at Philadelphia's John F. Kennedy Stadium. Southern Accents was also released in 1985. This album included the hit single "Don't Come Around Here No More", which was produced by Dave Stewart. The song's video featured Petty dressed as the Mad Hatter, mocking and chasing Alice from the book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, then cutting and eating her as if she were a cake. The ensuing tour led to the live album Pack Up the Plantation: Live! and to an invitation from Bob Dylan; Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers joined him on his True Confessions Tour and also played some dates with the Grateful Dead in 1986 and 1987. Also in 1987, the group released Let Me Up (I've Had Enough) which includes "Jammin' Me" which Petty wrote with Dylan.

Traveling Wilburys, solo career, and "return" to the Heartbreakers (1988–1991)

In 1988, Petty became a founding member of the Traveling Wilburys, along with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. The band's first song, "Handle With Care", was intended as a B-side of one of Harrison's singles, but was judged too good for that purpose and the group decided to record a full album, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1. A second Wilburys album, mischievously titled Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3 and recorded without the recently deceased Orbison, followed in 1990. The album was named Vol. 3 as a response to a series of bootlegged studio sessions being sold as Travelling Wilburys Vol. 2. In recent years, Petty has begun to incorporate Travelling Wilburys songs into his live shows, consistently playing "Handle With Care" in shows from 2003–2006, and for his 2008 tour making "End of the Line" a staple of his setlist.

In 1989, Petty released Full Moon Fever, which featured hits "I Won't Back Down", "Free Fallin'" and "Runnin' Down a Dream". It was nominally his first solo album, although several Heartbreakers and other well-known musicians participated: Mike Campbell co-produced the album with Petty and Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra, and backing musicians included Campbell, Lynne, and fellow Wilburys Roy Orbison and George Harrison (Ringo Starr appears on drums in the video for "I Won't Back Down", but they were actually performed by Phil Jones). Since all the original Traveling Wilburys except Bob Dylan participated on the album, it is sometimes considered the unofficial Traveling Wilbury's "Volume Two".

Petty & the Heartbreakers reformed in 1991 and released Into the Great Wide Open, which was co-produced by Lynne and included the hit singles "Learning To Fly" and "Into The Great Wide Open", the latter featuring Johnny Depp, Gabrielle Anwar, Faye Dunaway, and Matt LeBlanc in the video.
Before leaving MCA Records, Tom and the Heartbreakers got together to record, live in the studio, two new songs for a Greatest Hits package. "Mary Jane's Last Dance" and Thunderclap Newman's "Something in the Air". This was Stan Lynch's last recorded performance with The Heartbreakers. Tom commented "He left right after the session without really saying goodbye." The package went on to sell over ten million copies, therefore receiving diamond certification by the RIAA.

Move to Warner Bros. Records (1991–present)

In 1989, while still under contract to MCA, Petty secretly signed a lucrative deal with Warner Bros. Records, to which the Traveling Wilburys had been signed. His first album on his new label, 1994's Wildflowers (Petty's 2nd of 3 solo albums), included the singles "You Don't Know How It Feels", "You Wreck Me," "It's Good to Be King" and "A Higher Place". The album, produced by Rick Rubin, sold over three million copies in the U.S.

In 1996, Petty, with the Heartbreakers, released a soundtrack to the movie She's the One, starring Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Aniston (see Songs and Music from "She's the One"). The album's singles were "Walls (Circus)" (featuring Lindsey Buckingham), "Climb that Hill" and a song written by Lucinda Williams, "Change the Locks." The album also included a cover of "Asshole," a song by Beck. The same year, the band accompanied Johnny Cash on Unchained, for which Cash would win a Grammy for Best Country Album (Cash would later cover Petty's "I Won't Back Down" on American III: Solitary Man).

In 1999, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers released their last album with Rubin at the helm, Echo. Two songs were released as singles in the U.S., "Room at the Top" and "Free Girl Now". The album reached number 10 in the U.S. album charts.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers played "I Won't Back Down" at the America: A Tribute to Heroes benefit concert for victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. The following year, they played "Taxman", "I Need You", and "Handle With Care" (joined for the last by Jeff Lynne, Dhani Harrison, and Jim Keltner) at the Concert for George in honor of Petty's friend and former bandmate George Harrison.

2002's The Last DJ included several attacks on the music industry, criticizing it for greed, watering down music, and releasing pop music made by scantily-clad young women and reached number 9 on the U.S. charts. Tom has commented though that he didn't like being called "bitter" by the media and that The Last DJ is full of hope, if you look for it.

In 2005, Petty began hosting his own show "Buried Treasure" on XM Radio, on which he shares selections from his personal record collection.

In February 2006, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers agreed to be the headline act at the fifth annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. Following that announcement came the itinerary for Tom & the Heartbreakers' "30th Anniversary Tour". Special guests included Stevie Nicks, Pearl Jam, The Allman Brothers, Trey Anastasio, The Derek Trucks Band, and The Black Crowes (who also opened for Petty on their 2005 Summer Tour). Stevie Nicks would join Tom and the Heartbreakers on stage for renditions of "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" and "Insider," and "I Need to Know" where Nicks took the lead vocal spot. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam also joined Tom and the Heartbreakers on stage at some shows where Vedder sang the lead on "The Waiting" (which is available on the Runnin' Down a Dream package: bonus features) and a verse in the concert-closer "American Girl".

In July 2006, Petty released a new solo album titled Highway Companion, which included the hit "Saving Grace". It debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200, becoming Petty's highest chart position since the introduction of the Nielsen SoundScan system for tracking album sales in 1991. Highway Companion was briefly promoted on the "30th Anniversary Tour" with the Heartbreakers in 2006 with performances of "Saving Grace", "Square One", "Down South," and "Flirting with Time".

In 2006, the American Broadcasting Company hired Petty to do the music for its National Basketball Association playoffs coverage.

During the summer of 2007, Petty reunited with his old bandmates Tom Leadon and Randall Marsh along with Heartbreakers Benmont Tench & Mike Campbell to reform his pre-Heartbreakers band Mudcrutch. The band originally formed in 1967 in Gainesville, Florida before relocating to California where they released one single in 1974 before breaking up. The quintet recorded this self titled new album of fourteen songs that was released on April 29, 2008 (on iTunes, an additional song "Special Place" was available if the album was pre-ordered). The band supported the album with a brief tour of California in the spring of 2008.

In 2007, artists as diverse as Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams, Norah Jones, Lenny Kravitz and Paul McCartney paid tribute to Fats Domino on the double-CD covers set Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino. The album's sales helped buy instruments for students in New Orleans public schools and they contributed to the building of a community center in the city’s Hurricane Katrina-damaged Ninth Ward. Tom and the Heartbreakers contributed a critically acclaimed cover of “I'm Walkin'" to the package.

In January 2008, it was announced that the band would be embarking on a North American Tour which was set to start on May 30 following the appearance at Super Bowl XLII. Steve Winwood served as the opening act, who joined Petty and the Heartbreakers on stage at select shows, starting on June 6, 2008 in Philadelphia, PA. Winwood's Spencer Davis Group hit "Gimme Some Loving" was performed and occasionally his Blind Faith hit "Can't Find My Way Home" was performed before it.

On February 3, 2008, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers performed during the halftime-show of Super Bowl XLII at the University of Phoenix Stadium. They played "American Girl", "I Won't Back Down", "Free Fallin'", and "Runnin' Down a Dream", in that order. 'I Won't Back Down' was used in the closing credits of the coverage on BBC Two.

Petty has been managed by Tony Dimitriades since 1976.


Petty's first appearance in film took place in 1978, when he had a cameo in FM. He later had a small part in 1987's Made in Heaven, and appeared in several episodes of It's Garry Shandling's Show between 1987 and 1990, playing himself as one of Garry Shandling's neighbors. Petty was also featured in Shandling's other show, The Larry Sanders Show, as one of the Story within a story final guests. In the episode, Petty gets bumped from the show and nearly comes to blows with Greg Kinnear.

Petty appeared in the 1997 movie The Postman, directed by and starring Kevin Costner, as The Bridge City Mayor (from the dialogue it is implied that he is playing a future version of himself).
In 2002, he appeared on The Simpsons in the episode "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation". In it, he spoofed himself as a "tutor" to Homer Simpson on the art of lyric writing, composing a brief song about a drunk girl driving down the road while concerned with the state of public schools. Later in the episode, he loses a toe during a riot.

Petty had a recurring role as the voice of Elroy "Lucky" Kleinschmidt in the animated comedy series King of the Hill.

In 2008, Petty made a guest appearance as himself in the Comedy Central show Lil Bush's season 2 finale. He is asked to write a song for Bush and his cronies. At the end, he is shown riding off into the sunset in a flying car alongside Iggy Pop, who is a regular voice actor on the people.

In 2010, Petty made a 5-second cameo appearance with comedian Andy Samberg in a musical video titled "Great Day" featured on the bonus DVD as part of Lonely Island's new album "Turtleneck & Chain". In this video, Samberg plays an enthusiastic, upbeat cocaine addict who believes that Alec Baldwin (who also co-stars) and Tom Petty are his very best friends--only to be quickly rejected by both. After finding out the hard way they are quite the opposite and feeling heartbroken, the addict then briefly sings about losing them.

Petty's career has been a long hard slog to the top, which he well deserves for all the hard work and time put in. He's been blessed with constant companionship with excellent musicians to help get his message across, and his laid-back style suits his music to a T. His cartoon voice-overs for "King Of The Hill" as Lucky cracks me up. It's a perfect depiction of the real Tom.

Tomorrow we feature yet another of my favorites, whether it be music or audio, so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!