Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pioneer SX-636 Stereo Receiver

I recently blogged about the SX-636's bigger sibling, the SX-838, and described it as the "object of my teenage lust"! Of course, I was being facetious, I had normal red-blooded proclivities as a teen, just like most. I was a stereo nerd, but it wasn't my only calling. I mentioned the SX-838 as my object of teenage lust but it could easily have been the SX-636. They were unobtainable to a 16-year-old who had just started work for the first time, and could barely get enough hours as a part-time dishwasher. I sure did a lot of window shopping for them, though, and literally wore the catalogs out from dreaming. It wasn't until much later, in my twenties, did I start shopping in the second-hand stores and finding bargains on stereo components of this quality level. It was actually just scratching the surface of what was available out there, and there were much better and even more expensive models to choose from.

I recently, within the last year, obtained a 636, some time after getting an 838, so I had a pretty good reference for what I could expect to hear upon auditioning. My 636 is in reserve stock as we speak, but its build quality and great looks could propel it into a postion of prominence in the michaelhigh stereo repertoire if enough catastrophies started snowballing! It has stellar specs for a 25 wpc receiver, and my unit is exceptionally clean and virtually mark-free, especially given its age, not quite forty years old. It sounds and looks great, and its looks belie its age by a country mile. The tuner is strong and sensitive, and pulls in stations most receivers would scoff at. That was always Pioneer's forte, their excellent and precise tuners. It has the usual control set - bass and treble, high and low cut, provisions for two tape decks, an auxiliary line level channel, AM and FM stereo radio, and one phono input with RIAA equalization. FM muting keeps the static down between stations, and there are provisions for three sets of speakers to be hooked up, with the ability to hear any two sets at a time due to impedance limitations.

The dial is familiar Pioneer blue, and brushed silver is the style theme, a classic 70's look. This screams "silver receiver" when you see it. There were many receivers in the 70's that wished they were Pioneers, and that reputation for look and sound made them famous and sought-after for decades to come. Their rock-solid reliability and quality control meant that they would certainly last well into the future with minimal upkeep, and mine has never been serviced and sounds immaculate. If only automobiles had this level of reliability...they'd be even more expensive than they already are!

Here's a quick rundown of the important specifications:

Solid State / TubedSolid State
Power25 Watts / Channel @ 8 Ω(1)
27 Watts / Channel @ 8 Ω @ 1 kHz(2)
Power Bandwidth5 Hz - 60 kHz(1)
Total Harmonic Distortion0.5 %(1)
Intermodulation Distortion0.5 %(1)
Signal-to-Noise Ratio70 dB (Phono)(1)
Sensitivity2.5 milliVolts (Phono)(1)
Tuner Sensitivity1.9 microVolts(1)
Tuner Capture Ratio1.0 dB(1)
Tuner Total Harmonic Distortion0.2 % (Mono)(1)
0.4 % (Stereo)(1)
Tuner Signal-to-Noise Ratio70 dB(2)
Tuner Frequency Response20 Hz - 15 kHz +0.2 dB, -2.0 dB(2)
Tuner Stereo Separation40 dB(1)
Tuner Selectivity60 dB(2)
Dimensions (W x D x H)19 x 16 x 6 in.(1)
[48.26 x 40.64 x 15.24 cm]
Weight24 lbs.(1)
[10.9 kg]
PriceUSD $349.95(2)
CAD $439.95(1)
  1. Source: Source: 'Audio Scene Canada' 1976 Canadian Hi-Fi Buyer's Catalogue - December 1975
  2. Source: Source: 'Stereo Review' Stereo Directory & Buying Guide 1976 - c. 1975

Tomorrow we'll feature yet another audio/music topic of interest, so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Meet The Beatles!

The second official release in a long string of highly successful LP's from arguably the most famous and highly successful and influential band of the 60's (perhaps all time!), Meet The Beatles! has a storied history, and in fact many folks can still recall their lives and what was going on when they were in the throes of this monumental album. For me it really got me thinking about what I wanted to do in life, as I was only 5 years old upon its initial release. As you can imagine, at that age there are a lot of wheels spinning around in any kid's head. Their ultramodern style, the unprecedented sound quality, and the big picture in popular music in general was starting to focus up pretty well for me, as well as for the world at large. They defined the lifestyle and attitude that prevailed in young America at the time, and for many years to come, far beyond their seven year heyday. When I heard and saw all the female reaction I had a pretty good idea what I wanted to became an obsession for me and I actually started studying it very seriously 4 years later. My education started a lot less formally as I listened to my radio under my pillow each night, and tthat practice formed my attitude toward the British Invasion in particular, and music in general. It's still by far my favorite genre of rock music. From Wikipedia on the moody, magnificent Meet The Beatles!:

Meet The Beatles! is the second Beatles' album released in the United States, despite the "first album" claim on its cover. Released on 20 January 1964, it was the first Capitol Records Beatles album, issued in both mono and stereo. Capitol is a sister company to Parlophone, the Beatles' British label, and both are subsidiaries of EMI. Meet The Beatles! reached the number one spot on Billboard album charts starting on 15 February 1964. It remained at number one for an impressive 11 weeks before being replaced by The Beatles' Second Album; the first time that an artist replaced itself at the number one album position.

Ten days prior to the release of Meet the Beatles!, Chicago's Vee-Jay Records released The Beatles' first album, Introducing... The Beatles, which had been delayed for release from the previous summer. Perhaps as a result of the Vee-Jay release, Liberty Music Shops advertised in the New York Times of 12 January 1964 that Meet The Beatles was available for purchase, an ad not authorised by Capitol. The cover featured Robert Freeman's portrait that was used for the UK With The Beatles release with a tinted blue hue added to the original, stark black-and-white photograph.

In 2004, the album was released on CD in stereo and mono as part of The Capitol Albums, Volume 1 box set with the catalogue number CDP 7243 8 66875 2 4.

In 2012, Meet The Beatles! was voted 53rd on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time".

Meet The Beatles! opens with the December 1963 Capitol single "I Want to Hold Your Hand"/"I Saw Her Standing There", and the B-side "This Boy" from the original November 1963 Parlophone single of "I Want to Hold Your Hand". It contains many of the tracks from the earlier British album With The Beatles and shares the same cover photograph. However, "You Really Got a Hold On Me", "Devil in Her Heart", "Money (That's What I Want)", "Please Mister Postman" and "Roll Over Beethoven" were omitted from Meet The Beatles! and released on the next Capitol album, The Beatles' Second Album. The latter two tracks were also released on the EP Four by The Beatles.

The track "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was originally released as a UK (and US) single A-side and "This Boy" was originally released on the "I Want to Hold Your Hand" B-side in the UK. "I Saw Her Standing There" was from Please Please Me, and the remaining tracks were from With The Beatles. The songs "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "This Boy" are also in duophonic [fake] stereo, due to the lack of a proper stereo mix that was supposed to be given to Capitol. In addition, "I Saw Her Standing There" has a special mono remix done specifically for the American single and album release.

There are LP's that have a seminal effect on the listening audience, and Meet The Beatles was definitely one of those. Like the Stones, and others to a somewhat lesser degree, they helped define natural segments of the rock audience. Good versus bad has always been a marketing tool used to great effect, and this so-called rivalry between the Beatles and the Stones was a prime example of how two bands who were pitted against each other so vigorously were in fact fairly close, and over the years orchestrated their releases not to coincide with one another. Each could take advantage of its album's initial promotion and sales without undue attention being usurped from either side.

John and Paul were hitting their stride at this time, with plenty of songs in the Northern Songs roster, and they already knew how to work shadings and variety into their individual and shared compositions. Although every song they wrote bore the collective Lennon-McCartney label, they each wrote in a style that could easily be unraveled as to who the primary author really was. In a Playboy interview that John conducted before his passing, he laid bare the fact that they wrote separately and contributed middle sections to each others' songs. In rapid fire style John revealed who wrote what on each of their biggest songs, documented amongst the nudity for all posterior! (hehe)... In a similar way that the Beatles were pitted against the Stones, John was pidgeonholed as the rocker, and Paul was generally characterized as the schmaltzy balladeer. They both transcended those artificial boundaries fairly easily and often, and sometimes within the same song!

The album featured songs from the Beatles' live repertoire, dominated by Lennon-McCartney compositions, covers, and the lone Harrison classic, "Don't Bother Ne". I'm sure that, myself included, a legion of George fans were forming up amid the Lennon-McCartney fans, in terms of sonwriting forces within the Beatles, and George had yet to establish himself as this LP was being released. I now realize that upon the dissolution of the Beatles, George had such a wealth of material that he could and did release a tripple album! All Things Must Pass was monumental in its scope, and will be included in this review series, as will all the solo Beatles offerings as well.

When the Rolling Stones branched out into performing and recording primarily their own compositions as opposed to blues covers, they consulted with the Beatles and actually borrowed a Lennon-McCartney song ("I Wanna be Your Man") to get the ball rolling. After hedging their bets with that loaner, Mick and Keef legendarily locked themselves into a kitchen in the Jagger/Richard flat and vowed not to emerge from their self-imposed exile until they produced a reasonable song. "As Tears Go By" was the inaugural Jagger-Richard composition to launch their amazing (and amazingly long) songwriting career that is still going strong in 2012. We'll feature reviews of selected Stones offerings in future editions of mind's eye music (that way we'll never run out of blog topics!).

Since I grew up in the States (and only ever ventured outside its bounaries once upon a time in the 70's while touring and performing with the Black Knights Drum And Bugle Corps), I'll focus on the American releases as I continue reviewing the Beatles' oeuvre. Next installment in this series is the next Beatles album, their second in the States (not counting their first...sort of brings to mind that old comedy routine!), The Beatles' Second Album. I'll return tomorrow with more audio/music fun, so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wrestling with media players

I have really learned to love computer audio, especially the high definition files you can get online from a number of sources. It's generally accepted that JRiver is the gold standard when it comes to media players, and there's even a free Media Jukebox (JRiver 14) that allows the listener to harness the features of JRiver Media Center 17 (their latest iteration) with a few less doo dads than their upgrade (read pay) version. There are some features that you simply MUST pay for, to get the very best sound, with ASIO and kernel streaming. They are considered the final word in audiophile streaming, but personally my ears aren't golden enough to miss them! Thank God for small miracles.

I had been using MediaMonkey, another way to harness lossless files, and it taught me the ropes as far as how to set up your player to suit your individual tastes. Tagging is a must, and when a file needs certain portions of information that isn't included, that's when you get industrious and begin the research routine. Wikipedia is your friend when it comes to discographical info, and Amazon has a nice feature that allows you to sample audio from millions of mp3 files to help the investigative process. Classical music requires a lot of particular information, but for that reason among others I can be glad that classical isn't my cup of tea. Off topic, I use Wikipedia at least once a day if not more, for a number of questions that seem to continally pop up on a ton of diferent topics. I guess I'm just crazy curious about so many things that I could wear that thing out, for sure!

It sure is nice to put the computer on shuffle and sit back with your favorite libation and simply enjoy your selections. I have a 37" Vizio monitor so I can surf songs from my couch, but for those who like to go the wireless route, there are Android apps for JRiver that allow you to do your surfing with a variety of Android-enabled tablets with your playlists set up in the pad's memory. In fact, you can arrange it so that your pad can read your entire library and access all the commands you normally could at your PC, not to mention multiple zone streaming. If I didn't have the large screen I'd definitely opt for the pad solution. The software, designed for wifi operation, is called Gizmo, and it's perfectly synced to JRiver's latest versions.

In conclusion, computer audio has made my listening much more the relaxing and easy experience with modern appliances and applications. I would never imagined even five years ago I'd be listening like this, and in high definition to boot. If you haven't experienced that treat yet, you owe yourself the indulgence as it takes the listening experience to another three or four higher levels at least. The sky is the limit when it comes to innovations in audio, and if you're still listening to mp3 because it fits on your ipod better, go for wav and experience compressionless audio that opens up a whole world of fidelity and resolution that you've never witnessed before. Ask someone who knows and you'll have them evangelizing the experience to you upon first mention!

Don't be afraid to get your feet wet with computer audio, it's definitely the wave of the future, as is the whole idea of wireless pad remotes/multi-zone audio over wifi. Tomorrow we'll get our whole head wet with brainy ideas like these, so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

KSHE 95 - Real Rock Radio for all of St. Louis

KSHE is a mainstream rock radio station licensed to Crestwood, Missouri (its original studio location on Watson Road) which serves the Greater St. Louis area. KSHE is located at 94.7 MHz and uses the slogan "KSHE 95, Real Rock Radio". The station's studios have been located in the Powerhouse building at St. Louis Union Station since the 1990s, while the transmitter is located in Shrewsbury. KSHE is owned by Emmis Communications and has been since 1984.

These specimens are known as "KSHE bumper stickers", circa 1970's. They were often seen on cars, and stuck like graffiti virtually anywhere a clean, flat surface could promote the longest-running classic-rock station in the entire civilized world! They were very common back in the day, and they still surface sometimes in the damnest places... like inside a gatefold double LP cover (and occasionally, accompanied there by some long-lost green leafy substance abandoned after a long night's listening and burn session!) or a book.

Here's some history, by way of Wikipedia. I'm taking literary licence to edit information that is either superfluous, impertinent, or factually incorrect, as is often the case with Wikipedia. So, on with the story!

KSHE started broadcasting in 1961, and were directed to women as they performed duties at home (hence the "SHE" in KSHE). In 1967 KSHE changed its format to Progressive Rock eventually evolving to Album-Oriented Rock as time went on. It's possible (and merely suggested to be true) that their first song after the change was "White Rabbit" by Jefferson Airplane. This is often a point of conjecture as the transition, unlike nowadays, was not necessarily overnight. The new rock format, transitioned from classical to easy listening/light programming to progressive rock, was in fact a gradual one, taking place over a period of a couple few months.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, KSHE was influential in the growth of many midwestern bands such as Styx, REO Speedwagon and Head East. KSHE had a wide and varied play list, which popularized such rock artists as Lake from Germany and Stingray from South Africa as well as playing the classics from the more well-known rock legends.

KSHE sometimes played nonstop for up to four hours, until they finally got into trouble with the FCC. KSHE would frequently play concept albums in their entirety, as well as entire album sides from favorites such as Rush. Sunday evenings were dedicated to playing seven albums from seven different artists on a show called The Seventh Day, a long-running program that exists to this day. LP's usually were played from 7:00 pm until after midnight, and currently the show starts at 6, with Aftermath occuring in the time space left over after the final album of the evening. The concept was later used by other stations around the country, most noteably LA rock giant and sister station KLOS, with their long-running feature hosted by on-air personality and author Joe Benson.

Instead of the broadcast convention of reading news ripped from the Associated Press or United Press International wire machine ("rip and read"), early KSHE newscasts introduced news topics by preceding the story with rock music excerpts that had lyrics introducing or commenting on the topic. They transitioned to "KSHE NEWS", which was intro'ed by "One Fine Morning" by Lighthouse, and featured rock news, birthdays and historical tidbits associated with that particular day.

The station mascot is a sunglass-wearing pig named Sweet Meat, a likeness of which originally appeared on the 1969 Blodwyn Pig album Ahead Rings Out. Like the pig pictured on the LP cover, Sweet Meat first appeared with a joint in his mouth. This "controversial" detail disappeared in the early '80s. It has now since returned. The hippies demanded that the joint be reinstated, as it (and weed in general) remains a staple in their repertoire!

Shelly Grafman was the program director in the station's heyday, and he was the one that, taking a cue from Tom Donahue (KSAN, San Francisco legend and father of free-form rock radio, as it was known in the mid-60's when it originated in the Bay Area and became popular worldwide), established an open-ended policy of avoiding the hits and concentrating on the listenable and worthy album cuts to be programmed for airplay. This format device was welcomed by the audience that was tired of the yak yak DJ's of the AM Top 40 stations of the day. Naturally, the longer cuts started surfacing, and this fueled a greater interest in LP's in general. Local stereo stores popped up, initially transitioning from television dealers, and served as the station's first advertisers. KSHE, on FM (still a burgeoning radio concept in itself) was an ideal tool for auditioning audio gear, as its crystal-clear sound quality and eclectic programming sold millions of units for the CMCs, St. Louis Stereos, and mom and pop stores, not to mention the record stores in the area. Every small town in the area had record stores (these were the days before Wallyworld, after all!), and the records played on KSHE got sold as well. Shelly had a knack for picking the song off an album that had that potential to break an artist locally as well as nationally and internatonally, and he would use china marker on promo records to indicate the picks (he'd mark through the others!). Personalities were free to use their own records as well.

This is Paul Stanley performing in 1974's KSHE Kite Fly, an annual station event that took on a life of its own, featuring Rush the following year, and spawned birthday party concerts as well as other events (soccer games, blood drives, and promotional appearances by the jocks). The station continues to be a local force, maintaining a large presence in historic Union Station in downtown. Former first program director Ron Elz (aka Johnny Rabbitt) still holds forth on local AM blowtorch KMOX (Clear Channel) on his Saturday night Route 66 program, featuring 50's/60's AM chart fare.

The station continues to play a unique brand of classic and modern rock music, not as cutting-edge as back in the day, but they continue to rock the music fans of St. Louis nevertheless. This gives them the distinction (and bragging rights as well!) of being the longest-runnung classic rock formatted radio station in the world. John Ulett, on-air personality and stadium PA announcer for the 2011 world champion St. Louis Cardinals major league baseball team (National League, Central Division) still programs the Klassics Show, a slightly-more-than-vague attempt at recalling the glory days of the radio station and its eclectic program material. His current theme? KSHE Klassics A-Z.

More later on KSHE's latest venture, a solid return to the music that made them famous, in the HD (hybrid digital, not high definition) format, KSHE 2, programmed by longtime St.Louis radio personality Radio Rich Dalton.

Tomorrow we'll feature another item of interest in the michaelhigh pantheon, so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Listening with friends

The world of an audiophile can be a solitary existance, for myriad reasons. For one, differing tastes in music can be isolating. In fact, differing opinions over which of 47 different flavors of alternative rock one could/should appreciate can be divisive, let alone a listener that likes a particular genre over others. A classical fan might not be able or willing to sit through a session featuring Type O Negative, and by the same token, someone who shaves their eyebrows and listens to Marilyn Manson everyday might not listen to too much Brahms, for example. They might appreciate the aesthetics of certain baroque stylings, but it's more likely that someone who's into country might like Wilco as well.

It's always good when two musical minds can merge over a listening session if that action can have some greater purpose. I have a friend who spends a goodly amount of time hanging out at a local radio station that has a somewhat open mind about what they term air-ready rock music. They are actually a commercial entity, but although they rely on ad revenue as a means of support, as do all commercial concerns, radio or not, their programming style is a bit looser than most local rock stations. To characterize their stylings would be to place them just left of center on the socio-political radio dial. Their programming ideas falls just to the right of public radio's scale.

My friend has an in at this station and attemps to sway their programming angle to one that's in tune with his tastes for obscurer, off-center music, stuff I like to call "collectible unknowns". The artists in this category would have had their run in the late 60's/early-to-mid-70's when bands and artists could get major record contracts on suggestion from other musicians and producers who recognize a spark of talent and drive to put out, say, a whole LP's worth of tunes at least. They would have been recognized to have the potential for more, but in truth, some of these artists only ever had an LP's worth of songs in their repertoire, albeit supplanted by covers. These groups could, for a short time at least, support themselves on this income, as hard to believe as that may be. At least they could garner tour support, as they set out to promote their latest release at that time.

My friend Todd, of late, has gotten very serious about collecting these artists on vinyl. Finding these not-necessarily-too-popular groups on 33 1/3 RPM is still fairly easy (garage sales and second hand stores being prime targets) given the fact that they had been signed to fairly large labels (comparatively speaking). Although the records are (by and large) out-of-print, they surface often. There's still quite a bit of vinyl out there that falls under this category, simply because some of the music is admittedly marginally listenable (barely collectible?), and he manages to find it at a big, well-known local flea market as well.

His mission? To infiltrate this local station and ply their programming standards by making CD rips of these obscure artists and particularly, songs that might fit a certain show's main theme. This notion, even in commercial radio, to have themes in itself is fairly rare! Most stations are pretty generic with regards to songs, formats, themes, and any kind of variety per se. Advertisers don't go in for too much of, in their vernacular (not mine, necessarily), "old rock crap", but to see someone, let alone a whole station espousing this programming philosophy, is refreshing. I'll support it in moral terms, and my task is to help him on the tech side by ripping his rare LP's to CD for airplay and to supply some material as well. In the CD format the DJ's are more likely to actually cue up a compact disc, as the radio station has surely removed their tape decks and turntables long ago!

We've found that the Sony RCW-D500C CD recorder (reviewed previously in these pages) has a knack for treating an old scratchy record as if it was a bit higher-grade copy, by way of simple listening tests conducted to judge whether a particular rip might be of acceptable sound quality for broadcast purposes. It tended to gloss over small imperfections well, and while it couldn't perform the supernatural and correct skips and the like, it was pretty kind to most records, including some pretty rough 45's that he chose to include. That was the big surprise! I explained to him that he'll yet again get added benefit from the radio station's playback gear, complete with filters that will further clean up these archaic gems as they go out-to-air.

It was fun to listen to the good (mostly) music, fun to get together to have a good listening session with a good friend in music and records who shares my tastes and passion (hence the title of today's blog), and to be able to contribute to the gestalt of altering the programming (and the audiences' perceptions with this uncommon practice as well) of a once-static medium, that of local commercial radio. Even if it was just a small local station, it was still cool to know that my efforts altered the mentality of a once-totally-static audience! I've programmed and produced programming for commercial-free community radio to great effect (lots of phone calls thanking me for innovative shows and such), but never was I able to affect programming on this particular level. This virtually NEVER happens on commercial radio, for fear of offending an advertiser or a member of the listening public. I see it as a coup to a degree, and I'll always be up for this level of gestalt at any given time! I love to f with the forces that be!

The above picture is of pirate radio station Radio Caroline in the 60's. They illegally broadcasted in England, although their facilities were located technically in international waters. They were moored in the Thames River, a few miles offshore, to provide alternative programming to the staid BBC fodder that was neither innovative nor very frequent, allowing only an hour or two of pop music per day amongst its mostly classical/jazz/talk repertoire. They were hugely popular in their heyday, and the fact that they were illegal was largely ignored for a time by the authorities till it was obvious that they were in violation of federal laws concerning the BBC and their monopoly over the airwaves in Britain. It was very much an us vs. them situation, one which was unanimously in favor of the pirates... This was the means by which many pop groups garnered airplay that might have been denied by the BBC for various sundry reasons, mostly censorsip and arbitrarily-applied logic. I equate the gestalt of de-programming local commercial radio with this business standard, just not quite on this level and scale! This would be equal to having your own high-quality, high-power FM transmitter and saying "f you" to the FCC!

Tomorrow we'll be up for further gestalt actiivities, so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sansui 771 Stereo Receiver

I've been leaning heavily on music-related items lately, so it's about time I return to audio gear for all you techies out there. Remember, you can respond to this or any post by clicking on the pencil at the end of the article, and I welcome and respond to each and every comment! That said, on with the review.

The Sansui 771 is a staple in my arsenal of vintage stereo receivers, as I still listen to the radio every day. I get my news there (for the most part - I rarely watch network or cable TV as there are only so many hours in each day to consume music/audio!) and with the aforereviewed Sony XDRF1-HD tuner, I spend most of my radio time with it. My receivers were chosen before I took ownership of the Sony, so my choices of vintage receivers all reflect those with excellent to superior radio reception as well as other measurable tuner section criteria. I have a tube integrated amp (Decware Zen Triode Select, previously reviewed on these pages) for my analog rig, but by and large, and for general purposes, the tuners in my receivers get a good workout quite often.

The Sansui 771 is a hefty piece of gear, which becomes the standard for anyone familiar with the good-stuff's-heavy principal. The build quality on this baby is robust, and was built to withstand years of listening enjoyment. It featured prominently in the Sansui line back in the 70's (1973-1977, inclusive) and competed directly with the immensely popular (and now sought-after) Pioneer SX-x3x series. In those days, model series were less likely to be revamped and upgraded as often as is the case today. As new developments and the myriad features therein propel us into the future with regards to general refinements and new technology, the manifestations of these refinements are less static (hence more obviously prevalent) and directly reflect the rapid movement of new technology in related consumer goods and services. I assume, by the large number of these beauties that exist today, that plenty were shipped back from overseas during the Vietnam war, and from servicemen stationed in Germany in the 70's. Local base stores offered this stuff cheaper than if one were to purchase them in the States, and plenty of servicemen seized the monent and bought these and many popular lines to ship back home for use and enjoyment after their times of enlistment. Personally I'm very glad that this happened like it did, as we can still find good clean examples to preserve and refurbish. Most of the equipment manufactured in this time window (the mid-70's, generally speaking) are well worth the time, money and effort made to keep them up, running, and doing their thing well into the future. Their specs bear this out, as they were built to excel in many critcal categories, making them sought after and still viable as serious contenders to the throne of "king of the 2-channel receivers".

Many of the people who specialize in 2-channel listening and collecting don't own or collect home theater systems, by and large, although it's my opinion that this won't always be the case. For the most part the two camps have distinguished themselves one from the other, as purists in either discipline. There's a certain amount of competition in regards to the features found in home theater and associated gear (and their manufacture), but not nearly as much as there was back in the days of the "receiver wars".

In England, for instance, most people now have home theaters, as choices in program material have expanded most noticeably due to the now-global coverage of satellite TV/movie services (Netfix, hulu). In the past, entertainment was government-controlled by monopolies (read BBC), and pirate radio was a necessary evil to offset the disparity between what was commercially available versus what the BBC was offering! MOG, Spotify and Pandora (as well as any number of free clone services meant to eventually generate revenue by offering limited-feature service to entice listeners to upgrade at a nominal cost in the future) currently dominate the computer audio segment of the audience, and with HD-Tracks more people worldwide are experiencing high definition audio programming than ever before. It's no longer a well-kept secret. The marriage of new programming technology with that of vintage audio components is a marriage made in audio heaven! This discovery is becoming known worldwide with the advent of audio forums that spread the word as far as the monitor can reach and the mouse can click. More on this fact and that miraculous pairing in a later episode! Stay tuned!

At 40 watts per channel at 8 ohms a side, the 771 punches well above its weight with regards to signal quality and ability to drive all types of speaker loads. Where SET tube
technolgy demands low impedance and high efficiency, these higher-powered receivers can handle almost any nominal load and topology of speaker you'd commonly own or collect, from infinite baffle to open baffle and beyond, to horn-loaded designs, just to name a few. Mine plays well with AR4X's or A/D/S L420, which are both very similar in regards to woofer size and cabinet construction. The 771 has provisions for a phono input and two auxiliary inputs, making it easy to connect a DVD player (that plays CD's too) or computer via DAC or utilizing the built-in DACs that come with the computer. Its layout makes for easy maintenance by anyone well-versed in these operations. Mine was recently refurbished with caps, FM alignment and cleaning of all controls and switches, assuring service well into the foreseeable future. As for diy, I leave all operations to a skilled technician, as I have a tendency to kill stereos if I even open the cases! Not my strong suit!

All in all, I give the Sansui 771 four out of five stars, one subtracted for a wood case with vents that tends to break when setting components on top (I know it's hard to avoid this, and I'm guilty of doing it as my space is always at a premium). Pioneer (and others) fixes this problem by using screen mesh to vent their amps rather than the way 'sui does. Here's a blurb from their 70's sales flyer:

"Thanks to its refined Circuit Board Module construction, the Sansui 771 outperforms many higher priced receivers in the field. It offers a very superior power amplifier, an all-stage direct coupled OCL powerhouse delivering a continuous 40wpc* (*note the conservative power rating, nowadays there's much more wiggle room in regards to this spec and how it's achieved - this era of receivers always test out to be more powerful than stated, due to regulations about truth in advertising that were mandated by consumer groups at the time) to drive up to two pairs of speakers at a time* (*with the option to connect a third set). The preamplifier section and control sections are equally outstanding, providing inputs and controls for two tape decks, two aux, a microphone circuit, a phono circuit and an FM multiplex circuit (*my comments).


Power output: 40 watts per channel into 8 ohms
Total harmonic distortion: less than 0.5%
Frequency response: 15 to 30,000Hz
Load impedance: 4 to 16 ohms
Damping factor: 60
Channel separation: 45dB
Hum and noise: 70dB (phono), 80dB (line)
Input sensitivity: 2.5mV (phono), 100mV (line)
FM tuning range: 88 to 108 MHz
AM tuning range: 535 to 1605 kHz

Tomorrow we'll come at this thing from yet another angle, as we do (al)most every day. Keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Brian Wilson - a lifetime and a legacy of musicmaking

Brian Douglas Wilson (born June 20, 1942) is an American musician, best known as the leader and chief songwriter of the group The Beach Boys. On stage, Wilson provided many of the lead vocals, and often harmonized with the group in falsetto. Early during his on-stage career, Wilson primarily played bass on stage, but gradually transitioned to primarily playing piano/keyboards. Besides being the primary composer in The Beach Boys, he also functioned as the band's main producer and arranger. After signing with Capitol Records in mid-1962, Wilson wrote or co-wrote more than two dozen Top 40 hits including "Surfin' Safari", "Surfin' USA", "Shut Down", "Little Deuce Coupe", "Be True to Your School", "In My Room", "Fun, Fun, Fun", "I Get Around", "Dance Dance Dance", "Help Me Rhonda", "California Girls" and "Good Vibrations".

In the mid-1960s, Wilson used his increasingly creative ambitions to compose and produce Pet Sounds, considered one of the greatest albums of all time. The intended follow up to Pet Sounds, SMiLE, was cancelled for various reasons, including Wilson's deteriorating mental health. Wilson's contributions to The Beach Boys diminished and his erratic behavior led to tensions with the band. After years of treatment and recuperation, he began a solo career in 1988 with Brian Wilson, the same year that he and The Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Since then, he has toured for the first time in decades with a new band and released acclaimed albums, including a reworked version of SMiLE in 2004, for which Wilson won a Grammy Award for "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow (Fire)" as Best Rock Instrumental.

In 2008, Rolling Stone magazine published a list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time", and ranked Wilson number 52. He is an occasional actor and voice actor, having appeared in television shows, films, and other artists' music videos. On December 16, 2011, a 50th Anniversary Reunion was announced and Brian returned to The Beach Boys. Brian Wilson remains a member of the Beach Boys corporation, Brother Records Incorporated.

Early years

Wilson was born on June 20, 1942 at Centinela Hospital in Inglewood, California, the son of Audree Neva (née Korthof) and Murry Gage Wilson. He was the eldest of three boys; his younger brothers were Dennis and Carl. When Brian was two, the Wilson family moved from Inglewood to 3701 West 119th Street in nearby Hawthorne, California.

Brian Wilson's father told of Brian's unusual musical abilities prior to his first birthday, observing that the baby could repeat the melody from "When the Caissons Go Rolling Along" after only a few verses had been sung by the father. Murry stated, "He was very clever and quick. I just fell in love with him."

At about age two, Brian heard George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue", which had an enormous emotional impact on him. A few years later Brian was discovered to have extremely diminished hearing in his right ear. The exact cause of this hearing loss is unclear, though theories range from Brian's simply being born partially deaf, to a blow to the head from Brian's father, or a neighborhood bully, being to blame.

While father Murry was ostensibly a reasonable provider, he was often abusive. Murry Wilson, a minor musician and songwriter, also encouraged his children in this field in numerous ways. At an early age, Brian was given six weeks of lessons on a "toy accordion", and at seven and eight sang solos in church with a choir behind him. Brian was on the football team as a quarterback, played baseball and was a cross-country runner in his senior year. He sang with various students at school functions and with his family and friends at home. Brian taught his two brothers harmony parts that all three would then practice when they were supposed to be asleep. He also played piano obsessively after school, deconstructing the harmonies of The Four Freshmen by listening to short segments of their songs on a phonograph, then working to recreate the blended sounds note by note on the keyboard. Brian received a Wollensak tape recorder on his 16th birthday, allowing him to experiment with recording songs and early group vocals.

First steps: Carl and the Passions

Wilson's surviving home tapes document his initial efforts singing with various friends and family, including a song that would later be recorded in the studio by The Beach Boys, "Sloop John B", as well as "Bermuda Shorts" and a hymn titled "Good News". In his senior year at Hawthorne High, in addition to his classroom music studies, he would gather at lunchtime to sing with friends like Keith Lent and Bruce Griffin. Brian and Lent worked on a revised version of the tune "Hully Gully" to support the campaign of a classmate named Carol Hess who was running for senior class president.
Enlisting his cousin and often-time singing partner Mike Love, and Wilson's reluctant youngest brother Carl Wilson, Brian's next public performance featured more ambitious arrangements at a fall arts program at his high school. To entice Carl into the group, Wilson named the newly-formed membership "Carl and the Passions". The performance featured tunes by Dion and the Belmonts and The Four Freshmen ("It's a Blue World"), the latter of which proved difficult for the ensemble to carry off. However, the event was notable for the impression it made on another musician and classmate of Brian's who was in the audience that night, Al Jardine, later to join the three Wilson brothers and Mike Love in The Beach Boys.

Initial compositions and the Pendletones

Wilson enrolled at El Camino College in Los Angeles, majoring in psychology, in September 1960. He continued his music studies at the college as well. At some point in the year 1961 he wrote his first all-original melody, loosely based on a Dion and the Belmonts version of "When You Wish Upon a Star". The song would eventually be known as "Surfer Girl". Although an early demo of the song was recorded in February 1962 at World-Pacific Studios, it was not re-recorded and released until 1963, when it became a top ten hit.

Brian and his brothers Carl and Dennis Wilson along with Mike Love and Al Jardine first appeared as a music group in the summer of 1961, initially named the Pendletones. After being prodded by Dennis to write a song about the local water sports craze, Brian and Mike Love together created what would become the first single for the band, "Surfin'". Over Labor Day weekend 1961, Brian took advantage of the fact that his parents were in Mexico City for a couple of days and intended to use the emergency money they had left for the boys to rent an amp, a microphone, and a stand-up bass. As it turned out, the money they had left was not enough to cover musical expenses, so Al Jardine appealed to his mother, Virginia for assistance. When she heard the group perform, she was suitably impressed and handed over $300 to help out. Al promptly took Brian to the music store where he was able to rent a stand-up bass. After two days of rehearsing in the Wilsons' music room, Brian's parents returned home from their trip. Murry was irate, until Brian convinced him to listen to what they'd been up to. His father was convinced that the boys did indeed have something worth pursuing. He quickly proclaimed himself the group's manager and the band embarked on serious rehearsals for a proper studio session. Recorded by Hite and Dorinda Morgan and released on the small Candix Records label, "Surfin'" became a top local hit in Los Angeles and reached number seventy-five on the national Billboard sales charts.

Dennis later described the first time Brian heard their song on the radio as the three Wilson brothers (and soon-to-be-band member David Marks) drove in Brian's 1957 Ford in the rain: "Nothing will ever top the expression on Brian's face, ever ... THAT was the all-time moment."

However, the Pendletones were no more. Without the band's knowledge or permission, Candix Records had changed their name to The Beach Boys.

First performances and the quest for a major label

Brian Wilson and his bandmates, following a set by Ike and Tina Turner, performed their first major live show at The Ritchie Valens Memorial Dance on New Year's Eve, 1961. Three days previously, Brian's father had bought him an electric bass and amplifier; Brian had learned to play the instrument in that short period of time, with Al Jardine moving to rhythm guitar.

Looking for a followup single for their radio hit, Brian and Mike Love wrote "Surfin' Safari", and attempts were made to record a usable take at World Pacific, including overdubs, on February 8, 1962, along with several other tunes including an early version of "Surfer Girl". Only a few days later, discouraged about the band's financial prospects, and objecting to adding some Chubby Checker songs to The Beach Boys live setlist, Al Jardine abruptly left the group.

When Candix Records ran into money problems and sold the group's master recordings to another label, Murry Wilson terminated the contract. Brian, worried about The Beach Boys' future, asked his father to help his group make more recordings. But Murry and Hite Morgan (who at this point was their music publisher) were turned down by a number of Los Angeles record companies.

As "Surfin'" faded from the charts, Brian, who had forged a songwriting partnership with Gary Usher, created several new songs, including a car song, "409", that Usher helped them write. Recruiting David Marks, who had been playing electric guitar (and practicing with Carl) for years, Brian and the revamped Beach Boys cut new tracks at Western Recorders including an updated "Surfin' Safari" and "409". These songs convinced Capitol Records to release the demos as a single; they became a double-sided national hit.

The Beach Boys and first success with Capitol Records

Recording sessions for the band's first album took place in Capitol's basement studios (in the famous tower building) in August 1962, but early on Brian lobbied for a different place to cut Beach Boy tracks. The large rooms were built to record the big orchestras and ensembles of the 1950s, not small rock groups. At Brian's insistence, Capitol agreed to let The Beach Boys pay for their own outside recording sessions, to which Capitol would own all the rights, and in return the band would receive a higher royalty rate on their record sales. Additionally, during the taping of their first LP Brian fought for, and won, the right to be in charge of the production- though his first acknowledged liner notes production credit did not come until the band's third album Surfer Girl, in 1963.

In January 1963 The Beach Boys recorded their first top-ten (cresting at #3 in the United States) single, "Surfin' USA", which began their long run of highly successful recording efforts at Hollywood's Western Recorders on Sunset Boulevard. It was during the sessions for this single that Brian made the production decision from that point on to use doubletracking on the group's vocals, resulting in a deeper and more resonant sound.

The song, adapted from (and eventually entirely credited to) Chuck Berry, is widely seen as emblematic of the early 1960s American rock cultural experience. The Surfin' USA album was also a big hit in the United States, reaching number two on the national sales charts by early July 1963. The Beach Boys had become a top-rank recording and touring music band.

Artistic growth

Brian became known for his unique use of vocal harmonies and incessant studio perfectionism. Early influences on his music included not only the previously mentioned Four Freshmen and Chuck Berry, but also the work of record producer Phil Spector, with whose production technique Wilson became obsessed for years. He later considered The Beatles to be his chief rivals, and they in turn would cite his work as a major influence. Wilson also produced records for other artists, but to much lesser success, with the exception of Jan and Dean, for whom Wilson co-wrote several hit songs. Following a nervous breakdown onboard a flight from L.A. to Houston in 1964, Wilson stopped performing live with the Beach Boys in an effort to concentrate solely on songwriting and studio production. Glen Campbell was called in as his temporary stand-in for live performances, before Bruce Johnston replaced him. In late 1965, Wilson began working on material for a new album after hearing the Beatles' 1965 album Rubber Soul.

As he began work on the new project, Pet Sounds, Wilson formed a temporary songwriting partnership with lyricist Tony Asher. Wilson, who had recorded the album's instrumentation with The Wrecking Crew, then gathered with The Beach Boys to record vocal overdubs, following their return from a tour of Japan. Upon hearing what Wilson had created for the first time in 1965, the group, particularly Mike Love, was somewhat critical of their leader's music, and expressed their dissatisfaction. At this time, Wilson still had considerable control within the group and, according to Wilson, they eventually overcame their initial negative reaction, as his newly created music began to near completion; "They thought it was too far-out to do, you know?... But then when it was all done, they liked it. They started liking it." The album was released May 16, 1966 and, despite modest sales figures at the time, has since become widely critically acclaimed, often being cited among the all-time greatest albums. Although the record was issued under the group's name, Pet Sounds is arguably seen as a Brian Wilson solo album—Wilson even toyed with the idea by releasing "Caroline, No" as a solo single in March 1966, reaching no. 32 on the Billboard charts.

During the Pet Sounds sessions, Wilson had been working on another song, which was held back from inclusion on the record as he felt that it was not sufficiently complete. The song "Good Vibrations" set a new standard for musicians and for what could be achieved in the recording studio. Recorded in multiple sessions and in numerous studios, the song eventually cost $50,000 to record within a six month period. In October 1966, the song was released as a single, giving The Beach Boys their third U.S. number-one hit—alongside "I Get Around" and "Help Me, Rhonda"—and it sold over a million copies.

Smile, group tension and Brother Records

With the universal success of "Good Vibrations", Capitol Records had no choice but to back Wilson up for his next project, originally called Dumb Angel but soon re-titled SMiLE, which collaborator Van Dyke Parks would describe as a "teenage symphony to God". "Good Vibrations" had been recorded in modular style, with separately written sections individually taped and linked together, and Wilson's concept for the new album was was more of the same, representing a departure from the standard live-taped performances typical of studio recordings at that time. Having been introduced to Van Dyke Parks at a garden party at Terry Melcher's home, Wilson liked Parks' "visionary eloquence" and began work with him in the fall of 1966. The pair collaborated closely on "Heroes and Villains", "Surf's Up", "Wonderful", "Vegetables" and "Mrs. O Leary's Cow" and Wilson recorded backing tracks, largely with session musicians, through the winter. However, over Christmas 1966 conflict within the group and Wilson's own growing personal problems threw the project into terminal disarray. Originally scheduled for release in January 1967, the date was continually pushed back until press officer Derek Taylor announced its cancellation in May 1967.

Among the factors distracting Wilson and deflecting the project was The Beach Boys' corporate decision at this time to file a lawsuit against Capitol Records for unpaid royalties and start their own label, Brother Records. Allegedly, Wilson was also deterred by news of The Beatles' progress on their own radical Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. On a visit to Los Angeles in April, Paul McCartney played Wilson a song from the album, "She's Leaving Home"; later Wilson was said to be "deeply affected" by hearing a tape of another song, "A Day in the Life."  Directly afterward, Smile was abandoned, and Wilson would not return to complete it until 2004, when it was released as a Brian Wilson album of the same name. Van Dyke Parks later noted, "Brian had a nervous collapse. What broke his heart was Sgt. Pepper." Writing for The Guardian in December 1999, journalist Will Hodgkinson offered his own version of the eventual demise of Wilson's most ambitious project:
[A] combination of factors, including litigations against the record company and increasing animosity between Wilson and the rest of the band, meant that in May 1967 Wilson pulled the plug on the record... [Mike] Love had already dismissed "Good Vibrations" as "avant-garde shit" and objected to the way Wilson, Parks and a group of highly skilled session musicians were creating music way beyond his understanding... By March 1967, the bad feeling got too much for Parks and, having no desire to break up The Beach Boys, he walked out.
In writer-director Michael Feeney Callan's 1993 RTE film marking the Beach Boys' thirtieth anniversary, The Beach Boys Today, Mike Love contested any suggestion that he had blocked the project, and Carl Wilson attributed its collapse principally to drug usage and Brian's unstable health.
Following the cancellation of SMiLE, The Beach Boys relocated to a recording studio within the confines of Brian Wilson's mansion, where the hastily compiled Smiley Smile album was assembled, along with a number of future Beach Boys records. This marked the end of Wilson's leadership within the band, and has been seen to be "the moment when the Beach Boys first started slipping from the vanguard to nostalgia."

SMiLE resurrected

With mental health finally on the mend, Wilson decided to complete the aborted SMiLE project from 1967. Aided by musician and long time fan Darian Sahanaja of The Wondermints, and lyricist Van Dyke Parks, Wilson painstakingly completed work on the album, which was finally released in February 2004—37 years after it was conceived. Wilson debuted SMiLE at the Royal Festival Hall in London and subsequently toured the UK.

The debut performance at the Royal Festival Hall was a defining moment for Wilson. The documentary DVD of the event shows Wilson preparing for the performance and expressing doubts over the concept of putting this legendary work before the public, moments before taking the stage. After an opening set of Beach Boys classics, Wilson returned to the stage to perform SMiLE in its entirety. A 10-minute standing ovation followed the concert; the DVD shows several rock luminaries in the crowd, such as Roger Daltrey, Paul Weller, Sir George Martin and Sir Paul McCartney (although neither Martin nor McCartney attended the opening night, contrary to what the DVD implies).

SMiLE was then recorded through April to June and released in September, to wide critical acclaim. The release hit #13 on the Billboard chart. The 2004 recording featured his backup/touring band, including Beach Boys guitarist Jeff Foskett, members of the Wondermints and backup singer Taylor Mills. In this version, "Good Vibrations" features Tony Asher's original lyrics in the verses, instead of Mike Love's lyrics from the released 1966 version.

At the 47th Grammy Awards in 2005, Wilson won his only Grammy for the track "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" as Best Rock Instrumental. In 2004, Wilson promoted SMiLE with a tour of Australia, New Zealand and Europe. In December 2005, he also released What I Really Want for Christmas for Arista Records. The release hit #200 on the Billboard chart, though sales were modest. Wilson's remake of the classic "Deck The Halls" became a surprise Top 10 Adult Contemporary hit.

After 44 years, Wilson oversaw the official Beach Boys release of SMiLE, retitled The SMiLE Sessions. Released on November 1, 2011, the legendary album was made available as single CD, a 2 CD box-set, a vinyl double album, and a deluxe 5 CD/2 LP box set.

Post-SMiLE to That Lucky Old Sun

In February 2005, Wilson had a cameo in the TV series Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century as Daffy Duck's spiritual surfing adviser. He also appeared in the 2005 holiday episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, performing "Deck the Halls" for children with xeroderma pigmentosum (hypersensitivity to sunlight) at Walt Disney World Resort. On July 2, 2005, Wilson performed for the Live 8 concert in Berlin, Germany.

In September 2005, Wilson arranged a charity drive to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina, wherein people who donated $100 or more would receive a personal phone call from Wilson. According to the website, over $250K was raised. In November 2005, former bandmate Mike Love sued Wilson over "shamelessly misappropriating... Love's songs, likeness, and the Beach Boys trademark, as well as the 'Smile' album itself" in the promotion of Smile. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed on grounds that it was meritless.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Pet Sounds, Wilson embarked on a brief tour in November 2006. Beach Boy Al Jardine accompanied Wilson for the tour.

Wilson then released That Lucky Old Sun in September 2008. The piece originally debuted in a series of September 2007 concerts at London's Royal Festival Hall, and in January 2008 at Sydney's State Theatre while headlining the Sydney Festival. Wilson described the piece as "consisting of five 'rounds', with interspersed spoken word". A series of US and UK concerts preceded its release.
On September 30, 2008, Seattle's Light in the Attic Records released A World of Peace Must Come, a collaboration between Wilson and Stephen Kalinich, originally recorded in 1969, but later lost in Kalinich's closet.

Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin and the Disney Songs (2009–2011)

In 2009 Wilson's workload increased when he signed a two-record deal with Disney. In summer 2009, Wilson was approached by the Gershwin estate to record an album of his interpretations of classic Gershwin songs, and to assess unfinished piano pieces by Gershwin for possible expansion into finished songs. After extensive evaluation of a vast body of Gershwin fragments, Wilson chose two to complete. The resulting album, Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin, was released on August 17, 2010 on Disney's Pearl label. Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin achieved Number 1 position on the Billboard Jazz Chart, and had sold 53,000 copies by August 2011.

Wilson's second album for Disney was In The Key Of Disney, a collection of classic Disney movie songs, which was released on October 25, 2011. This album was especially memorable for its inclusion of Wilson's take on "When You Wish Upon a Star", the song that had inspired his own first composition, "Surfer Girl".

Also in 2011 Wilson contributed a cover of Buddy Holly's "Listen To Me" to the tribute album, Listen to Me: Buddy Holly released on September 6, on Verve Forecast. Rolling Stone praised Wilson's version as "gorgeous", featuring "angelic harmonies and delicate instrumentation".

Beach Boys Reunion (2011–present)

In June 2010, the Las Vegas Sun reported that Brian Wilson would join The Beach Boys for their 50th anniversary. That July, Rolling Stone magazine reported that Jardine stated "we’re definitely doing at least one show" in 2011 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the formation of the band. The reunion would feature all the surviving 1960s-era Beach Boys— Jardine himself, Wilson, Love, Johnston and possibly Marks. Jardine added that the tension between various former band-mates has been resolved. Regarding the various now-resolved lawsuits between them, he noted that "Once we finished our business, all the negativity was gone." Rolling Stone reported that Wilson's manager, Jean Sievers, is "unfamiliar with reunion plans", although the magazine stated "a source close to Love says there have been discussions for reunion concert, but nothing is set." There was also no confirmation of a location for the concerts.

Jardine joined the Beach Boys for the first time since 1998 at a tribute for Ronald Reagan on February 5, 2011. Wilson was invited to join as well, though he did not attend, as he was recording his Disney album.

On July 27, 2011, Love announced that, "Where we're at right now is Brian's written some songs, I've written some songs. We're talking very seriously about getting together and co-writing and doing some new music together [as a band].. ..He's been doing his own touring, we've been doing ours and so we haven't really been able to lock into that, but it looks like this fall we will. It just makes a lot of sense with a milestone such as 50 years to get together and do something."That day, Brian Wilson said the band is going to get back together to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Wilson added that he was at Capitol Records recently with Love and Jardine, but is still not exactly certain what the future holds: “We're going to get together a little bit before we do it.” To rehearse? “I assume so,” Wilson said.

In the Summer 2011 edition of the Beach Boys' fan publication, Endless Summer Quarterly, Love told editor David M. Beard, "We had a session at Capitol Records (with Love, Wilson, Jardine and Bruce Johnston). Brian was conducting the session. … At the end of the session Brian said, “I can’t believe a 70-year-old guy can sing that great!” [Laughs] It was really cute! It was cool. … It was something to prove that we can work together. There’s a lot of talk and conjecture both internally and externally. All I can say at the moment is I think it would be great to work with Brian and see what can come of it… I’m all in favor of a positive outlook towards that."

In October 2011, Jardine reported that the Beach Boys would reunite in 2012 for 50 U.S. dates and 50-60 overseas dates. Love stated that during the summer of 2011, the band reunited to re-record their hit, "Do it Again" which will be made into a music video to promote the world tour. Love had nothing but praise for Wilson saying "he sounds great, always coming up with chords, and his singing ability is still there. He hasn't lost the ability to do what he does best." Love even said he was more excited about what the future held and together with Wilson they were writing songs again with Beach Boys sessions veteran, Eddie Bayers for an upcoming Beach Boys reunion album. Bayers commented on the new songs by Wilson by saying "Brian's new creations are just unbelievable." Wilson, on the other hand, said he did not really like working with his former bandmates, though it all depends on how they feel and how much money is involved. He concluded by saying that money is not the only reason he made records, but it does hold a place in their lives.

The Beach Boys released their new album, That's Why God Made the Radio, on June 5, 2012. The album's title track was released as its first single in April 2012.

Happy Birthday, Brian! Today marks your 70th birthday, and to see you touring with the Boys and releasing a new LP on the band's anniversary is beyond thrilling! I give these events, collectively 27 zillion stars out a possible...this is not even possible, much less probable! Let's suffice it to say that this is history in the making, just like the Beach Boys' entire career!

RIP Carl and Dennis...we love you.

Tomorrow we return to the world of music and fun, fun, fun, so keep your woody waxed, tubes hot and antenna up! See you then!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cheap Trick - rockers from Rockford

Cheap Trick is an American rock band from Rockford, Illinois formed in 1973. The band consists of Robin Zander (vocals, rhythm guitar), Rick Nielsen (lead guitar), Tom Petersson (bass guitar), and Bun E. Carlos (drums). Their biggest hits include "Surrender", "I Want You to Want Me", "Dream Police" and "The Flame".

They have often been referred to in the Japanese press as the "American Beatles". In October 2007, the Illinois Senate passed a resolution designating April 1 as Cheap Trick Day in the state. The band was also ranked #25 in VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.

Early years (1961–1974)

In 1961, Nielsen began playing locally in Rockford, Illinois utilizing an ever-increasing collection of rare and valuable guitars. He formed several local bands with names like The Boyz and The Grim Reapers. Brad Carlson, later known as Bun E. Carlos, played in a rival Rockford band, the Pagans. Finally, Nielsen formed Fuse in 1967 with Tom Peterson, later known as Tom Petersson, who had played in yet another local band called The Bo Weevils.

Fuse released a self-titled album for Epic Records in 1970, which was generally ignored. Frustrated by their lack of success, Fuse recruited the two remaining members of Nazz in 1970 and ended up playing around the Midwest for 6–7 months under two monikers, Fuse or Nazz, depending on where they were gigging. With Bun E. Carlos joining on drums, Fuse moved to Philadelphia in 1971. They began calling themselves "Sick Man of Europe" in 1972–1973. After a European tour in 1973, Nielsen and Petersson returned to Rockford and reunited with Carlos.

Randy "Xeno" Hogan was the original lead singer for Cheap Trick. He left the band shortly after its formation and was replaced by Robin Zander. Contrary to an often repeated rumor that the band name originated from a Ouija Board, the name was inspired by the band's attendance of a Slade concert, where Petersson commented that the band used "every cheap trick in the book" as part of their act.

 Classic years (1975–1978)

With Robin Zander now on vocals, the band recorded their first official demo in 1975 and played in warehouses, bowling alleys, and various other venues around the midwestern United States. The band was signed to Epic Records by A&R man Tom Werman, at the insistence of producer Jack Douglas, who had seen the band perform in Wisconsin.

The band released their first album, Cheap Trick, in early 1977, produced by Jack Douglas. While favored by critics, the album was not successful in terms of sales. The album's lone single "Oh Candy" failed to chart. However, the band began to develop a fan base in Japan and "ELO Kiddies" was a hit single in Europe. Their second album In Color was released later that year and was produced by Tom Werman, who brought out their lighter and more pop-oriented side, producing an album much more polished than their first. However, the band bemoaned In Color's production and would re-record it many years later. Moreover the album was largely unsuccessful. The singles "Southern Girls", "I Want You To Want Me", and "So Good To See You", failed to chart. However, "I Want You To Want Me" and "Clock Strikes Ten" were hit singles in Japan, with the latter going to #1 on the charts. In Color ultimately was ranked #448 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

The band's third album, Heaven Tonight, released in 1978 and again produced by Tom Werman, combined elements of the first two albums. Regarded by many fans and critics as their best album, the lead-off track "Surrender" was Cheap Trick's first single to chart in the United States, peaking at #62. It has gone on to become one of the band's signature songs. Heaven Tonight is also noteworthy as the first album recorded with a 12-string electric bass. Perhaps most importantly, this album made the band megastars in Japan.


Budokan brings success (1978–1981)

None of Cheap Trick's first three albums made it into the Top 40 in the United States. In Japan, however, all three albums became gold records. When Cheap Trick went to Japan to tour the country for the first time in April 1978, they were received with a frenzy reminiscent of Beatlemania. During this tour, Cheap Trick recorded two concerts attended by their loyal Japanese fans at the Nippon Budokan. Ten tracks taken from both shows were compiled and released as a live album titled Cheap Trick at Budokan, which was intended to be exclusive to Japan. Demand for the import album became so great that Epic Records finally released the album in the United States in 1979.

Cheap Trick at Budokan launched the band into international stardom, and the album went triple platinum in the United States. The smash track was the live version of "I Want You to Want Me," which had originally been released on In Color. It reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100, and became Cheap Trick's biggest-selling single. The second single, "Ain't That A Shame," peaked at #35. "Need Your Love" had already been recorded for the forthcoming Dream Police album that had already been finished, but after the unprecedented success of At Budokan, Epic postponed the album's release. Dream Police was released later in 1979 and was their third album in a row produced by Tom Werman. The title track of the album was a hit single, as was "Voices." Dream Police also found the band taking its style in a more experimental direction by incorporating strings and dabbling in heavy metal on tracks like "Gonna Raise Hell".

A four track EP entitled Found All The Parts was released in mid 1980 and consisted of previously unreleased material. One side of the record contained live recordings and the other side had studio recordings. The live tracks were a faux live cover of The Beatles' "Day Tripper", and "Can't Hold On", a bluesy track performed at Budokan concerts in 1978. The studio tracks were "Such A Good Girl" and "Take Me I'm Yours", which the record claims were recorded in 1976 and 1977, respectively. However, while they were older songs, they were recorded with Jack Douglas in early 1980. A total of nine tracks were recorded with Douglas, and remain obscure as they have only been issued on compilations, promotional samplers, and contest giveaways. For years, there was a false rumor that this was an album that had been rejected by Epic Records.

By 1980, when All Shook Up was released, Cheap Trick was headlining arenas. All Shook Up, produced by former Beatles producer George Martin, reached #24 on the charts and was certified gold, but the album's high-class background did not save it from descriptions like "Led Zeppelin gone psycho." Many fans of the band's earlier albums saw All Shook Up as too weird and experimental. One song from the sessions, "Everything Works if You Let It", appeared on the soundtrack of Roadie, and Nielsen and Carlos participated in sessions for John Lennon and Yoko Ono's album Double Fantasy.

Departure of Petersson (1981–1987)

On August 26, 1980, before the release of All Shook Up, Petersson left the group to record a solo album with his wife Dagmar. The five-song mini-LP titled Tom Petersson and Another Language was released in 1984. Pete Comita replaced Petersson for the All Shook Up tour and the band recorded five songs with Comita to contribute to two movie soundtracks. "I'm the Man", "Born to Raise Hell", and "Ohm Sweet Ohm", which were produced by Jack Douglas, went to the film Rock & Rule. An accompanying soundtrack album for the film was never released and the songs weren't released until 1996 (on the Sex, America, Cheap Trick box set). "Reach Out" and "I Must Be Dreamin'" went to the film Heavy Metal and were produced by Roy Thomas Baker. "Reach Out" was written by Comita and Bob James. Comita left the band after completing the 1980-81 World Tour that promoted the "All Shook Up" album as well as the demo sessions for the band's forthcoming album. He would later claim that he co-wrote songs that appeared on the band's next two albums and was not credited. Jon Brant became Petersson's steady replacement. In July 1981, CBS Inc. sued Cheap Trick and their manager Ken Adamany for $10 million, alleging they were attempting to coerce CBS into re-negotiating their contract and had refused to record any new material for the label since October 1980. The lawsuit was settled in early 1982 and work commenced on the next album—One on One, produced by Roy Thomas Baker. The band changed direction again, this time opting for an album full of brash, shout-along hard rock songs. The album spawned two minor hits with the power ballad "If You Want My Love" and the innuendo-laced rocker "She's Tight." The music videos for both songs received heavy rotation on MTV.

The following year, Cheap Trick released Next Position Please with Todd Rundgren as producer. Rundgren downplayed the band's brash side and returned them to a more clean, pop-oriented sound similar to that of In Color. The album never found much of an audience and Cheap Trick's commercial fortunes were in decline. The first single was a cover of The Motors' "Dancing the Night Away". Epic Records, desperate for a hit from the band, forced the group to record the track, which had been a hit single in Europe. Rundgren refused to produce the song, and it was instead produced by One On One engineer Ian Taylor. It failed to chart, as did the second single and fan favorite "I Can't Take It". The Ian-Taylor-produced "Spring Break," which was a contribution to the soundtrack of the 1983 comedy film of the same name, was also issued as a single, which also failed to chart. In 1984, the band recorded the title track "Up the Creek" to the Tim Matheson comedy Up The Creek, which Nielsen later called "one of the worst" songs he'd ever written. The track reached #36 on Billboard's Top Tracks but was off the chart after two weeks.

In 1985 they were reunited with Jack Douglas, who had produced their debut album, to record Standing on the Edge. The band originally intended to return to their rough-sounding roots on the album, but Douglas backed out of the mixing process due to the legal issues he was having with Yoko Ono at the time. It was instead mixed by Tony Platt, who added more elements of typical 1980s production. This album was called their "best collection of bubblegum bazooka rock in years." The album also featured Mark Radice on keyboards, and he was also enlisted to assist in the songwriting process. The album's first single, "Tonight It's You", reached #8 on the Billboard's Top Rock Tracks chart and the video received heavy rotation on MTV. The following singles "Little Sister," and "How About You" were released as promotional singles only.

In 1986, the band recorded "Mighty Wings", the end-title cut for the film Top Gun. They then released The Doctor. Some of the songs contained elements of funk, and the band utilized female back-up vocalists for the first time. However, synthesizers and computer-programmed sound effects drowned out most of the prominent instruments, most noticeably the guitar. Produced by Tony Platt, it is widely considered the bands' worst album. The album's lone single, "It's Only Love" failed to chart, but many blame the album's poor success on the record label's lack of promotion. The music video for "It's Only Love" made history as the first music video to prominently use American Sign Language. The Doctor turned out to be the final album with Jon Brant as bassist, as Tom Petersson expressed interest in rejoining the band. Brant parted on good terms with the band, and has performed with the band a number of times since as a special guest or filling in for Petersson.

Lap Of Luxury (1987–1997)

Petersson rejoined the group in 1987 and helped record 1988's Lap of Luxury, produced by Richie Zito. Due to the band's commercial decline, Epic Records forced the band to collaborate with professional songwriters. "The Flame", a typical '80s "factory ballad," was issued as the first single and became the band's first-ever #1 single. The second single, a cover of Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel" also reached the top 10. Three other singles from the album were "Ghost Town", "Never Had a Lot to Lose", and "Let Go". Each one charted successfully, and Lap of Luxury went platinum and became recognized as the band's comeback album.

Busted was released in 1990 and was also produced by Richie Zito, as the band attempted to capitalize on the success of Lap of Luxury. This time, however, the band was allowed more creative control and professional songwriters were only used on a handful of songs. The first single "Can't Stop Falling Into Love" reached #12 on the charts but failed to reach as high as the label expected. The second single, the Diane Warren penned "Wherever Would I Be," suffered a worse fate reaching only #50. The following singles, "If You Need Me" and "Back N' Blue" were not successful, although the later single reached #32 on the US Mainstream Rock charts.

In 1991, Cheap Trick's Greatest Hits was released. It included twelve (twenty-eight on Japan pressing) of the band's most successful or popular singles and one new track, a cover of The Beatles' song "Magical Mystery Tour", which was an outtake from the Lap Of Luxury sessions.

In 1993, Budokan II was released. It featured the tracks that had been omitted from the original live album, plus three more tracks from their follow-up tour in 1979. The release was not authorized by the band, and it is now out of print. That same year, Robin Zander released his eponymous debut solo record on Interscope, produced by Jimmy Iovine. Guitarist Mike Campbell, best known for his work with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, collaborated with Zander on most of the album's tracks. The album was largely unsuccessful but the single "I've Always Got You" reached #13 on the US Mainstream Rock chart and #64 in Canada.

The group left Epic after the disappointing sales of "Busted" – to sign with Warner Bros. Records. In 1994 the band released Woke Up With A Monster, which was produced by producer Ted Templeman, best known for his work with Van Halen. The album's title track was issued as the first single and reached #16 on the US Mainstream Rock charts. The album's sales were poor, and it peaked at only #123. By the time the album came out, there had been a variety of significant changes in the band, both music-wise and appearance-wise. The style of music is more on the "hard rock" side, their "heaviest" album since One On One. Ted Templeman's heavy-handed production was also the subject of much criticism. Rick Nielsen grew a goatee, and Robin Zander's voice grew noticeably deeper. The band also contributed a cover of John Lennon's song "Cold Turkey" on the Working Class Hero: A Tribute to John Lennon album.

The band quickly parted ways with Warner Bros. and decided it was time to go back to basics. They concentrated on the strength of their live shows, which were near-legendary, and they decided to release new recordings to independent labels instead of major companies. Over the next few years, Cheap Trick toured with several bands they had influenced, such as Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam. At the end of 1995, the band independently released Gift, a two track Christmas CD that benefited Chicago-area charities. They spent the next year recording demos with Tom Werman and Steve Albini. They then released the 7 inch vinyl single Baby Talk/Brontosaurus on Seattl-based indie label Sub Pop Records, which was produced by Albini. Now back on speaking terms with their former label, the band released Sex, America, Cheap Trick, a four disc box set that included dozens of rare and unreleased studio and live recordings along with some of the band's singles and favorites, on Epic Records. The collection, however, was criticized for lacking several of the band's most well-known and much-loved songs.

In 1997, Cheap Trick signed with indie label Red Ant Records and released Cheap Trick, produced by Ian Taylor, who the band had previously worked with in 1982 and 1983. The band attempted to re-introduce themselves to a new generation, as the album was self-titled and the artwork was similar to their first album which had been released twenty years before. Tom Werman would later claim that he had produced a track on the album and was not credited. The album was critically acclaimed and hailed as a return to form. Eleven weeks after the release, Red Ant's parent company Alliance Entertainment Corporation declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The single "Say Goodbye" only reached #119 on the charts, and the band again found themselves without a record label.

Cheap Trick Unlimited (1998–2005)

Cheap Trick began to rebuild in 1998 by trying to restore normal relations with Sony/Epic and the music retail community. They established their own record company, Cheap Trick Unlimited. They toured behind the release of At Budokan: The Complete Concert, and the remastered reissues of their first three albums. One of the multi-night stands from this tour resulted in Music for Hangovers, a vibrant live effort that featured members of The Smashing Pumpkins on two tracks.
Cheap Trick Unlimited sold the CD exclusively on for 8 weeks prior to releasing it in stores. To support the record they toured with Guided By Voices, and also played a concert with Pearl Jam. That same year, the band spent time in the studio recording with Steve Albini, who had produced the Baby Talk/Brontosaurus single. The band began re-recording their second album, In Color, as well as a handful of other miscellaneous tracks. The recordings were not finished and have yet to be officially released, but they were leaked onto the Internet. The band also revealed in an interview that a rarities album was in the works and initially planned for release in early 2000. However, it was never released.

In 1999, the band recorded a reworked cover of Big Star's "In the Street" for use as the theme song for the television show That '70s Show. It was released on the show's soundtrack, That '70s Album (Rockin'). The group also re-recorded "Surrender," which was available exclusively at

In early 2000, Cheap Trick entered into a license with the now-defunct to directly download and create custom CDs for over 50 songs. After spending a good part of 2001 writing songs and about six weeks of pre-production, Cheap Trick went into Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, New York in March 2002, where the band put together their first studio album in six years, Special One in May 2003. At the same time, the band brought their record label to Big3 Entertainment. While the lead-off single "Scent of A Woman" was typical Cheap Trick fare, most of the album's tracks were acoustic-based. The album was met with mixed reviews, with one of the larger subjects of criticism being that the last two tracks on the album were basically the same song. The band also contributed the 1999 re-recorded version of "Surrender" to the comedy film Daddy Day Care and made a cameo in the film. They toured with Cake on the Unlimited Sunshine Tour that same year. In Japan, the band's entire catalog released between 1980 and 1990 was re-issued in remastered form.

In late 2003, Bun E. Carlos starred in a Target commercial with Torry Castellano, drummer of The Donnas.

In April 2005, Cheap Trick released the five-track Sessions@AOL EP for digital download.

Independence (2006 onward)

In 2006, Cheap Trick released Rockford on Cheap Trick Unlimited/Big3 Records. The first single from the album was "Perfect Stranger" (produced by Linda Perry and co-written by Cheap Trick and Perry). The band promoted the album through appearances on the Sirius and XM satellite radio networks and a North American tour. That same year, "Surrender" was featured as a playable track in the hit video game Guitar Hero II, and the albums Dream Police and All Shook Up were re-issued in remastered form with bonus tracks. One On One and Next Position Please (The Authorized Version) were released as digital downloads. The band also appeared in a McDonald's advertising campaign called "This Is Your Wake-Up Call" featuring the band.

In 2007, officials of Rockford, Illinois honored Cheap Trick by reproducing the Rockford album cover art on that year's "city sticker" (vehicle registration). On June 19, 2007, the Illinois Senate
passed Senate Resolution 255, which designated April 1 of every year as Cheap Trick Day in the State of Illinois. In August of that year, Cheap Trick honored the 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by playing the album in its entirety with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, conducted by Edwin Outwater, along with guest vocalists including Joan Osborne and Aimee Mann. Geoff Emerick, who engineered all the sound effects on Sgt. Pepper, engineered the same sounds for the two live concerts. The Chicago chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences honored Cheap Trick at the 2007 Recording Academy Honors event in Chicago on October 11, 2007. Nielsen and Carlos were on hand to receive the award, which was presented to them by Steve Albini.

In 2008, Cheap Trick were selected to be featured in the John Varvatos Spring/Summer 2008 clothing ad campaign. The black and white commercial put the group on a boardwalk with bicycles, the filming backdrop was a beach for a very modern look for the band. "California Man", a song written by Roy Wood and covered by the band on Heaven Tonight was used in the advertising promotion. On April 24, Cheap Trick played live at the Budokan for the 30th anniversary of the 1978 album Live at Budokan. On July 5, at their concert in Milwaukee, Rick Nielsen announced to the crowd that the show was being recorded for a future CD and/or DVD release. On November 11, the band released At Budokan: 30th Anniversary Collectors Edition, a box set that featured 3 CDs of the band's two concerts at Budokan recorded on April 28 and 30, 1978. A bonus DVD contained concert footage that originally aired on Japanese television, plus bonus features including footage from their return to Budokan for the original album's 30th anniversary.

Also in 2008, the song "Dream Police" was featured as a playable track in the hit video game Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. Rock Band 2 also featured the unreleased 1998 re-recorded version of "Hello There" as a playable track and it was also used for the game's opening sequence.

In an October 2008 interview, Rick Nielsen revealed that several Cheap Trick releases were in store for the future, including a new album produced by Julian Raymond and Howard Willing, and the re-recorded version of In Color.

In 2009, the band released The Latest. It was also available in both vinyl and 8-track tape versions on the band's website. The group also performed the theme song for the film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The group released Sgt. Pepper Live, their interpretation of the classic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band on August 25, 2009. This was released as both a compact disc and a DVD. 2009 also saw Bun E. Carlos launch a separate project including members of Smashing Pumpkins, Fountains of Wayne, and Hanson: Tinted Windows, a power pop quartet whose debut album quickly earned critical praise and repeat airplay on leading syndicated FM radio programs. The band headlined a homecoming show at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, IL on Thursday, December 10, 2009 as the main act at the 104.3 WJMK-FM holiday show, Jack's Cheap Christmas.

.In 2010, Cheap Trick's "Dream Police", re-recorded as "Green Police", appeared as the music bed in an Audi commercial that first aired during the Super Bowl. The Audi commercial depicts a man enjoying his Audi TDI, which is apparently painlessly compliant with environmental regulations.
On March 19, 2010 it was announced that Bun E. Carlos was not currently the touring drummer for the band but remains a band member.  Rick Nielsen's son Daxx is currently the touring drummer.
On April 6, 2010 Sony Music began to reissue Cheap Trick's albums that have been out of print via reissue specialist labels Friday Music and Wounded Bird Records. One On One and Next Position Please were released first and have been combined to fit on to one CD. Standing On The Edge and The Doctor were released separately and Busted was combined with the Found All The Parts EP.
In November 2010, the band played a set of shows in the UK, each with an individual setlist and their album The Latest was given away as a free disc with the UK magazine, Classic Rock. On July 17, 2011 at The Bluesfest in Ottawa, 20 minutes into Cheap Trick’s set, a thunderstorm blew through the festival area. The band and crew were on the stage when without warning the 40-ton roof fell. It fell away from the audience and landed on the band's truck which was parked alongside the back of the stage, breaking the fall and allowing everyone about 30 seconds to escape.

On November 10, 2011 Cheap Trick announced plans to open a restaurant/music/museum venue in historic Motor Row in South Loop Chicago.

Aerosmith and Cheap Trick have announced 2012 summer tour dates, labeling the pair-up the Global Warming Tour. The tour starts in Minneapolis, Minnesota on June 16.

Live performance

Cheap Trick is well known for their four decades of almost continuous touring. Their album Cheap Trick at Budokan (1978), along with Bob Dylan at Budokan (1979), elevated the status of the Budokan as a premier venue for rock concerts.


Cheap Trick is known for its use - and large collection - of unusual and vintage guitars and basses.
Robin Zander has played a 1950s Rickenbacker Combo 450 Mapleglo since the late 1970s, as well as a Hamer 12-string guitar, a Schecter Guitar Research Corsair Bigsby, a Gibson Firebird, and various Fender Telecaster-styled guitars.

Rick Nielsen is an avid collector who has over 250 guitars in his possession. He has collaborated with Hamer on trademark 'themed' guitars, some based on Cheap Trick albums such as "Rockford," "The Doctor," and even songs such as "Gonna Raise Hell." Hamer has also made unique five-necked guitars and electric mandocellos for Nielsen.

Tom Petersson is generally credited for having the initial idea for a twelve-string bass. He previously had used an Alembic and Hagstrom 8-string basses, and asked Jol Dantzig of Hamer Guitars to make a 12-string bass. The company initially made him a 10-string bass. Following the successful trial use of that bass, the prototype 12-string bass, The Hamer 'Quad', was produced. Petersson later used 12-string basses made by Kids (a Japanese guitar maker), Chandler, and signature models from Waterstone. His primary choice of 4-string bass is a Gibson Thunderbird, though he also owns a very impressive array of 4, 5 and 8 stringed basses from other guitar makers. He is also an endorsee of Hofner basses.

Bun E. Carlos has played with many different commercial drum accessories, including Ludwig and Slingerland Radio King drums, Zildjian cymbals, rare Billy Gladstone snare drums, and Capella drum sticks. He is also an avid collector of vintage drums. Each year Carlos' collection can be seen at several drum shows in the Midwest.

Carlos has also recorded and written songs for many Rockford bands, such as Mark Willer and The Blues Hawks and also put together the short-lived Bun E. Carlos Experience, which also included Jon
Brant, who replaced Tom Petersson in the mid '80s, on bass.


Cheap Trick is highly respected by its peers and an influence on its descendents. The band was one of Joey Ramone’s all-time favorites and has received acknowledgment from such peers as Gene Simmons, Joe Perry, and Angus Young. In 1979, Robin Zander was informally approached to join British glam rockers Sweet after the departure of singer Brian Connolly. In the 1980s, Cheap Trick garnered support from the hard rock community where bands like Mötley Crüe, Ratt and Guns N' Roses were citing its influence. An interesting shift happened during the early to mid-90s that helped fortify the band’s credibility. The band was now being seen as influential within the blossoming alternative rock scene. Kurt Cobain mentioned the band as an influence while Smashing Pumpkins showed their admiration by having Cheap Trick open shows for them. SP leader Billy Corgan has made a number of onstage guest appearances with Cheap Trick over the years. Other bands that have mentioned Cheap Trick as an inspiration and influence include Gin Blossoms, Urge Overkill, Pearl Jam, Weezer, Stone Temple Pilots, Everclear, Extreme, Enuff Z’Nuff, Green Day, American Hi-Fi, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, Fountains of Wayne, Red Hot Chili Peppers, OK Go, Terrorvision, Kings of Leon, Husker Du, Slipknot, and the Wildhearts.

Tomorrow we rock and roll our way in another direction, so keep your tubes hot and your antenna up! See you then!