Thursday, August 27, 2009
New York City has lost one of its greatest treasures yesterday, as songwriting legend Ellie Greenwich, the Brill Building rose who penned some of the best songs we ever heard including "Leader of the Pack", "River Deep, Mountain High" and "Be My Baby", died of a heart attack at the age of 68. Official AP newswire story to follow.
For those unfamiliar, do yourself a favor and visit Ellie's Web site and educate yourself on this extraordinary Levittown girl. -Ed.
Ellie Greenwich, 'Chapel of Love' co-writer, dies
By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY (AP) – 21 hours ago
NEW YORK — Ellie Greenwich, who wrote classic pop songs such as "Chapel of Love," "River Deep, Mountain High" and "Be My Baby" with Phil Spector, has died, according to her niece. She was 68.
Greenwich died of a heart attack Wednesday at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, where she had been admitted a few days earlier for treatment of pneumonia, according to her niece, Jessica Weiner.
Greenwich, a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, was considered one of pop's most successful songwriters. She had a rich musical partnership with the legendary Spector, whose "wall of sound" technique changed rock music. With Spector, she wrote some of pop's most memorable songs, including "Da Doo Ron Ron." But Spector wasn't her only collaborator.
She also had key hits with her ex-husband Jeff Barry, including the dynamic song "Leader of the Pack" (years later, Broadway would stage a Tony-nominated musical with the same name based on her life).
"He was the first male I could actually harmonize with," she once said.
Greenwich was a native of Brooklyn. While she garnered her greatest success as a songwriter, Greenwich started out as a performer. She performed in talent shows as a child, and by the time she was a teen, she had her own group, called The Jivettes.
She went to college, where she met Barry, and shortly after graduation, began working for songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, where she got her break. She had her first chart success with the Jay and the Americans song "This Is It," which she wrote with Doc Pomus and Tony Powers.
She also had success with Barry as the duo The Raindrops with the songs "What a Guy" and "The Kind of Boy You Can't Forget."
Greenwich also worked as an arranger and singer, a role that saw her working with artists including Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.
She is also credited with helping Neil Diamond get his start and was a co-producer of early Diamond hits "Cherry, Cherry" and "Kentucky Woman."
Among the more famous songs she wrote are Baby I Love You," "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" and "Look of Love."
Greenwich is survived by a sister, brother-in-law, nephew and her niece.
The Ronettes performing "Be My Baby":
The Shangri-Las performing "Leader of the Pack" on the Steve Allen Show:
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
From Astralwerks Press Dept:
12345678 THE CATALOGUE
FOUR DECADES OF MASTERWORKS
COMPILED AS A CD BOXSET
SELECT CD, VINYL & DIGITAL RELEASES TO ACCOMPANY
KRAFTWERK: Electro Pioneers, living legends and globally revered masters of electronic sound, celebrate the 35th anniversary of their landmark 1974 hit ‘Autobahn’ by releasing a special collector’s CD boxset featuring remastered versions of eight astounding albums on October 6th, 2009. Rolling back musical barriers with every forward-thinking phase of their career, Dusseldorf's Zen masters of electronic minimalism laid the foundations for four decades of computerised pop and dance music. By chain reaction and mutation, they have influenced generations of artists in all genres, mapping musical futures yet to come. From Bowie to Daft Punk, Aphex Twin to Portishead, Dr Dre to LCD Soundsystem, and almost everyone in between, the mark of Kraftwerk is endless, endless.
In 2009 Kraftwerk have upgraded their Kling Klang masters with the latest studio technology and these eight magnificent recordings still sound like nothing else in the history of music. Kraftwerk are unique, pristine, profound and beautiful. Decades may pass, but their streamlined synthetic symphonies stand outside time, as fresh as tomorrow, transcendent and sublime.
12345678 The Catalogue will be released across the following formats:
* CD Boxset containing 8 x CDs in ‘mini-vinyl’ card wallet packaging, plus individual large format booklets.
Due to licensing restrictions in the U.S., only five of the eight albums will be released as separate CD editions: Autobahn, Radio-Activity, Trans Europe Express, The Man Machine and Tour De France (2003). As a result, the only way for fans to own the entire catalogue on CD is to purchase the Box Set.
* 5 x individual CDs in special O-card slipcases featuring newly expanded artwork, including many previously unseen images, all of which have been reproduced to the highest technical standards
* 5 x individual heavyweight vinyl LPs with large format booklets
* Digital downloads
12345678 THE CATALOGUE
With its iconic Emil Schult sleeve, Kraftwerk release their international breakthrough album. The symphonic title track, an epic ode to the joys of motorway travel, wraps a mesmerising motorik rhythm around a sampled collage of car horns, engine noise, whirring tyres and radio crackle. In edited form, it becomes a revolutionary hit single around the world.
Elsewhere, in wordless industrial folk music, the band reveal both their light and dark sides – ‘Mitternacht’ is all creeping midnight shadows, while ‘Morgenspaziergang’ is fresh with morning dew and birdsong. Two versions of ‘Kometenmelodie’, one a starkly gothic prowl, the other a sunny electro boogie, provide further instrumental sound paintings. Pure and strong and bold, Kraftwerk compose cinema for the ears. The pop world falls in love with them.
Kraftwerk embrace the atomic age with mixed emotions. Surfing on sine waves, scanning the stratosphere for stray radio signals, they plug themselves into a buzzing grid of energy and communication. From the stately eco-angst anthem ‘Radioactivity’ to the synthetic Gregorian chants of ‘Radio Stars’ and the melancholy machine processional of ‘Ohm Sweet Ohm’, a sombre but engrossing monumentalism dominates.
With heavily processed vocals in both German and English, Kraftwerk go global with depth and majesty. If factories and power stations are the new cathedrals, they write liturgies for a new industrial epoch.
TRANS EUROPE EXPRESS (1977)
Kraftwerk celebrate Europe's romantic past and shimmering future with a glistening panorama of elegance and decadence, travel and technology. The infinite vistas of ‘Europe Endless’ and ‘Endless Endless’ bookend the album, which includes the unsettling Kafka-esque fable ‘The Hall Of Mirrors’ and the hilarious ‘Showroom Dummies’ - Kraftwerk's elegantly ironic reply to critiques of their deadpan manner.
But it is the streamlined rhythmic locomotive of ‘Trans Europe Express’ which dominates with its doppler-effect melodic swerves and hypnotic, pneumatic, piston-pumping rhythm. Along with its sister track, ‘Metal On Metal’ which New York DJ Afrika Bambaataa would re-construct five years later for his own seminal ‘Planet Rock’, this milestone in avant-pop modernism later becomes a crucial influence on the early pioneers of hip-hop & sampling, electro and industrial music. Poetry in motion.
THE MAN MACHINE (1978)
A bold new look, sound and concept for Kraftwerk. Over supple processed rhythms which predate the rise of European techno and trance, they address automation and alienation, space travel and engineering, the seductive allure of urban landscapes and the vacant glamour of celebrity. Clipped and funky, ‘The Robots’ adds another dimension to Kraftwerk's ultra-dry sense of humour. Behind its intoxicating melodic pulse, ‘The Model’ is a highly prophetic satire on the beauty industry, so ahead of its time that it only becomes a UK chart-topper by accident three years later. And ‘Neon Lights’ is Kraftwerk's most achingly romantic song to date, a sci-fi lullaby for cities at twilight. Pure magic.
COMPUTER WORLD (1981)
Kraftwerk beam themselves into the future by writing about home computers, online dating and globalised electronic surveillance years before these phenomena truly come into being. A journey into the bright hopes and dark fears of the booming microchip revolution, ‘Computer World’ is a serenely beautiful and almost seamless collage of sensual melodies and liquid beatscapes. Tracks like ‘Numbers’ and ‘Pocket Calculator’, with their weightless bleeps and elastic beats, predict the silky rhythms of Chicago house and inspire a generation of Detroit techno artists. Kraftwerk's fanfare for the silicon age still sounds ageless, timeless and throbbing with invention.
TECHNO POP (1986)
Kraftwerk return from five years of silence to reclaim their throne as leaders of a machine-pop revolution that they themselves began over a decade before. Their ‘Techno Pop’ album, first released under the name ‘Electric Café’ but now restored to its originally intended title, provides a 360-degree overview of a multi-lingual, multi-channel, musically diverse global village.
From the block-rocking beats of ‘Boing Boom Tschack’ to the electronic funk and computer animation of ‘Musique Non Stop’, Kraftwerk soar into the digital age. Their first excursion into digital recording finds both beauty and unease in a polyglot world of permanent media overload. Once again, Dusseldorf’s test pilots of the musical future effortlessly break new ground.
THE MIX (1991)
Kraftwerk's first fully digital album confirmed their clubland credentials and reworked 11 of their best-loved tunes for a new generation. Painstakingly reconstructed and sequenced in the band's Kling Klang studio, new versions of tracks like ‘The Robots’, ‘Trans Europe Express’ and ‘Home Computer’ now feature more funky rhythms and cleaned-up, liquid-crystal sounds. A stark warning about pollution at Sellafield is added to the glistening overhaul of ‘Radioactivity’, sparking a war of words with British Nuclear Fuels. But most of all, ‘The Mix’ is a career-spanning collection of legendary electro anthems and a classy acknowledgment of the two-way traffic between Kraftwerk and club culture.
TOUR DE FRANCE (2003)
The year 2003 marked the centenary of the Tour de France, the conceptual starting line for Kraftwerk's first album for over a decade. Although it features an immaculate new version of a 20-year-old former single, the exquisitely graceful ‘Tour de France’, pop nostalgia is not on the menu. From the chunky cyber-funk of ‘Vitamin’ to the restless metallic shimmers of ‘Aéro Dynamik’, this is emphatically the sound of 21st century techno visionaries.
Original "Autobahn" Video:
Friday, August 14, 2009
Recently it was relayed to me the rumor that the Woodstock Music & Art Fair was originally planned to happen in my old hometown of Wallkill, NY, across the street from the middle school. Unfortunately, the tiny hamlet was even tinier back in 1969, and consisted predominantly of God-fearing farm people who had no desire to see their town overrun by a bunch of hippie freaks from Long Island and the Boroughs. The plan to set up shop on the legendary Borden Farm off Route 208 was quickly nixed by the Town Board and Michael Lang and co. quickly relocated to Yasgur's Farm.
I think it would have been so sick if Woodstock had actually gone down in Wallkill. Even in 2009, that town is as square as a toy block and in desperate need of a serious dose of cool, know what I mean?
I can picture it now: Hippies squatting on the steps of my old school, acid-tripping denizens stopping by Dolan's Market for beer, Jimi Hendrix trying to hook up with one of my friends' moms that Monday morning after his immortal set...
But alas, the town is more about football and farming than "An Aquarian Exposition", even though it seemed to get a little hipper after our class became seniors and introduced the young, naive masses to 40s, blunts and raves.
Sadly enough, the closest Wallkill has ever come to a major music festival is the high school's yearly talent show, which seems to get wacker and wacker every year from what I understand.
Nevertheless, the idea that we were this close to being ground zero for one of the greatest events in rock history is definitely something to brag about. And the only proof of this fact seems to be the poster (seen above) created in haste and then reconfigured after Wallkill shut down the idea of holding the concert there, thus causing the designers to create the now-iconic dove-on-the-guitar-neck logo.
No matter then, as me and my friends have had Aquarian Expositions several times over on that very same farmland many, many times in our youth, thus validating the nature of this small slice of failed history.
Unfortunately, as it was recently confirmed, the rumor was just that, a rumor. Those of us who grew up in our area know there are TWO Wallkills: the little hamlet also known as Shawangunk and the Town of Wallkill, which is closer to Middletown. Turns out Borden Farm wasn't even an option. The thing was actually supposed to go down on
the 300-acre (1.2 km2) Mills Industrial Park in the Town of Wallkill, which Woodstock Ventures had leased for $100,000 in the Spring of 1969.
The rest of this info comes from Wikipedia, so take it with a grain of salt:
Town officials were assured that no more than 50,000 would attend. Town residents immediately opposed the project. In early July the Town Board passed a law requiring a permit for any gathering over 5,000 people. On July 15, 1969 the Wallkill Zoning Board of Appeals officially banned the concert on the basis that the planned portable toilets would not meet town code.
Following the ban, Elliot Tiber, who owned the 80-room El Monaco Motel on White Lake in Bethel, New York offered to host the event on his 15 acres (61,000 m2). He already had a permit for a White Lake Music and Arts Festival from the Town of Bethel, which was to be a chamber music concert. When it was clear the site was too small, Tiber introduced the promoters to dairy farmer, Max Yasgur, initially on the premise that Yasgur's land would rent for $50 for a festival attracting 5,000. On July 20, 1969, Yasgur, meeting with the organizers at a White Lake restaurant called The Lighthouse, agreed to rent 600 acres (2.4 km2) for $75,000."
But while it would have been cool to think that this historical event could have happened in the same place I used to get my ass kicked in dodgeball every week, the fact that Woodstock happened anywhere in the vicinity of the Hudson Valley is good enough for me, ya dig? -Ed.
Jorma Kaukonen melting faces on Sunday morning, August 1969:
Thursday, August 13, 2009
This is truly heartbreaking news. Les Paul was a true legend and one of the three greatest guitar players who ever existed on this earth. He is also the inventor of the hottest electric axe known to man, the Gibson Les Paul. I am truly grateful Michele and I got to see him at Iridium a couple of years ago, and I wish I had spent more Monday nights with the father of the electric guitar.
From Associated Press wire:
By LUKE SHERIDAN, Associated Press Writer
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Les Paul, the guitarist and inventor who changed the course of music with the electric guitar and multitrack recording and had a string of hits, many with wife Mary Ford, died on Thursday. He was 94.
According to Gibson Guitar, Paul died of complications from pneumonia at White Plains Hospital. His family and friends were by his side.
He had been hospitalized in February 2006 when he learned he won two Grammys for an album he released after his 90th birthday, "Les Paul & Friends: American Made, World Played."
"I feel like a condemned building with a new flagpole on it," he joked.
As an inventor, Paul helped bring about the rise of rock 'n' roll and multitrack recording, which enables artists to record different instruments at different times, sing harmony with themselves, and then carefully balance the "tracks" in the finished recording.
With Ford, his wife from 1949 to 1962, he earned 36 gold records and 11 No. 1 pop hits, including "Vaya Con Dios," "How High the Moon," "Nola" and "Lover." Many of their songs used overdubbing techniques that Paul the inventor had helped develop.
"I could take my Mary and make her three, six, nine, 12, as many voices as I wished," he recalled. "This is quite an asset." The overdubbing technique was highly influential on later recording artists such as the Carpenters.
The use of electric guitar gained popularity in the mid-to-late 1940s, and then exploded with the advent of rock the 1950s.
"Suddenly, it was recognized that power was a very important part of music," Paul once said. "To have the dynamics, to have the way of expressing yourself beyond the normal limits of an unamplified instrument, was incredible. Today a guy wouldn't think of singing a song on a stage without a microphone and a sound system."
A tinkerer and musician since childhood, he experimented with guitar amplification for years before coming up in 1941 with what he called "The Log," a four-by-four piece of wood strung with steel strings.
"I went into a nightclub and played it. Of course, everybody had me labeled as a nut." He later put the wooden wings onto the body to give it a tradition guitar shape.
In 1952, Gibson Guitars began production on the Les Paul guitar.
Pete Townsend of The Who, Steve Howe of Yes, jazz great Al DiMeola and Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page all made the Gibson Les Paul their trademark six-string.
Over the years, the Les Paul series has become one of the most widely used guitars in the music industry. In 2005, Christie's auction house sold a 1955 Gibson Les Paul for $45,600.
Les Paul and his beloved wife, Mary Ford, performing "How High the Moon", showcasing his groundbreaking multi-track recording technique:
Les Paul jamming with Joe Satriani at the Iridium 2008:
Les Paul at the Iridium circa 1997:
Excerpt from the film Chasing Sound:
Monday, August 10, 2009
A belated obit from the AP Wire. The IRT mourns the loss of another NYC punk legend gone upward:
Willy DeVille, who founded the punk group Mink DeVille and was known for his blend of R&B, blues, Dixieland and traditional French Cajun ballads, has died, his publicist said Friday. He was 58.
The Oscar-nominated songwriter died at New York's Cabrini Hospital on Thursday of pancreatic cancer, said Carol Kaye at Kayos Productions.
"The rock world has lost another one of its influential pioneers," Kaye said.
Mink DeVille, for which DeVille was the principal songwriter, was billed as one of the most original groups on the New York punk scene after an appearance at the legendary CBGB club in Greenwich Village in the 1970s.
In 1977, the band recorded "Cabretta," a rock and roll/rhythm and blues album with renowned producer Jack Nitzsche. Its featured song, "Spanish Stroll," was a Top 20 hit in Britain. It was followed by the album "Return to Magenta."
Better known in Europe than in the United States, DeVille went solo in 1980 with "Le Chat Bleu." Recorded in Paris and influenced by his admiration for siren Edith Piaf, the album featured "This Must Be the Night" and "Just to Walk That Little Girl Home."
His "Storybook Love," featured in the 1987 movie "The Princess Bride," was nominated for an Academy Award.
"Throughout his career, his musical gumbo was always layered with his deliciously gravelly soul-drenched vocals," Kaye said.
DeVille also spent time in New Orleans and recorded his "Victory Mixture" album with Dr. John, Eddie Bo, Allen Toussaint and others.
His other albums include the soulful "Coupe de Grace" and "Where Angels Fear to Tread." In 1985, "Sportin' Life" featured the European hit song "Italian Shoes."
He was born in Stamford, Conn., and survivors include his wife, Nina, and a son, Sean Borsey.
Mink DeVille performing "Cadillac Walk" acoustic:
Monday, August 3, 2009
Looks pretty cool. Hopefully this one will be better than the second Blueprint. And, if the a capella preview Hov provided for the crowd at All Points West Friday night is any indication, in addition to the two amazing singles that have emerged from his first release on his new Roc Nation imprint (that being "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)" and "Run This Town"), looks like Jigga's got another classic on his hands.
The horizontal Roman numeral 3 on here has got to be a nod to his new BFF, Coldplay's Chris Martin, no?