THE LISTENING EXPERIENCE: The music within

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As I’m going through records, whether to listen to or to put up on eBay or discard to the great thrift stores of the region, I come across Ramsey Lewis‘ 1971 album on Columbia: Upendo Ni Pamoja. It was his first for Columbia after leaving the Chess label, and it did quite well for him. As I’m listening to the album, I flip the cover over and I read liner notes written by him, where he talks about the relationship between sound, our surrounding, and ourselves:

I have always thought that music goes back to the simple heartbeat; to the time before man could speak and had to communicate through the use of elemental noises. What would have been closer to man that the sound of his being alive.

I have always thought that after listening to the sound of his heartbeat man began to listen to other sounds; the sounds that birds made singing in the trees; the sounds that breezes made as they blew their way through the endless forests; sounds that animals, both friendly and hostile, made as they went about their daily lives.

I have always felt that even after man learned how to talk he never lost the memory of that primeval heartbeat, or the birds, or the breezes, or all the animals he came to know so long ago. And that memory drew man to music and to the noises and rhythms of music, because music expressed something from the very beginnings of his time on Earth.

And music still expresses these things and, as a result, draws from all the most basic emotions from far inside men. And probably without music much of what we know as society would rot and fall away. We take music for granted now since it has been such an elemental part of all our lives, but we should stop for a moment and, not taking it for granted, understand something of why it soothes and plays upon the savage beast within our soul.

And I think that ever since I began to play, I have thought that music should make people look within themselves and think about the meaning of life. That it should make them think about how fine it is to be loved or to love another; that it should make them think about how really insignificant we are and at the same time how important each of us is on this Earth we live on and in the universe that our Earth goes spinning through.

So close your eyes and let our music speak to you in colors and sounds and familiar and not so familiar emotions and let it tell you how much all three of us love to be alive and love to talk about being alive in our music.

  • Music is very much about the internal, and a feeling/need to express that with someone, a group of people or because we create a connection to the music, the entire world. We get to music, and somehow we get through music, in order to get through this existence of life. Music is life, and life is music, people tend to seek harmony and do so by being harmonious. This symphony we embrace and find so many words to describe, and yet every definition seems to not do it justice. It’s sound, something the majority of the world does indeed take for granted, and yet without that sound, we try to find a way to fill that voice. Sometimes the silence can be anticipation for the sound that awaits.

    http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thisbosmu-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B00005KHG6http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thisbosmu-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B0045U3ASKhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thisbosmu-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B001E2A1SE

  • THE LISTENING EXPERIENCE: Math

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    Nerd.

    My mom always told me that the first word I ever spelled was “Chevrolet”. C’mon, how many kids spell Chevrolet? This comes from having a dad who worshiped anything and everything Chevy, he was a car freak who fixed engines, went to junk yards for parts, went to auto stores just to be… there. He was not an auto mechanic by trade, but rather an engineer. His love of fixing things did not rub off on me at all, I fix shit and I prefer buying a new one. But what I did enjoy was his knowledge and admiration of the mechanics and dynamics of what made a car run, and why. If he fixed a certain car and didn’t have the right part, he knew all of the “alternate” parts. If something needed to be modified, he would do his best to dig through his boxes of magazines and do it himself, always did it himself. If he could do it cheaply but properly, he would take all morning, dad, and night. Maybe it was to get out of the house, but still, he wanted to be in that machine. I could relate to this, even though cars were and are not my thing. The kind of machine I wanted to be in looked like this:

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  • I love math. I did quite well in school, but math was a subject I enjoyed because for me, it seemed like fun, even though it was a process of learning and remembering. For me, if it was reading or social studies, I would moan and groan like the rest of my classmates. Studying felt like a chore, and we wanted to be outside and play on the jungle gym. Math came fairly easy, and I enjoyed the simple 1+1, 2+2, 2×2, and 16÷4. Then one year, we started to learn fractions. As all of us remember, this was a big step up from mere addition and subtraction. We knew our numbers, but now we were going to learn about the numbers within the numbers, or how to divide things in ways we didn’t know about, but for some reason in mattered.

    We remember how it all began. 1 is not just one, it can be two halves: 1/2 and 2/2, with 2/2 representing both halves. Then things could be divided even more. You learn about the numerators and denominators, how 1/2 = 2/4 = 4/8, etc. I would remember these numbers and sequence of things, and as anyone into math will tell you, once you have a sense of how these number systems work, you eventually find shortcuts to get to the equation. That leads to percentages, not only of “one” or a “whole”, but of different numbers. That would lead to how to count your change when you gave the cashier at a dollar, you’d learn how much you would get back and why. All of these things I really enjoyed knowing and studying, because they were mental games. I loved puzzles, quizzes, anything that had to do with challenging the mind, and perhaps that’s why I got into “enrichment” class, for the nerdy/geeky kids. They saw me as someone who wanted to not challenge myself, but find more things to be challenged by.

  • While I remained “a drummer without a drum set”, I loved the power of the drums and rhythms in songs. I worshipped the guitar heroes too like Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Frank Marino, but I wanted to be a drummer. I’d listen to my favorite music and play “air drums”, and I was damn good at it. Or at least as good as a kid could be in the privacy of my own bedroom and mind. I’d listen to a song like Ten Years After‘s “I’m Going Home”,and it was easy: all I had to do was play a consistent beat throughout the entire song. If I played something like Led Zeppelin‘s “When The Levee Breaks”, it was more than just “1… 2… 3… 4…”, there were a few intricate parts in that song. If I played Santana records, I’d love the sound and feel of the music but the rhythms were a bit more complex. Yet in my mind, there was always the core of the “1… 2… 3… 4…”. However, in the background there might be other things going on: the congas, the timbales, all playing in their own mindframe but still getting to where they needed to be after a sequence.
  • One thing I remember from school was seeing “fraction lines”. On one hand, it was a way to see how numbers were divided, so you could see how “1” could be divided in 2, 4, 8, or 16 equal parts. In some tasks, we would use a ruler and on this ruler we could see an inch, and in between that inch, a number of lines. We could figure out half an inch, 5/8 of an inch, or create a line that was of any length, as requested. It was possible to go back between inches and centimeters, so all of this was somehow interesting to me.

    Music has always been a part of me, or at least my surroundings. Some things come natural to me, in that if I hear a song, I would have a sense of its rhythmic patterns or time signatures. At least the basic stuff, such as the standard 4/4 time signature, or a 3/4 waltz rhythm. As I would read more about music and how it works, I’d discover that songs could be more than 4/4 or 3/4. Or if a song was 4/4, you could do a number of different things in that 4/4. If a song sounded complex, I’d wonder about its sequence and try to figure it out in my head, or clap it out. Eventually, I figured out that a lot of the music I was listening to was mathematical, which lead to those fraction lines.
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    It was one of those “Bobby Brady fireworks in the head” moments. The music I loved also had games in them? Well, I know I didn’t say that, but I realized that music could be more than just the surface, that it might be filled with many layers. I am always curious about why certain sounds and songs work. Or if I heard a song like, let’s say, Blind Faith‘s “Do What You Like”, I’d want to know if the entire song is 5/4. It is, not unlike Lalo Schifrin‘s theme to Mission: Impossible.

    As I got into progressive rock and heard King Crimson‘s “21st Century Schizoid Man”, I enjoyed the mid-section of the song commonly known as “Mirrors”. When the song comes out of the driving first part and the tempo increases, the time signature turns to 3/4. For the longest time, I could not figure out the segment that switches over to something else at the 4:40 mark:

    I love this song and yet could not figure out that section. In my 30’s, after 20 years of hearing this song countless times, I realized when that fast section switches over, it moves from 3/4 to 4/4, and there are all of these intricate things going on before that sequence is played twice, wraps itself up, and heads back into the 3/4 for awhile before returning back into that slow grinding 4/4 groove. I remember when I discovered this, I thought “why didn’t I sense this when I was a teenager?” Keep in mind that I loved the different time signatures and bars of jazz and prog rock, which I’m a fan of, but sometimes things may not fully click until much later.

  • Somewhere before this, a number of bands were doing this and someone decided that these complex music equations was worthy of a name: “math rock”. This was nothing different from what bands have been doing for decades, but for those who loved to hear music **with** thought, this was perfect. If you’re into jazz, you discover the music of Don Ellis, who would play songs in 5/4, 7/4, 11/4, or whatever he felt like doing. When I got into Indian classical music, I discovered that their musical notation (tala) is completely different from Western notation, and each of their time signatures may have specific names. For example, our 4/4 rhythm is written out as 4 + 4 + 4 + 4, or what is known as teental/tintal. I discovered this while reading liner notes of albums by Ravi Shankar, which would always describe the feeling, emotion, or pathos of a song, before telling the reader/listener how to hear the song. Then you’d read about other songs, and how they are presented in Jhaptal, Ektal, and countless other names. I’d read up about this, and some of it was similar to Western time signatures, while others seemed a bit more… maybe “crazy” and “hectic” aren’t the proper words, but it wasn’t just simply clapping “1… 2… 3… 4…”, but any mathematical equation you wanted to play, you could do so in music. I remember reading Shankar’s autobiography where he spoke of writing a composition based on the 50th anniversary of India’s independence from England. He did it in a tala that was “3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 + 7 + 6 + 5 + 4 + 3”. In other words, if you were to count that out, you would do it as:

    1… 2… 3…
    1… 2… 3… 4…
    1… 2… 3… 4… 5…
    1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6…
    1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7…
    1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7…
    1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6…
    1… 2… 3… 4… 5…
    1… 2… 3… 4…
    1… 2… 3…

    Significance? The sum of 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 is 25. That numbered sequence is reversed, so 25+25 = 50, a reference to the 50th anniversary of India’s independence from England. When I read this, I thought “wow, you can do that with music?” That’s when I decided to do a song using that same sequence, but in my case, the 50 would represent where I’m from, Hawai’i, which is the 50th U.S. state. I don’t have the audience or appeal of Shankar, and while I did come up with great results, it could have been a lot better if I added more elements to the track. Nonetheless, it was still fun to do.

  • I don’t listen to all music with math in mind, but math is always in mind, especially with music. In other words, if it’s music where a 4/4 time signature is expected, I’ll listen to it for that. I’ll listen to a song for its music, its means to create emotion, all of the metaphors I use to simply listen. Yet if a song is different from an accepted norm, I can’t help but put my math hat on and start thinking, something that you pretty much have to do. If you are a drummer, you are looking at a diagram of numbers. You have to hit the hi-hat a certain way, you hit the snare at certain points, and if you want to do something different, it may help to create a new pattern. That “new pattern” may be described as a groove. There are some who will tell you that there are huge cultural and ethnic differences in music. James Brown, George Clinton, and Prince would honor the principal that the groove was always “on the one”, or on that initial beat. Even actor Malcolm Jamal-Warner would single this out in a classic episode of The Cosby Show, where when he, as Theo, was in a recording studio with his family and musician Stevie Wonder, he was told to say something into the microphone, and what did he say? “Jammin’ on the one“.

    You may not think “mathematical” when it comes to Paula Abdul, but in her video for “Forever Your Girl”, she was trying to teach a young girl how to dance in a certain sequence, and did so by trying to tell her where to do certain things in a sequence of 8 beats. The look on the girls’ face when Abdul says “you’re on” seems to be an expression that a lot of people have when you describe the time signature or pattern to them.

    A lot of people fell in love with Outkast‘s “Hey Ya”, leading to countless cover version in a number of different styles. Part of its appeal is that the time signature is 22/4, or 4 + 4 + 4 + 2 + 4 + 4:

    There’s also De La Soul‘s “Stakes Is High”, and outside of it being a Dilla production, what people like about it is because it is not the normal hip-hop 4/4 rhythm. In this case, it’s 12/4, or 4 + 4 + 4:

    You also have one of my favorite DJ Shadow songs, “Changeling”, which is 14/4, or 4 + 4 + 4 + 2:

  • For me, math is always in the music. Music and math are one. Of course, math doesn’t apply to just music. As I got into food as something create rather than rip out of a box and warm up, you have to understand and follow the rules of the recipe. If you put more than 1/4 cup of any ingredient, or less than 2 tbsp of something else, it will taste either bad or be deficient/lack flavor. Some of the best cooks/chefs are able to play with food by feeling, and can tweak it visually or by flavor, but that also comes from years of experience. Same with a musician, who may be part of a band or orchestra, and if you’re playing by the book or with a sense of improvisation, you know where to come in to fit in, or to compliment what is being played, along with moving out of range at appropriate times. Math is with you when you are driving somewhere, reading the sign that tells you how long you have to go to get to your destination. It’s with you when you are a construction worker, when you have to coordinate the dimensions of a room, carpet fabric, or anything that will make the room look right. When the room looks and feels right, you might say that everything is in “harmony” with one another, a musical metaphor but as a way to say that this is right, or as right/accurate as it can be.

    Music is the same way. Math is always a part of the equation, but you can have the freedom to bob and weave out of it if you follow the rules that are in play. Even with rules, you can still have fun with it. As a listener, or as a creator of sounds, math is important. It may not make people dance “on the on” at first, but with enough practice and dedication, you’ll get to the sum of that equation. Music should make us feel, and a lot of times it makes us happy, so if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

    Clap, clap.

    One, two.

  • Music is limitless if you understand or know the rules and guidelines, which will lead you to color outside of the lines.
  • SOME STUFFS: Ramsey Lewis takes “Another Look” at his electric side


    At the age of 76, musician Ramsey Lewis continues to record and tour across the U.S. and the world, and this year he put together the Sun Goddess tour where he and his current band plays the entire 1974 album in full from start to finish. Now he’s about to come out with a brand new album, and it’s an “electric” one. It’s called Taking Another Look (Hidden Beach), and if the title isn’t a clue, he’s basically revisiting some of the songs fans have loved for years, including four new versions of songs from Sun Goddess and a brand new edit of “Sun Goddess”, which was probably done to put it back on the radio since the original is a little over eight minutes (this new edit is 5 minutes) and in preparation of its release, Lewis is posting some videos with comments about its creation and why he did it. You can see other videos he has posted so far by going to his official YouTube page. The album will be released on September 20th.

    http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F1072441&show_comments=true&color=202e0a&show_playcount=true&show_artwork=true
    Ramsey, Taking Another Look by hiddenbeach

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    SOME STUFFS: Ramsey Lewis to start Sun Goddess tour with electric band this summer

    Jazz musician Ramsey Lewis continues to write, record, and perform today, doing more things with his music at the age of 75 than artists a third his age. Fans love different aspects and eras of his music, I became a fan of him through my dad, who was a huge fan of two albums, Golden Hits and Sun Goddess. They in turn became some of my first introductions to jazz, and I’ve never stopped listening.

    Lewis decided last year that with attention towards his “electric period” continues to be of interest, especially to younger generations who are discovering his work for the first time, he wanted to go on tour with an electric band (opposed to the acoustic trio he often tours with). He is calling it his 2011 Sun Goddess Tour, and while no dates have been confirmed as of yet, the video above explains that he will be on the festival circuit this summer (which would be a perfect time to celebrate Sun Goddess) and that’s when the tour will begin.

    Stay tuned.

    http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thisbosmu-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&md=10FE9736YVPPT7A0FBG2&asins=B00138F3RIhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thisbosmu-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&md=10FE9736YVPPT7A0FBG2&asins=B00000251Ehttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thisbosmu-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&md=10FE9736YVPPT7A0FBG2&asins=B002HMSBS2http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=thisbosmu-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&m=amazon&f=ifr&md=10FE9736YVPPT7A0FBG2&asins=B002HMZMFW

    RECORD CRACK: No. 007 – Multiple pressings

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  • Record collecting has many multiples. You can choose to collect anything and everything from a particular artist, a record label, producer, musician, city, state, region, country, era, mono-only, genre, whatever. I was going to say “it’s endless” but there are thousands of ways to collect what you want, and never enough time or money (unless you have a lot of it, and if you do, please send some to my PayPal account, thank you) to get what you want.
  • Collectors tend to have their own level of expertise, things they specifically want or at least are knowledgeable about. I tend to dabble in a little bit of everything, I know a good amount about The Beatles (as discussed here) but always willing to know more. If people want a superrare funk or soul 45, there are a number of collectors, dealers, and well known hip-hop DJ’s people can track down to find the right pressing.
  • Another thing that collectors like to do is to find different pressings of the same album, and there are variables of what constitutes “multiple pressings”. I’ll read articles and blogs about people who will go through thrift stores, yard and garage sales and they’ll end up buying a Helen Reddy album even if they’re not a true fan of hers or her music. Somehow, they’ll post a note saying “I have 20 copies of Love Song for Jeffrey, including the quad 8-track, and I don’t know why”. Generally, what you’ll often hear about are people buying the same album multiple times from the same country. I know I have multiple copies of Cecilio & Kapono‘s first album, Loggins & Messina‘s Sittin’ In, but other than being able to buy and organize a few copies of the same album, there’s no really good reason other than to be a collector and play a game that no one really participates in, let’s be honest about this. UNLESS you are amongst a community of collectors who do the same, then it’s appreciated, or at least you can all murk in your disgust of the foolish game.
  • If you’re a hip-hop DJ that still uses vinyl, then you may want multiple copies of the same record for that reason alone. You place one record on one turntable, then a different copy on the other, and you can “juggle” beats, do a routine, or create a live mix on the spot. That has always been the case for hip-hop DJ’s, but the advances in CD and MP3 technology has made it possible to manipulate songs without having to have the physical record there. DJ’s no longer have to lug boxes and crates of records from gig to gig, hell they don’t have to carry it to a recording session, nor do you have to go to anyone else’s recording studio. Everything can be done digitally, you can have a rapper send you their vocals with a click track, and you can assemble it an ocean away.
  • Of course, records aren’t solely the tools of the trade for fans of hip-hop music. Having multiple copies of the same record is a different level of madness in record collecting, and it’s a madness that has been going on for decades. As an example again, let’s touch on The Beatles. If you are an American who loves the Revolver album, you have a lot of options to choose from. Let’s say you discovered their music in 1981 and went to the store to pick up a copy of Revolver. If you bought the album brand new/still sealed, you would have the album on Capitol Records in the purple label variation. You then discover that Capitol Records pressed up the album with different labels, as they would rotate the look of their labels every few years. In time, you find yourself with the original Capitol rainbow swirl, both stereo and mono. Then you buy the lime green label, the one on Apple, and the orange one that followed. Same album, same songs, not much difference in any of them. You also have an album that had only 11 songs, which you discovered was shorter than the proper UK version that contained 14. The UK version was not available, but you went to a record store and saw a Japanese pressing or a French pressing, both equal to the 14-track UK album. You buy the French one because it’s cheaper, but hope to buy the Japanese one someday because you had read the sound quality is incredible. You bring home the French pressing and say “wow, this sounds as if if was mastered different.” Or maybe you don’t care, you just want to have your favorite album from as many countries as possible. You know that The Beatles phenomenon was worldwide, so you’re going to go out of your way, within your budget, to get as many world pressings as possible. You are able to do that.
  • There are reasons as to why one would do it. Some enjoy doing this to be able to hear how an album was heard in the country it was pressed in. In the digital era, the idea of hearing a different mastering in each country is almost a non-existent concept since everything comes from the same digital rip. The songs/files are cloned, so with the exception of the quality of the bit-rate in each file (i.e. an MP3 ripped at 128kbps) will not sound as good as one ripped at 320kbps), what you hear in Atlanta will be the same digital file you’ll download in Paris. In the analog era, a master tape was sent to each world division of a record label. While that master tape may be the approved mix of an album, a mastering engineer in one country may not have the same equipment as the engineer in another country, or an engineer might feel the need to tweak the audio a bit without permission. A pressing in Japan will sound great while the one in Germany might be better. Collectors will often have a select list of preferred countries to buy record pressings from due to their reputation from other collectors, such as U.S., UK, (West) Germany, and Japan. That’s not to ignore a pressing of an album from Australia, in fact some collectors will tell you that a pressing done in the country of the artist’s origin are often preferred because the level of quality control is higher. In other words, wanting multiple copies of albums is very much an audio issue.
  • One of my favorite albums was one that was a favorite of my dad’s and one I would grow into, Ramsey LewisSun Goddess. I have two copies of the album, but also have the 1990 CD and a Japanese pressing from the late 1990’s that sounds incredible. However, there are two other pressings that I would like to have: the Japanese pressing:
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    and the U.S. Columbia Half-Speed Mastered pressing:
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    It’s the same album as the one I already have four copies of, so why would I want two more? It’s a chance to hear the same seven songs mastered slightly different than what I’m used to. I love the sound of Columbia albums in the 1970’s, but I’m curious to know if it was mastered differently for Japanese audiences, and if that master is different from the Japanese CD (most likely it is). Even if I obtained the Japanaese LP, why would I now want the album yet again, in Half-Speed Mastered form? Because it was mastered differently, and this matters to me because I want to know, hear, and experience the differences, however small. Half-Speed Mastering was done at a time when perhaps record labels stopped caring for quality control so much, so having to create something with a specific slogan was their way of not only making more money, but letting the public know “we have created a better pressing which we think you will prefer.” Arguably it was the Deluxe Edition of the late 1970’s/early 1980’s, where the public had the option to buy the same set of songs again, but perhaps with slightly different graphics on the cover. To the casual music fan, this means nothing to them. To the serious music listener and audiophile, it’s all about variations, and I wnat to hear them. I also know of a British pressing of Sun Goddess on CBS with an orange label, and just to be a completist, maybe I’d buy that too but right now my goal is to get the Japan pressing and the Half-Speed. Are there Australian, French, and German pressings? Was there an inferior Taiwan pressing? There might be, but I don’t have too much interest in them.

  • There are two albums in my collection that I am a bit fanatical about, and while it’s not an urgent collecting game, it’s one that I play. I am looking for different world pressings of Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s Welcome To The PleasureDome and the 1970 Woodstock 3LP soundtrack album.

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    Frankie Goes To Hollywood might not be on the list of mandatory artists to collect, definitely not up there with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, or Elvis Presley, but I got into them primarily because of the sound and production, done primarily by Trevor Horn. I also loved what Paul Morley did with his level of superhype, created with incredible liner notes and myth creation. It was never “oh, Frankie Goes To Hollywood are from Liverpool, maybe they’ll be as big as The Beatles” or “they’re kinda new wave”, it was always about the music. I love Welcome To The PleasureDome, and it’s an album that I think saved me from complete mental hell when I had moved from Honolulu to the Pacific Northwest. I also liked how their record label, Zang Tuum Tumb, would release a single but not just the standard 7″ 45 or the 12″. There would be an alternate 12″, maybe a 7″ and 12″ picture disc, the cassingle, the shaped picture disc, or maybe two promotional mixes made exclusively for radio. I loved the ideas of multiples (which sounds like something you’d hear in a porn video but that’s another topic, perhaps another time), so I would find myself getting records from different countries. I wanted to explore that with Welcome To The PleasureDome and I have to a small degree. I have the US, UK, UK picture disc, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Yugoslavian pressings. In the US it was released via Island Records, which at the time was a WEA-affiliated label. In Japan it was released through Island/Polystar, and in New Zealand through Festival, and it’s cool to see the variations, however minor. Since FGTH were not as big as The Beatles, being able to find other world pressings should not be difficult. As I look at the page for the album at Discogs.com, I see that there are pressings in Greece, Israel, Portugal, Scandinavia, France, Italy, and Spain. I want them all. Were there pressings in Hong Kong? South Korea? I want to know. But as you can see, the list of countries isn’t big. Compare that with a Beatles album that was released around the world. I could easily complete my collection by the end of the week.

  • Then there’s the Woodstock soundtrack. I fell in love with the movie in 1979 or 1980 when it was shown on HBO. I clearly remember the promo on HBO with Casey Kasem, and as they showed that shot after Jimi Hendrix‘s section, Kasem did a voice-over which said “Woodstock: where it all began.” I grew up with a good amount of rock’n’roll and heavy music that came from what my dad and uncles listened to, it wasn’t “classic rock” just yet, just “the good shit”. I was born a year after the festival, and the idea of going to a concert in some large, random farm in upstate New York, surrounded by over 500,000 people as people passed around wine, weed, and granola was something that moved me. C’mon, a 3-day festival with all of this great music, funky ass smelly people, and a trippy mud slide? I would’ve been happy with the granola, but if I was alive when the festival happened, you know I would’ve not only had smoked weed, but I would’ve been in the forest trying to survive the brown acid that Chip Monck told me was not specifically too good.

    One day my parents and I went to the Kamehameha Super Swap Meet one weekend, something we always did, and after falling in love with what was the longest movie I had ever seen up until that point, I saw the soundtrack album. Three records, and the cost? A massive three dollars. I begged and pleaded, and told them “get me this, and you will not have to get me anything for Christmas” or some stupid shit just so I could get the record, take it home, and listen. They gave me the pitiful look, but once I saw the hand reaching into the purse, I smiled and ran to the man who had the album. Gave him the three dollars, wanting to go home right now. I either played Santana‘s “Soul Sacrifice” or Ten Years After‘s “I’m Going Home” first, and I just put myself into the music and got lost. 1979 was the year I discovered The Beatles and hip-hop, and I believe was the year I found Woodstock. I was set for life. Well, I wasn’t prepared for losing a parent, good friends, and bills, but still.

    Woodstock became a worldwide phenomenon, now every country wanted to have their own gigantic festival and a lot of them failed. But the myth created behind the movie and soundtrack was what I lived for, for the simply fact that it looked and sounded good. As a kid I would say “if I had a time machine, I’d want to go to 1950 so I could experience The Beatles and Woodstock in real time”. As I got older, I still think it would have been an incredible thing to be a part of, but that’s a very naive me speaking as a pre-teen. Someone like me with my ethnic mix might not have been able to live outside of Hawai’i or California, either I would be a statistic or fighting for the civil rights of all but… it would have been interesting.

    Nonetheless, the soundtrack album moved me and I was always curious as to how the soundtrack was perceived. I don’t have as many pressings of Woodstock as I do of Welcome To The PleasureDome but I do have them for the U.S., Germany, Taiwan, and Israel. The album, a 3LP set, was originally released in 1970 on Cotillion Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic. Back then, the double album was considered “the event” but a 3LP set? Even The Beatles didn’t have a 3-record set, and now there’s one for a damn music and art fair? Anyway, as is the case with Atlantic-related albums in other countries, sometimes Woodstock would be released not with the Cotillion label, but with the Atlantic label, such as this pressing from Venezuela:
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    Argentina:
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    Or labels that have absolutely nothing to do with Cotillion or Atlantic, such as these pressings from South Korea and China respectively:
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    The album was also released with different covers. Uruguay pressing? Sure:
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    In India, the album was not released as a 3LP set but as three individual records with a different color scheme for each one:
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    Czechoslovakia? Yes.
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    In South Korea, there seems to be a few counterfeit pressings, which seems to have been customary in Asian countries that didn’t have proper record label affiliates. Somewhere down the line, there was an official pressing, and that had a completely different album cover as well. I can use eBay and other sites to find out which pressings are out there, it’s much cheaper to do that than it is to fly there and look for any stores or collectors, but that’s all a part of the fun of being a collector. There’s no really good reason to do it, other than to do it, and it’s not mandatory or life threatening. It’s merely a hobby, and I try to make it fun. It may be as corny to the outsider as it is for someone who attends Happy Meal toy conventions, but perhaps it’s a way to spice up a hobby that at times can be boring. It’s nothing but dust collecting on an archive I can’t really do anything with unless I’m interactive with it, which means taking the record out of the sleeve, placing it on the turntable, and lowering the stylus onto it.

  • As record companies started steering away from actual records and into cassettes and CD’s, many countries didn’t bother pressing up vinyl for a lot of titles. Or in the U.S., where vinyl was king, you would only be able to find cassette and CD, and had to hunt down an imported pressing, sometimes 50 to 100 percent more in cost. If you were lucky, maybe the labels pressed up promotional copies for radio and DJ’s, but as the compact disc became the king in the 1990’s, records were pushed to the side. In 2010, it’s rare to find any new album pressed in more than one country unless it’s someone very popular. To make things worse, new record prices in 2010 are often tagged with “import prices”, and add to that that labels will also press them up at 180g or 200g, making them “of audiophile quality”. Sound may not crystal clear, but the record is thick and heavy enough to give them a chance to add an extra ten dollars to any new release. Unfair, sure, but they’re also taking advantage of the vinyl revival/renaissance of the early 21st century. For the 40 dollars you might spend on the new Neil Young, you can buy 40 records from the dollar bin, which is why record collecting is still fun for me, the exploration aspect of it. If I want to get different label, cover, and pressing variations, I can choose to go that route.
  • Now for my question. How many of you do the same thing, and for what albums? Post your replies.