SOME STUFFS: Audio Fidelity remasters Santana’s live album “Lotus”

Audio Fidelity: Santana photo AF-SantanaL_cover_zpslio1e2gr.jpg
Due to the power and strength of this album, many people believe Santana’s 1974 live album Lotus was a Japan-only release. It was recorded in Japan but it was released in the U.S. as well. It was recorded during the era when the band were in Caravanserai mode so they were a few steps away from what made them famouis and getting deeper into jazz and jazz fusion. A few years later, they would step out of that phase and get into something more pop friendly but many had hoped they would return and get back into Lotus mode. Audio Fidelity are remastering it for release as a double hybrid SACD set, and this set is being done not only by Steve Hoffman but he gets assistance from Stephen Marsh. If you miss the time when Santana were wanting to continue the traditions of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, you’ll love this. This will be released on November 25th and is available for pre-order below through

RECORD CRACK: MFSL release new audiophile pressing of Santana’s “Abraxas”

 photo SantanaMFSL_cover_zpsvzg1oiwf.jpg
The album has sold millions of copies since it was released 46 years ago and you hear two of its hit singles continuously on the radio every day. In fact, wait an hour and you may end up hearing “Black Magic Woman” (and “Gypsy Queen”) or “Oye Como Va” at one point. Of course, I speak of Santana’s classic second album released in 1970 called Abraxas. If you have been collecting albums released by the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, you most likely have come across their 1991 pressing of the Abraxas CD at one point or another, as it remains one of the best remasters they’ve done. When MFSL, now known as MOFI, did a new pressing in 2008, it still sold very well.

This time, MFSL/MOFI are releasing it on vinyl again but in a way never done before: as a 2-record set and at 45 rpm. Only 2500 copies have been made and per the norm, once they sell out, it’s over, expect to pay high collector’s prices.

FREE MP3 DL: Santana’s “Oye Como Va (Sweekuh Remix)”

 photo SantanaSweekuh_old_zpsd59f1fd3.jpg
This is a song I grew up with, specifically Santana’s 1970 cover of the Tito Puente classic, and then to realize someone remixed it? I went to check it out, and it was done by Sweekuh out of Philadelphia. There are segments of it that I would have enhanced even more, and perhaps edited things differently but otherwise, I like it.

SOME STUFFS: Santana goes back to an instrumental vibe with new album, ready to hit the road this summer
With a new album that debuted at #16 on Billboard‘s Albums chart, Carlos Santana proves that he is not ready to rest just yet. Santana‘s new album, Shape Shifter (Starfaith), was released last week and fans immediately responded by buying the brand new 13-song album that marks his return to instrumental nirvana. In truth, all but one song are instrumentals, and for fans who have been waiting for him to “get back” to the wizardry he is known for, well, the chart position is the proof.

With a new album comes a tour, and after these shows, he will be doing a co-headling tour with The Allman Brothers Band.

July 7… Hinckley, MN (Grand Casino Mille Lacs)
July 9… Highland Park, IL (Ravinia Festival)
July 10… Kettering, OH (Fraze Pavilion for the Performing Arts)
July 11… Toledo, OH (Toledo Zoo Amphitheater)
July 13… Mount Pleasant, MI (Soaring Eagle Casino Resort)
July 14… West Toronto, ON (Molson Canadian Amphitheatre)
July 15… Clarkston, MI (DTE Energy Music Theatre)
July 17… Boston, MA (Bank of America Pavilion)
July 18… Gilford, NH (Meadowbrook U.S. Cellular Pavilion)
July 20-21… Atlantic City, NJ (Borgata Spa & Resort Event Center)

THE LISTENING EXPERIENCE: My first record player – Close’N’Play

Everyone remembers their first. When the Sony Corporation were introducing music projects for children in the 1980’s, they called it the “My First Sony” line, which involved everything from mini-TV sets, portable cassette players with microphones, and a kiddie version of the Walkman, to clock radios and keyboards. Before that, it was my dad who provided us with my first look and listen to Sony products, and eventually they would become my toys too but there was another product that would become my official start of my listening experience.

I do know that I went to Toys-R-Us, it was one of my favorite toy stores. Do I remember any of the toys I received, absolutely not. I don’t remember if I received it as a birthday or Christmas gift, and I was too young to care about holiday observances to know or care. All I know is that one day, I had an orange record player called the Close’N’Play, made by Kenner, and I felt so happy. I don’t remember the stereo my parents had, I just remember hearing music and playing records. If there was a song I was moved by, I’d glance at the label or look at the “big record cover”. My mom had a box of 45’s, and I clearly remember this, and I don’t know why. It was a 45 on the Metromedia label, so it was a lighter shade of blue with the M on the top, where the M had a few lines to create the design of the M. The record was by someone named Bobby Sherman, a pop singer who was a sensation with girls and apparently the ladies. In fact, there was a story passed on in my family that when Sherman performed in Honolulu, one of my aunties spent some time with him. When I had heard this story, I thought “oh, is this why my mom has his record?” but in truth my mom just loved the song. I honestly don’t remember the name of the record in the box of 45’s, but as I look on eBay, for some reason the only title that pops up in my mind is “La La La”. I don’t know if the story with Sherman and one of my aunties is true or if it was some childhood crush/fantasy but for me, the only thing cool about the record was the blue label and the design of the M.

I would see other records in the house that I found myself enjoying when they were played: El Chicano‘s Viva Tirado, John Rowles‘ “Cheryl Moana Marie” (another song my dad used to sing to me when he sat me on the fishtank), Santana‘s Abraxas, War‘s All Day Music and The World Is A Ghetto, and Sunday Manoa‘s Guava Jam. El Chicago, Santana, and War I loved because of the percussion, maybe that’s why I ended up doing damage to bongos and drum sets, and those albums I associate with being “California”. Perhaps as my parents played records and they saw me being perhaps attentive to the sounds and the pictures on the covers, they decided to give me something they felt I would enjoy: my own record player.

Even with the little things I remember from this point in my life, I don’t remember what records I had for my Close’N’Play, but what I liked about this record player was that it was mine. I was the one in control of playing the music, and all I had to do was open it up, place the record inside, close it and it would play. The needle was mounted on the inside cover, and it would play a record like any normal kiddle record player. The difference was that it did not have a tone arm. When I wanted to hear the music again, all I had to do was close the player, and it would start up exactly where I ended it. Years later when I would get into video games, the Nintendo company had a motto which said “Now You’re Playing With Power”, because it suggested that the type of gaming you could do at a game room could now be experienced at home, with quality equal to that of the arcade machines. Back then, the NES 8-bit graphics was a huge step up from the crap the Atari 2600 offered, but it did indeed mean “power”. For me, my first sense of power was with my Close’N’Play, and I do remember carrying it around as a prized possession when my parents would go places. It seemed even back then, I loved the music but wanted to do something with it. In time I would.

When my grandfather on my dad’s side was ill, the decision was made for my parents to move back to Honolulu to be closer to him. It would become my first trip to the islands and where I would get in contact with a much bigger family than I had known. It would be where I would get in touch with my cultural heritage, learn about the world around me, and become the person I am today. I don’t remember leaving Los Angeles, but I remember arrive at Honolulu International Airport. I walked out of the plane and as I got my first breath of Hawaiian air, I looked down and thought we were still in the air, or at least the plane was very high and I wanted someone to hold my hand because I didn’t want to fall.

Unfortunately, I do not remember having my Close’N’Play in Honolulu, it was “my California phonograph”. I would eventually have new devices to hear and play music, but it seems when I became a resident of Hawai’i, I left a part of me behind. In truth, it was probably too big to pack and compared to essentials such as, oh, clothes, they could afford to leave a kiddie record player behind.

SOME STUFFS: Woodstock concert documentary gets the deluxe treatment in special 40th anniversary edition

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

2009 marks the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, held in Bethel, New York on August 15-18, 1969. I was born a year after the fact, but I became a huge fan of the movie and the soundtrack album when I was nine or ten. Home Box Office (HBO) started showing the film, and the promo had Casey Kasem saying the slogan Woodstock: where it all began as the pan shot that was shown after Jimi Hendrix‘s performance had the Woodstock logo. That gave me a chicken skin moment, the idea that over 500,000 people were there to gather at some field… for music. I was a Hendrix fan through my uncles, but this also had The Who, Sly & The Family Stone, and Santana among many others. A year or so later, I found the Woodstock soundtrack album at the Kamehameha Super Swap Meet when I was walking around with my parents. I would roam (back when eleven year olds were free to roam) and I spotted a seller selling the album, a 3 record set. This meant that my parents had to spend $3. If I ever asked for an album, they would look for one and one record only. This was a big deal but by begging they bought me the album. I still remember going home that Saturday or Sunday, putting the album on my record player, and being blown away by what I heard. Parts of the record were scratchy, but others were perfect. I still remember hearing Ten Years After‘s “I’m Going Home” and wanting to play air guitar. I wanted to be Alvin Lee.

Since then, I’ve wanted to know more about the soundtrack, more about the music recorded and not used for the soundtrack albums (there were two) or the film, and the film itself. Now, they’re taking things to the next level. Warner Home Video will be releasing Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music: The Ultimate Collector’s Edition in June on standard DVD and in Blu-Ray. This 4 disc (!!!) collection will feature a lot of goodies, here’s the official press release:

Warner Bros. Warner Home Video has announced that they have bumped up the release date of ‘Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music Directors Cut 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collectors Edition’ to June 9th, day-and-date with the DVD release. This box set will feature two hours extra hours of performances from 13 groups who played at the legendary festival, but never made it onto the film, along with a reprint of Life magazine commemorative issue, a lucite lenticular display of festival photos, assorted memorabilia and an iron-on patch with the classic bird-and-guitar Woodstock emblem.

Technical specs have not been announced at this time, but you can expect a 1080p VC-1 video presentation along with a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack.

The disc-by-disc breakdown includes:

* Disc One Film (Director’s Cut), Part 1 128:38 min
* The Museum at BethelWoods: The Story of the Sixties & Woodstock

Disc Two
* Film (Director’s Cut), Part 2 95:34 min

Disc Three
* Woodstock: Untold Stories 18 Performances as never before seen
* Woodstock: From Festival to Feature Interviews of the sights and sounds of the 3 day event, from concert goers, promoters, crew and musicians

Exclusive to the Blu-ray release will be:

* Customize Your Own WoodstockPlaylist (from the 18 bonus performances)
o This feature allows you to customize your own personal jukebox playlist from more than a dozen live Woodstock performances as never been seen.
* BD-Live features include MediaCenter, My WB Commentary, & Live Community Screening
o MediaCenteris a hub for trailers, features and content
+ You can get sneak peeks of upcoming Warner Bros. films, and rate trailers
+ You can access to Exclusive Content such as interviews, featurettes, and more only seen through WB BD-Live
+ You can access Photo Galleries and other special features
o Live Community Screenings allow you to send invitations to fans and friends across the country for virtual screenings at a specified time and chat online with each other as the movie plays on each person’s Blu-ray player. You can host your own Live Community Screening with your buddy list or participate in a WB hosted Warner Bros. BD-Live community event
o My WB Commentary lets you record and post a Picture-in-Picture commentary right over the film, then share it and rate it. Using a web-camera, you can record your own comments and play them back as a Picture-in-Picture feature over the film scene you have chosen and share it with your friends or the entire Warner Bros. BD-Live Community

Additional info:

* Band Roster (22 Bands) Arlo Guthrie
* Canned Heat
* Country Joe & the Fish
* Country Joe McDonald
* Creedence Clearwater Revival
* Crosby, Stills, NashGrateful Dead Janis Joplin Jefferson Airplane
* Jimi Hendrix
* Joan Baez
* Joe Cocker
* John Sebastian
* Johnny Winter
* Mountain
* Paul Butterfield Blues Band
* Richie Havens
* Santana
* Sha-Na-Na
* Sly & The Family Stone
* Ten Years After
* The Who

18 Bonus Performances
* Joan Baez “One Day at a Time”
* Country Joe McDonald “Flying High”
* Santana “Evil Ways”
* Canned Heat “I’m Her Man” and “On the Road Again”
* Mountain “Beside the Sea” and “Southbound Train”
* Grateful Dead “Turn On Your Love Light”
* Creedence Clearwater Revival “Born on the Bayou”, “I’ve Put a Spell on You” and “Keep on Chooglin’”
* The Who “We’re Not Going To Take It” and “My Generation”
* Jefferson Airplane “3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds”
* Joe Cocker “Something’s Coming On”
* Johnny Winter “Mean Town Blues”
* Paul Butterfield “Morning Sunrise”
* Sha Na Na “Teen Angel”

Woodstock: From Festival to Film
* The Camera: The Éclair NPR was the best camera around in 1969; Michael Wadleigh talks about why the Éclair was the right camera for this film.
* 365,000 Feet of Film: The stories of how Dale Bell and his crew begged, borrowed and stole just enough film to document the festival.
* Shooting Stage: Those up-close shots of performers didn’t just happen by magic; see how Wadleigh and his cameramen got those up close and personal shots of the performers.
* The Line Up: The Who, Sha Na Na, Santana, Ten Years After, Jefferson Airplane and many more; how did all these bands get on the roster for the festival of a life time?
* Holding the Negative Hostage: What does a filmmaker do when Technicolor is sending a copy of your negative to the studio without your permission? Well, you lock up the film and hire a lawyer.
* Announcements: “Don’t take the brown acid” or maybe it was green. We’ll hear about all the strange and informative announcements heard during those three days of peace, love and enlightenment.
* Suits VS. Longhairs: The clash between the hippie filmmakers and the Warner executives who didn’t understand what this film meant.
* Documenting History: Find out from Michael Wadleigh and Dale Bell, along with filmmakers, where the idea of capturing this event on film came from.
* Woodstock: The Journey: Some came by car, others by truck, a few came by helicopter but most walked to the most famous festival in history.
* Pre-Production: We’ll find out how this production got off the ground and meet the members of the crew that made it happen.
* Production: How many cameras were used? How much film did they go through? Did anyone sleep? All these questions and more will be answered here as we explore how Woodstock was captured on film.
* Synchronization: How do you sync all this material with out any slates? No slate, no problem. With the help of an upright Moviola, Dale Bell, Michael Wadleigh, Eddie Kramer and the editors were able to make magic from miles of tape and film.
* The Crowd: Half a million people of all colors, shapes, sizes, ages and sexes attended this historical event. We’ll hear stories about the number of people and how they all coexisted for three days with only minor incidents.
* No Rain! No Rain!: Everyone talks about the rain at this event as if it were a character. It was. It set the tone, provided moments of danger, fun and disgust.
* 3 Days in a Truck: Eddie Kramer heard some of the most amazing performances as he recorded this historic event. But during those three days of peace, love and music, he didn’t get to see any performances because he was stuck in a truck.
* WoodstockEffect: The film, the event and the album catapulted many musicians into the limelight, changing their lives forever.
* Living up to Idealism
* World’s Longest Optical
* Critical Acclaim
* Courtesy of The Museum at BethelWoods: The Hog Farm Commune
* Hugh Hefner and Michael Wadleigh: The WoodstockConnection

Incredible. I recently read an online post from one of the people involved in this new version, and he says the quality of the unseen footage will be incredible, blowing away anything anyone has ever seen. When the film was put together, it involved a process where you could see two or three images at a time. The process also meant that the quality of the film would go down a few generations, not unlike audio tape (i.e. a dub of a dub of a dub), so what we’ve known for all of these years is a certain trademarked Woodstock “look”. Now we’re going to see it newly refreshed, similar to going to the multi-tracks to hear an all new mix of a classic album. In fact, to get a hint of what it will look and sound like, take a look at this video courtesy of featuring a look at an overdubbing session involving engineer Eddie Kramer “touching up” some of the audio elements for Santana’s set. In it you see him synching the audio with video, and the clip of them performing “Evil Ways” looks incredible, even as a small streaming video.

I had inquired a month or two ago about the hopes of seeing any footage of Mountain performing “Long Red”. It is the Woodstock performance of “Long Red” that has become a staple in hip-hop as a primary breakbeat to sample, used by everyone from Kanye West to The Game. I told them that in hip-hop, this is a very important song and I am certain most people who used the song aren’t aware of its connection to Woodstock. A number of hip-hop boards have people asking “how in the world did they achieve that drum sound”, and yet if you listen to the Woodstock soundtrack that sound can be heard in the drums played by Santana’s Michael Schrieve and The Who’s Keith Moon. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like “Long Red” will be a part of the new video box set, and another source claims that during Mountain’s performance, not everything was captured on camera since they weren’t considered a “primary act”.

I’m hoping to get an interview with one of the men behind this new collector’s edition, to get more in-depth on what to expect.