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July 1, 2019

Sean Cannon How ‘Magic Science Fiction’ Technology Made The Massive Woodstock 50th Box Set Possible

For decades, the only way to know what it was really like at Woodstock was to have been there. Michael Wadleigh’s Oscar-winning documentary gives you a feel for the vibe, and the original companion albums showcased some tasty nugs — but at the end of the day, they were broad brush portraits of a moment in time. 

Some performances remained entirely unheard, and many details of those legendary mid-August days in 1969 had been lost to time. Until recently, there wasn’t even consensus on things as basic as the festival’s schedule. 

Enter acclaimed reissue producer Andy Zax. In 2005, he visited a Warner Bros. storage space and encountered their collection of Woodstock tapes. Wide-eyed and in awe of everything in front of him, Zax got to work sifting through the material, quickly realizing how much there was and how many holes there were in our understanding of the festival.

“It seems strange in an era where we’re used to going online and Googling up the basic facts on things, but most of the basic facts that were online about Woodstock in 2005 or 2006 were all wrong,” Zax said during a recent phone call. “When I started to piece it all together in 2005, there was no definitive order of who played, when they played, and the actual setlist. That was basically because anybody who had ever touched these tapes in the past had only gone in to cherry pick. Nobody had ever dealt with this stuff holistically in terms of thinking, What is this thing in totality? What actually happened?

Zax eventually pieced things together and released a six-disc set for Woodstock’s 40th anniversary in 2009, at the time the most comprehensive collection of recordings from the fest. At the time, he wanted to release the entire collection of tapes but couldn’t. Part of that was due to a lack of buy-in from some stakeholders, but part of it was more basic. Some of the music was in bad shape. Really bad shape.

Fast forward a decade, and things have changed. Zax got his wish for Woodstock’s 50th anniversary with Woodstock – Back To The Garden: The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive. Limited to just 1,969 copies, The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive is an immense 38-disc, 432-track reconstruction of the festival that includes stage announcements and other ephemera alongside every artist performance from the festival in chronological order. There are also 10-CD, three-CD, and five-LP versions for completists or fans on a budget.

Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “Wait a second. Business situations can change, but you can’t fix messed up tapes.” However, thanks to pretty amazing advancements in technology, some previously unsalvageable material was able to be salvaged. While there were a few instances of technology making the 50th anniversary compendium possible, below you’ll find Zax’s account — lightly edited for length and clarity — of one specific situation where music was saved thanks to “magic science fiction stuff,” as he called it. 

Woodstock 50th anniversary box set

Andy Zax Describes How Technology Saved Ravi Shankar’s Woodstock Performance

One of the very first Woodstock-related recordings that was ever issued — either the first or second recorded artifact — is a record called Ravi Shankar At The Woodstock Festival that was released by World Pacific Records. That record is a fraud. It’s a studio re-recording of Ravi Shankar’s performance at Woodstock with some crowd noise and stage stuff dubbed onto it.

The story of that record is that Ravi Shankar’s producer, Richard Bock who ran World Pacific Records, had an idea that they were going to make a live at Woodstock record long before the festival happened. If you look at the printed program that was given out at Woodstock, there’s even an advertisement that says something like, “Watch for Ravi Shankar live at Woodstock coming soon.” They had success with the Monterey Pop live record a couple of years before, so they were hoping lightning would strike twice.

They took the multitracks from Woodstock back to LA, and Shankar wasn’t particularly happy with his performance. He listened to it and thought, “Well, I can do better than this and I’m not technically crazy about the record. Let’s just redo it.” So they redid the whole thing in a studio in LA, and that’s what came out as Ravi Shankar At The Woodstock Festival.

In the process of doing that, no one knows what happened to the multitracks of Shankar’s actual performance. I’ve been trying to find them now since about 2006 when I figured out what the deal was with that record. They do seem to be really gone. I’ve talked to everyone alive who might have any clue whatsoever as to what happened to them. My guess is that they’re in a landfill, or maybe completely forgotten about in a storage locker or basement. Maybe by dumb luck, they’ll surface in 30 or 40 years, but probably not.

The only surviving record of the Shankar performance at Woodstock is on a mono tape from the soundboard. It’s not a fantastic recording. Some of those mono reels sound a lot better than others, and this is not one of them. That’s all have, and it’s like all we’ll ever have. I had used 10 minutes or so of it in the box we put out back in 2009. It always sounded bad to me, but it was what it was.

Fortunately there’s an engineer in Abbey Road named James Clarke, and a long time ago he began thinking about teaching machines how to recognize sound. I think his theory was, “The human ear has no problem distinguishing between a voice and a piano and a drum, so why can’t I teach a machine to make those kinds of distinctions?” 

That eventually led to this process that he has — there are other people doing work on this, but he’s further along than anyone else — which he refers to as “de-mixing.” The process is able to take a mono recording and break it apart into its constituent elements. Basically, you can turn a mono recording into multitracks.

James was able to take the Shankar performance and get three clean tracks with the sitar, tabla, and tanpura. When the machine is trying to identify the things it’s been taught to recognize, it rejects the set of sounds which are not what it’s looking for. This inadvertently got rid of a lot of hum and grit that was on the tape, so delightfully enough we got a really lovely set of multitracks which Brian Kehew was able to mix into a clean sounding stereo version of Shankar’s performance. 

To me, this is like magic science fiction stuff. It’s like the Great Gazoo descended down, waved a magic wand, and suddenly here’s this remarkable thing! We were able to reclaim that performance which was, despite Shankar’s ambivalence, a truly excellent performance. We were able to reclaim that from oblivion. Every time I think about it, I get excited.

This article was produced in partnership with Rhino.

The post How ‘Magic Science Fiction’ Technology Made The Massive Woodstock 50th Box Set Possible appeared first on Discogs Blog.

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Goldmine1 Goldmine Record Show Calendar, July 2019

Listed are the upcoming record shows and events for July 2019 and beyond.

The post Goldmine Record Show Calendar, July 2019 appeared first on Goldmine Magazine.

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letters@jazzwise.com (Mike Flynn)

Some sizable additions have been added to the EFG London Jazz Festival, which runs from 15 to 24 November, at stages across the capital. Among these is a performance from singer songwriter Chrissie Hynde (above right), of renowned art-rockers The Pretenders, who plays music from her upcoming jazz-influenced Valve Bone Woe album at the Royal Festival Hall (24 Nov). The album, due for release in September, features a choice selection of jazz standards such as John Coltrane’s ‘Naima’, alongside songs by Brian Wilson, Frank Sinatra, Hoagy Carmichael, Charles Mingus, Nick Drake, Ray Davies and Rodgers and Hammerstein, all of which will be performed by Hynde and her Ensemble of leading UK jazz musicians.

Also confirmed is an all-star tribute to Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, the German founders of Blue Note Records, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year. Aptly, the concert has been curated by Siggi Loch, owner/founder of German jazz label ACT Records, and features fiery French saxophonist Émile Parisien and French/Israeli pianist Yaron Herman alongside US players Theo Croker (trumpet), Glenn Ferris (trombone), Joe Martin (bass) and Gerald Cleaver (drums) with special guest saxophonist Benny Golson and pianist Axel Zwingenberger (Cadogan Hall, 18 Nov).

Further gigs include Mercury-nominated pianist Elliot Galvin and trumpeter Laura Jurd (top left) who line-up with adventurous bassist Ruth Goller and longtime collaborator and Dinosaur drummer Corrie Dick (Purcell Room, 22 Nov); award-winning singer Cherise Adams-Burnett’s charming family show Evelyn & the Yellow Birds (12noon, Purcell Room, 23 Nov); the virtuoso Juno and Grammy award-winning sax/trumpet sisters Christine and Ingrid Jensen (above centre) who lead the heavyweight Whirlwind Jazz Orchestra that’s packed with top UK and US players (Purcell Room, 23 Nov) and another barnstorming large ensemble collaboration between the precocious Royal Academy Big Band with internationally acclaimed British saxophonist Tim Garland, for a free show at the Clore Ballroom (Royal Festival Hall, 23 Nov). These shows join those already announced in Jazzwise, who are festival media partners.

Mike Flynn

For the full line up and tickets visit www.efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk

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Morphine Records showcase four new albums at a two day party in Berlin in October

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Previously unreleased 1992 recordings from Bill Dixon & Cecil Taylor

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Mark Kimber The Story of Nightmares On Wax ‘Carboot Soul’

Carboot Soul, the third Nightmares On Wax album, resisted the urge to go bigger and bolder. 1999 marked a year of unprecedented change, as the world prepared to enter a new millennium, and both the push for and fear of change manifested in public hysteria such as Y2K. Massive Attack and Tricky had harnessed this apprehension on their respective masterpieces, Mezzanine and Pre Millennium Tension, which pushed against the prevailing mood of Brit-Pop and New Labour’s sunny optimism with a crepuscular mood that suggested trouble was lurking behind false promises. Nonetheless, by the turn of the century trip hop’s troubled worldview had largely fallen out of favour with mainstream listeners, who were far more receptive to the hyperactive sound of acts such as Basement Jaxx.

There was a soulful classicism that remained in the Nightmares on Wax sound, extending its life beyond the decline of the genre it helped establish. Following his second album, Smokers Delight, Evelyn had been inspired to incorporate more live instrumentation into their music, building from an initial keys and beats base towards something that resembled a small symphony of both sampled and performed sound. Robin Taylor-Frith’s dexterous performances are again used throughout the album, notably on tracks such as the opener ‘Les Nuits’, in which his staccato keyboard is offset by a velveteen bed of cinematic strings. The album’s cast of musicians also included Chris Dawkins on guitar, Hamlet Luton on bass, and soul singer Sara Winton, whilst orchestral arrangements were handled by the Pure Strings Orchestra.

This evolutionary step in their music making marked a move towards something that resembled a traditional band set-up; a major shift for a project that had begun life as an extension of DJ-ing. Evelyn saw this as a necessary development for Nightmares On Wax’s continued growth: “Doing the live side proves there is more to the music. People have something more tangible to relate the music to and it gives us the chance to connect with the audience.”
The producer wasn’t quite ready to abandon his drum machine however, which kept its place at the beating heart of the group’s operation. This was integral in maintaining hip-hop’s vital undercurrent; tracks such as ‘Morse’ and the New York-styled ‘Easejimi’ reassured listeners that, at its core, this was still dance music, whilst the rhythmic interplay with Winton’s vocals on ‘Survival’ and ‘Finer’ invoked a British R&B influence from the likes of Soul II Soul and Sade.

Carboot Soul also wasn’t afraid to be an easy-listening record. Chill out had become a vital facet of rave culture – a salve to the scene’s wilder strains, popularised by genre-defining records such as The KLF’s ‘Chill Out’ and Apex Twin’s ambient masterpieces ‘Selected Ambients Works’ Volumes One and Two. Trip hop had often blurred the lines between serenity and insanity, exploiting a latent melancholy in the afterglow of the party.
Whilst this was an artistic prerogative for the likes of Portishead and Massive Attack, Nightmares On Wax had always maintained some sense of placidity. A sunny, Californian warmth permeates every track on Carboot Soul, as if it were tailor made for a slow cruise through the streets of Los Angeles. Tracks such as ‘Fire In The Middle’ sidestep ambient and chill-out cliché, drawing instead from the g-funk of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, with a relaxed tempo, swung percussion, and instruments that melt into the air like smoke. Amidst the artificial complexity of Warp’s catalogue, it stood out as something boldly organic.

Whilst electronic music’s drive for constant evolution is admirable, there’s a lot to be said for the way in which Nightmares On Wax have calmly cultivated and refined their sound over a number of decades. Whilst radical redevelopment is not Evelyn’s forte, he has the command of a style that is instantly recognisable as his own; one which continues to hold familiar pleasures in 2019. Building on the underground success of Carboot Soul he has continued to explore and re-contextualise old sounds, such as reggae, soul, and psychedelia, pushing them into the 21st century on albums like In A Space Outta Sound, in a way that feels logical and natural. Reaching across the generations, he has worked with veterans such as De La Soul, and relative newcomers such as Andrew Ashong and Jordan Rakei, alike. His longstanding relationship with Warp remains strong, even as the label has pushed far beyond its roots in dance music, becoming an institution that accommodates a broad range of alternative culture.

20 years later, age has never felt less important when listening to Carboot Soul. The internet has rendered the historical order of music largely irrelevant – new sounds rub against old sounds in a way that is disorienting yet exciting in its endless permutations. The album captures several evocative time periods – the psychedelia of the ‘70s, the boldness of ‘80s hiphop, and the faded reverie of the late ‘90s British music scene – yet ends up creating a whole new temporal zone of its own. Achieving this with a such a naturalistic ease is no mean feat, but Nightmares On Wax has proven its possibility time and time again.

The post The Story of Nightmares On Wax ‘Carboot Soul’ appeared first on Classic Album Sundays.

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falsepriest Staff Picks: Our Favorite Music Biographies, Memoirs & Music Books

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It probably doesn’t come as a big surprise that as huge music fans, we’re voracious readers of any and all music news, artist biographies, autobiographies, memoirs, album reviews, music criticism, analysis, and everything in between (we’ve been banging on about it all week). Our bookshelves are almost as crowded as our record crates.

There are times when a music book has turned us from casual listeners into rabid super fans of a band. The background and context made us feel closer to the artist, more connected. They’ve lent new perspectives to a scene. They’ve lead us to new places – both real and imagined. Even changed the way we talk about, think about, and even listen to music.

Getting between the pages of music books is a charged experience we want to share. The passion in the commentary provided by my colleagues on why they chose these books really is palpable. So join us, headphones on, pages open. And as always, we’re all ears for your music book recommendations – let us know in the comments, and make sure you add your favorite books to Bookogs.


Ska'd For Life book cover

Ska’d For Life Horace Panter

The cover and title of this book jumped at me when I was at Bengans Skivbutik in Stockholm on my way back from the Hova Record Fair last year. I had seen The Specials live once, years back, and I just knew this was going to be an interesting story. It didn’t disappoint. With a brilliant sense of humour, Horace Panter describes the struggles and successes of the band from the very beginning, and the surreal stories make an excellent read. From the band getting blisters on their hands from stamping the covers on their own records, their van breaking down, getting stuck without money in a foreign country, long nights, epic hangovers, their shows with other Two-Tone bands etc. It made me wish I had been there at the time. Even if you’re not into The Specials, this is a captivating and fun dive into music history.
– Lilian

Goodbye 20th Century book cover

Goodbye 20th CenturyDavid Browne

Looks like we only have the German version in our database! And unfortunately, my copy is halfway around the world in my parent’s crawlspace. But that doesn’t diminish how much I still love and think back on this book! I learned so much not only about Sonic Youth, who at the time I knew next to nothing about, but also the scene surrounding them, with the likes of Swans, Dinosaur Jr, and Nirvana all getting big mentions as well. I picked this book up at Rocking Horse Records in Brisbane in 2010 and Sonic Youth ended up soundtracking much of the rest of my time in Australia. Sonic Youth remains one of my favourite and most respected bands to this day because of this book.
– David

Things The Grandchildren Should Know book cover

Things The Grandchildren Should KnowMark Oliver Everett

The autobiography of Mark Oliver Everett (better known as Eels) is seriously one of the most heartbreaking stories you’ll read in your life. I quite often read music books and I can safely say that this autobiography goes above and beyond what you’d expect from it. Narrated as if a grandfather is telling his grandchildren his life story, Everett doesn’t hold back while speaking about a lifetime plagued with mental illness and other misfortunes I won’t spoil for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of reading this book yet.
– Javi

Bass Culture: When Reggae Was King book cover

Bass Culture: When Reggae Was KingLloyd Bradley

Rarely am I so enthralled by a 500+ page book as I was with “Bass Culture”. Author Lloyd Bradley pays meticulous attention to detail without sacrificing any of the excitement and turmoil that came out of the birth of Jamaica as an independent nation and Reggae as one of its greatest exports. With a foreword written by Prince Buster and firsthand interviews with the likes of Jimmy Cliff and Burning Spear, a lot of love was put into this by both Bradley and the many musicians and producers he spoke to. My favorite bit is an entire two pages dedicated to Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson’s African Dub All-Mighty – Chapter 3 and its cosmic zenith, Tribesman Rockers.
– Stevie

Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock And Out book cover

Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock And OutBill Graham

As my music collection has stemmed from gig posters for the last 20+ years, it’s little shock to me that the biography I’m most attached to is that of Bill Graham, the man most directly responsible for the Fillmore Auditorium, Fillmore East, and Winterland as venues, and for being the driving force behind most of the Bay Area’s psychedelic poster scene in the 1960s. Seriously, the man has multiple series of gig posters named after him! The BG, BGP, and BGF series which carry over 2000 posters from the late 1960s through today. In any case, this biography explores Bill’s life with an array of stories, many autobiographical from his start in life to his early meetings and discoveries of various artists, to the expansion out of SF to other areas and venues it taught me a great deal about the business part of the man behind the early rock poster scene. And while not the most loved figure of the poster world, he’s undeniably one of the most important.
– Brendan

Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture book cover

Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance CultureSimon Reynolds

Simon Reynolds brilliantly chronicles the musical, economical, social and chemical aspects of UK dance music culture for over 30 years. His focus on scenes and “scenius” rather than specific individuals or groups mimics how dance music culture is (or was?) less concerned about the stars on stage and talks more about the people on the dancefloor.
There are hilarious anecdotes, critical analysis, Marxist theory, vivid descriptions, and all the other things that make a music book great. The musical genealogy and the concept of the hardcore continuum has been very influential in how I talk, think and listen to music. Highly recommended.
– Karl

Just Kids book cover

Just KidsPatti Smith

Just Kids is a punk rock coming of age story. In the gritty depths of 1980’s NYC, a poet and a photographer strike their first marks on the underground art world. It’s incredible to hear about the early days of CBGB, the diverse community of the Chelsea hotel, and Patti Smith’s frequent recounting of peeing into bottles. It’s a love story, a young-love story, where the game is low stakes but everything seems on the line. As someone in their 20’s struggling to make sense of my place in the world, Patti Smith’s vulnerable perspective is priceless. As for her music, I will forever listen to Horses with profound appreciation knowing all that poured into the creation of it.
– Steven

Steven got in first but this is my fav music biography too! Reading about Patti Smith‘s days living in the Chelsea Hotel and how her music career started got me even more addicted to her music. I even visited the hotel in New York after reading this bio. She is such a talented writer which makes reading this bio a dream.
– Claire

Musicophilia book cover

Musicophilia ‎– Oliver Sacks

Don’t know if it really counts, but I read the book as soon as it came out. I was already a big fan of Oliver Sacks as a kid, thanks to my parents who thought that his case studies were appropriate bedtime stories! Even if it is not, per say, an autobiography, I feel that Musicophilia gives readers a quick view into real peoples’ lives, and how they are affected through music, whatever their affliction may be. I was always fascinated by the fact that Sacks is always talking about people, and how music not only brings us together, but is something fundamentally human. I re-read it every couple of years, and I am still fascinated by Sacks’ incredible prose, sensible comments, but most of all his humanity. If you haven’t read it, I can’t recommend it enough.
– Nathanaël

The post Staff Picks: Our Favorite Music Biographies, Memoirs & Music Books appeared first on Discogs Blog.

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