Great Moments in Rock DVD History

 One of my favorite rock DVDs is Standing in the Shadows of Motown, a fantastic documentary about the Funk Brothers, a group of Detroit musicians who backed up dozens of Motown artists and truly created the Detroit Sound.

This one hour and forty-eight minute documentary features archival footage and still photos, interviews and twelve new live performances of Motown classics with the Funk Brothers backing up Chaka Khan, Ben Harper, Bootsy Collins, Montell Jordan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, and Gerald Levert.

An excellent film from start to finish but the real show-stopper was Joan Osborne belting out Jimmy Ruffin’s What Becomes of the Broken Hearted. Incredible!

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Vinyl Versus CDs – What’s the Deal?

Yeah, what is the deal – CD or Vinyl? I scoured the Internet for info and combined a collection of articles to try and put it all into perspective.

First of all, the Cliff Notes for all you techies out there…

As humans, we perceive the world in analog. Everything we see and hear is a continuous transmission of information to our senses. This continuous stream is what defines analog data. Digital information, on the other hand, estimates analog data using only ones and zeros.

For example, a turntable (or record player) is an analog device, while a CD player is digital. This is because a turntable reads bumps and grooves from a record as a continuous signal, while a CD player only reads a series of ones and zeros.

This means that the waveforms from a vinyl recording can be much more accurate, and that can be heard in the richness of the sound.

In recent years, many commercial recordings have been compressed in the mixing stage to make them sound louder and, presumably, more appealing to radio programmers. Without compression, a recording will have a wider range in volume, and more closely resemble the original performance. No medium is better suited to represent those dynamics than a vinyl record.

But there is a downside…

Any specks of dust or damage to the disc can be heard as noise or static. During quiet spots in songs this noise may be heard over the music. Digital recordings don’t degrade over time, and if the digital recording contains silence, then there will be no noise.

Most music is recorded using digital technology, which means that the source information isn’t necessarily going to sound better when it’s played on an analog medium.

To complicate matters…

A recording will sound only as good as the way it is recorded, mixed and mastered. Many vinyl albums of older recordings sound excellent because they preserve the nuances of an analog recording session. But a compact disc can offer a fantastic representation of a well-engineered digital recording.

Here’s another thought to rattle your brain…

Record pressings manufactured in different countries have a different sound. Some record labels are better than others. Some records are pressed better than others.

Now, for all you non-techies out there…records are more than just about the sound.

Vinyl is more fun to tinker with … different cartridges, turntables, amplifiers. And then there is the size and presence of the album cover artwork and liner notes you can actually read without a micron microscope, the division into sides and all the involvement and work the listener has to put in.

Some people say vinyl it’s the format of choice for people who really care about music. Some say it’s for neurotic and obsessive audiophiles on a mission for the perfect sound. Some say it’s case of misplaced nostalgia. (I like that one because I’m a big believer of misplaced nostalgia!)

My opinion? Here’s a real cop-out for you – what ever you’re into – go for it! I like to keep reminding myself why I’m listing in the first place – it’s all about the music!

This article is also available on Chestnut Hill Patch

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When or What is “Back In The Day” ?

Coming in contact with people in the shop every day,  I notice that everyone uses the expression, “back in the day”.  At first I thought that is was a sixties thing.  When I talked to people my age about all the great music and concerts in the sixties, it was always referred to “back in the day.”

But in the last few years I started to notice that nearly everyone uses it.   Some people talk about “back in the day” when Milli Vanilli did their own material. Some people in their 40s talk about “back in the day” when Madonna really was a virgin. I heard a 10 year old talk about “back in the day” when people used to go to stores to shop instead of the Internet.

What actually does back in the day mean? Is it an official measurement of time? What “day” is being referred to? Does it have anything to do with Stonehenge?

Here’s what some folks on the Internet have to say…

Someone said that “back in the day” starts with yesterday.

One said it was the name of a movie starring Michael J. Fox.

One person thought “back in the day” was when there were dinosaurs.

My favorite, one blogger said, “I know for a fact that “THE DAY” refers to a Wednesday.”

When or what is “back in the day” for you?

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What are the big-time releases this month? R.E.M. and Radiohead to be sure. But I’m here to tell you that one of the biggest for me is the re-mastered  Elvis Presley’s early 60’s, post army Elvis is Back! This ain’t no white-suit Elvis, people, and no hit singles! This is Elvis at his best combining pop, R&B, rock, Doo-Wop and hard blues – all recorded in just two nights. Check out Like a Baby and Reconsider Baby and you will agree – ELVIS IS BACK – big time!

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Mt. Airy Memories… Woodstock Comes to Cheltenham Avenue

There was a time when Mt. Airy was loaded with landmarks…Korvettes, Lenny’s Hot Dogs, The Erlen, Theater, Arties Discount Clothing – okay, so East Mt. Airy wasn’t exactly the nexus of the universe in the 60’s. But for one day, Mt. Airy became the center of the rock world.

Original flyer and ticket stub courtesy of Sam Clover

That was the day the rock gods descended on Cheltenham Avenue. The date was May 16, 1970. The venue was Temple Stadium. The opening acts were Cactus, Steve Miller and The Grateful Dead. The headliner was Jimi Hendrix. Tickets were only $6.50 and you sat as close as you wanted.  Of special note, it was the first and only time Hendrix and the Dead performed on the same stage on the same day!  It didn’t make the national news, they didn’t make a movie of it, and there certainly wasn’t a 3-LP set with a gatefold cover. But if you lived in Mt. Airy – this was as good as it got.

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