Soundbreaking is an 8-part documentary series about the art of producing records, featuring both legendary and lesser-known producers like Quincy Jones, Linda Perry, Don Was, RZA, Brian Eno, Questlove, and of course George Martin. [more inside]
Rubik's Cube mastermind Mats Valk set a new world record over the weekend at the Jawa Timur Open in Indonesia. "Valk, 20, managed to break the existing record of 4.90 seconds, set last year by 14-year-old Lucas Etter, with a blistering time of 4.74 seconds."
TS Eliot's rejection of Orwell's Animal Farm [The Guardian] Digitised for the first time by the British Library, Eliot’s rejection is now available to read alongside others including Virginia Woolf’s to James Joyce. Eliot’s letter is one of more than 300 items which have been digitised by the British Library, a mixture of drafts, diaries, letters and notebooks by authors ranging from Virginia Woolf to Angela Carter and Ted Hughes. The literary archive reveals that Orwell was not the only major writer to suffer a series of rejections: the British Library has also digitised a host of rejections for James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, showing how his patron Harriet Shaw Weaver attempted to find a printer for the novel she had published in serialised form in The Egoist. [more inside]
Phillip Kives, the founder of K-Tel International, has passed away at age 87. (previously) [more inside]
Listen to this 1929 Louis Armstrong recording cleaner than you have ever heard, thanks to Nick Dellow's audio transfer from a mother record shipped by Okeh to Germany for their Odeon pressings. (slyt)
Brazilian businessman Zero Freitas owns over six million records, a collection which he intends to catalogue for public use and transform into a vast listenable archive. Writer and cultural sociologist Dominik Bartmanski visited Freitas’ São Paulo warehouse for a rare interview with the man himself.
"For decades, the stamps were dismissed by the philatelic establishment as tacky novelties and were, correspondingly, as cheap as chips." [more inside]
PatentsView is a new patent data visualization platform from the US Patent and Trademark Office. The PatentsView beta search tool allows members of the public to interact with nearly 40 years of data on patenting activity in the United States. Users can explore technological, regional, and individual-level patent trends via search filters with multiple viewing options. The database links inventors, their organizations, locations, and overall patenting activity using enhanced 1976-2014 data from public USPTO bulk data files.
The vinyl collection of Aussie music aficionado Brad Miocevich: "Cataloging 30,000 LPs was a nightmare"... (Previously).
"For almost 70 years, United Record Pressing [previously] has been in the business of pressing vinyl records. A quarter century ago, everyone thought those old black disks were going the way of the dodo. Then a few years ago, a funny thing happened: The kids started buying vinyl again. And now, one of Nashville’s oldest manufacturing businesses is growing to beat the band." -- "The Persistence of Vinyl" via The Bitter Southerner
The history of British slave ownership has been buried: now its scale can be revealed The T71 files have been converted into an online database; a free, publicly available resource.
All of these stories referred to VNYL in some capacity as “Netflix for vinyl.” Consequence Of Sound did a video interview with VNYL’s founder, Nick Alt, who referred to his service as being like “old-school Netflix.” The idea was that VNYL’s staff would hand-curate a selection of three records for each subscriber (for a fee of $24 per month), and mail out those records to those subscribers, who would have no idea what musical selections they might receive. Then, subscribers would be allowed to keep those records as long as they wanted and return them at any time, at which point, VNYL’s staff would send out a new batch of hand-curated records to that subscriber (...) None of these stories, however, mentioned an element of U.S. copyright law called the first-sale doctrine — specifically section §109(b), popularly known as the Record Rental Amendment Of 1984, which makes it illegal to rent records.--The comic failings of a Kickstarter project that promised a “Netflix for vinyl.”
As part of their "1995 Week", AV Club has published a special edition of their Expert Witness series focused on the late Columbia House (previously) and their inner workings: Four Columbia House insiders explain the shady math behind “8 CDs for a penny”.
Cleaning a vinyl record with wood glue. "This trick works because the glue and record are somewhat chemically similar, so the glue only sticks to stuff that's not supposed to be there."
FACT mag's 100 Best Albums of the 1980s. Inspired, sometimes surprising selections slightly off the beaten path: Whodini, Whitehouse, Suzanne Ciani, Nurse With Wound, and Godflesh while no Talking Heads, R.E.M., or Clash. Complete with free downloadable mixes guaranteed to make you shake your ass like a dork at work. [more inside]
In the late 1990s, Portland-based programmer Kevin Lewandowski shifted his musical discography efforts from a manually maintained drum'n'bass website to a community-built effort, and named the effort Discogs. The site grew, slowly at first, focusing on documenting any and all details of electronic records, then hip hop, rock and jazz, and eventually any sort of recorded audio, more or less. Other key changes include the 2005 addition of the Discogs Marketplace, and the contentious Version Four update, which changed the way submissions are moderated, making all pending submissions publicly visible. The latter change resulted in "the oggercide," but it was the former that brought about a vinyl revolution, uniting a world of record sellers small and large in one well-visited vinyl (and CD, cassette, DVD, etc.) record store. Last month, Discogs held its first in-person record sale, in Portland, Oregon.
What are Bill Clinton's favorite records? The actual answer is immaterial, since you can generate your own with the Bill Clinton Swag Generator.
If we’re talking about vinyl in 2014, we have to talk about Jack White. In April, rock‘n’roll’s self-appointed analog evangelist celebrated Record Store Day by teaming up with United Record Pressing in Nashville to put out the “World’s Fastest Released Record.” At 10 a.m., White and his band recorded a live version of his new album Lazaretto’s title track at his own Third Man studios, then drove the masters to United, where it went immediately onto a 7” press, before ending up in fans’ hands at the Third Man store. From start to finish, the process took 3 hours, 55 minutes, and 21 seconds.
“I’ve used the contemporary archaeology of Olompali to address the concept of stereotype, in this case, what we generally consider to be the ‘hippie,’" - California state archaeologist, E. Breck Parkman has published a paper analyzing the diversity of vinyl records excavated from the ruins of Rancho Olompali in Marin County, California. The site, formerly closely associated with the Grateful Dead, was the home of the Chosen Family commune from 1967 to 1969. The commune and the mansion both met their end in '69, razed by an electrical fire. [more inside]
New York’s golden era had hip-hop luminaries digging in the crates at the legendary Roosevelt Hotel Record Convention. Record dealer John Carraro reflects on introducing old music to the likes of Pete Rock, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, Large Professor, Buckwild, Diamond D, Prince Be, Mr. Walt, and DJ Clark Kent, among others.
If you were sitting around in the early years of the Great Depression with $247 burning a hole in your pocket (about $3,800 in today's dollars) and were too lazy to get up and change your records when they finished playing, you might have been tempted by RCA's new Radiola Automatic Electrola RAE-26. [more inside]
Scratchy Grooves For almost twenty years, starting in 1984, Bill Chambless on WVUD-FM at the University of Delaware, explored the pop music of 1900 to 1940 on vintage recordings, "scratches and all." Stream the shows at this website, migrated from the original cassette tapes and maintained by his son.
"When laid open, the Waynai Bible measures 43.5 inches tall and 98 inches wide. Closed, the spine is 34 inches thick. The book has 8,048 pages and weighs in at 1,094 pounds." [more inside]
It used to be that a CD or good old fashioned 12" vinyl would simply play, and your only indication of when it was about to end would be the album tracklisting printed on the sleeve. Hearing another song start up just as you thought the album was finished and got up to change the record was always an unexpected thrill - a surprise encore in your bedroom, a sort of reward for listening right through to the end. Yes, the iPod and its many variants have transformed the way people listen to music, but as someone who grew up waiting excitedly when an album finished to see if there was an extra hidden treat at the end of an album, I'll always see the death of the secret song as the sad flipside of its success. [more inside]
Animated Jazz Covers. Very cool.
The Top 80 Highlights of the World according to Michael Spencer Bown, a Calgarian who may lay claim to the title of 'the most extensively travelled person in human history'. [more inside]
Les disques africains collects, rips, and uploads out-of-print records (and their sleeves!) from the golden age of vinyl in francophone Africa. Don't miss la belle chanteuse Sali Sidibé, psychedelic grooves from Benin, or this incredible 35-minute oral-musical history of Bobo-Dioulasso. New posts appear, as if by some rare magic, every three to four days.
If anyone has heard of artist Bill Stout, it is probably because of his paintings of prehistoric life, or perhaps you recognize some of his movie poster art. Early in his career, Stout produced cover art for bootleg records issued by the Trademark of Quality label. The artist recently published a three-part interview about his work for that label. It has lots of wonderful anecdotes, but most importantly, lots of great art. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.
A timeline of Blue Note jazz album covers.
We Buy White Albums is a New York record store dealing exclusively in first pressings of the Beatles' self titled 1968 double album (aka the White Album). The store is actually an art installation from Rutherford Chang. The inventory is growing (currently over 700 copies), with vinyl condition ranging from very good to scratched, warped, and graffitied, all filed by serial number. Each copy is being digitized and photographed with plans to press a new double-LP made from all the recordings layered upon each other and a composite cover of all of the photos. Vinyl collector site Dust and Grooves has an interview with Chang and a lot of pictures of the "store" and individual copies.
Noted filmmaker Allison Anders (recent L.A. Weekly profile) won 50 rock and pop records once owned by Greta Garbo at auction. She's listening to them, one by one, and writing about them at Greta's Records.
BBC DJs Mark and Lard show of some of their treasured vinyl recordings which are "particularly hard to find these days in this kind of condition": Mull of *Kintyre, Messing about on the River, Rocking around the Christmas Tree, Bright Eyes (more). NSFW - although somehow they got away with broadcasting it in the middle of the afternoon.
For non-anglophones, the English names of worldwide brands, music bands and other cultural items are both ubiquitous and slightly mysterious. Here what the English (plus some German, Spanish and Japanese) names of 52 brands/logotypes and 30 musicians/records look like when very loosely and somewhat lazily translated in French. Some extras can be found in the comments (note: annoying pop-up at the start).
In 1965 (or 1966, or...1964, depending on your source), three northeast garage rock bands came together to create the definitive early garage rock Christmas Album that time has since forgotten. Merry Christmas from The Sonics, The (Fabulous) Wailers, and The Galaxies features everything from Bob Dylan sound-alikes, fantastic originals, sincere classics... and weird goof-arounds. [more inside]
C'mon over to Lucky's Amazing Sports Lists and kill a little time. The front page is impressive enough, but how about a list of all American football field goals in excess of 60 yards (including a long list in 6 pt type of all female place kickers in American football)? Looking for more focus? How about this page detailing the career of Dave Myers, the 1929 quarterback for the NYU team, who was Black. Basketball more your thing? Check out the history of the Gruman Aircraft Company pro teams, integrated in the 1940s! Or you could just peruse the list of basketball players who have scored 100 points in a single game. The design is crude, but there is far too much information to do justice to in a short post. (Via Stephan Fatsis on the Oct. 29 Hang Up and Listen sports podcast.)
...When I was around four or five, my parents split up, and we didn't get to see a lot of my dad. So, anything that was his in our house was kind of a treasure. And I knew that record album, "American Pie." I can picture it in my head with the thumbs up and Don McLean on there. And in the top right hand corner there was my dad's name on one of those old-fashioned label makers where you could press the letters in with the white and it would come up in white raised letters... [more inside]
Alex in the Chelsea Drug Store. A frame-by-frame archeology of the records and magazines in the Chelsea Drug Store scene of A Clockwork Orange. [NSFW]
The Feynman Files. For the first time, FBI records for Dr Richard Feynman have been released to the public. They document the Bureau's apparent obsession in the 1950's with outing him as a communist sympathizer, and include notations from several background checks as well as interviews with his colleagues, friends and acquaintances.
Julian Cope's "Album of the Month" series brims with personal, passionate, and often mind-expanding writing about records like James Brown's The Payback, Nico's The Marble Index, and a bunch of stuff you've never heard of. (previously) [more inside]
...this symmetric aperture is called the "fenetre de breeze", roughly translated meaning the "zephyr window".
The Great Crepitation Contest of 1946 [mp3 at bottom] lingers on in the memories of record collectors, radio historians, and a generation of post-war vulgarians from Dr. Demento to Howard Stern. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's vivid recording of the contest (conceived at a company stag party) inspired legions of LP cover artists: an early public airing was encased in a sleeve designed by one of the earliest proponents of the illustrated album cover. Later editions were adorned with shockingly detailed renditions of the Great Contest, created by a variety of anonymous geniuses. (Speaking of art, it was also a rumored favorite of Salvador Dali). Though it has inspired various lurid myths, we've learned a little bit about the deepest roots of the contest right here on Metafilter. [more inside]
For his video "I Will Never Change", London-based musician Benga used 960 records to create a stop-motion waveform of the song. [more inside]
Record Shops is a new web site that's attempting to list all record shops world wide. Allows you to rate/review shops you're familiar with and scope out the scene in places you're travelling to.
DJ Greg Wilson has photos of the Haçienda DJ Booth (no, not the one you're thinking of). DJ Hewan Clarke who played every night for the first four years talks about what it was like in the early days of the Haçienda: What I used to do when I was playing the records… I always had to go out, run onto the stage, stand in the middle of the stage and listen to how it sounded in the club, went back in and readjust it on the mixer and I was constantly doing that because there was no feedback from what was going on outside, you just had to look through that gap. [more inside]
Dick Pfander's obsession with basketball box scores means that every NBA box score in the league's history is now accessible.
Sleeves Received is a collection of the best-designed finds from The Wire's mailbag. (via thingsmagazine)