Features

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Joseph W. Washek  |  Sep 14, 2021  |  4 comments
In December 1965, Sam Charters (1929-2015) went to Chicago to record Blues musicians who were playing in the clubs of the Black neighborhoods on the south and west sides. Charters, a white man, had written "The Country Blues" published in 1959. It was the first book about rural blues and while it contained many factual inaccuracies, it was entertaining romantic storytelling and helped foster the interest of young White folk fans in acoustic Blues. The glaring failing of "The Country Blues" was Charters’ insistence that “real blues” was dead, that Lightnin’ Hopkins was the last living blues singer (!), that postwar electric Blues was diluted, crude, loud, monotonous and that, “The blues have almost been pushed out of the picture and the singers who have survived at all have had to change their style until they sound enough like rock and roll performers to pass with the teenage audience.” Opinionated, though he may have been, Charters remained open minded and observant and within a few years, realized that the music being played in the small bars in the Black neighborhoods of Chicago was an urban, modernized version of the rural southern blues he admired so much and served the same social purpose for its audience. 

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 02, 2021  |  31 comments
Joni Mitchell first came to the attention of some folk music enthusiasts from the three songs heard on Tom Rush’s 1968 release The Circle Game (Elektra 74018). Rush covers “Tin Angel”, “Urge For Going” and of course “The Circle Game.” Rush also covers on the album songs from Jackson Browne and James Taylor before they too became well known.

Malachi Lui  |  Aug 27, 2021  |  8 comments
(Review Explosion is a recurring AnalogPlanet feature covering recent releases for which we either don't have sufficient time to fully explore, or that are not worthy of it. Curated by AnalogPlanet contributing editor Malachi Lui, Review Explosion focuses on the previous few months' new releases and reissues.)

Malachi Lui  |  Aug 24, 2021  |  9 comments
(Vinyl Reports is an AnalogPlanet feature aiming to create a definitive vinyl LP guide. Here, we talk about sound quality, LP packaging, music, and the overarching vinyl experience.)

Malachi Lui  |  Aug 20, 2021  |  0 comments
Concluding our multi-part exploration into pioneering Japanese synthpop group Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO), this week we’ll analyze the trio’s work from 1983’s Naughty Boys to the present day. We’ll only focus on the core catalog albums; as good as non-album tracks like “Chaos Panic” and “M-16” are, coverage of those would interest only maniacal completists. Those who aren’t yet caught up can view the series’ previous features below:

Malachi Lui  |  Aug 13, 2021  |  5 comments
Continuing our multi-part exploration of Japanese synthpop group Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO), this week we’ll analyze Yukihiro Takahashi, Haruomi Hosono, and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s solo LPs and side projects from 1980-1982. For brevity’s sake, we’ll exclude the artists’ production work for other acts, focusing only on Takahashi, Hosono, Sakamoto, and Hideki Matsutake-led projects (apologies to fans of Kenji Omura’s Spring Is Nearly Here). In addition, releases only reviewed digitally here won’t feature sound scores. Below are links to this series’ previous features:

Malachi Lui  |  Aug 06, 2021  |  4 comments
Introduction

This is the part one of a multi-part exploration of Japanese synthpop pioneer Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) previewed in the recent “Yellow Magic Orchestra: Prologue”. This week, I’m dissecting the group’s albums from the 1978 self-titled debut through November 1981’s Technodelic. While I did as much research as possible, in the English-speaking world little verifiable information about YMO exists. Earlier this year, Ryuichi Sakamoto associate Eiichi Yoshimura published YMO 1978-2043: Definitive Story Of Yellow Magic Orchestra, but no English translation exists (and I’ve not yet learned Japanese). Much of what’s on Wikipedia has no traceable citation; to avoid inaccuracies any info from there will be mentioned as “supposed” or “presumed”.

Malachi Lui  |  Aug 01, 2021  |  11 comments
This week, AnalogPlanet begins a multi-part exploration of Japanese synthpop pioneers Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO). Through reviews of their core releases and YMO-era side projects, we’ll dissect how, by incorporating elements of exotica, video game music, musique concrete, and more, the trio of Haruomi Hosono, Yukihiro Takahashi, and Ryuichi Sakamoto transformed electronic music. They gained massive success in Japan but are also credited for influencing hip-hop and Detroit techno. First, however, we’ll explore the individual members’ pre-YMO work.

Joseph W. Washek  |  Jul 23, 2021  |  0 comments
On March 6, 1961, world-class tenor saxophonist and vibes player Tubby Hayes (1935-1973) regarded as the finest musician on the British modern jazz scene signed a contract to record for the U.K. Fontana label. He had previously recorded for small jazz specialist label Tempo. Though the new contract didn’t provide for an advance or a money guarantee, Fontana was a major label that issued all types of recordings and could provide for his records better distribution and promotion including possible U.S. distribution. Hayes was the first bop generation British musician awarded a major label contract. Hard as it may be to imagine today, the signing was not only jazz news, but major music news worth of a “Melody Maker” cover story.

Joseph W. Washek  |  Jun 22, 2021  |  12 comments
In June 2020, Analog Planet published my article on the great audio engineer, David Jones’ Living Legends Riverside recordings of Black Traditional Jazz in New Orleans during the last week of January 1961. While researching the article, by checking records in my collection I compiled a list of Riverside albums for which Jones had been credited or co-credited as engineer.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 04, 2021  |  16 comments
A few weeks ago I visited a woman in Portland, OR whose husband ran tape duplication services for GRT Records (GRT owned the Chess catalog in the early 70s and provided tape duplication services for many labels).

Joseph W. Washek  |  Apr 26, 2021  |  9 comments
Etta James was in the heartbreak business. Other singers sold sweet dreams of love, romance, and sex, but Etta James sold pain and she had an endless supply. The pain started early. She never knew who her father was. When she was born, her mother who was fourteen, abandoned her, leaving her with a childless older couple. The woman, called “Mama Lu” by Etta, became her surrogate mother, and she was loved and spoiled by her and they lived happily. But not ever after, because all was not well and never would be. Periodically, her birth mother, Dorothy, who loved the night life, would appear and take the child away. It was always the same. They would live in squalor until a few weeks passed and then, bored and frustrated with parenthood, Dorothy would return Etta to Mama Lu. The pattern continued until Etta was twelve when Mama Lu died. Dorothy appeared, told Etta that she would be living with her now, and took her to San Francisco. There, Dorothy met her brother on a street corner, left Etta with him, and walked away.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 16, 2021  |  7 comments
Filmmaker Ben Williams is posting on YouTube a series of videos he's shot at the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society (LAOCAS) December Galas over the past few years. This short one was filmed the day before AnalogPlanet editor Michael Fremer received the Society's Founder's Award. BTW: below the short video is my roast of Chad Kassem when he got the award December 7th 2014. If you haven't watched it, you should!(Photo: Chad and Michael visit Thai Plastics outside of Bangkok, Thailand)

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 30, 2021  |  10 comments
Classic Records Founder Mike Hobson and Acoustic Sounds/Analogue Productions/QRP Founder Chad Kassem reminisce about the "old days", and the beginnings of Classic Records, which in 1993 when almost no one was making vinyl, decided to manufacture great records—and maybe even sell a few.

Joseph W. Washek  |  Mar 18, 2021  |  18 comments
On December 9, 2010 at about 11:30 pm, I was standing in front of Johnny D’s, a now defunct and demolished Somerville, Massachusetts club, alone with Bert Jansch who about an hour earlier had finished an hour plus set. It was cold, in the twenties and sleet was becoming snow. Bert was holding his guitar, uncased, by the neck in his right hand.

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