Thursday, October 23, 2008

U2 Paints The Rocks Red, 1983

Finally on DVD: U2's "Under A Blood Red Sky, Live", one of the great rock shows of all time...

U2 Sets The Stage Ablaze at a Rainy Red Rocks Amphitheater Near Denver, 1983

I wasn't at the well-known Concert at Red Rocks, where U2 played on June 5, 1983, which was, coincidentally, my 23rd birthday.

I was at the show about a week later, in Dallas , where U2 played to an UNsold-out 1200 seat theater, located inside -- get this -- a bowling alley. Dallas had a really small "underground" rock scene then, and I saw REM twice, The Pretenders twice, and even Talking Heads at this unlikely venue. "The Bronco Bowl" in Big D's Oak Cliff section, was a small and intimate theater with great sound. The Irish Rockers had never been to Dallas , and had never even had any commercial radio-play there. If you were a North Texan who didn't have MTV by '83, and a lot of people didn't, it was quite likely that you'd still never have heard of U2 at all. Not me, though! Having recently been in college in Rochester , NY , I was very aware of U2, and a very big fan by this point. I had all three of their LPs, including the newly released "War". I would have seen them play at Rochester Institute of Technology in '82 if it hadn't been for a huge exam I had to study for the next day. (Interesting side-note here: That show at R.I.T. was panned in the next morning's Rochester paper, saying that Edge's guitar sounded like a "chainsaw" and Bono was "caterwauling". The reviewer hated them. However, I had one friend that went and said they were fantastic.)

So here was my first chance to see them live, on The War Tour, with 800 other hard-core believers.

Let me say they did not disappoint. In fact, Bono, Edge, Larry and Adam proceeded to perform the greatest rock concert I have ever seen, before or since. And I have seen everybody (including U2 in later years)! The kids ripped my head clean off! Their energy was electric. The sound, the songs, the stage itself, were all ablaze. Bono (with his spiky, blonde-tipped mullet) went as far to the back of the stage as he could get, and ran, full speed ahead, taking a leaping header into the crowd. That's right! Head first, arms out, like diving in to a pool, landing on the shoulders of astonished fans. I kept blinking my eyes, wondering if I had actually just seen it, or had hallucinated the dive. (On the Red Rocks video, by contrast, he falls backwards in to the crowd). At one point he marched up and down the ailses of the place, waving his white flag of Surrender. And surrender we did, to the 23 year old singer in the black t-shirt with the sleeves ripped off. Bono had not yet achieved the God-like and masterful showmanship he would very soon have. At this point, he was flying high on his own energy, like a kid with a brand new rocket-ship. He was always right on the edge of control, at times literally staggering and swaggering, as if drunk on his own power. By the time I saw them again in 1985, at a sold-out 20,000 seat Dallas Reunion Arena, he had learned to channel and control that spirit like a Shaman. At The Bronco Bowl in ‘83, it was already clear that Bono was an amazing and passionate performer, with the bright aura of a future Superstar.

Then there was The Edge! His guitar-playing, all shimmery and majestic, was a total rock revelation for me, myself a young guitarist. Not only was it a completely unique and fresh style, it was huge-sounding. His one guitar filled the theater like a guitar-chestra. I soon went out and bought an analog delay effect like the one he used. Of course my attempts to emulate his sound proved futile.

The girl I took with me was one of those Texans who had never even heard of U2 before that night. On the way out of the show, she thanked me profusely for introducing her to the incredible Irish Band. I haven't seen her since that night, nor do I remember her name, but I'll bet all these years later she's still telling people, "I saw U2 before they were famous!"

So, why do I post this review of "Under a Blood Red Sky", being that I was not at Red Rocks? Well, it's very fortunate for the world of rock music, and U2 fans especially, that it was filmed. Back in '83, I was really excited when I heard the film was coming out, and that indeed it was shot within days of the show I saw. It captures U2 on the rise to stardom, and why they deservedly became among the greatest bands in history. Back then I bought the 12" record and the VHS video as soon as they came out.

Is Red Rocks as good as the Dallas show I saw? No. It's actually tamer by comparison. (Too bad they didn't film THAT one!). But will Red Rocks mesmerize you? Will it thrill you? Will it inspire you?

Might it be the best rock show you've ever seen?

Oh yeah....

Under A Blood Red Sky, U2 Live at Red Rocks CD and DVD Set at

U2's official web-site features the long-awaited DVD Release of "Under A Blood Red Sky"

Dallas Business Journal, 2003: Bronco Bowl site sold to Home Depot, facility to be razed

Bronco Bowl Memories Web-Site

Monday, October 13, 2008

Now this is exciting!

New Audio Toys to Land on Analog Planet!
Among the many new audio goodies shown at this years AES, there is one which will be of special interest to Analog Planeteers. Pendulum Audio is introducing a new OCL Opto-Compressor for the API 500 format. Appropriately, it's called the Pendulum OCL-500. Based on the same proprietary opto-cell circuitry found in Pendulum's hugely popular OCL-2 stereo tube comp, the OCL-500 provides smooth transparent compression in a single-wide mono "Lunchbox" module. The OCL-500 uses clean solid-state make-up gain, avoiding the inherent problems encountered when trying to run tube amplifiers on 500-format power. Pendulum's OCL-500 is slated to ship in January of '09 at a projected price of $1295.00 These will immediately be on back-order, so Analog Planet will be happy to get your name in the queue for the first run. Place your pre-order now!

The New Pen OCL-500: Sweet!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lunchbox Hero Contains No Baloney!

What's in your lunchbox? I'll trade ya my API 512 for your Tubule!

Just discovered a new web-site and forum, Luncbox, dedicated to the API 500 format and all the many modules now available for it. It has a database listing every device, and a forum for 500 officionados and enthusiats. The best part is my old friend James McCaffrey is the Lunchbox Hero himself, How cool is that?

Check it out!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pan 60

Here's a cool web-site I recently became aware of: Pan60

Pan 60 is a frequent poster on my favorite forum, GearSlutz, and he's quite an officionado of the Gear-o. Check it!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bloggity Blog Blog!

"Jimi, Buddy, Janis, I'm coming to see you in Rock and Roll Heaven!" Does the name of this Toadworks-USA pedal refer to the fact that classic tube amps like the '60s Marshalls always sounded incredible just before they blew-up?

I have not blogged in a while because Analog Planet has been taking most of my time, and my commitment to little drew takes up the rest. Oh Daddy Day Care!

So this will be a catch-up blog.

First, Analog Planet has gained some new lines of gear, including Quested Monitors and Coles Microphones and AccuSound Cables. We're also talking to a couple other companies that we are very excited about, Pearlman Mics and Toadworks Guitar Pedals. Been looking for a good boutique pedal and I am rippin' with excitement about Toadworks!

Excited about all the new schtuff!

Second, I was profiled in the Patriot Ledger. Check it out here.

Third, we did some business with a cool studio in Evergreen Colorado, named, appropriately, "Evergroove". This is a neat, neat studio, and Brad, the main guy there is one of the good ones in this crazy business. Check out their site here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Analog Planet is not a dealer for Crowley and Tripp Ribbon mics, which is too bad because I like them. They're not taking on any more dealers at the moment. When and if they do, I hope Analog Planet will be on-board. In the meantime, Bob Crowley has a wonderful blog called Microphonium, dedicated to the art and culture of the microphone.

Bob clearly has far more time to blog than I do, no small feat considering how busy he must be. It's admirable that he's such a prolific blogger. He even blogged about the Analog planet logo a few posts ago.

So enjoy Crowley's "Microphonium".

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Perfect "Nectar-ita?"

!Muy refrescante! Una Tequila mas, por favor...

OK! I may have just mixed up the perfect Margarita. And I have made some GOOD 'ritas before, so this is sayin' somethin'! Without dilly-dallying around, let me get straight to the recipe:

We're using Partida Blanco Tequila. One might argue that a $50 blanco is too good to make a 'rita with, but I say, it's too good NOT to make a 'rita with. The other ingredients are Triple Sec, a dash of Presidente Mexican Brandy, Key Lime Juice, Master of Mixes Margarita mix, and the secret weapon, about a teaspoon of Partida Agave Nectar (aka Agave Syrup) a honey-like syrup made from the Blue Agave in the same way maple syrup is made from tree sap. Shake it up good with plenty of ice!

For inspirational images and some nice Spano-Mexican music check out the Partida Margarita Web-site, here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Fender buys Groove Tubes.

Analog Planet is a Groove Tubes dealer. I don't know what impact, if any, this will have on us. I hope they get behind the pro audio line, which is great, but has been very under-represented/under-marketed. Hopefully Fender won't dumb it down to a pure MI line, because the GT Pro Audio stuff has sort of been teetering on that ledge for a few years. Studio guys don't take it seriously because they think it's an MI line. All they'd have to do is listen to a ViPre or a SuPre or a Glory comp to realize that this stuff holds its own against, and often beats, venerated studio brands like Tube-Tech and Summit and DW Fearn and the like.
Aspen Pittman, GT's founder and designer, is a master tube circuit-rician.

The mics are excellent for the money too, a cut above the typical Chinese condensers out there.

PS: I live my new Fender American Standard Telecaster. Best guitar I've acquired in years!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hello folks! Well I have some big news! I have started my own company - a web-boutique called Drew Townson's Analog Planet. Yazoo! The Planet sells high-end analog recording gear, including lots of tube stuff. I call it "The Audio Hardware space!" Great idea, starting a high-end business in this economy, right?

What am I thinking?

Well, I'm thinking I want to start a a genuine high-end thing, based on my own deication to quality, as well as creating a legacy for my family and son. Plus, I was getting sick of the guys I was working for driving in to work at 11 am in their Beemers and Benzes and coming up to me with, "Sold anything today Drew?" "What have you done for me lately Drew?"

What I had done for them is a lot. Made happy customers. Brought in a lot of money...which was not trickling enough back down to me. So I said, "screw it!" and started my own business.

The site's young and buggy and still in development, but hey, go check out Analog Planet!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cool New Ribbon Mic, er, I Mean Warm!

The Telefunken RM-5C Cardioid Ribbon Mic
This is the first gear review in a while...

RM-5C, Muy Cremosa!

We shot this baby out verses the Royer R121 on both clean and crunchy electric guitar, and male voice. In all cases, the Telefunken sounded more old-school; more vintage. The cardioid pattern, which few ribbons have (the Royer is Fig 8 of course) is an asset when you need tight-in micing and a focused sound. You could use the RM-5C on-stage. Sonically it is midzy with a smooth, rolled-off top and a bottom which is not boomy or overly fluffy. Telefunken's literature on this claims it's NOT your Daddy's RCA and has modern updates. I'm sure this is true, but it still sounded quite vintage to my ears. The 121, by comparison, sounds more modern, having an extended top and bottom.

I loved the Telefunken on country-style Telecaster (Tele on Tele!) through a Fender Deluxe Reverb with an API 312 pre. Sounded like a classic Merle Haggard recording from the ‘60s. However, the T-Funk was not a good match for loud, heavily distorted rhythm guitar (API pre again). Obviously, this is where the Royer is money. he 121 shone in front of a Marshall 4X12 with Diesel head, while the RM-5C fell apart in to a splattery mess. We then went to a gooey “woman-tone” lead solo, ala Santana or the Allman Brothers. The RM KILLED on that singing, sustainy lead sound. Loved it there! And it CAN take far more SPL than an old RCA.

On male vocal, matched to a Groove Tubes SuPre set to 300ohms, the RCA, er, I mean Telefunken, proved the clear winner. It was velvety, not too fat, and had a little mid/upper-mid bump that would make a vocal sit nice and cozy in a mix. The Royer does not claim to be a vocal mic (although it has been used that way my studio once or twice) and its fig-8 pattern makes it less conducive for vocal than is the RM-5C.

Like the 121, the RM-5C takes to EQ very well. You can boost highs without harshing anybody’s buzz. The Telefunken isn’t going to be a mic you can use on everything, but it is very good on certain sounds, indeed. In a word, I'll call it "creamy". With the resurgence in Americana and vintage-style recordings, ribbons and good dynamics are having a nice revival. The RM-5C makes a special contribution to that cause. I’d not hesitate to try it on any singer, or even use it at a live gig.

My “Sound With a Soul”® soulfulness rating: 144 proof.
Velveteen Units, 12

Telefunken USA

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cinco de Mayo, ¡Vámanos de fiesta!

OK, in this year's installment of Cinco de Mayo, we'll pose the question, ¿Que tequila es el mejór?

For what it's worth, here are Drewcifer's top five:

1) Penca Azul Anejo Reserva -- the most superb I've had the privilege to taste. To me it is to Tequila what Johnny Walker Blue is to Scotch. It almost tastes like a fine whisky or brandy; starting smoky and oaky, but finishing strong with the essence of blue agave. Because it was a gift, I have no idea what the price would be, if it was even available in the US, which it's not. Muy suave.

2) Patron Reposado -- Now I think in-general Patron is over-hyped and over-priced. It's good, mind you, but there are others that are also really good that are not as well-known or pricey. The silver they have in most bars I don't particularly go out of my way for. However, the Reposado is superlative.

3) Espolon Reposado -- You take one sip of this Tequila and say wow. Near perfection. Smoky, woody, spicy, smooth and flavorful with little or no alcohol burn. Has that warming effect that great whisky and wine have.

4) Corralejo Reposado -- The oldest Tequileria in Mexico still makes great stuff. It's light for a reposado, with a pale tint the color of olive oil. Probably not aged more than the minimum. But it's a great every day reposado, tastes nice on ice and is pretty darn smooth. It's not too fancy to use in a Margarita, either.

5) This is a tough one because there could be so many I like here in the cinco position; Don Julio, Corazon, Cielo, Cazadores, Sauze Tres Generaciones...But I'm going to go with my old every day fave, Herradura Blanco (Silver). Makes Margaritas muy buenas. I discovered it years ago at The Rodeo bar in NYC, which is known for it's great 'ritas. We were playing there and I noticed their "house" 'rita was made using Herradura blanco, poured from a big 1-litre bar-bottle. To this day that's what I use in my Margaritas, and I've tried many, but the Herradure just works the best. (I am lucky as hell that my local liquor store sells the litre bottle --typically impossible to find at any price -- for $40!). It blends well, while at the same time revealing a fresh, citrusy agave flavor. I like to taste the booze in my 'ritas, so the booze has to taste good. When you go to a typical bar, they're using bad-tasting mixto tequila (not 100% agave) like Cuervo Gold, so they bury it to where you can't taste it. If you're going to use Cuervo, at least use the Tradicional, which is 100% agave and makes a decent Margarita. Which reminds me, I just tried this highly-touted new Cuervo called Platino, which is $50 per bottle. Didn't like it. Freakin' greasy! Metallic after-taste, alcohol burn and an oily mouth feel.

As always I digress.

And just look at the clock!

It's Tequila-thirty!


(PS: Just had a sip of Espolon...BUTTERY!)

Monday, March 31, 2008

Nowhere Man: How Christopher Moore went from the Boston Scene, to Stuck-in-Between

While I was working at that Hellhole whose name shall not be uttered (go back 1-year on this blog), I became acquainted with one Mr. Chris Moore, a part-time helper there who was, well there's no better word for it, Chris was cool. We're talkin' wrap-around shades, the latest in hair-spikage, mod clothes, and a rave-club pallor. Young Chris had an air about him, that is for sure. Didn't take long for me to find out that the kid was funny, too, in a dry, ascerbic way. Smart kid, Chris Moore.

Because he was sort of the lone hipster among a bunch of long-toothed rockers, he caught more than his share of ribbing from the gang. But he laughed right along with everybody and returned the abuse in-kind. All the while, Chris was learning audio engineering and live sound. Turns out he was a singer and was beginning the process of getting a demo together. Chris was even planning a trip to Cali to track and mix with a very well-known veteran producer/mixologist. Yep, that Chris was on his way up in life. He had big plans. Big dreams. He was on the launchpad. He was ready to ignite. He was on the Road.... Nowhere.

Or, more accurately, he was on the Rotary to Nowhere. For those of you who don't live in Massachusetts, a Rotary is a traffic circle. They're all over the place up here, and they're scary as-hell. Where three or four or more roads converge/intersect, instead of a traffic light, there's a rotary. You enter the one-way mixmaster, circling until the road you want comes up and then you exit. And it's not just one lane, either. There can be two, sometimes three cars side-by-side. So all these vehicles are getting on and off and going 'round and 'round. What sometimes happens is, you might be in the outside lane, and the car on the INSIDE lane (to your left) decides to exit (to your right). This was the unlucky position Chris found himself in last summer. He was on the notorious Fresh Pond Rotary in Cambridge, one of the busiest and craziest in the area.


In an instant, Chris's life changed, and not in a good way. He didn't have health insurance and ended up with a bad doctor. The story goes down hill from there. But I'll let Chris tell it himself. Instead of Hollywood, he's out in the middle of Cow-cake Ohio, surrounded by a sea of mud, trying desperately to get back to civilization through his laptop. So, check out his site, TheQuarterProject, watch his video, and maybe flip a couple Washingtons his way...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Playing the new Mobile Fidelity Soundlab remaster of Santana's legendary Abraxas conjures up a lot of teenage memories for me; 1970's summer nights with the FM radio piping from the car as we lounged by the lake, stargazing. Or wearing those big clunky headphones in my room in the wee hours of the night, spacing out to Carlos' crying guitar, Rolie's swirling B3, and that hypnotic, stereophonic percussion. The future was endless and anything was possible.

Half-speed re-cut from the original studio masters by MoFi --yes the company still exists and is going strong after 30 years-- the vinyl is quieter than the tape-hiss! Stereo width and depth-of field are better than on any CD I've heard.

Abraxas was one of the sountracks to our dreams.

Dream again with this sonically beautiful reissue.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Props for Joe Ely

Texas Head '77: Joe Spins Stories with Ten Gallon Attitude.

Been listening to Joe Ely again lately. Seems I get a hankerin' for the Texas balladeer's music every so often. Burned a "favorites" CD for the car with West Texas Waltz, Cool Rockin' Loretta, Dallas Froam a DC9, Row of Dominoes, She Never Spoke Spanish to Me, Gallo de Cielo and a couple others.

What made me think of him this time was that he appears briefly in the Joe Strummer documentary that's out now. I guess I didn't know that he and Strummer were good friends. Wow, talk about uncommon bedfellows: A London punk and a West Texas cowboy.

Yep, Joe's the Real Lone Star Deal.

(Not to mention, he's launched the careers of guys like Charlie Sexton, Will Sexton and David Grissom, all of whom played lead guitar in his band at one time or other).

Joe Ely Homepage

PS: Forgot to mention that with my band The Derangers I opened for Ely in '97 at Mama Kin. Got to hang with him back stage and got his autograph. The best part was, we were to play first of three, but the middle band didn't show up, so we got bumped up to right before Ely. By the time we went on, like ten-ish, the place had filled up with Ely fans, who really dug what we were doing. We were at the top of our game by that point, so that was a good night for us. And Ely and his band were amazing, of course.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Mysterious Track 16

While doing Anastasia Scream's "Moontime" LP at Nashville's at Sound Emporium Studios, we encountered some bizarre happenings. I'm not jivin' you. Some really crazy wierd shit happened. In one anomalous event, we recorded a loud thunderstorm that was happening outside the studio. This was a real boomer. I quickly threw on a blank 2" 24-track reel, popped track 16 in to record, and put a mic in front of an open doorway. This was a $3,000 Neumann U47fet that happened to be handy, and the studio assistant was none too happy later when she saw it placed inches from the torrent outside.

We recorded about six minutes of big rain and thunder. It's not like we had any plans for "the storm track", but thought it might be cool to have. (And besides, we were like, wicked baked, y'know?)

Eventually, we needed that reel to record songs, so we put track 16 in safe and recorded around it. Pretty much forgot about it.

Days later, when we were mixing this finished song called "Blues", I remembered track 16. About two minutes in to the song I eased fader 16 up. At one point right before the song, which is raging full-on, breaks down in to a quiet part, Chick Graning sings, "there's a hole in my head where the rain gets in," and, BOOOOOOMMM! A huge rolling thunderclap follows his phrase right on beat, and rolls and rumbles for about 20 seconds right through the breakdown! (The low-frequency of it vibrated the whole control-room)

Yes, for real.

Of course anybody listening would assume we very carefully placed a thunder sound-effect right there in the song. But no! It was there before the song was even tracked.

The breakdown is followed by this manic sax solo, so we left the magical track 16 in behind there...with the rain and thunder and sax wailing, it sounds like total madness!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Need for The Needle...

I’m a Vinyl Junkie!

It didn’t take long but I swear I am addicted to playing records. The whole process has hooked me; taking the record out, cleaning it with the Discwasher thing, reading the liner notes and admiring the great big jacket art. etc. Mostly though, it’s the sound. My ears crave this all-analog aural opiate. No digital jitters. Gimme my fix of smooth, soothing hi-fi audio.

I put the Shure M97Xe cartridge on last night and what a difference! The signal is quieter now, more highly detailed and yet silky smooth. I might as well have been using a rusty nail before.

I think it was Rupert Neve who said he observed that when you play and listen to a record, you relax and unwind and drift and dream. When you spin a CD, by contrast, you feel jumpy and hyper and fidgety. He thinks it has to do with the ultra high-frequency harmonic content of analog, vs. the band-limited nature of CD digital. He thinks the brain responds to the super-sonic frequencies, finding them pleasing, even though theoretically the ear can’t “hear” them. Apparently Neve thinks there’s some AIR UP THERE.


Sonic Smoke.


Whatever the cause, my lips are smacking just waiting for the needle to drop once again...

Friday, February 1, 2008

Tres Hombres Revisited!

On my new quest for vinyl, I have now received a few records, including U2’s 20th Anniversary pressing of “The Joshua Tree”. Nice. But the one I'm rockin' out to the most is ZZ Top's 1973 masterwork, “Tres Hombres”, re-cut from the original analog masters and pressed on to 180 gram audiophile vinyl.

I grew up in Texas and Billy Gibbons was my guitar God. I don't know how many copies of "Tres Hombres" I wore out trying to get his licks as a kid. To this day his earlier work (pre "Eliminator", pre MTV, pre 24-inch beard) may be my favorite rock guitar of all. I mean the guy plays like a mean motor-scooter, mama! That blues-driven, amp’d-up style is overdosed with Texas hot sauce. Mmmmm doggie!

Billy’s guitar sounds and the way they recorded and layered them were ahead of their time, and still my favorite tones other than Hendrix. Gibbons could pluck chimey, bell-like chords from a Strat or milk his vintage “Pearly Gates” Les Paul for every sonic color she had. He was one of the inventors of the "thick" tone; the "fat" sound. False harmonics, right-hand hammer-ons and pick-dives were new tricks in the early ‘70’s. He took the syrupy “Woman Tone”, established by guys like Clapton, Peter Green and Duane Allman, and added a searing harmonic liveness, like a high-voltage wire with too much juice coursing through it. You knew sparks could fly at any moment.

The Reverend Preacheth: A Nudie-Suited Billy with Pearly, 1975

So I play this record, and my jaw drops. Frank’s kick-drum socks you right in the solar-plexus, Dusty’s bass lays down the bad-ass eighth notes, and Billy’s guitar scorches. Chunky! And again, I’m listening to an all-analog signal path. Hearing the original master like this makes me really respect the recording engineers at Brian Studio in Texas and Memphis’s legendary Ardent.

The songs? Well, this is simply the most bodacious, bluesy batch of Texican tunes ever tracked, inviting us to get low-down and boogie, y’all! The LP opens with the righteous “Waitin’ For The Bus”, then busts in to the smoky, “Jesus Just Left Chicago”, a track that showcases Billy’s prowess on the Fender Strat. Then comes a helpin’ o’ “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers”, whose hair-raising solo is Billy G. at his blistering best. It’s arguably the best recorded solo of the Reverend’s illustrious career, and it still rips my head off every time.

Side two opens with “Move Me on Down the Line”, one of those long-gone lost and forgotten album cuts. It’s a surprisingly tasty little nugget of straight-up rock. And of course, buried in the middle of side two is…yes, “LaGrange”, the monstrous, monumental hit about the best little whore house in Texas. It’s a Muddy Waters riff on trucker speed and mezcal. Still love it! The opening chord riff is plucked while Gibbons mumbles (it has been reported that this was the scratch vocal, recorded by the talk-back mic while he was doing the basic guitar), followed by the big, bad chuggin’ train thang. The trio is incredibly tight here. I still admire how the first solo is a Strat and the second is the Pearly Gates Les Paul. It’s like havin’ a first course of brisket and a second of ribs.

“Tres Hombres” spins its Tall Texas Tales like a twister in a trailer-park. It’s a true Rock Hall of Famer, at least in my book.

I’ll never apologize (to Pearly or anyone else) for lovin’ that Li’l Old Band from Texas! Have Mercy!

Gibbons Gets A-Low Down 'n' Dirty!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My New Old Hobby!

When I was a teen and in to my 20's I collected vinyl. I'd go to the funky record stores -- not the one in the mall -- and buy imports and colored vinyl and picture vinyl and rarities and even bootlegs. Every time I visited NYC, I'd go down to The Village and spend hours pouring through the racks of those ratty record shops. By the time I was 25 I had quite a collection. We're talkin' thousands of records, many of them collectibles. Like I had Hendrix's Electric Ladyland with the original banned cover depicting a bevy of bareskinned beauties. I had the Beatles White Album on white vinyl. I had the famous Lynyrd Skynyrd "Flame" cover of Street Survivors. My Stones collection was breathtaking--rare imports boots and picture-sleeve singles.

Sadly, over time and more than a few financial hiccups, I sold most of my beloved records, usually for far less than they were worth. For instance, I had a special audiophile pressing of Heart's debut, Dreamboat Annie, made by Nautilus. It was half-speed mastered on quiet virgin vinyl. Sold that at a yard sale. I checked on-line recently and found one place that had it for sale...$125.00. Crap.

So, now I'm rediscovering the joys of vinyl. I have a pretty good semi-vintage system: Marantz 2230 for phono-preamping, McIntosh 2105 power-amp and Tannoy SRM10B speakers. The weak link so far is the turntable. It's a Gemini DJ table I've had for years. Good turntables cost a fortune, so this will have to do for now. I'll buy a nice Shure cartridge for it in the meantime.

I've found that there's a big revival in vinyl, especially audiophile pressings. Go on-line and you'll find many sites. And it's not just old stuff. New releases are coming out, along with reissues of great albums of the past. For instance, U2 has just released the 20th anniversary The Joshua Tree on 200 Gram hi-grade vinyl, remastered from the original studio masters. Tom Petty continues to put his records out on vinyl. Universal Japan is remastering and re-releasing many great LPs in a limited run, again on 200 gram virgin vinyl. From that lot I just bought the Stones Let It Bleed. Sounds, well, analog. It's amazing to hear an all-analog signal path again. Think of it: Analog master tape, mastered to analog record, played back by an analog record-player. When was the last time YOU listened to an all-analog reproduction of recorded music? (That's what I thought!)
Let me tell you it's a warm bath for your ears!

I plan to buy and album or two a month, play them only a couple times and record them on to my professional reel-to-reel tape machine.

The downside is my new old hobby will cost me far more than it did the first time around. These disks start at $30 a pop, and the sky's the limit. An unopened original Beatles record can go for $500. As a kid, the most expensive record I ever bought was $20. But that was a lot, seeing as LP records were three to five bucks.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Tacos El Charro, El Magnifico!

At long last a new blog post. It's on my other blog,

Happy new year, dammit!

I hope '08 is an improvement upon '07.

It better be! Other than my son's birth, 2007 was a total stinker. Worst year ever!

It's All About The Tone, Baby!