Foreign Affairs

18 10 2010

A fresh post (the overseas kind) has brought the latest issue of the Japanese edition of WaxPoetics and a reprint of a story they saw on one of our posts (the blog kind).  I added some images to Dan Neely’s original story that you can see here if your Japanese is a bit rusty.  Regardless, study the image of each 45 insert carefully, and send along any you have that are impressively different.  We’re an archive you know, saving minutia so you don’t have to…

You can click to enlarge said minutia, and enlarge you must if you’re ever going to read the details on how you can sew up a complete new stereo system!  This bit of fluff was culled from an old British teen magazine, Jackie Annual ’86, adding a whole new dimension to choosing the right needle to get the best sound.  I expect quite a few of the LPillows as gifts this Christmas (hint, hint).  What no toile tune tote?

I Can Haz Lolz?

11 11 2008

From the ARChive’s “Animals In Pants” section:

sina1 sina2

I am one of those people who is endlessly amused by the Stuff On My Cat / Stuff On My Mutt / I Can Has Cheezburger / I Has A Hot Dog / etc sites.  I also love hoaxes.  So, you might imagine how thrilled I was when fellow NYMIAer Jon Hammer found this record as he was cataloging some comedy records.  Called Inside SINA: A Confidential Report on the Activities of the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, it is a recorded manifesto encouraging the world to clothe domestic animals for the sake of decency.   Apparently, this record is the artifact of a simple but elegant hoax Alan Abel, once described as “the Franz Liszt of put-on artists, the Rembrandt of the ridiculous,” perpetrated on this country between 1959 and 1963.  GELF Magazine explains the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals (SINA) better than I could, so here :

The primary interest of SINA, formed in 1959, was to raise awareness of the indecency of unclothed animals and lobby lawmakers to pass and enforce laws requiring all animals to wear clothing. Its slogan was, “A nude horse is a rude horse.” The SINA operation continued for over four years, during which Abel and his loyal friend Henry—who posed as SINA president G. Clifford Prout—pleaded their case in hundreds of interviews, including appearances on The Tonight Show, The Today Show, and, of course, CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. When Time Magazine finally blew the whistle on their hoax in 1963, Abel was hailed as a comic genius, a jokester who had manipulated the burgeoning mass media to have a laugh at everyone else’s expense. While he was certainly laughing about the whole ordeal, Abel remains concerned that many people may have missed the point.

Time Magazine wrote about it in 1963:

The situation seemed grim. For one thing, it was raining. For another, only three of the 80 persons expected to march on Washington from Baltimore showed up. But the picketers hoisted their signs high and circled the White House for seven hours straight. “Mrs. Kennedy,” pleaded the placards, “Won’t You Please Clothe Your Horse for Decency?” SINA was on the march.

The SINA hoax is described in beautiful detail on Abel’s own site here.  Clearly, he is a mad genius in the greatest sense of the word.

Inside SINA: A Confidential Report on the Activities of the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals (Charm, CM-110, LP, c. 1959).  Featuring Bruce Spencer, Executive Vice President, SINA .


ps. The horse wearing boxer shorts on the cover is Wings of Destiny, G. Clifford Prout’s own mare.

Songs About Obama

22 10 2008

So, ’bout a month and a half ago someone points me to the Svarten blog, a site run from Uppsala, Sweden, that in one post provides what they describe as “the most comprehensive playlist on the internet with songs for Barack Obama.” It’s staggering because it’s got lots of great songs about Obama from around the world.  When I got there about a month and a half ago I think the number of songs was somewhere in the 150s. Now we look to be at 190.

Standouts for me include Might Sparrow’s “Barack the Magnificent” (Trinidad), “Obama for Change” by Kenge Kenge (Kenya), “Go With Obama” by Dr. Phoebe Abe (London, originally from Uganda), “We Got the Mo” by the Rockabelles (US), “Barack Obama” by Papa Michigan (Jamaica), “Aloha Mama” by Ukes for Obama (NYC), “Shalom Obama” by the Hip Hop Hoodios, “Viva Obama” by Norteno Version (accordion madness, people) and “Obama Nous Croyons” by Zaragu, Shae Fontaine, Michael K and Siyaya (NYC maybe?).  My favorite, though, is reggae artist Cocoa Tea’s “Barack Obama” (and not just because I heard that my friend Carter sang back-up).

But this list is hardly complete and we want more.  Yesterday, Jon of NYMIA fame came across this text contrafacta of “Over the Rainbow” by Clare & the Reasons on MySpace.  Yeah, it’s in my head and has been haunting my dreams. Then today, my friend Jordan’s mom sent me a YouTube video of  Jose Conde y Ola Fresca’s recording “Respondele a Obama,” a FABULOUS pro-Obama song.

ADDED Thursday Oct. 23: a NICE zydeco song, “Oui, On Peut” by Dirk Powell (YouTube link, thanks, SEM listserv!); Amigos de Obama has links (some of which we’ve heard before, but who cares?) to reggaeton, mariachi and norteño Obama songs; Mahalo America (The Barack Obama Song).

ADDED Wednesday Oct 29; Old Time Musicians from Virginia for Obama (the whole thing’s great, but make sure you keep on watching until the dancer comes in, he’s great):

Here at the archive, we really, really love these Obama songs.  If you, or anyone you know, knows of any that you think we will want to hear, let us know by posting in comments.  Ask around for us, willya?


ps. Dave, the world is waiting for your Obama Dub. Make it happen.

The NY Black Sabbath Covers Project

23 09 2008

One day as I was developing the New York Music Index and Archive (the project I mentioned in last week’s “Metallica” post where we’re cataloging and making freely available information about all aspects of the music industry in New York State), I happened to come across the MySpace pages of two different New York bands that cover Black Sabbath’s “Fairies Wear Boots.”  The versions were great and reminded me that the first band I ever heard covering Sabbath in fact came from New York–it was Anthrax, who in 1987 recorded Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.  Turns out I love Sabbath covers (even the Cardigans doing Sabbath has its charm), so I decided I’d start keeping track of the bands I’d find that are based in or do business in New York state.  I’ve stumbled across several, now, and I present my findings to you in the form of a Google Map:

There are 23 currently on the map (look for updated counts and a master list in the comments) but surely there are more.   Where are the bands that play Sabbath in the 7-1-6?  Wha ’bout in the 6-0-7?  Erie, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, represent?  How about you folks in Binghamton?  And the good people up in St. Lawrence, Franklin and/or Clinton?  Finally, what about YOU Cortland, New York?  Have you forgotten your own local-boy-made-good Ronnie James Dio?  Until I find a band from Cortland that does Sabbath tunes, consider yourselves all on notice.

Now, I’ve included a Dio entry in Cortland on the map for ceremonial purposes, but what I’m really saying is that we need better coverage.  Because I can only do so much from my seat here at the ARChive, I invite you, dear readers, to assist me in my goal of mapping every single band in and around New York that covers Black Sabbath.  The criteria is simple: does the band play a song that Black Sabbath recorded (any song, from any era, in any style)?  If yes, they go on the map.  If no, they don’t.  Links are great.  Links with sound samples are even better ’cause I’ll love hearing them and it’ll let me know WHICH Sabbath tunes are getting played.

You can post your additions in the comments.  I’ll add them to the map as they come.

The New Metallica

8 09 2008

So, it’s almost here.  Death Magnetic.  The new Metallica record.  And part of it’s been leaked onto YouTube. I don’t know about you, but I’m LOVING most of what I heard–it’s like the Metallica of old in a lot of ways.  (Thanks Rick Rubin!)  What’s Lars’s take on the leak, you ask?

“If this thing leaks all over the world today or tomorrow, happy days. Happy days. Trust me. Ten days out and it hasn’t quote-unquote fallen off the truck yet? Everybody’s happy. It’s 2008 and it’s part of how it is these days, so it’s fine. We’re happy.”

A-whaaaat?  Lars “I hate Napster” Ulrich doesn’t care if the thing leaks a little?  Mind blowing.  A “new” Metallica, indeed!  Then, like two days later my mind is blown further when Wired posts a video of Lars talking about all the “really cool interpretations of all the Metallica songs that you guys out there are so cool to put up on the net and share with everybody in the world.” The post includes links to a bunch of awesome YouTube videos of people playing Metallica songs.  Happy days, indeed.

The problem with the videos Lars posted is that there he didn’t mention any bands from New York State. Here at the ARChive, Bryan, Jon and I have been working on a project called the New York Music Index and Archive (the NYMIA for short), a freely available online database designed to provide information and access to all aspects of the popular music industry based in New York State.  We’ve not yet launched, but we’re getting real close.  Part of our work involves being on MySpace and learning about what’s going on musically in New York State and you might imagine, we’ve come across a fair number of bands that cover Metallica songs, so I thought I’d share a few with you here.

Scraping Bottom is “a 5-piece, heavy hitting, hard rockin’, cover band from Oswego County NY.”   They cover Metallica, Judas Priest AC/DC, Godsmack, Deftones and more.  On their MySpace page they include a version of “Seek and Destroy.”  They don’t really have a logo, but their homepage does include a animated gif of a very-metal looking dagron dragon, though (below, left):

Hailing from Staten Island & Brooklyn, Kill ‘Em All (see their logo above, right) is a five piece Metallica tribute band.  They formed in early 2007 and have two Metallica tunes on their site, “Four Horsemen” and “Ride the Lightning.”  Sweet versions that get extra points because they reflect the good taste of the band.

Just for kicks, why not compare Kill ‘Em All’s version of “Four Horseman” with that of Alcoholica, which bills itself as “Connecticut’s Premiere Metallica tribute band.”  (Yeah, yeah…they’re not from New York State, but the NYMIA isn’t intended to be used solely by people IN New York.  It’s for everyone, those in-state and those who might come…and Connecticut’s right next door!)  Alcoholica seems to be on sabbatical because lead singer Kai Blackwood’s in Hollywood working on a film of some sort.  I think they should win some kind of award for “Most Metal Blog Title” with their “Ron in the Emergency room again.”  Ron Celentano’s the “Cliff Burton” of the band.  Hope you’re feeling better, Ron!

Do you find yourself located in the greater Glen Oakes, New York area, love Metallica and need a band whose name is “synonymous with energetic renditions of a wide variety of songs” which has “palpable on-stage camaraderie?”  Then look no further than Scream! a cover band from Glen Oakes that includes an really nice cover of Metallica’s “Sad But True” in their set list.

Last, but not least, we have Syracuse’s own Septor.  The Fightin’ Septor! The call themselves “a high energy, in your face hard rock band” that plays “anything from Mudvayne, Pantera, Metallica, Godsmack, Disturbed, Tool, Rob Zombie and MUCH MORE!”  Hvae a listen to their version of “Fade to Black.”  You’ll see what they mean.

So, there you have it, folks, the “New” Metallica.  Discuss in comments.  If you know of any more Metallica tribs in NY/NJ/CT, let us know!

Go New York bands!

ps. if you like metal, keep an eye open next week when I post about the bands in New York State that cover Black Sabbath.  Brownie points to the person who guesses which is the most covered Sabbath tune in New York.

Tha Syncopaytah!

23 07 2008

On Monday I went to see Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks play the finest in early jazz, and as I was describing it to Jon yesterday I was reminded that one day, while working on this crazy little thing we like to call the “New York Music Index and Archive” (or NYMIA for short), he and I (well, Jon really) came up with a bunch of deejay names for 1920s and 1930s artists.  “MC Oh You, Kid!” and “DJ Hot Cha Cha” are a couple of examples.  So I ask Jon, I ask him, what he thought Vince Giordano’s 1920s DJ name would be.  His reply?

Tha Syncopaytah!

If you think you’ve never seen Vince or heard his music, you’re probably wrong. He’s played big band leaders in Scorsese’s The Aviator, Woody Allen’s The Curse of the Jade Scorpion and in Gus Van Sant’s You’re the Man Now Dog Finding Forrester.  Oh, and he was a bass player in Woody’s Sweet and Lowdown.  And did music for the Mighty Aphrodite, The Purple Rose of Cairo and Zelig. He ALSO worked with Coppola on the Cotton Club. AND his music was on the soundtrack both for Robert DeNiro’s The Good Shepherd and Terry Zwigoff’s Ghost World.  Quite a list!

Sure, it’s nice to see him in a movie or hear him on record but you have no idea just how amazing his band or the music it plays is until you’ve experienced them both live.  Un.  Believable .  Besides a passionate player of the music, he’s a collector and historian as well.  The man’s got 32,000 original band arrangements (virtually all collected from musicians active in the 1920s and 1930s) to play from. Think about that for a second. That’s thirty-two thousand band arrangments.  32,000 78 rpm records would be a gigantic record collection for most, but having that much sheet music–and keeping it fresh by playing it–is a whole other level of commitment and musical expertise.

It’s this kind of commitment that brings those in the know to see the group perform.  For example, it’s probably no surprise that Rich Conaty of WFUV’s The Big Broadcast was there on Monday.  That era of music is his “thing” and he’s local.  But then there was Jean Bach.  Bach directed that most amazing of jazz documentaries, A Great Day in Harlem.  He had a 85-going-on-20 year old clarinet player come up named “Saul” (didn’t catch his last name) who played beautifully for a couple of numbers.  Speaking of musicians, seated at the table just to my right was John Heneghan and Eden Brower of the delightful East River String Band.  Yeah, and THEY happened to be there with R. Crumb, who, when pointed out, was suitably suppliant to the band.   And to think–my wife and I thought we were special because we were with Earle Hitchner (music critic for the Wall Street Journal and Irish Echo newspapers) and Mick Moloney (winner of a 1999 National Heritage Fellowship and Irish banjo leg-end).

Giordano and the Nighthawks currently play every Monday night at Sofia’s Restaurant in New York’s Hotel Edison, which is on 46th st, right around the theaters in Times Square. If you live in the City, go see them.  If you’re coming in from out of town on business or as a tourist, will be in the Times Square area and want a sure bet for some great live music, go see them.  Tha Syncopaytah will not disappoint.


Paddy Canny

30 06 2008

Paddy Canny 1919-2008

Because his playing was so identified with the “east Clare” style, Canny’s passing is an important moment in Irish traditional music.  He was born in 1919 into a musical family (his father was a fiddle player) and had music all around him from a young age.  In 1947, he became one of the founding members of the infamous Tulla Ceili Band (that’s him, 3rd from left, I believe):

He was a Tulla Band member when he won an all-Ireland fiddle title in 1953 and was with them when the Tulla group recorded in 1958 (check out Echoes of Erin; Dublin Records DU-LP-1000).  His seminal recording happened in 1959, when, along with PJ Hayes, Peader O’Loughlin and Bridie Lafferty, he recorded All Ireland Champion (Dublin DU-1003), one of the very finest albums ever made of Irish traditional music.  (Shanachie reissued this album under the title An Historic Recording of Irish Traditional Music; Shanachie 76001–it is available on iTunes.)  Later (late 50s-early 60s), Canny made a few 78rpm records for the Irish Gael-Linn label (these have been reissued on the Seoltaí Séidte box set; Gael-Linn CEFCD 184) and then, not a whole lot.  For years, it seems, he shied away from recording.  This changed in the 1990s–he appeared on concertina player Gearoid O’hAllmhurain’s album Traditional Music from Clare and Beyond (Celtic Crossings – OWR 0046) and made a solo record of his own in the mid-1990s (Paddy Canny: Traditional Music from the Legendary East Clare Fiddle; Cló Iar-Chonnachta CICD 129) but as far as places to hear his playing there’s not a whole lot out there.

Despite the relative paucity of recordings, Canny’s influence on a generation of musicians was incredibly strong and is one of those players everyone should be aware of.  His passing is a great loss.  The video above of of him playing with Frankie Gavin of De Dannan fame.  Enjoy!


Tuesday Wrap-Up

29 04 2008

1. Dear Wes Anderson,

Why haven’t you hired the McMahon family to score one of your films?

Behold Michael McMahon’s Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co’s MySpace, where you can listen to their humorous little ditty “I Hate You.” (Michael is pictured at right. See also SIT&DIE Co’s website. BTW, SIT and DIE Co. is ARCster Jon’s band – we love them around these here parts.)

Revel in Riley McMahon’s Spottiswoode and McMahon’s MySpace where you can listen to “Mommy’s Got Strange Friends.” (Riley’s the one on the phone in that picture to your left, there. He’s also got a website.)

Go crazy listening to “Cynically Yours” on Amy Rigby’s MySpace. (She was a McMahon before she got married – that’s her with the guitar on your right; true to McMahon family form, she too has an additional non-MySpace website. Go have a look.)

Wes, I think the tension between their individual styles and the fact they are ACTUALLY siblings would compliment your cinematic visions nicely. Plus, they’re all from Pittsburgh.

2. If you ever wondered who the better AC/DC vocalist was, Bon Scott or Brian Johnson, wonder no more. There’s now a study out there that posits an answer.

3. Would someone please buy Burkhard Bilger a copy of Marybeth Hamilton’s In Search of the Blues or something? (Yes, that’s the book Dave Marsh reviewed for the New York Times and panned in such a way that made me wonder if he’d actually read it. Well, I wondered until I actually read the book and then I wondered why the Times would have asked him to review it.) Bilger wrote that “The Last Verse: Where Can Folk Music Still Be Found?” article in the latest New Yorker. Having read it, I can only say that people in the popular press need new ways of writing about folk music. To me, the assumptions about what “folk music” is Bilger uses to frame his article are exactly the reason people don’t know that there is folk music still out there.

4. Speaking of the Times, an editorial (of sorts) appeared in yesterday’s Sunday’s issue titled “Was I on a Date or Baby-Sitting?” In it, Julie Klausner, the piece’s author, related the story of a failed relationship she had with an anonymous “indie rock dreamboat.” Oh, it’s your typical Girl-meets-Brooklyn-indie-rocker-has-sex-with-him-and-is-surprised-that-it -doesn’t-work-out-so-she-gets-back-at-him-by-writing-a-piece-in-the-Times-about-it kind of story. Based on Klausner’s description I knew exactly who she was talking about. (He dated a friend in college for a long time.) I can confirm that Joanna was right, he is indeed an indie rock dreamboat:

A-grrr! Anyhow, I hoped that his identity would remain anonymous, but today’s Gawker “outed” him. (Bastards!) Here’s the weird part about this: MY network of Barnard insiders tell me that this encounter – a basic one night stand – took place over a year ago, right when “the dreamboat” was going through a messy custody battle that left him heart sick. (I knew about this at the time – the whole thing seemed very hard for him.) The snotty and opportunistic tone of Klausner’s piece aside, I have to wonder what her expectations were with him then, and what her motivations were in writing this now. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe this whole episode’s been eating away at her for a year. Maybe my sister-in-law put it best: “wow, that girl can’t handle how obsessed she was with him.” Maybe it’s a Sex in the City tie-in. But then again, maybe Julie’s just boring…the world may never know. (Until the next Nada Surf album.)

The Oldest Playable Phonautogram. Ever.

27 03 2008



The New York Times has a new article about the newly recovered, mid-nineteenth century recordings of Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, a Parisian “tinkerer” who invented a recording device called the Phonautogram YEARS before Edison (that bad bastard) ever even thought about recording.  This phonautogram of “Au Claire de la Lune,” which dates to 1860, is now considered the earliest playable recording in existence:

Scott’s technology – and the technology used to recover it – are amazing.  A really worthwhile read.

ps. the article mentions Jonathan Sterne’s The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction.  It’s a fabulous book and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who wants insight into the history of sound recording and a better understanding of how technology changed the way people listened to the world.  It’s all about the ensoniment, folks!

pps.  the article also mentions Archeophone, an amazing company that preserves, remasters and reissues recordings of the acoustic era of the recording industry.  All of their releases are worth having.  (My favorite is the Billy Murray album, but the Bert Williams releases are mind blowing too.  If you’re into popular music history, this stuff is de rigueur).

The 45 Adaptor

20 03 2008

Few inventions are as useful or as elegantly simple as the “centering device for phonographic records” or put more plainly, the 45 adaptor.  We have upwards of 200,000 45s here at the ARChive, and since people often just left them in their 45s, we have accumulated a rather nice collection of these little wafers over the years.  What follows is a little gallery of a few that I could put my hands on quickly.

Let’s start, though, where everyone else does, the Wikipedia entry for “Gramophone Record.” It gets into RCA’s development and 1949 release of the 45.  It says the following about the adaptor:

RCA 45s were […] adapted to the smaller spindle of an LP player with a plastic snap-in insert known as a “spider”. These inserts, commissioned by RCA president David Sarnoff and invented by Thomas Hutchison, were prevalent starting in the 1960s, selling in the tens of millions per year during the 45’s heyday.

This may or may not be true – I cannot find any evidence to support the claim.  Given the competition between vinyl formats in the late 1940s, it seems odd that RCA would have marketed a product that essentially encouraged record collectors to buy anything other than RCA-made turntables.  (Who else was manufacturing 45rpm turntables at that time, anyway?)  Wikipedia’s dates seem a bit off as well – a little late.

Below left is what I think was probably the first record adaptor made and marketed in the US (click on the image for a larger view).  It was invented by Frank A. Jansen (the patent, #2585622, was applied for in 1949 and issued in 1952) and marketed by the Webster-Chicago Corporation.  (The reverse side reads “Patent Applied For.)  On the right is the “Snap-It” from the Kay Music Co. of New York.  It says “Pat. Pend.” but I could not find its patent (however, patent #2693364, filed in 1950, issued 1954 for an adaptor invented by Norman Chalfin might be related – I can’t really say):

Webster Chicago Kay Music Co.

Next up are a couple of sort of unusual plastic ones.  The one on the left is marked “KPL 1/2” and “6/3” and because it’s triangular seems sort of similar to the kind that Rudolph Flötgen invented [#2932521, app. 1955; its the one below, middle]); the one on the right with the bicycle spokes (more of a BMX-type mag wheel, really) was made by Morse Manufacturing Co. Inc. :

KPL MST Flotgen_Insert Morse

These are nice and all, but the most famous molded plastic adaptors look like this and are often marked “Recoton”:


This is the kind you see all over t-shirts nowadays – as if it were the only 45 adaptor ever invented!  There’s a pretty good history of the Recoton company here and as business histories go, it’s a fascinating read.  Anyhow, it appears that the molded plastic insert was invented by James L. D. Morrison for the Voice of Music corporation of Benton Harbor, Michigan. (Maybe they had some relationship with RCA?)  The patent (#2712943) was filed in 1951 and issued in 1955.  On the left is the patent image, alongside two later, somewhat similar examples manufactured by others.  The grey one is unmarked, the cool red one (looking like a fireball) was made by Philco:

Morrison Insert Unmarked Philco

That’s it for now.  No, it’s not a comprehensive history, but it is enough information to impress your friends and acquaintances at cocktail parties and what not.


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