What is old is new again

One of the things I’ve had most fun with since going into “semi-retirement” or as I call it, retired-until-further-notice (RUFN), is being able to spend time getting back to the music and sound editing that I so much enjoyed at the end of the 1970’s.

MixES on tape 70’s stylE

Back then, doing dance music mixes, for they were true mixes using the technology available to me then, meant recording a series of tracks from vinyl albums and vinyl 7-inch and 10-inch vinyl to a cassette. Reel to Reel tape would have been easier, but wasn’t affordable. I would then play a track from vinyl, recording it to a cassette, with the other cassette which contained the first set of recorded tracks queued up on another player. Good times, I have a couple of mixes left from then on cassettes labelled Gone Single 1 to 3 and will post them online when I can.

In essence, I’d have to record every second track before starting to record the mix. That really didn’t make for much spontaneity, and mistakes mostly meant starting over. Still I enjoyed it, and used to record either the left or right of a stereo recording, and play that into the start of another track, beat matching as best I could, then stop the recording and restart with the complete stereo mix.

Getting the band back TOGETHER

It’s been fun getting all my vinyl back together, adding to it from my Cousin Bills Jazz/Funk/90’s stuff, a couple of crates of early 2000’s ex-DJ vinyls, and the equipment that I’ve collected over the last few years, including a Sony dual cassette deck, a Panasonic 8-track player, and the trusty Philips reel-to-reel tape deck along with a Music hall MMF 2.2 turntable.

8-Track veRSUS Cassette

Digitizing Miroslav Vitous Magical Shepherd album, from 8-track was an interesting exercise. I understand why they never really caught on, especially once cassettes became a thing. At least and some of the other 8-tracks I have, tracks are often split across the 8-track.

Unlike cassettes which are a length of tape, which has 4-tracks, two tracks per side, and you play one side, the tape collects on a single spool, and then you turn the cassette over, and run the tape across the head back on to the original spool. 8-Tracks are a continuous loop of tape, wide enough to hold 8-tracks, 2-tracks per loop. So what happens is you start the 8-track, the head plays two tracks of the eight, then when the loop gets back to the start, the tape is moved and the head plays the next two tracks and so on.

What that means practically is that the 8-track tape is never at the start, and never at the end. It also means the loop of tape is a fixed length, if the track is longer than the loop, it is split onto the next 2-tracks and there is a break in the middle. Any album had to be divided into 4 roughly equal programs.

In the UK home players were not a thing, the only place you could get 8-track players was in-car entertainmentinment. They were available both as factory fitted, and aftermarket installs. There is a great overview and intro to 8-tracks here.

I have fond memories of driving to photography jobs with Pete Ward of the Hemel Hempstead Gazette in his VW bug with a built-in 8-track player, playing mostly the Carpenters. It was a surprise when I learned that you could get your own blank 8-tracks, and then record onto them. Who knew?

Cassette Digitisation

I found a few cassettes that we’d recorded in the early 1980’s and used them to send back to family in the UK instead of writing letters. The quality wasn’t bad. We have some  Type III Ferrichrome / Ferro-chrome Audio Cassettes that were recorded on professional equipment. Compared to 8-track and even reel-to-reel tapes, the quality when digitised is pretty great. Here is an intro to one of the cassettes

The addition of Dolby Noise Reduction meant that the background his and other noises often associated with tape recording was gone forever, leaving the clarity heard in this example.

Back to Vinyl

Most of my time though has been digitising vinyl. I’ve developed a fairly painless process to clean vinyl, record it, and clean up, tag and save the digital files. I keep most of the vinyl as MP3. Yes, I know that has restrictions, but for the most part I can live with it for the convinience of streaming music around the house. I keep the raw .WAV files for everything I record, so I can always go back and go through the cleanup and tagging process again.

Favorite albums are saved in FLAC format including any live performance albums on the CTI/KUDU label.

My objective is later this year to produce mixes from the numerous performances of CTI/KUDU label. There are loads of professionally released albums engineered by the late Rudy van Gelder who for me was as important influence as, say, Giorgio Moroder. They contain many brilliant tracks, and sublime live solos, and deserve a wider hearing.

I’ll post another blog on the actual digitisation process I use later, but for now, what’s old is new again.

 

 

 

Apple Stole My Music. No, Seriously.

The following is a pretty hard to believe story of what happens when you subscribe to the Apple Music service. This isn’t new, back in 2008, I got a call from Cassidy, she couldn’t find any of the music on her PC after installing iTunes to sync to her then, new ipod.

It was partly what I learned then that convinced me to never ever install iTunes or use Apple devices. I admit I was pre-disposed to not using Apple anyway.

Recently I’ve been backing up my digital music collection to Amazon Cloud Drive (unlimited everything) service. I’ve had lots of problems backing up 2.5Tb of music from my NetGear ReadyNAS RAID Array to the Amazon service via an intermediate PC. I’ve not got to the bottom of this yet, but the good news is the intermediate PC only has READ access to the music, so the original files cannot be deleted by the Amazon Windows app. However, I’ve got a lot of empty folders on the cloud service that are not empty of the NAS, and lots of directories that simply don’t get backed up.

The following article has some important lessons for anyone who deals with or creates their own music. Backup, backup, backup, backup, backup, backup, backup, backup, backup, backup, backup, backup, backup.

Read on:

“The software is functioning as intended,” said Amber. “Wait,” I asked, “so it’s supposed to delete my personal files from my internal hard drive without asking my permission?” “Yes,” she replied. …

Source: Apple Stole My Music. No, Seriously. | vellumatlanta

Talent or tradition?

chiy6b8u8aesdy_ Monday saw the announcement of what many are calling the concert of the century, which century is not clear. Maxim branded it “‘OLDCHELLA’ mega concert.

I just don’t get it. I admit, apart from McCartney, mostly from his Beatles era stuff, I was never a fan of any of these bands. Among our joint collection of some 20,000 albums, singles, and digital files, we only have around 100 from these artists, and the majority are Beatles.

Hopefully the ridiculously price includes insurance in case any of them die on stage during performances. Seriously, I don’t get this fascination with old bands. I understand they got ripped off by record companies when they were kids, and are now broke(not) and need supporting, but heck most of this lot are British and they get pensions, and free medical care for life…

There are a ton of young bands out there you can help with $1,000… have a look on kickstarter and Indiegogo etc. Become a producer, help create the next generation of bands, leave a legacy instead of putting more money into some rich pop stars who don’t need it.

I did this back in 2014 and would/will do it again, I was Executive Producer for Toyface first ever full album, Follow the rules of the trainwreck.

Support emerging artists, you know “oldchella” won’t really live up to your expectations.

Because music(2013)

Because music mattersI’ve found no “best of 2013” music lists that contained anything even vaguely my taste. This year has also seen dance music “Jump the shark”  like it did back in 1979, where EDM has really become an acronym of Electronic Disco Music and should really be called Electropop, it mostly has no soul..

The list that put me over the top this year though was “The 25 Best Songs of 2013 (The Entire Year)” by time.com’s Melissa Locker @woolyknickers which contains almost nothing palatable, a few ok tunes, and a couple of down right offensive tracks. As far as I can recall, I’ve never done a music list before, since I had a free evening. I’ve grouped in logical, to me, musical styles. Also, I’ve included tracks that were new to me in 2013 and included the year of release where they were previously released. Because music makes you feel good!

Because music(2013) – The soundcloud playlist. Enjoy.

Best re-edit/re-mixes

  1. Sun – Two Door Cinema Club (Late Night Tuff Guy remix)
  2. Skyfall – Adele (DJ Electronce Sucker Punch remix)
  3. Losing You – CJ Hilton (Fred Everything remix
  4. I Want You Back (Dimitri from Paris Supa Funk Brakes Mix) –

    Jackson 5

Minimal

  1. Love Inc. – Booka Shade
  2. Battleships (Sasha Beatless Mix) – Benjamin Damage & Doc Daneeka feat. Abigail Wyles
  3. Waste Love – Kaskades Ice Mix
  4. Hypnotized – Oliver Kolezki feat. Fran (Original Mix)(2009)
  5. Haleshop – Booka Shade
  6. Telecaster – Gui Borratto(2010)
  7. U Were The One (Original Mix) – Kulkid

Dance Music

  1. Fall For You feat. April Sandy Rivera’s Classic Mix – Kings of Tomorrow
  2. Make me feel – Ange(2011)
  3. Everybody wants something – Akabu feat. Alex Mills, Joey Negro Strip Mix.
  4. DUI – Gareth Emery, Ashley Wallbridge(2012)
  5. Spectrum [feat. Matthew Koma] – Zedd
  6. Symettries –

    Austin Leeds, Paul van Dyk

  7. Clarity [feat. Foxes] – Zedd

Dunno what to call it

There has been interesting development in uptempo pop/dance music this year. Lots of tracks that are a mix of folk/blue grass, electronic, acoustic, and are very heavily orchestrated and include drops from dubstep or 60’s soul more than traditional dance music. Avicii got totally panned for doing a live set incorporating significant non-electronic elements at Ultra Music Festival in Miami. With the exception of the John Cale track, here is a great selection of the genre, it’s great music, it’s just not pure dance, or for that matter EDM.

  1. Hide – Little May
  2. Not Giving In (feat John Newman) – Rudimental
  3. Waiting all Night (feat Ella Eyre) – Rudimental
  4. Love me Again – John Newman
  5. I want to talk 2 U – John Cale(2012)
  6. Think of You – MS MR
  7. Wake me up – Avicii
  8. Free – Rudimental
  9. Cheating – John Newman

Back to mine

  1. Welcome to my world – Depeche Mode
  2. Baddest Blues – Beth Hart
  3. She – Laura Mvula
  4. Another Night In – Tindersticks(1997)
  5. Don’t Wait – Mapei
  6. Out of my head – John Newman

Lost and Found

  1. Ordinary Joe – Terry Callier(2008) – Terry was re-discovered by the UK music scene in the late 1990’s, and his story is a classic example of the British soul scene and the complete eco system that supports unknown and new soul and dance music. Wikipedia mentions this briefly. I actually prefer the Japanese Modal Soul producer Nujabes version. Terry died from cancer on October 27, 2012 and so the start of 2013 saw a lot of retrospectives and re-edits. This 2007 live recording of Terry in London is great, you can feel the soul, he starts by saying “welcome home”.
  2. Relax(Jazzed) – Blank and Jones. I first came across Piet Blank and Jasper Jones work 10-12 years ago on a number of the early Cafe del Mar, and Hed Kandi Chill out compilations. They’ve produced an interesting series of downtempo albums in the Relax  and Milcharbar compilation series. Earlier this year I was looking for their mix of Angels by Sara McLaughlin on Amazon.com and came across the the first Relax compilation. Amazon helpfully also suggested Relaz(Jazzed), this is a jazz version of a number of tracks from the Relax compilations, featuring tracks from Edition 4. It’s fabulously downtempo Jazz, beautifully played on instruments by Julian and Roman Wasserfuhr. If I was looking for an album of the year, this would be it.

MIXES

Greg Wilson continues to crank out a brilliant collection of mixes from his live sets which contain either his re-edits, re-mixes or those by a cadre of the top folks from the soundcloud crew. Greg’s 4.5 hour mix from December 12th Berghain in Berlin is a classic example.

Sven Neer, a local favorite ways to keep up with emerging club music now has a regular gig at Lazer Trance, StereoLive in Houston and for the most part isn’t posting to Soundcloud anymore. A new discovery for unconventional mixes has been DJ James Bubblefunk out of Thailand. I’ve particularly enjoyed his themed mixes.

Mix/Compilation of the year though is the Sasha beatless continuous mix from Involv3r. My favorite track is the beatless version of Battleships, but the whole 43-mins is packed full of minimal tracks, that work great together.

Music video of the year is John Newmans’ Love me again. This is my late teens, the tempo, the clothes, the Northern Soul theme, the teenage angst, set in a nothern town its a take on Romeo and Juliette. Brilliant. I get to see Newman in San Francisco in January, the tickets were just $15.

New Music

A great place for new music, especially mixes has been the London based oki-ni mix series on both soundcloud and mixcloud. I prefer the mixcloud version, as mixcloud includes and auto-generates track names which helps find the individual tracks.

Finally, for early 2015 I’m looking forward to getting advanced releases from Tiko based on his first EP release, and hopefully, forthcoming album which he has been working on also in Berlin.

Epitaph

Disco will never be over. It will always live in our minds and hearts. Something like this that was this big, and this important, and this great, will never die. Oh for a few years, maybe many years it will be considered passe and ridiculous. It will be misrepresented, caricatured and sneered at, or worse, completely ignored. People will laugh about John Travolta, Olivia Newton John, white polyester suits and platform shoes and going like this! [Mimics Saturday Night Fever pose] But we had nothing to do with those things and still loved disco. Those who didn’t understand will never understand. Disco was much more, and much better than all that. Disco was too great and too much fun to be gone forever. It has got to come back someday. I just hope it will be in our own lifetimes. – Josh Neff, Last Days of Disco the movie, 1998

Sven gets vocal again

I just ran the stats on my little Sandisc Sansa MP3 player, I’ve had it for 3-years now, it was a great buy and yep, cheap, and no it doesn’t work with iTunes. I’ve done a few file reloads and am starting to think about music selection for the marathon I have to run at the end of the Challenge Roth ironman-distance triathlon in July. Yep, MP3 players are allowed on the run.

Overwhelmingly, the number one MP3 played on my sandisc is my Houston dance-music friend, Sven Neers’ “sven gets vocal again” mix from February 2010. It’s a perfect, uplifting, uptempo, happy/vocal house mix. It used to be available via Svens soundcloud page, at http://soundcloud.com/neer-music/sven-gets-vocal-again but it’s been taken down. There is a track listing here on his old blog and you can find it online here.