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Another Spin
A blog by Scott E. Shepherd · A continuing look at popular music, past, present and future.
Friday, February 23, 2007

Hear Here!
MySpace gives obscure bands new life

Filed under: Technology, Trends

Not everyone is into music the way I am. But for those like myself, who like to find "new" bands, or old bands most people forgot about, the internet is a powerful tool; if they recorded music, we can find them. Recently I've found a new ally in my never ending quest for old bands, MySpace.com.
Though usually associated with teens and their blogs, MySpace also provides an area called MySpace Music where bands can provide information and sound clips about their music and history. A lot of younger and unsigned musicians use MySpace to get their demos out, but there are also some sites of obscure ‘60's and ‘70's bands. Usually these are not created my the members themselves, but by a fan, and thanks to the invention of mp3 files, these sites can offer us an opportunity to hear music that is now near impossible to get our hands on.
This is a vast improvement to the infamous 30-second snippets most online music stores allow us to hear; most MySpace pages give us four songs to listen to in their entirety. And considering some of these bands didn't even last long enough to put out a full album, four complete songs is often more than enough to judge whether or not these bands should remain obscure. Since going on to MySpace Music, I've discovered Granny's Intentions and Andwella's Dream, two obscure Irish 60's bands, whose original albums are highly sought after by collectors, and Jennifer Stills, daughter of legendary Stephen Stills (who, not surprisingly, sounds like a cross between Jewel and her dad).
Not all bands have sites, so you'll have to look in the directory, but a lot of sites have links to other bands of that same era, so if you find one band you like, there may be a link to others.
Most of the bands I found do have CDs available, and usually you can find them on Amazon.com or eBay, though they're usually more expensive than regular CDs. That's why MySpace Music is so important; you can really hear the songs and decide if these bands are worth the extra money. Otherwise, you can just listen to the samples you like for free each time you come back to MySpace.
Obscure bands need not be so obscure anymore, thanks to their fans and MySpace. Go take a look; you may find a new old favorite!

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Who Needs “Love?”
George Martin tries to repackage the Beatles, again

Filed under: Album Reviews, Recent Releases

It has been a debate over many years, who needed who more; George Martin or the Beatles? Certainly Martin benefited from having the world's most famous band as his client, yet the one and only time the Beatles asked someone else to produce their album, they ended with the less-than-stellar Let It Be.
Outside of the Beatles, Martin's work is relatively unknown, so it's not surprising that he is often tempted to tinker with his most popular clients' songs. With a little help from his son, Martin now offers us Love, promising us "the Beatles as you never heard them." Well, yes and no.
I admit that I have not heard the entire CD, so perhaps my assessment is a little unfair, but I really didn't want to shell out another $15.00 for a bunch of songs I already had. What makes it even harder to review is there are no sound samples at Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble (bn.com), and let's not even talk about iTunes. The way I ended up hearing Love was going to a Borders bookstore and listening to samples once I scanned the CD. Some may argue this is not best way to review a CD, but what I heard on those samples was enough for me.
All you need to know about Love, is its origins; Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte originally approached George Harrison about possibly producing a show around the Beatles' music. Harrison gave his approval before he died, and that is where Love came from. Basically, Martin does "mash-ups," taking snippets of various Beatles' songs and adding them to others, with a few new sound effects. For example, the CD opens with the sounds of morning birds chirping and then the a capella voices of "Because." Another sample tosses in the meaty guitar hooks of "The End" into the beginning of "Get Back."
The real problem with Love is, I have heard the Beatles like this, on the infamous "Grey Album." Granted DJ Dangermouse mixed the Beatles with rapper Jay-Z, but the idea of sampling the Beatles' music and reworking it into a new sound has already been done.
Finally, Love sounds exactly like what it is, a soundtrack to a show created with sampling and re-editing a bunch of Beatles' songs. If you could see Cirque du Soleil or heck, even the Blue Man Group doing their routine to this music, then I guess it be a lot of fun. But as it stands alone, Love isn't really what most Beatles fans need.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Notes on the Grammys
I watched, but I don't know why

Filed under: News, Opinion

Well the Grammys sure lived up to their reputation as the least important of all major awards ceremonies. Were you sucked into the hype of the Police reunion too? Hope you didn't tune in late because they opened the show with "Roxanne" and left. All that hype and they do one stinkin' song at the very beginning; what a rip! Oh well, at least I got to see what else was on TV that night, which wasn't much, so unfortunately I kept going back to the Grammys.

It seems, like the Oscars, the Grammys focus on one album or one artist and give them the majority of the awards. This year the big winners were the Dixie Chicks, with Mary J. Blige and Justin Timberlake getting a few nods. Everyone else could have gone home early. 

Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder won a gratuitous "Best Vocal Duet," because Tony Bennett's 80 years-old and how-cool-is-it-that-he's-still-singing-let's-give-him-another-award-before-he-dies. I'm not saying that Bennett and Wonder didn't deserve it, but you know he's a sentimental favorite.

Some awards I was glad to see: Gnarls Barkley picking up Best Alternative Album (whatever that means), Christine Aguilera getting Best Female Pop performance for "Ain't No Other Man", and Ludacris getting the nod for Best Rap Album.

Speaking of Aguilera, why was she doing the James Brown tribute (or at least one of several), and why was she singing "This is a Man's World?" Was that supposed to be a bit tongue-in-cheek?

Carrie Underwood won a few awards, including Best New Artist, which either gives unneeded validation to "American Idol" or makes the Grammy an even bigger joke. Then again, these were the people that awarded Milli Vanilli.

And why we're on the subject of "American Idol," what was with that contest to perform with Justin Timberlake? It seemed unfairly cruel to invite all three of the finalists to the awards, sit them in the front row, and then let only one perform. Robyn Troup was the winner; let's see if she gets any record deals out of it.

Who will win next year's Grammys? Who cares; I'd rather watch the "Law & Order" marathon.

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Monday, February 5, 2007

Gone Grammy, Gone
I'm actually looking forward to the Grammys

Filed under: News

You would think someone with as much interest in music as myself would be excited about the Grammys®, but like the creators and writers of the Simpsons, I don't consider the Grammy an award at all.
As I stated in my Dr. Spin days, the problem with the Grammys is that the same song can get nominated for (and usually win) several categories (Best Song, Best Single, Best Performance by a Group, Best Vocal, Best Lead Singer Wearing Shades, Best Song that's already won an award…) and the Grammys have been notorious for giving the wrong award to the wrong group (Jethro Tull won "Best Heavy Metal"??). Plus when you add the fact that we now have the Latin Grammys and the Grammy for Best Latin album, the whole award ceremony seems redundant.
But this year the Police are reuniting! For someone of the MTV generation, that's as close to the Beatles reuniting as you can get! Rumor has it they may even do a reunion tour!
So I'll stay glued to the TV until their performance; then I'll switch back to whichever "Law & Order" happens to be on that night.

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Monday, February 5, 2007

The Hall of Fame Game
More artists that should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Filed under: Lists, Opinion

See everybody, I told you I'd write more!
Everyone loves to make lists and everyone likes to gripe about who's in the Rock and Roll Hall of fame and who is still sorely neglected. I have never been to the Hall and have always considered it a joke since its induction (Seriously, who puts a Hall of Fame in Cleveland?). But back in my Dr. Spin days, someone once asked me who I thought should be in the R'n'R Hall of Fame, and to list my top five. Surprisingly, the Hall has still not inducted any of my choices.
Since it's been a while and since this is a subject I will hopefully get a lot of feedback on, I'm going to create another Top Five acts I think should be in the Hall of Fame. Watch how many years they'll ignore my choices (yet for some reason they seemed eager to induct the Bee Gees! Go figure.)
  1. Nicky Hopkins – Probably one of the greatest pianists of the Rock generation, Hopkins worked as a session man for all of the top acts of the sixties; the Kinks, Jefferson Airplane, the Who, the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones, and yes, even the Beatles. He was also a member of the original incarnation of the Jeff Beck group. Hopkins deserves to be in at least as a sideman.
  2. The Zombies – Considered one of the "minor" bands of the British Invasion, the Zombies were nevertheless an important band and their album, The Odyssey and the Oracle, is one of the most underrated albums of the sixties. Their hits, "She's Not There," "Tell Her No," and "Time of the Season" only give the smallest glimpses of this talented band.
  3. The Cars – The longest lasting band of the original "New Wave," the Cars were pioneers of the early music video scene, often creating some of the most memorable and (for the time) advanced videos of the early eighties. Their music was pretty good too, better than Blondie, who are in the Hall of Fame.
  4. Heart – One of Rock's best sister duos, Heart also covered a lot of ground as women-as-serious-hard-rockers
  5. John Mellencamp – A lot of people did (and still do), knock Mellencamp as a Springsteen wannabe, but I think he's quite distinct from the Boss and (sorry Springsteen fans) a better singer. Mellencamp and Springsteen are as different as their respective backgrounds; Indiana and New Jersey (insert your own joke here). Plus if I'm going to hear musicians of my generation on "classic rock" stations, they better darn well start inducting some of them.
I don't know if the 2007 inductees have been announced yet, and I don't really care. I can guarantee none on my list will nominated, and, despite the obvious choices, the Hall of Fame will choose someone that will make me shake my head and continue to see it for the joke that it is. Don't get me wrong; I think a museum collecting artifacts and the history of Rock and Popular music of the 20th Century is cool, but to call it a "Hall of Fame" is just pretentious and silly. Maybe that's why they keep ignoring my choices.
Okay, I've said my beef; who do you think should be in?

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Thursday, February 1, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again
Yeah, I took a little break...

Filed under: News, Opinion

Okay it's been several months since I've written anything for my blog, and yes, I considered calling it quits, especially after Editor-in-Chief Mark Johnson ended his TV blog, Program Notes, but after some encouragement from Mark and a needed break from writing, I've decided to give Another Spin another spin. Hey, some musicians take years, even decades from recording anything; I was gone for just four months!
Anyway, since I'm still working on writing a full article or review of any music, let me give you an update on a few of my older posts:
Sierra Music has reformed their online music store and now offer Muleskinner's historic 1973 broadcast on DVD. Anyone interested in seeing one of country-rock's greatest guitarists, and one of the "new-Bluegrass" greatest acts can go to http://www.sierra-records.com to check it out.
In continuing my list of great but obscure Beatles' covers, I stumbled across the Mirage's version of "Tomorrow Never Knows." The Mirage was a house band for the Dick James Publishing Company and backed Elton John during his first solo performance. They released several singles, but none to any major success. Spend a few hours on the music section of Amazon.com, and you can find just about anything.
Read a few interesting chat lines with subjects such as "Who should be in the Rock ‘n' Roll Hall of Fame, but isn't," "Five Favorite Albums, (not ‘Best,' just favorite)," and "Best Beatles albums." I covered acts I thought should be in the R'n'R Hall of Fame in a Dr. Spin article, but I may revise that.
Anyway, stay tuned; I promise my next article won't take another four months!

4:00 pm ET  ·   Permalink  ·   Comments (1)  ·   Email  ·   Print

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Another Spin is a reworking of an older music column of the Partial Observer, written by my alter-ego, "Dr. Spin."

In Dr. Spin's column I often addressed reader's musical questions, whereas Another Spin will be entirely my thoughts and observations on Rock music and popular music in general, occasionally reviewing albums that I think are worth noting and artists who I feel have been overlooked in the past. Of course, as with any other blog, people can still leave comments. I love to know if you agree or disagree with me."

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