New Years 2014 Mixtape

BlackPearlUsserySuziEntwhistle_RigorHow y’all doin on this cold+dark December day…  been toiling like a farmer at the PS dot com HQ, tryin to get another mixtape out the door before the bell tolls on ’13.  I am more excited about this mixtape than I have been in a while; some really great cuts on here.  I was v v fortunate to chance upon some really outstanding collections this past season (special thanks to D.S…) and the best of the best are captured here.  As always, if you see me, ask me for a CD of the mix- as always, transcribed fresh from vinyl via my trust Benz Micro cartridge.  Hope you all have an excellent NYE, and here’s to a better+brighter one-four.

1. The Equals “Police On My Back” from the comp The Best Of The Equals, EMI/Stateside (year unknown; presumed to be 1968).

2. John Entwhistle “I Wonder” from the LP Whistle Rymes, Track/Decca/MCA 1972.

3. Lee Clayton “Carnival Balloon” from the S/T 1973 MCA LP.  (no link available)

4. Sopwith Camel “Fazon” from the LP The Miraculous Hump Returns From The Moon, Reprise 1972.

5. Danny Cox “Hey Jude” from the LP Birth Announcement, Forward/Together Records, 1969. (no link available)

6. The Electric Prunes “I Happen To Love You” from the LP Underground, Reprise 1967.

7. Suzi Quatro “Michael” from the LP Your Mama Won’t Like Me, Arista 1975.

8. John Ussery “Must Have Been The Season” from his self-titles LP, Phonogram 1973.

9. David Wiffen “Climb The Stairs” from the LP Coast To Coast Fever, Liberty 1973. (no link available)

10. Earth Opera “Time And Again” from the s/t LP, Elektra 1968.

11. Longdancer “Too Much Too Soon” from the LP If It Was So Simple, Rocket/MCA 1973.

12. John Entwhistle “My Wife” from the LP Rigor Mortis Sets In, Track/MCA 1973.

13. 999 “Bongos On The Nile” from the LP Concrete, Albion/Polygram 1981. (no link available)

14. Brownsville Station “Rumble” from the comp Non-Dairy Creamer, Warner Bros Records 1971.

15. Black Pearl “Mr. Soul Satisfaction” from the s/t LP, Atlantic 1969.

16. Rare Bird “What Do You Want To Know” from the LP As Your Mind Flies By, ABC 1970. (no link available)

17. Stealers Wheel “Right or Wrong” from the LP Right Or Wrong, A&M 1975.

18. Redeye “Collections of Yesterday And Now” from the s/t LP, Pentagram/Bravo/Viva 1971.

For track notes + more of the greatest album art of all time, click the link below to READ ON…

Continue reading New Years 2014 Mixtape

Remember those legends about ‘digital recording on VCRs’ back in the 80’s??

SonyPCM601ESDwdef1(image source)

As a kid, before the DAT deck was available, I vaguely remember talk about ‘so and so mixes his music digitally to a VCR’ and this just sounded like some black magic to me.  Well, as it turns out, this was done via a reasonably affordable series of SONY devices, the base model of which was the 501 ES.  The 501 ES was a duplex AD/DA convertor that could covert stereo analog audio to a single PCM stream that was then sent out as a video-bandwidth signal, to be recorded as single video signal on any VCR deck.  There were some real drawbacks, such as a 1/2 sample interchannel delay, and apparently it worked best in 14 bit, rather than 16 bit mode?  But none-the-less, this was a ‘real thing’ and back in those days, DIGITAL WAS BETTER and any way that you could GET DIGITAL was pretty much embraced.  

Now, SONY actually marketed this technology as early as 1978, but at that point it was extremely expensive and beyond the reach of a small studio or musician.  We ran an article on that first machine, the SONY PCM-1, a long while back.  You can read it at this link.  The PCM 501-es was much more of a prosumer product, though, so it managed to achieve much wider use.  I found a great article from a 1986 issue of MUSICIAN mag which explains, in great detail, operation of the 501ES.  It is by a person or persons named FREFF, and I reproduce it below for your edification.


Ultimate Home Recording Machines of the 80’s

AKAI_MG1212Today: just a few of the ‘Uber’ home-recording machines available to musicians in the 1980s.  To this list I would also add the Audio Technica RMX64 and the AMR System 1, both which we have already covered recently at PS dot Com.  If anyone is using these things to make music nowadays, drop us a line and tell us about it!

Akai_MG1212_1984Above: the Akai MG1212 integrated 12-track recorder/mixer; all analog with automated punch in/out and VCA mute.  I have a coupla memories of these things.  When I was a kid East Coast Music mall had a used one that they were trying to sell for years.  It sat at the front of the shop and it looked to me like a fkkn NASA computer.   Years later, my college band The Cam Neely was invited to Boston to work with some Berklee students who needed to record some bands for… I have no idea frankly.  And oh shit I have the ‘CD’ right here: the engineer’s name was Skip Hoefsmit.  He recorded us on one of these machines, and I have to say, the recording sounds good considering i think we did two songs in about 6 hours and the only ‘production’ was that dude doubletracked our vocals.  Hey Skip, still hustlin’?  Drop us a line…

Sansui_6_track_1990Above: the Sansui WS-X1 of 1990.  OK so this thing is fkkn nuts.  You get six discrete tracks on a cassette tape, built in digital reverb unit, and stereo mixdown deck, all in one unit.  Some dude has a wordpress site solely devoted to this thing, and goddamn I want one of these! 

Tascam_234_1984Ah Tascam 234.  Someday you will be mine.  I actually found one of these at a tag sale in Norwalk last year, $60 I think??? but it was totally dead.  Despite all claims made by the seller.  Luckily I keep a cassette tape and a pair of headphones in my car at all times (WOW that is so embarrassing) for these sorta occasions, so i was able to scope it and didn’t get snookered.  Fkkn asshole DID manage to sell me some dead 10″ guitar speakers for $5 each though.  Alright here’s an idea guys: when yr shit breaks, either fix it, have it fixed, or take it to the town recycling center.  DON’T STORE IT IN THE BASEMENT AND THEN STICK SOMEONE ELSE WITH IT 5 YRS LATERFor fukks sake, why do people keep broken crap around?  We’re inundated with enough WORKING crap.  Jesus. 

The Voyetra 8 Analog Polysynth c. 1982

Voyetra8_1984Perhaps the most advanced analog polysynth ever offered, the Octave-Plateau Corp.’s Voyetra 8 was introduced in 1982 and offered incredible digital control over an 8-voice analog synth with a pretty deep sequencer.  I’ve uncovered a few period adverts for this beast and I’ve posted them below.  Anyone using of these nowadays?  How does it compare to (X)?   BTW, I love how the somewhat coarse ‘industrial’ styling of the device is mirrored in the very prosaic graphic design of the adverts; there is no attempt to use any ‘trendy’ or (god-forbid) ‘sexxy’ symbolism to promote this product.  THIS IS A SERIOUS FKKN SYNTHESIZER.

Voyetra8_1984 Voyetra8_1984_2

The Resynator pitch-tracking synth c. 1980

Resynator_smHow y’all doing.  Found an odd lil bit from 1980’s synth-land: the Resynator, from “Musico.”  Yup that was the name of the company that created this $2000 device ($5,700 at the pump today, buddy).  Anyhow, the Resynator is a fascinating pitch-and-envelope-tracking synthesizer (monophonic, I am sure) that used digital signal processing (unlike, say, the Korg MS20 of the same era, which could also track pitch and envelope, but was completely analog -and much cheaper).  So, yeah, you could patch any monophonic audio signal into the Resynator and get a synth-sound on the output.  But oh it’s so much more complicated than that.  Read on, in this 1980 review by one John Amaral…

Resynator_review_1 Res_rev_2 Res_rev_3

Obscure Synths+Keys of the early 80s, part XIV

ARP_SOLUSToday: just some offbeat keys+synths that caught my eye; i’ve never come across any of these in the shops+stages+studios of my corporeal reality so I think perhaps uncommon items?  Srry, it’s early.  About to head to the LAST FLEA MKT OF THE YR.  Bittersweet times.  Aie, I recall salad-days when April was young and barkers descended on New Milford plain to hawk goods of dubious origin.  Like the sun, the tide, and the pork-belly market, that time will rise again I suppose. Below: the Akai AX-80 synth c. 1985, the Crumar Rhody ‘electronic piano’ of 1980,  the fascinating Casio 8000 modular…casio…system of ’84, the 1980 ARP Solus (also above), and the 360 Systems ‘Digital Keyboard’ of 1984.



Caravan Of Thieves: New Single + Video ‘Dead Wrong’ tracked at GCR

Caravan_Pic_1I was also v fortunate this summer to work with Caravan of Thieves at Gold Coast Recorders.  The band, joined by producer Steve Lunt, spent three days tracking “Dead Wrong,” a super-catchy track that features their trademark ingenious chordal harmony and double-entendre lyrics.  We were aided by an insanely nice handmade Telefunken 251 clone via Telefunken USA, and the mix is by Dave Darlington.  Enjoy, and look out for these folks, they tour like mad so they may be coming to yr town soon.

Ula Ruth ‘LETDOWN’ – first single + video from new EP recorded at GCR

75023_573933079286951_692463268_nhow y’all doing…  srry for the dearth of new ‘content,’ it has been hectic up here at PS dot com world hq…  ‘makin hay while the sun shines,’ like my uncle Billy always used to say.  Anyhow, wanted to LYK that Ula Ruth tracked a new EP with me at Gold Coast Recorders this summer, and via some excellent mixes by the v talented Greg Giorgio, the music will be released early in the new year.  Before that happens, tho, they have released the track “Letdown” with a great video that really brings the message home.  Enjoy…

Electronic Drums of the 1980s

Simmons_SDS8_1984Vintage drum machines, AKA beatboxes, seem to gain value with no end in sight.  When I started buying gear heavily around 2000 to aid my composing work, TR808s seemed outrageously expensive at $800-$1000.  That’s a good laugh, ain’t it; they are now trading in the $3K – $4k range.  Even modest TR606s, CR8000s, Korg KR-55s, etc., are crazy expensive.  The same can’t be said for electronic drum kits of that era.  I’ve had some old Yamaha electro drums in my basement for a year and i literally can’t give em away.  For a brief while, tho, back round 30 years ago, Electronic Drums seemed like maybe the future.  Here’s a quick survey of what that future looked like.

Simmons_ClapTrap_1984 Simmons_SDS7_1984 Tama_TechStar_1984 MPC_Drums_1984 Pearl_SyncussionX_1986 Simmons_1985above: Simmons ClapTrap, SDS7, Tama TechStar, MPC (endorsed by Bernard Purdie!!!!) Pearl SynCussionX, and Simmons SDS8 (top)