Rolling Stone Goes Big

Literally.

I have been known to complain about Rolling Stone. I have complained that there is not enough music coverage, too much politics, and what is the deal with not having a musician on the cover? I had to come to terms with the fact that even though Rolling Stone is synonymous with MUSIC in my mind, in reality, it is more diversified than that. Fine. Okay.

There was even a move to reduce the size of the magazine. It went from a colossus, almost newsprint gazette size, to a smaller, but still oversized magazine, to a “normal” sized magazine with a spine, to then a saddle stapled thin affair in the last few years. Sad really, but in this day and age I guess I should be happy they even exist.

It could be worse I suppose. I recall the magazine Dalton used to get Alternative Press which went to digest size.

This month however, I was surprised to find a large Rolling Stone in my mailbox. I was like “what???…”   At first I thought it might be some special edition, but on closer inspection, nope, this was this month’s issue.

Last month compared to this month. Sorry for the shameless promotional item obscuring my address.

Bigger!

Not only bigger, but considerably meatier too. With a return to a spine!

and the cover of this issue (sneak peek above) has a musician! I don’t really know who Cardi B & Offset are, but that’s on me. Not my style of music, but at least a musician cover and not an actor or politician or terrorist.

So, bigger and more pages and better paper… a return to the old days a bit. I’m impressed.

Also, for the really astute Rolling Stone subscriber, you may now remove the shipping label. That is if you are hugely a freak about such things. I got it this far for a photo. Not perfect, but if you take your time it can be removed cleanly and completely.

In the last few years the address label was simply printed directly on the cover, sometimes marring what would have been a stunning music room showpiece. Ahem, the David Bowie and Prince issues. Disfigured if you ask me. Shout-outs to some local places for obscuring this time.

So that is an another improvement. I left the label on this issue, sorry Kardi B & Offset, but if they do another Bowie or Prince cover, I will definitely take a few moments and peel ever so carefully so that the label doesn’t become permanently stuck on. Just know that it is possible for you freaks like me.

A few pages in I came across the editor’s letter that talked about the move to the new format in some detail.

I have to say, they got me. I am really impressed, and I don’t mind the monthly instead of bi-weekly. I like this step up, and think it’s a bold move considering a lot of magazines and newspapers going strictly online these days. Rolling Stone already has a great website, so it wouldn’t be a shock if one day they did away with the print media, but for now, enjoy.

Inside, my old eyes delighted to the larger pictures in the Random Notes section.

I read the Johnny Depp article, and thought the chart on “How The Music Biz Came BAck From The Dead” was very interesting indeed. Streaming is kicking downloads butt? Wow.

In all I have to say I am really pleased with the new format. I do have my hard and fast criticisms still. Less politics, more music reviews and more music articles! But I have made my peace with knowing that this will never happen.

Although.

I does seem they heard my complaints about the miniaturization of the magazine itself. Now how about moving the admittedly improved address label to the BACK of the magazine. That must be technically possible, yes?

You never know.

At any rate, good job Rolling Stone. You went big. Props.

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Vinyl – The New Baseball Card?

So I admit, I dug my subscription to Vinyl Me Please which Cindy picked up for me for my Birthday last year. Six months of awesome colored vinyl and great music. The last one I picked up was Arctic Monkey’s

Which had smoke colored vinyl and an ashtray custom label.

It’s awesome. VMP takes albums and makes special editions of them with colored vinyl and special art and inserts etc. and it becomes collectible. This is not new of course. Barnes and Nobles comes to mind. They have been doing it for a while with their own special pressings.

The trend continues and is reaching less high brow establishments.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Half Price Books, and I do purchase vinyl from there, but I do not consider them a strong vinyl marketplace, though they do sell a smattering of new albums since the vinyl resurgence.

But now this…

A special HPB pressing?

I know there are people out there that will love this. I just wonder though if vinyl is going the way of the baseball card.

Remember when baseball cards were a thing between you and your friends, there were like 3 brands and you traded with your friends and would look through their cards while mumbling… got it, got it, got it, need it, got it, got it….

Then came the BOOM of sports cards and suddenly there were 50 brands and instead of having 3 cards of a player there were 53 cards of a player and special cards of him too. It went way over the top and seems to have remained there.

I worry, not just because of HPB, that the exclusive pressings and box sets and colored vinyl and Record Store Day special editions are just fractionating the value and more importantly the fun of being a record collector.

Again, nothing against HPB.

When the Dollar Store in my area has a special pressing… I’m out.

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Jeff / Monkey And Hawkwind

There are certain people in my life that I associate with music. When I hear a band they pop into my head.

I’m not sure I have ever written about Monkey before here in this blog.

His name was Jeff, and yes that was confusing because my best friend’s name at the time was Jeff, who is now Alan… anyway, I called him Monkey. This was due to the fact that he was a rock climber, among other things and he climbed the tree in the front yard at the house where I rented a room on 3312 N. Summit Avenue right off the UW Milwaukee campus.

I knew him as Jeff, but once I came home from class to find him rope climbing in the tree in the side yard, he became Monkey.

Monkey was intense. He was in the room across from me and he was into 3 things.

1. Climbing
2. Photography
3. Hawkwind

I used to hang out with him in his room and talk crap and have some beers and for the life of me I can’t recall anything we ever said, but I remember the ambiance. Monkey only had one desk lamp in his room and he had little if any furniture, so I usually sat on the floor. I remember in particular several nights that I hung out with him while he was prepping some photos for a showing at the University. Oddly, I have no idea what kind of classes he was taking.

Monkey would sit at his desk, under the desk lamp, using a blow brush to clean dust off his photos as he put them in the frames that he would put up for his show and while he did that… we listened to Hawkwind.

Hawkwind, for those of you who don’t know is a band formed in the early 70’s that was the epitome of space rock. Lemmy famously came from the band. There was a huge sci-fi bend to the music and it was cosmic and psychedelic and hard rocking. It was an experience. He had them all on vinyl and played them back to back to back all night long. I really don’t recall him playing anything else. He would jump up occasionally and do some really exaggerated rock moves and belt out the lyrics in a half shout, and then just as quickly he dropped back into his chair and continued to wisk away dust that I couldn’t even see, but that he claimed would simply “destroy” the presentation of his work.

The Hawkwind was SO not the kind of stuff I was listening to at the time, but I dug it. There was a certain sound to it that I liked and coupled with the weird ambiance of the room and the weird time in my life that those day became, it was a good mix.

I recall specifically these 2

Space Ritual

Warrior On The Edge Of Time

and a song from Space Ritual came up in a Spotify playlist that other day and blew my mind.

Oddly, when I think of Lemmy, I think of the “Young Ones” episode that Motorhead played in. When I hear Hawkwind though, I think of Jeff.

Monkey!

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Rock And Roll Pictures Next Installment

Rock and Roll pictures pop up in the strangest places.

Pardon the lighting.

Hold The Line!

I remember I purchased this album back when that song was killing it on the radio. Turns out the rest of it was not for me, but that song will always have a place in my catalog. Enough that it made me want to take this picture, despite the setting.

It’s Toto’s debut album.

Remember to wash your hands before returning to work.

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That’s No Partridge Family Lunchbox

Had to get a shot of my friend Otis’s lunchbox.

This is what he carries most days, a far cry from the Speed Racer lunchbox I used to carry.

This station is well known for great music and live shows that showcase new and classic artists. Check out their podcasts and stream here:

http://www.kexp.org

Carry it proud man.

I did.

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The Aural Retentive Does A Dirty Pour, Or, How I Ate My Words

Actually, a dirty pour and 3 flip cups.

No, I’m not talking about party games.

As with the didgeridoo, I found myself one day in the rabbit hole that is YouTube. I was looking to see if anyone made birdhouses from records (they do) and I ended up several videos later on a video called Double Dirty Swirl Acrylic Pour on a Vinyl Record. I laughed at the title, but when I saw it, I went from laughing to going… “that is frickin cool!”

See for yourself:

After watching that I spent a few weeks watching Deby from the previous video and others doing various methods of acrylic pour painting and learned all the jargon. Swipes, floats, dirty pour, flip cup… and lots more. I was fascinated how a little cup of mixed paints could produce such fascinating results.

When I was in art history in school I secretly laughed at abstract art. It’s true. I felt like abstract art was like ambient music, just there but not enough to really draw you in, no hooks or rhythms… like elevator music, not rock music.

When I saw this stuff though, something in me just said… yes. I get it.

The cells, or large pockets are eye-catching and the colors are swirled and mixed and flowing within each piece enough to really give the eye some work. If you watch any of the videos on this technique make sure you stay to the end to watch the close-ups that usually follow to see the detail. It is amazing.

At any rate, I immediately thought about my record clocks, and how I sort of stopped doing it since it was difficult to find colored vinyl and/or interesting pieces to make record clocks from. My brain started writhing thinking about trying this for myself.

The supplies needed are not that much… paint, flow medium (basically paint thinner) and silicone (which helps create the cells), and if you are feeling fancy a micro torch to assist with cell creation after the pour. A trip to Menards, a trip to Michael’s and some Amazon ordering and within a week I had everything I needed.

On Saturday morning after Rocco (one of our dogs) made sure I didn’t sleep in past 5am, I ended up downstairs and decided to give it a shot. I mixed my paints, grabbed a record album cover (I figured that would be a handy test item) and gave it a shot.

Lessons learned from my first pour.

  1. You gotta use enough paint. I only mixed enough to cover half of the record cover.
  2. If you didn’t do a negative space pour (meaning laying some paint for your mixed cup to flow over), don’t swipe. When I tried to use a pallet knife to spread the paint around, since it was so thick it would barely flow and as a consequence it just smeared into a gray blob.
  3. Make the paint thin enough to actually pour and spread.

The part that DID pour right, did look good. So there was that.

So, I tried it again. This time I used the same colors, made them thinner, and used more paint. I grabbed a canvas this time and gave it another go. It poured, thinner this time, and I was able to cover the whole canvas, touched up the edges and gave it a bit of the ole micro torch. It worked!

Here is my first legit pour.

I used black, white, yellow and metallic gold. Booyah. I was stoked that it came out as well as it did. I had been prepared for mixed results like my record cover attempt, but after doing this one, I decided that my results were good enough to try it on the medium I was really wanting to try it on.

A record.

I mixed more paints, this time black, white, red, yellow and gold and thinned them even more. I put tape over the underside of the record to cover the center hole and this time I did it flip cup style. I put the record on top of the cup of paint and flipped the whole thing over. I gave it a moment to let the paint run down in the cup (actually using a pin to pop an air hole in the bottom (now the top of the cup) and after a couple of minutes… lifted it up and let the paint flow out in a giant blob.

Thinner this time it spread out nicely and covered the whole record with a little tipping here and there. I also used the mini torch on it to bring out even more cells. I was floored by how awesome it looked.

I liked how there seems to be a light side and a dark side. “Like the moon” Joe said when I showed him.

Here is a close up to see the cells.

I removed the tape over the center hole allowing for the clock parts, and wanted to do more. I grabbed another record.

This time I used some of the leftover paints from the last pour and added some more. There was a lot of black in my mix and it shows in the final product, which is much darker.

Still cool, but I liked the lighter color more. Will still make a nice clock though.

I had time for one more and I mixed up a lighter set of colors and added silver instead of gold. This time I poured it on an old 78 record. The lighter colors are a hit with me. This one didn’t have as many cells, even after I gave it the micro torch, but it came out fantastic.

So, it was totally worth it to get the stuff to try this out. I am stoked to try a swipe, a float, a spinning pour… and to do more records. There are tons of people doing videos about this type of art out there, sharing their techniques and supplies and methods if you are interested. About 10 seconds on YouTube should do it. Maybe you’ll want to try it too.

Yeah, it’s abstract.

Yeah, it’s awesome.

Yeah, I’m eating my words from my UW Milwaukee art history class all those years ago.

Tasty.

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Little Library For CD’s

In a recent stop to TNT Café in Madison, I was looking at their book exchange

and it made me think of the Little Library in my yard and how interesting would it be if I put CD’s in it. Of course I would want to tag them and have the people who took them (and presumably leave one – that IS how it is supposed to work) leave a review of the CD either in the CD, or on a web page which would be detailed inside the cd. Maybe a label with the webpage listed.

I would love to hearing what people think of the music.

Maybe some demographics of the listener.

Suggestions… like if you like this CD, check out this one.

I know, I know… in all likelihood someone would just come by and swipe them all and try to sell them. Thus ruining it for everyone. Jokes on them, you can barely sell a CD these days.

So, suppose the culprits left it alone… could I handle it if someone took a CD and left a Yanni CD, could I leave my judgment outside the Little Library? I mean it’s not like I am going to put my Jane’s Addiction bootleg double CD in there, but I would put in some Miles Davis I have picked up, and some Cranberries. I am often picking up CD’s lately to rip them and then I give them away.

A brief search turned up plenty of photos of people adding CD’s and (DVD’s too) to their little libraries.

Who knows… maybe I’ll become one of them.

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