Friday, November 30, 2012

180 gram records.. Are they worth it??

The big advertising strategy among new vinyl is pushing the fact that it is pressed on 180 gram vinyl. This seems to especially grab the attention of new people getting into vinyl, regardless if they even understand what it means.

What is a 180 gram record? Exactly as it sounds, the actual vinyl record weighs 180 grams. Older records were pressed on vinyl between 120 and 150 grams, which is much more flimsy and prone to warping (not to mention flexi discs which I’ll have to cover on an entire separate post).

I do find myself looking for 180 gram vinyl when I am buying new releases or re-releases but only recently I started asking myself why? I am writing this paragraph prior to doing any research on the subject so I am just going strictly by my own opinion. The main reasoning for me is that nothing pisses me off more than getting home with a used record, and failing to notice the slight warp in the vinyl until I throw it on the turntable. Slight warps in records bother me even more than scratches, regardless if I can even hear a difference. I am such a perfectionist when it comes to vinyl that it completely ruins the experience for me. (95% or more of my vinyl is VG++ or better, it’s the musical OCD in me.)


Now let’s look into it and see if my “less prone to warping”theory is the main advantage.

What can cause a record to warp?

One way is to have it stored improperly and having the record leaning to one side. Think of a piece of paper on its side packed on a shelf with lots of other paper pushing against it. This piece of paper will stay straight. If you take some of the paper supporting it away from the sides, the paper will naturally curve/bow as it is not rigid enough to stay straight up and down without support. Now records are a little more rigid than paper but thin records are definitely not completely rigid. If records are leaning, after time this will cause the vinyl to bow and warp. 180 gram records are more rigid and thicker; therefore do not warp as easily when they are leaning. Think of cardboard in place of the paper, although it can still curve/bow, it will not as easily since it is thicker.
Another cause of warping albums is heat. Vinyl melts! This is a proven fact. Throw one of your Olivia Newton John records in the oven and see what happens. It will melt. So if you leave records around heat they are going to get soft and warp, it is just a matter of time. A few ways these records get in these hot situations is if you leave records in a hot car in the summer, or if you leave records resting on top of your receiver which generates heat. The 180g records being heavier and thicker tend to withstand heat better. Now they are definitely still susceptible to melting; however, you may have a little more time before this happens.

So yes, generally speaking the fact that these 180 gram records are thicker and more rigid, they are less prone to warping. So this is one advantage.

Now let’s look at another claim about 180 gram vinyl.

Some claim that the thicker LP’s have deeper grooves which improve the sound, while others say that this is not the case and they are all using the same press, therefore the same grove depth. Some people also think that a deeper groove would give an advantage in sound. So are grooves thicker on these 180 gram platters?

From the research I have done, the general consensus is no!

Regardless of the thickness of an album, the grooves are not deeper. The easiest way for me to explain why is to give a quick background on how vinyl records are pressed.

First off you need a lacquer master.

What is a lacquer master?

It is an aluminum disc that is coated with nitrocellulose lacquer (similar to nail polish) and which is 14 inches in diameter. This is known in the business as an "acetate." This disc has in it all of the grooves that are the final mastered sound of a recording. This is done by a specialized "cutting" engineer. So this is the “master record”per se. This has all the grooves that you want eventually pressed into the vinyl.

Next up they need a metal stamper.

What is the stamper?

They take the lacquer master and electroplate it with tin, silver& nickel to create a metal stamper. The stamper is a negative of the lacquer master. Think of pouring glue over a record, letting it dry and then peeling it off. It would have the opposite of the record grooves right? All these lines that would actually be sticking out which would be the exact opposite of the grooves. So now imagine this is made of metal and you have your stamper. This stamper is put in a record pressing machine and stamps these grooves into a bunch of blank vinyl discs making these records that I love so much!

Pages and pages could be written on the process of pressing records but this is a quick rundown to give you an idea.

So now that we have a little background, these grooves that are made in the lacquer master are not very deep. So saying that a 180 gram record allows for a deeper groove is kind of an empty argument. Normal records (say 140 gram) have plenty of room for deeper grooves. If deeper grooves in fact did improve sound, they have plenty of room on thinner records to make them deeper. We don’t need the extra space that 180 gram provides to allow this.

There is a lot of discussion on this topic back and forth on many online message forums. When it comes to message forums, I do not take anybody’s responses as necessarily correct; however, it does give me a great starting point on what to look for and a lot of time people post backup information which is great.

The majority of folks on the message forums concluded that this does not seem to be the case. Regardless of the thickness of the vinyl, the groove depth tends to be the same.

I needed a little more concrete information on this so I kept digging.

I found an interview with Ben Blackwell on . Ben is head of vinyl production at Jack White’s “Third Man Records”. He confirms that all records have a standard groove depth, regardless if they are 180 gram vinyl or the standard vinyl. He even goes on to say that if they did press deeper grooves, our turntable would not be able to play the records correctly. Ben states that the major advantage of 180 gram vinyl is that it is less prone to warping. Which is my theory!

So basically, yes, grooves can be cut deeper, depending on how deep the grooves are made on the master lacquer, but this proves no advantage to 180 gram vinyl as there is plenty of room between the both sides of a record (even on the thinner ones) to allow for deeper grooves.

Even if some quality of sound can be attributed to the weight of the vinyl, what is really going to make a record sound great or not is mostly up to the mastering in the studio. If you record a song on your iPhone and press it to the heaviest vinyl out there, it’s still going to sound like you recorded it from your iPhone, no matter how much sonic tweaking is done.

At the end of the day it all comes down to how does the record sound!

Sometimes buying re-releases on 180 gram is not optimal just because the re-mastering ruined the recording. A lot of people prefer the original analogue releases of albums and are not interested in the digital re-releases. A good example of this is the new 180 gram re-mastered Beatles LP’s that are being released now. Regardless of how nice these heavy platters are, they are not the original analogue recordings that were released back in the 60’s. A lot of people still prefer these analogue recordings (and pre-digital era pressings) to the new digital re-masters. So in this case I would personally lean towards the original lighter vinyl, as its closer to the originally intended analogue sound.

Note from Keltie** - Some independent companies like Analogue Productions & Audio Fidelity have been producing "all analogue" pressings for years, eschewing the digital process. Using the best possible original analogue master tapes, they give the consumer top notch re-issues. Some of the major labels are embracing the "all analogue" process again. One recent example (and one of the best lately) of a major label putting out a good sounding (all analogue) vinyl re-issue is EMI's "100th Anniversary" edition of "Imagine" by John Lennon. Unfortunately, most of these re-issues are limited to no more than a few thousand copies, making them all the more desirable.

So what did I learn from all of this research?

I have been doing a lot of reading on this topic through different record related message forums. While nobody seems to have anything more than a general opinion rather than having any backup, the majority of people tend to agree that the hype of 180 gram records, while nice, is unnecessary.

The collector in me still looks for original pressings when it comes to some artists, but generally I’m usually looking for the absolute best listening copy. Some of these re-releases far exceed the original pressings. So the first and most important selling point to me is basically – how does it sound? If the 180 gram sounds better I’ll get it, however if the 180 gram copy is only a crappy re-mastering using digital techniques rather than the original analogue mastering which had nothing that needed fixing, I’ll leave the 180 gram album alone and go for the original.

However; putting all “fidelity” advantages aside, the improved durability of the 180 gram record is enough alone to get me purchasing them.

So say what you will about 180 gram vinyl. Some people love them and some people think they are a waste of vinyl. I however am impartial really. I do like the fact that they are sturdier and less prone to warping, so if this is the only comparison, I will go for the 180 gram. The only reason I would not get 180 gram is if the mastering of a recording I want is only available on a lighter record.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dr. Ebbett's Sound Systems - RE-INTRODUCING what The Beatles on CD SHOULD sound like!

(Original VJ LP art by DESS, modified (poorly) by Keltie Harding)

Blog post by Keltie Harding for Maritime Vinyl.

Since first being released on CD in 1987, The Beatles' catalog on CD has been much discussed and much maligned. Some examples were mono used where stereo was easily available, poor mastering (listen to the original mono "With The Beatles" on headphones,) digital remixes. It was a mess. Later CD releases such as the "Red" and "Blue" compilations and "The Beatles 1" all were at the mercy of over-zealous engineers using digital noise reduction. For years fans complained about the poor representation of the Fabs on CD.  So fans turned to their dusty old LP for comfort, while some fans discovered "needledrops".

In the 1990's, vinyl-to-CD transfers (aka "needledrops") of original Beatles releases began appearing on the collector's and trading circuit.  "Companies" such as Mirror Spock, Millennium Remasters and Original Master Recordings all issued CD versions of Beatles vinyl LP's with very good results.  But the very best of these needledropped LP's are the series of CD's produced by "Dr. Ebbett's Sound Systems".

In 2009 the state of the Beatles' CD catalog has been remedied "somewhat", by the official remastered CD editions. While some fans feel that these remasters were well done, others feel these new remasters lack some of the magic in the music. Again, fans are looking to the needledrops, and again to Dr. Ebbett's.

Dr. Ebbett's Sound Systems (also known as DESS, Doc E. or just Ebbett's) were (for their time, and STILL are) the best sounding versions of Beatles needledrops (IMHO). Since the release of the newest EMI remasters, Doc. E has ceased production of his titles. But they are still floating around and can be had easily if one knows where to look. The Doc took much care in his vinyl transfers, often using unplayed or stone mint vintage pressings for his transfers, and using high end equipment, such as a Thorens* turntable. His CD's were initially manufactured on CD-R with printed black & white thermal label artwork, and later, colour thermal printing and in some cases, actual silver pressed CD's. All of his releases came with full colour inserts, faithful to the original LP sleeves. For 14 years, the Doc's work was the best out there.
(* Not confirmed but hinted at by a number of collectors.)

DESS has released well over 100 titles by The Beatles alone, and while there is much duplication of titles (stereo pressings, mono pressings, first edition pressings, later pressings with different mixes, etc...) each particular issue has its merits. If its a Beatles title on vinyl, Dr. Ebbett's probably has released it. The Doc has released the UK titles in both stereo and mono configurations, and the same goes for the exhaustive US titles. DESS has also released some "original" Beatles titles, comprising of complete collections of singles releases and unreleased recordings (ok, some are technically bootlegs but are very well done) and even transferred some unique import pressings. The best thing about DESS titles is that the Doc has "almost" never used any noise reduction or sonic manipulation* on his titles, letting the sound of the original vinyl sources speak for themselves. For the "bootleg" style releases, the Doc used the best possible sources available at the time. 
(*Some reviewers claim that a few of the Doc's titles used noise reduction, and if indeed he had, he used the procedure well and my ears can't detect any sonic artifacts.) 

The first round of DESS titles came with the release of the stereo "Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs" (MFSL) pressings on CD. While many audiophiles praised the MFLS vinyl releases, some complain about the sound being too "bright". Doc E. also released the UK albums in their original artwork, but used his MFSL rips. Doc E. eventually replaced his UK stereo album configurations with true rips of the UK Parlophone & Apple pressings, and added the UK mono releases to the DESS canon. One of the highlights was the issue of the original first UK mono pressing of "Revolver" which contained the "original" incorrect mix of "Tomorrow Never Knows". These first vinyl pressings of Revolver were recalled by EMI (after George Martin discovered the error) and re-pressed with the "standard" (common) mono mix of "TNN". 

The second major wave of DESS releases were of the US catalog, in both stereo and mono configurations.  One of the highlights of the US DESS issues were the release of the "Dexter" version of the US Rubber Soul*. "Yesterday...And Today" saw 6 (yes, 6!!!) seperate issues, one mono, one original stereo pressing (which featured fake stereo mixes) and an all-true stereo pressing (pressed in the mid 70's.) in addition to issues featuring the recalled "butcher" cover.

DESS Artwork of original "Yesterday And Today" Butcher Cover
* The "Dexter-ized" version of Rubber Soul (aka the "east coast" pressing, meaning it was pressed by Capitol's Scranton, PA plant) is different than the common US stereo mix of Rubber Soul. Dave Dexter Jr. was the man responsible for "compiling" the Beatles' recordings for US release. He also saw fit to re-master tapes with additional reverb and compression for the US pressings. When preparing Rubber Soul for US release, in addition to altering the track line up, he added an extra layer of reverb for the stereo release. This particular version was pressed and released initially, but was subsequently replaced with the dry mixes heard on standard US stereo copies of Rubber Soul. The DESS issue of the "Dexter-ized" Rubber Soul has slightly different artwork to set it apart, most noticeably the white "new improved full dimensional stereo" banner at the top of the front cover.
DESS Artwork for US "Dexterized" version of "Rubber Soul"

Doc E. also decided to document the early Vee-Jay album releases (long out of print) in his reissue campaign. So Vee-Jay albums such as "Introducing The Beatles" and  "The Beatles And Frank Ifield On Stage" (NOT a live album, by the way) saw release, in stereo (when they were originally pressed as such) and mono configurations.

Original LP artwork for Jolly What! - As it looks on the DESS insert.
VJ Interview LP from 1964, with percussion by Hal Blaine.

He also saw fit to release the 3 Canadian Capitol albums as well.  Again, the  60's original pressings were used, but he also released one of the best versions of the "With The Beatles" album ever pressed.  The much desired "wide stereo" Capitol of Canada pressing from the late 1970's.  (The original Canadian albums were mono only but were eventually presented in stereo starting in the 1970's.)  He even released the Canadian Capitol pressing of "Meet The Beatles!" because this particular issue (while with the same art and track listing as the US version) is the only issue with an otherwise unreleased alternate mix of "Don't Bother Me". 

Beatlemania! With The Beatles - Stereo Edition

The Doc also saw fit to release some of the more interesting overseas compilations. He released Abbey Road and Let It Be from the Brazilian mono pressings (mono mixes were not made of these albums. Brazil simply folded the stereo channels into mono). He also released a number of the German "Hor-Zu" & "Odeon" releases, including the (preferred by fans) German stereo pressing of the "Magical Mystery Tour" LP and "Die Beatles" (which is the "Please Please Me" album cut from a flat dub (with no compression or limiting) of the original UK stereo tape.  This trumps the original UK stereo PPM by a mile!!!)

Die Beatles - The German "Please Please Me" stereo LP

The next wave of Doc E releases came with the release of the UK "Blue Box" stereo pressings.  The "Blue Box" refers to "The Beatles Collection", a boxed set of UK stereo albums, pressed in the late 1970's & housed in a blue box.  Many audiophiles feel the "blue box" pressings are the most evenly balanced sounding copies of the UK Beatles catalog. The "blue box" pressings have become the standard versions for the Ebbetts UK stereo releases and one by one replaced his first set of needledrops.

Doc E also released 2 multi disc compilations of UK and US singles.  For these discs, he used actual 45 RPM records, many of them original first pressings  (No cheating the customer by using LP's on these titles!!) The good Doc scored a MAJOR coup on one of these releases! The "Complete UK Singles Collection" uses the original "Ringo" version of "Love Me Do", transferred directly from a near mint UK stock copy. This transfer is the BEST sounding version of the "Ringo" version. (When EMI realized in the late 70's that the master tape for Ringo's version had long been destroyed, they did their own needledrop of a 45 transferred to tape. That taped needledrop became the standard EMI "master" tape & was used on EMI's initial digital releases of the Ringo "Love Me Do". Doc E. upped the ante and made a direct to digital dub of a near mint 45, bypassing the analog tape process altogether. It goes to show to what lengths Doc E. went to to get the absolute best sound quality possible.)

DESS UK Singles Collection, Vol 1 sleeve art.

As mentioned, Doc E also released some "original" titles, collections that logistically or historically make sense, and what (possibly) would have looked like had they were officially compiled.  These are also sought after.  He released the complete and best sounding versions of the 1962 Decca audition tapes, "The Decca Audition". He replicated the sound and feel of the (originally rejected & unreleased ) 1964 Hollywood Bowl concert album, using a previously bootlegged source, but following the "acetate" mix as a reference point*, as well as "Last Licks Live", a complete version of the 1969 Apple rooftop show.

DESS edition of the 1962 Decca Audition.  Note the use of the Apple logo!
What the unissued 1964 "Live" LP artwork could have looked like.  DESS used the sleeve idea Bruce Spizer used in his book on The Beatles on Capitol Records. The "catalog" number (TAO 2222) was the original catalog number given by Capitol for their release, but was never used.

(*Capitol's original mono "test mix" acetate for the 1964 Hollywood Bowl show somehow disappeared from Capitol in the 60's and was released as a bootleg in the early 1970's, being one of the most bootlegged Beatles concerts of all time.  In the 1990's, raw unedited mono mix tapes of the 1964 Hollywood Bowl show surfaced and also were bootlegged. Doc E. took this source and using his methods, replicated the sound of the acetate mix, without the acetate surface noise.)

Doc E. also did vinyl rips of other artists, most notably The Who, The Monkees, Led Zeppelin and a few early Beatles' solo albums.  The DESS version of the original US pressing of "All Things Must Pass" was my  go-to version of this classic & easily beat all previously available official issues.  More recently, EMI released a high-resolution digital download only version of ATMP, direct from the masters without the use of any digital noise reduction, and sounds fantastic as a result. In essence, replacing the DESS needledrop with a high quality sounding official version. (By the way, the one of few times EMI did something RIGHT!) 

The mid 2000's saw the official release of "The Capitol Albums" Vol. 1 & 2 on CD.  These CD's collected both stereo and mono versions of the US albums, in their US mixes.  The sets were nicely put together, but fans thought the sound wasn't as "open" as the original vinyl, so Doc E. continued distributing his US Capitol needledrops. 

From December 2007 until his retirement, the Doc undertook a major upgrade project. Some titles were re-issued from better source materials, some titles had artwork upgraded (with some discs being printed in full colour thermal printing) and (according to a fan critique of DESS titles) some titles were pressed as actual silver pressed CD's.

Doc's last major reissue campaign was the release of the Japanese "red wax" series.  These were Japanese pressed albums from the early 1980's on red vinyl & contained the original UK mono mixes.  Fans have lauded the sound of these Japanese pressings, claiming they had smoother sound compared to the original UK Parlophone/Apple issues. Again the Doc did wonderful sounding transfers.

When the announcement was made that EMI was re-vamping the entire Beatles CD back catalog, Doc E. announced that he would cease production of his vinyl rips, claiming that these were going to far exceed his versions in quality. In one of his last mass-emails to his customers, he noted he had heard samples of the remasters and said "They are good. Very Good..."   However, some fans find the new remasters sounding "squashed", somewhat compressed and not as "open" as the original vinyl pressings. Plus some tape damage has appeared (noticeably on the stereo version of "A Hard Day's Night") which only made fans seek out Doc E's transfers for better versions.

Doc E. may not ever release another title, and his needledrops may have been pre-"high rez" (as most newer fan-created needledrops are recorded in high resolution digital), but they certainly are the cream of the crop and his output has not been duplicated. The Doc showed us how good vinyl transfers can sound, when done with care, with the right sources, and the right gear.

Recently there has appeared online an "unofficial" Dr. Ebbett's webpage, an entirely fan created entity. This site is very well done with full scans from the Doc's artwork. The site can be found at Also, has a full listing of the Ebbett's titles, with scans and many with user comments.  Both sites are essential and downright fun to check out.

Personally, I love the DESS series and often go back to them rather than the official CD's. Like many Beatle People, I already own the CD's and all the UK and US vinyl that I need. I'm not saying that you should ONLY go with the Ebbett's rips, but you have a choice. (EMI has gotten lots of my money over the years, so I feel a bit justified in owning the Ebbett's titles, none of which I paid for. I got them all via trading with other likeminded collectors.) With DESS I am getting clean high quality digital sound of true, warm analog sound. The best of both worlds for me. Seek out a title or 2 and give them a listen. You won't be disappointed!

(All scans provided by except screenshot of the DESS homepage)

Monday, November 26, 2012

'Tis the season for Christmas albums!

Ahhhh Christmas time is here again! Just this week I started dusting off my Christmas albums for another month of heavy playing and listening with the family.

My wife is a huge fan of Christmas music so she is already a few weeks ahead of me but she has been doing pure digital listening until I break out the good stuff.


She writes a blog for her (and her Sister’s) hobby business “Little Pink Thread” and was asking me to do a post about Christmas records, so I’ll write this here and double post it on her blog at


We differ a bit when it comes to Christmas music but we are both open to listening to each other’s albums with an open mind and ear.


Since last year she jumped on the Michael Bublé Christmas band wagon along with the rest of the female population. Honestly, I think he is perfect for this type of music. He gives it that great Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby twist and it really works for this seasonal album. Although it is highly unlikely that I ever spin a Michael Buble album, I am ok with having this on it the background for the Christmas season.


Personally I tend to lean to the more classic artists for Christmas music. But before I get there I will finish up on my Wife’s personal favorites.


She was a teenager in the prime of the Backstreet Boys, 98˚ and N’Sync craze so these are always on her list. Michael Buble I can handle once in a while, I have no interest in the boy band Christmas music. She respects this and tends to listen to it most when I am preoccupied (headphones on).


Number one on her list would be her “Kenny and Dolly Christmas album”. I found her a copy on vinyl a few years ago and she constantly gets me to throw it on the turntable during the festive season.


Now onto my list!


Number one on my list hands down is “Elvis Presley’s Christmas Album”. Nothing even comes close. Elvis is the king all the time but he dominates Christmas music in my mind! I have another of his Christmas albums but it doesn’t get near as much play as the original.


A new addition in the past few years has been “Bob Dylan – Christmas in the Heart”. Who would of thought that Dylan could pull this off! One year he is Jewish and the next he is releasing the Christmas album of the year! Great job Bob, you never cease to amaze me.


A new addition this year which my wife and I both equally like is the Paul McCartney 7” of “Wonderful Christmastime”. This already has been getting a lot of play time and it will only increase in the weeks to come.

Another new addition this year is “Bing Crosby – Merry Christmas Bing”. This has been praised to me as the best Christmas album ever. So far I am not a huge fan. It is little old school for me (which is weird as I love old school) but I will be sure to give it a few more chances to try and change my mind.

Only other Christmas music I can think of playing would be “John Lennon – Happy Xmas, war is over”. This was released on “Shaved Fish”. Nobody can go through the season without hearing this song so much that they get sick of it. Regardless it will always be one of my favorites!


So there you go, these are the albums we listen to most during the Christmas season. We are always open to new suggestions so please feel free to leave comments with your favorite albums!



Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Sheepdogs & Yukon Blonde in Fredericton!

Last night I made it to the Sheepdogs concert down at Boyce farmers market here in Fredericton. I do not make it to live shows often so this was a rare event for me. I lucked into a free ticket through a vinyl trade so I took advantage and decided to try and enjoy myself. I am not a fan of crowds and try to stay clear of drinking establishments since I quit the habit a long while back. So this was a test for me.


It was a success!


First off I have to say that the farmers market was a fantastic venue! There was plenty of space for everybody and it was nice and open so even though it was a sold out crowd, the air stayed clean and fresh. There was plenty of space for the crazy folks to cram together up front and still lots of room at the back for people like myself to stay in the background and still have a great view of the show!


Opening the show was British Columbia’s “Yukon Blonde”. They were worth going to the show alone! These guys really put on a great performance. They had a solid set with some kickass catchy tunes. Highlights for me would be their opening song of “My Girl” and their closing song of “Stairway”. I picked up their new CD “Tiger Talk” and a copy of their 7” single for “Stairway” b/w a demo of “Radio”. The picture sleeve was drawn on with permanent marker by the band which gave it a real personal appeal.



I will definitely be following this band from here on out. I think that once they get a little more focus from the public, and word of mouth travels from their live shows, they will have no trouble headlining their own tour like this in the near future!


Seeing such a great band like this as the opening number was a real treat!


Next up was the main event with “The Sheepdogs”! I was curious if “Yukon Blonde” would overshadow “The Sheepdogs” but they were a complete different style.


“The Sheepdogs” were such a great live band. They have a solid amount of songs available now that they released their second full length LP that they had no trouble making a great long set list.

It makes me happy that a Rock and Roll band like this can sell out a venue like this. It goes to show that there are some people listening to this type of music still. Good to know that Glee and American Idol didn’t brainwash the entire population.


Highlights for me would have to be “How Late, How Long” which is my favorite song from their new LP and “Ewan’s Blues” just for the kickass trombone solo alone.


For the first five or six songs I just couldn’t quite remember what band “The Sheepdogs” reminded me of so much. Sure they have the southern rock sound of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers but that wasn’t it.


Then it clicked and I couldn’t help but laugh when I figured it out.


They reminded me so much of the fictional band “Stillwater” from the movie “Almost Famous”. Just the 70’s style that they nailed and the long hair and beards that matched Jason Lee’s on the movie. Of course the sound was completely different and original. I by no means think that they were cloning them but it was just these few similarities that caught my attention.


I picked up their new self-titled LP and haven’t had it off of the turntable since. I really like this album. It is solid all the way through with not a single weak track.

It was pressed on attractive yellow vinyl and to my surprise even had a CD copy stuck in the sleeve as well (this is a huge bonus for people like myself who download no illegal music). Also it was nice that instead of shrink wrap it was packaged in a nice reusable poly sleeve. Great packaging!

Overall it was a great show and experience. I strongly recommend anybody see any of these bands the next time they pass through, or at least pick up an album!



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Letterman and Zevon!

There are two types of people in this world. Jay Leno fans and David Letterman fans.


We Letterman fans are a funny bunch with a great sense of humour who knows when to tune it down and take charge when something serious comes along. The Leno fans are just a twitchy bunch of guys who brag about their cars and how big they wish their chins were.


I have been a huge Letterman fan my entire life and even ventured into his studio audience a few years back. This I will discuss in a post to come but this post is about Letterman’s relationship with who I think was one of the best in the music business. No not Paul Shaffer (who in his own right is amazing and deserves many of his own posts… to come!!!) This post is dedicated to the man who Letterman was a huge fan of, who would help Letterman whenever he needed and who Letterman would return the favor in any way he could. He was a man who Letterman thought of as a friend and who he was consistently inspired by. This post is about the late, great, Warren Zevon!


Warren Zevon was first a guest on “Late Night with David Letterman back in 1982. He opened this show with a rocking version of “Excitable Boy”. Just the excitement that can be seen in Paul Shaffer who is playing along is a sign of the beginning of a long relationship.


“Excitable Boy” is one of my favorite Zevon songs, written about a boy who does everything from rubbing a pot roast all over his chest to killing his high school prom date. Warren Zevon is consistent with this dark humor in many of his songs.  Of course “Excitable Boy” is the first song that Letterman asks about and Zevon fires back at Lettermans jokes in slick funny fashion without even missing a beat. This too was the beginning of a long great relationship.


Excitable Boy – Warren Zevon

Well, he went down to dinner in his Sunday best
Excitable boy, they all said
And he rubbed the pot roast all over his chest
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he's just an excitable boy

He took in the four a.m. show at the Clark
Excitable boy, they all said
And he bit the usherette's leg in the dark
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he's just an excitable boy

He took little Suzie to the Junior Prom
Excitable boy, they all said
And he raped her and killed her, then he took her home
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he's just an excitable boy
After ten long years they let him out of the home
Excitable boy, they all said
And he dug up her grave and built a cage with her bones
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he's just an excitable boy

Warren Zevon was found often on Letterman’s talk show from here on out. He was a frequent guest, but also he could be found filling in for Paul Shaffer as band leader. He is the one who filled in when Paul Shaffer was busy working on “Blues Brothers!”


The episode with Warren that is most memorable for me is sadly his last appearance.


After Warren Zevon was diagnosed with cancer David Letterman had him on the Late Show as his sole guest for the entire hour.


You can see the obvious depression and sadness in Warren’s face and hear it in his voice. Knowing he only has a small amount of time left it is apparent he is having a hard time coming to terms with his indefinite demise as well as know that this will be his last appearance with Letterman.


Warren opens the show in true Warren Zevon dark humor style by playing his song “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”.


He talks openly about his diagnosis throughout the episode and discusses how he never saw a doctor throughout his life except when he was diagnosed. He never trusted doctors and only talked to his dentist when he had any health concerns. It was his dentist who told him that he finally needs to see a doctor who ended up giving him the diagnosis.


He talked as a man who had no regrets and when asked by Letterman what advice he would like to give others he replied with “enjoy every sandwich” (couldn’t have put it better Warren!). What a sad ending to a great professional relationship between himself, Paul and Dave.

Letterman had requested that Warren play “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” which he did. This is my favorite performance on television period. He plays this song so perfectly and with such emotion. Just like a guy who knows he has nothing to lose. The best part of this performance to me is that he has the CBS Orchestra backing him up. At one point he turns around for a second and looks at Paul Shaffer and they just give each other a look of appreciation for each other.


After the show Warren even gave Letterman his guitar which was the one that he always used when he played on his show. Letterman of course burst into tears. I can’t even imagine how hard this could have been.


Warren Zevon had one hell of a life and he released many solid albums! I can put a Warren Zevon record on no matter what mood I’m in and it just seems to fit! There are few artists I can say this about!