Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Walking in the Rain," version 1.0

I found it.

Let's jump back to a 2008 post on this very blog:

One of my favorite songs while I was growing up was Flash and the Pan's "Walking in the Rain." I couldn't find the original version on YouTube, but I did find Grace Jones' version.

The 2008 post then shared this video:

In my 2008 post, I described the original song:

If you're only familiar with Jones' version, the original is like Jones, only with less emotion.

Well, exactly three months after that September 25, 2008 post, some kind soul uploaded a sort-of video of Flash and the Pan's "Walking in the Rain." I say "sort of" because the video consists of someone putting a record on a turntable and playing it. Actually, come of think of it, perhaps that's the original video for the song.

Well, now you can listen (and watch) and judge for yourself.

From the album Flash and the Pan, by the band Flash and the Pan. Product link below, FCC disclosure applies.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Band names - when the band isn't the band you expect

Technically this isn't a music post, but it certainly applies to music.

If you know me, you know that I love to scrobble things in In fact, at one point I was bugging Josh Haley because a ffundercats podcast didn't have proper ID3 tags, which meant that I couldn't scrobble it. The podcasts now have ID3 tags, so can record whenever you listen to a ffundercats podcast.

I was doing some non-musical work-related research, and I ran across a page on the Oracle website that included a two-year old podcast recorded by one of my co-workers. (This podcast was recorded back when we were still employees of Motorola.) I first clicked on the link for the podcast, which opened a QuickTime tab in my browser.

Well, that didn't suit me, so I downloaded the mp3 file and played it in Windows Media Player to match with my scrobbling configuration. So I scrobbled the track, which is listed in as follows:

Note that the listed "artist" for this track is Oracle. So I went to see what had to say about the company, and this is what I found:

Oracle is the name of several artists including a well-respected progressive/power metal band formed in the 1980’s.

1.) ‘’‘Oracle’‘’ was notable as a collaborative musical venture between Minimal Compact’s Malka Spigel & Samy Birnbach and Wire’s Colin Newman. The project spanned the years 1988-1993 and mostly took place in Brussels. Ony one album ‘’‘Tree’‘’ was released retrospectively (in 1994) on Colin & Malka’s Swim ~ label. The majority of the work remains unreleased.

There was another Florida band called Oracle who managed to release one album in the early nineties, solidly rooted in 80’s American power metal in mold of Liege Lord or early Queensryche. Hardly a popular style of music at the time, particularly in the US (hence the release on a European label), As Darkness Reigns is a fine album for the genre.
Brothers Kent and Brent Smedley have recently resurrected Oracle and are playing again, now under the name Odyssey. Brent also plays for a band called Tempest Reign.

2.) Drum and Bass DJ / Murder in America (M.I.A)

And it goes on and on like this, with (as I type this) five different bands, none of which include any band members named Larry Ellison, Charles Phillips, or Safra Catz.

Now this is not the only case in which a band name in refers to more than one band. And there are famous examples of bands who had to change their original names in certain markets - take the so-called English Beat, which had to add "English" to its name for North American releases to reduce confusion with the American band the Beat (now known as Paul Collins' Beat).

Confused yet?

And these are the instances in which two bands used the same name by accident. The whole issue of a band appropriating another band's name on purpose is an entirely different issue.

P.S. In the band Oracle, you know that Larry would be the lead vocalist, but who would get the guitar solos - Charles or Safra?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sweet dreams are made of this.

Who am I to disagree?

(empo-tymshft) Who decides how customers consume a band's output?

In the olden days, if you wanted to buy music from a band, you would go down to your record store and see what it had to offer. When you got there, you'd see that if you wanted to get some Elton John music, you could buy an LP such as Rock of the Westies, or perhaps a single such as "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds." But you couldn't march into the record store and say, "I just want to buy the song 'Roy Rogers,' but I don't want to buy the rest of the Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album."

But now, in the wonderful twenty-first century world of downloadable music, you DO have more control over what you buy. In fact, you could go to your favorite online music store and buy "Roy Rogers" and Flash and the Pan's "Walking in the Rain" and Pink Floyd's "Us and Them."

Um, maybe not (H/T MediaMemo):

[Pink Floyd's] latest record deal, signed with EMI before legal downloads came along, said individual songs must not be sold without the band's permission.

They argued that the same rule should apply to digital sales as well as CDs.

EMI disagreed but a judge has sided with Pink Floyd.

Why would Pink Floyd want to enforce such a clause? Because they had a vision about how their music should be heard, and their vision is not a three-minute vision:

In court, Chancellor Sir Andrew Morritt said the contract contained a clause to "preserve the artistic integrity of the albums".

He said the contract meant EMI were "not entitled to exploit recording by online distribution or by any other means other than the original album, without the consent of Pink Floyd".

The band largely avoided releasing singles during their career, instead preferring fans to listen to entire albums such as Dark Side of the Moon, which has sold more than 35 million copies around the world.

OK, perhaps there is some financial motivation there also - perhaps the band will earn more if people are forced to buy the entire album rather than just buying, say, "Money." But since I've been listening to Dark Side of the Moon fairly frequently as of late, I can understand the artistic reasons why the band would prefer that the album be judged as a whole.

But Pink Floyd isn't the only artist who holds this position. The BBC cites Garth Brooks and AC/DC as two other artists who insist that albums should be downloadable in toto only. MediaMemo cites a couple of other artists who insisted on this - for a time:

And just because the band has won the ruling doesn’t mean that’s going to stop–its entirely possible, for instance, that a check of a certain size could allay the band’s concerns. Other album-only holdouts like Metallica and Radiohead eventually held their noses and allowed their stuff to be sold by the song on iTunes, too.

Yet it's important to note that we, the consumers, effectively have no say in the matter. We cannot download our own mix of one part Pink, one part Garth, and one part Bon - something that would cost about $3 at current prices could end up costing more like $30, since you'd have to buy three entire albums instead of three single songs.

Could this hurt the "album-only" artists in the long run? Probably not. Let's face it - you can't download Beatles songs OR Beatles albums in iTunes, but the band seems to be doing OK.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Renaissance man

Now some people can consistently reproduce the same sound over and over, and we love them for it, and we don't expect them to do anything else. I don't think I want to hear George Thorogood behind a synthesizer, for example.

But then there are the people who can work in radically different styles. Compare these two songs: Don't Come Around Here No More and Friend or Foe.

Can you guess who was involved with both songs?

I'll give a hint. He was tangentially involved in songs such as End of the Line.

One last hint. He was tangentially involved with this song.

(References: Don't Come Around, Friend or Foe, a place to record, and a song to cover.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Do not adjust your record speed

The advantage of us old folks is that we are familiar with the fine art of playing music at different speeds. 33 1/3, 45, 78 - name a speed and we'll play it.

Well, if TotallySoundsLike is to be believed, Rick James must have been playing his Michael Nesmith records really fast. Listen.

Well, frankly I wouldn't take Steve Strong home to mother either.

P.S. For a non-freaky look at "Cruisin," go here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Brilliant Dadashova - maybe you'll like this vokaliz song better

OK, maybe the look of Edward Anatolevich Hill turned you off to vokaliz.

Try this song, sung in the same no-words style.

For more on Brilliant Dadashova (in English), see this autobiography. She has two separate pages, neither of which has any music.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Why do musicians like Edward Anatolevich Hill's vokaliz hit "I am very glad, because I'm finally back home" (a/k/a "Trololo") so much?

Well, I don't know if this is viral yet, but I've seen it twice, and I'm usually slow in picking things up, so if I've seen it twice then it must be viral.

Let's start with the Tall Ships, who have their own Facebook page. The Tall Ships are a band that I kinda sorta discovered via - I had listened to a Dryve song, and the drummer of that former band, Keith Andrew, shared his new band, the Tall Ships, with me. So anyways, on Friday the Tall Ships posted an update to the aforementioned Facebook page that concluded as follows:

We're thinking of covering this song. Steve pretty much has the vocal down...

The band then shared this video:

However, since the title of the video was Я очень рад, ведь я, наконец, возвращаюсь домой, I couldn't really figure out who did it.

I didn't think much of it - the Tall Ships are on an eastern European record label (Minority Records from Prague), so I figured that was just some idiosyncracy.

Until a Texan chimed in.

Specifically, Josh Haley, well-known among FriendFeed circles as one of the two Ffundercats. Josh, like Keith Andrew, has a musical bent, and is known for his ukelele playing and his remixes.

Well, Josh shared a video with the comment

You can't possibly post a video more awesome than this.

And, although it was a different link, it ended up being the same video.

This one labeled the song as "Trololo," but that probably isn't an official title.

I ran Я очень рад, ведь я, наконец, возвращаюсь домой through Google Translate and got the translation "I am very glad, because I'm finally back home." Well, with that big grin on his face, I hope he's glad.

I initially couldn't find anything about the video, other than a bunch of blog posts linking to some occurrence of the video with a brief comment about how awesome it is. While much of the activity seems to have erupted in late February, and the Tall Ships' version was uploaded to YouTube in November, I did find something on that seems to be from October 2009. But even that site listed the video as "Miscellaneous."

But finally, Know Your Meme provided the answer:

Singing in the video is Edward Anatolevich Hill, a Soviet-era vocalist once celebrated as the “Honored Artist of the USSR” in 1968 and “People’s Artist of the USSR” in 1974.

Because Edward’s performance was poorly lipsynched (albeit to his own vocal track) and entirely composed of mouth music without any lyrics, the song was perceived by some westerners as highly eccentric.

Still more information is available from Justin Erik Hallador Smith:

According to his Russian Wikipedia page, Hill was born in Smolensk in 1934, and finished his studies at the Leningrad Conservatory in 1960. By 1974 he had been named a People's Artist of the USSR, and in 1981 he was awarded the Order of the Friendship of Peoples. He is best known for his interpretations of the songs of the Soviet composer, Arkadii Ostrovskii....

The song he is interpreting, "I Am So Happy to Finally Be Back Home," is an Ostrovskii composition, and it is meant to be sung in the vokaliz style, that is to say sung, but without words...[V]okaliz was a well established genre, one that seems close in certain respects to pantomime.

I found the Russian Wikipedia page here. Now I can't read Russian, but I can read enough to know that Hill is still alive. And when I ran the article through Google Translate, I unearthed this little tidbit:

Since 1997 involved with his son in a joint project with the rock group Prepinaki.

I searched for the rock group Препинаки and found this page, which I again translated:

In 1996, Prepinaki "have created a joint project with his ideological father (another father! See the spiritual father), People's Artist of the RSFSR Edward Gil - Gil and Sons. As stated in a press release, "the creative task of the project - rethinking the heritage of the Soviet stage 60's - 70-ies." Project "Gil and Sons" recorded in 1997 album "There's song in a circle" and continues to tour.

As for Prepinaki's style, here's what the page said:

The band's style drifted between new wave and bossa-nova, and now represents a unique fusion of dance rhythms of different ages and continents: the traditional pop music, especially disco, Soviet music, hot Latin rhythms.

But, apparently, no vokaliz. But links to a video:

However, most people who see the original "I am very glad, because I'm finally back home" video aren't thinking about the deeper meaning of vokaliz style; most are thinking about bad lip-syncing. I'm fascinated by the fact that the two people from whom I first learned about the video both happened to be musicians.

Does this mean that when the music stars gather as hip joints, they'll demand that the deejay put "Trololo" on the video screens?

Or does this mean that vokaliz itself will suddenly sweep the English-speaking music world?

P.S. Hill's page is here and includes a biography but sadly no music. does list a December 29, 2009 concert, but apparently it was cancelled.

Monday, March 1, 2010

(empo-utoobd) Q: Are we not Akon YouTube? A: We are AkonVEVO

I was involved in a Facebook conversation about such antiquated concepts as LPs, and in the course of the conversation I referenced my August 12, 2008 post about the Akon song "Lonely." The post includes the following text:

Universal Music has provided the video on YouTube. However, embedding is disabled, so you'll have to go here to see it.

But when I follow the link that I provided in the original post, YouTube presents the message

This video has been removed by the user.

The video, still non-embeddable, has been moved to, which is labeled as part of "AkonVEVO."

I mentioned VEVO previously in this blog (in the context of YouTube's 2009 disagreements in Britain and Germany), but I haven't really talked about the WHY of VEVO. Luckily, Mashable posted something in December 2009 that made up for the shortcomings of my coverage:

VEVO will host most of YouTube (YouTube)’s music videos (85 percent of them, actually), including ones from EMI, Sony Music and Universal....

VEVO will manage all ad sales

- The music video site is focusing on getting rid of duplicate videos. If you have ever browsed YouTube, you’ll find that many music videos do, in fact, have duplicates.

- VEVO will not launch with HD. That will come out next year.

- Now this is awesome: VEVO includes synchronized and integrated lyrics.

But YouTube and the music companies didn't create VEVO out of an altruistic desire to provide synchronized and integrated lyrics to the people. No, the key words here are "duplicate videos" and "ad sales." Basically, the idea is to centralize videos in a central location so that YouTube and the music companies can control the ad revenue.

And there is also a website. However, I don't know if I am allowed to register with it, since YouTube has seen it to permanently disable my account without explanation.

Oh, and you may not be allowed to register with, either:

By using the Site, you represent, warrant and covenant that (a) you are 13 years of age or older and (i) reside in the United States of America, its territories and possessions (the “U.S.”) or (ii) reside in Canada and, if you are a minor, you have obtained your parent or guardian’s consent to use the Site in accordance with these Terms of Use; (b) your use of the Site does not violate any applicable law, rule or regulation; and (c) all registration information you submit is truthful and accurate and you shall maintain and promptly update the accuracy of such information. If you provide information that is untrue, inaccurate, not current or incomplete, or VEVO suspects that such information is untrue, inaccurate, not current or incomplete, VEVO has the right to suspend or terminate your registration (in whole or in part) and refuse any and all current or future use of the Site (or any portion thereof), in its sole discretion. If you reside in Canada, you further acknowledge and agree that the Site is operated exclusively from, and is being provided solely in accordance with, the laws of the United States. The laws of the United States may differ from those of Canada. Please ensure that you are comfortable with these differences before accessing and using the Site.

In other words, No Irish Need Apply. Or anyone from most other countries in the world, for that matter.

But if we're going to talk about Akon, we have to talk about Bobby Vinton. Bobby's website includes tour dates; here's what it says for Vinton's future dates:

May 8, 2010 Bryant, IN Bearcreek Farms
May 10 & 11, 2010 Oakbrook Terrace IL. Drury Lane Oakbrook
June 12, 2010 Las Vegas, NV Cannery Casino & Hotel
August 12, 2010 Plantsville CT, Aqua Turf Club The Flyer
August 14, 2010 FOXWOOD Casino & Resort Connecticut
August 26, 2010 Toronto, Canada Bandshell Park
September 25, 2010 Manistee, MI Little River Casino & Resort
November 12 & 13, 2020 Chandler AZ, Wild Horse Pass Resort & Casino

I'm assuming the last one is a typo, but maybe he IS booked for a show ten years from now.

P.S. for those who noticed the significance of the post title - yes, Devo has been "Fresh" on my mind. And doesn't "Akon" look a little bit like "Akron"?

Here's a video of Devo performing "Fresh" at SXSW 2009. It's not on VEVO.