Amoeblog

Art for Art Garfunkel's Sake

Posted by Rick Frystak, June 26, 2014 10:40pm | Post a Comment

 

Ever since I first heard, "Dangling Conversation" and "Old Friends", I've loved Art Garfunkel's confident, husky-angel approach to harmony singing, and earnest, determined songsmith in his lead work with Paul Simon and...him. Not to mention all the hits these gents made, their work is of the highest caliber whenever they step up to the mic. Say what you will about Art, but that guy can SING!

Art's solo career doesn't immediately pop up in most folks' minds as being stellar hit-wise.  He did hit a high point in 1979 with "My Little Town" written and featuring Paul Simon on Art's Breakaway album, and Art won a Grammy Award in 1998 for Best Children's Album for Songs From A Parent To A Child.

Art's 1979 LP, Fate For Breakfast (Doubt For Dessert)wasn't destined for any such attention. It was Art's first music release to completely miss any top 40 chart position in the U.S., but here's an interesting sales tidbit: for this LP, the United Kingdom import edition featured another track not on the U.S. version, that was used in the film Watership Down, and stayed on the UK singles chart long enough to be the best selling single in the U/K for 1979!!! Art Garfunkel!! And...the LP went to No. 1 in New Zealand and Holland! Talk about a global marketing kerfuffle!

And, as if with a premonition of sorts for all this, and, in hopes to restart Art's arty-edgy-eclectic credibility, this release would prompt Columbia Records to go all-out on the packaging concept and warrant enough art department budget as to create at least different covers for the initial U.S pressing of the disc! Huh? For Art Garfunkel? Very odd, also, that references to this package usually say "five" different covers were made, but I have found six!!!! Could there be even more?? Click on one of the covers above to see a slide show of the 6 unique covers presently residing inside Amoeba's Vinyl Vault in Hollywood.

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Custom Record Store and Label Sleeves From Over The World

Posted by Rick Frystak, April 16, 2014 11:45am | Post a Comment

Promoting one's logo and style has always been a concern if not a priority of any creative business, especially the music business. To have your record store or record label's graphic sensibility out in the world is like a tag, a notice that, "we exist righteously", and "take a look at us, we are cool and you want to be part of this!". What better way to do this than to attach your graphics onto the outside of an LP's inner sleeve living in eternity with the record snugly inside. Or, to have the store's bag carried out onto the street by your loyal customers with your logo beaming out at the universe. Now that's promotion, or perhaps simply an affirmation of being in the moment.

Here is a 10-year collection of various record store and record label's logo and graphic style across the eras, mostly committed to an LP's inner sleeve, and some retail shopping bags inclusive, logos singing raucously or whispering of the quality within. With trends and budgets shifting moment to moment, this collection becomes a small guide to the attraction of it for everyman's taste. What do folks think will look good? How will they remember our business?  As I deal with old record collections and their ephemera daily, it's always a wonderful gift to have an exotic sleeve pop up from accross the country, or even the world. Records have always been a universally traded entertainment, and it's becoming more so by the month now. 

So, this Record Store Day, sit back and find your favorites within the trove of typographical time. Just browsing these photos fills me with hope.

Click on any image to start a slideshow.

Photographs of sleeves and bags by RICK FRYSTAK

Remembering Paco de Lucia

Posted by Rick Frystak, February 26, 2014 12:45pm | Post a Comment

Paco de Lucia

Today, the world lost a giant of music, as Maestro Paco de Lucia passed away, at 66 years young, from a heart attack at a resort in Mexico. “Paco lived as he wished and died playing with his children beside the sea,” said a statement from de Lucia’s family published on the websites of Spanish newspapers.

Paco took the Flamenco style and tradtition of the elders in the genre and blasted off into his own universe, to some early criticism, owning every note of his huge legacy and backing up all his moves with incredible chops and technique. I had many unforgettable chances to see Paco in person doing his thing, each a unique and unpredictable experience, except for the sheer technical mastery of his instrument always present. I also took away from these shows Paco’s palpable confidence, his air of “badass”-ness that deservedly asserted his own internal awareness of what he was doing in the moment. I lament his passing, and will miss him tremendously. Adios, Paco.

Fortunately we have much in the visual and audio realms  to see and hear Paco, and to mark the absolutely inimitable place that Paco held in the music landscape. The 2-CD set, En  Vivo Conciertos, won a Grammy and is a most enjoyable album, displaying Paco’s genius live, and represents the last tour he did almost exactly. Amoeba has some true gems of Paco’s here.

(photographer unknown)

A Fantastic New Pressing of a Miles Davis Masterstroke

Posted by Rick Frystak, January 15, 2014 01:51pm | Post a Comment

Miles Dewey Davis may have been many things, but he was certainly a forward-thinking artist with an eye out for what was happening at any given time in the musical landscape, and an urge to not repeat himself in his journey toward a newer, “hipper “style, like it or not. Some, myself included, would argue this point vigorously towards various stages of his career output, especially later. This week, the formidable Impex Record company releases one of Miles’ most contemporary and timeless albums of music and cultural relevance: 1965’s “ESP”.  

 

Miles Davis Quintet

E.S.P.

Impex Records IMP 6018

180 gram LP (2014) 

 

So… Miles Davis in 1965? ‘Trane releases “A Love Supreme”, “Rubber Soul” comes out, Horowitz plays Carnagie Hall, Otis Redding , The Byrds and Bob Dylan release classic, timeless music, and new Miles Davis Quintet members Wayne  Shorter and Herbie Hancock had just presented “Speak No Evil” and “Maiden Voyage” to the universe. Miles' previous band had already left, but he had the next great quintet already assembled, Wayne being the final glorious recruit. "E.S.P." would be their first studio recording together, and what a record it turns out to be, produced by Columbia Records' A&R man Irving Townsend, he of “Kind Of Blue”, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, etc. fame. The cover features a bewildered Miles and an adorable Frances Davis, with Miles sporting quite the flummoxed facial expression. "Man, does she have 'E.S.P.'?" 

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Rare Steve Lacy LP Shows Up In Hollywood

Posted by Rick Frystak, October 7, 2013 03:43pm | Post a Comment

Steve Lacy has always been one of my favorite horn players since I first hear him in the mid 70’s. He delivers a liquid, speech-like sound with his soprano saxophone which he plays exclusively.  Influenced by trad jazz players, Cecil Taylor, Thelonious Monk and Gil Evans, Mr. Lacy composes and improvises with a quirky sense of melody unlike any other player around at the time or since, and his compositions reveal his very personal way of telling his stories. His staccato yet fluid attack, and almost vibrato-less legato stands out within the history of his axe. He has made many, many records (hundreds) and almost each one has its own individual sound and ultimate expression. Straight up swing to musique concrete to free improvisation are where Steve could be found at any moment, often simultaneously. His accompanists range from sitar duos to big band improv to sax/synthesizer/ drum outings, exploring all avenues of audible art. He also made many solo concerts, with just his soprano sax perhaps speaking the musical dialog about what was shaking at the moment. These concerts and recordings are a wonderful document of this artist’s creative depth.

I am fortunate to have met Steve when I had an in-store appearance with him while I was managing Rasputin’s Jazz and Soul record store in Berkeley, California in 1981. Steve is second from left, just to my right in this photo of that day (Rick Gillman far left, Lacy, Frystak, Michael Finney far right).

A kind and soft spoken personality belied his passionate, forward surging playing style.  His many bay-area fans that day were in heaven to be near this musical icon, myself included. He played later in the evening at U.C.Berkeley to a packed house. Steve passed in 2004 at age 69 years young, and I was fortunate to see him play multiple times, always searching and swinging in whatever context he found himself in.

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