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Stellar Book Traces Label’s History PDF Print E-mail
Music - Music News
Written by John James   
Tuesday, 21 November 2000 18:00
Over the years, certain record labels have captured an iconic image, often unknowingly preserving transcendental moments in time as they document cultural movements on their shiny black albums and CDs. Imprints like The Beatles’ boutique Apple label, Greg Ginn’s proto-Punk SST in its glory years, Bethlehem and Blue Note’s aural and graphic explorations in jazz, Def Jam’s beatbox hip-hop gentry, SubPop’s grunge chronicles, and Ralph Records’ bizarre run of performance art Nu-Wave have all left their impression in modern pop-rock history – rare instances of commerce germinating new sounds and directions in thought, speeding wildly through those hip enough to be there when serendipity strikes the bell. One of those labels that followed the beat of its own drummer was Jac Holzman’s Elektra label, born of the then-19-year-old’s $600 investment in 1950. For many of us who’ve scoured peach crates of old records, panning for gold in used-record shops, spotting the pre-1967 Elektra logo on a variety of folk, ethnic, and world music is a peculiar experience. The fantastic history of the label is told in FirstMedia Books’ new issue of Follow The Music: The Life and Times of Elektra Records in the Great Years of American Pop Culture, now in paperback form for the first time since its hardback release two years ago. I can’t say enough good things about the mesmerizing tale spun within its endearing conversational/secret-diary history of Holzman, the musicians, and record-company peers. The innocent picture of pre-Dylan, pre-Beatles NYC was, as Holzman describes, “gloriously uncomplicated – the only big deal was the music.” The linear history of the label is an astonishing list: the theatric Theodore Bikel, early folk stars like the Limelighters and Judy Collins, the short-lived jug-band craze, financial success from the unheard of concept of sound-effects albums, the first label support of electronic music via Silver Apples of the Moon, the doped-up years of Arthur Lee’s Love and the Doors, four-octave troubadour Tim Buckley, the launch of the classical based Nonesuch imprint, Detroit terrorism by MC5 and the Stooges, the operatic lushness of Queen. Whew! What a ride! The $18.95 list price for this 440-page opus – not to mention a 26-track sampler CD of pre-rock-era tracks – make this a must-read for anyone with big dreams and an appetite for rock history. ... If you’ve been wondering what the members of Spiritualized have been up to since the departure of Jason Pierce, the band’s new incarnation of Lupine Howl releases its import-only debut CD single “125” on the Beggars Banquet label this week, described as a mix of blues, country, and kraut rock. ... Other under-the-radar “where are they now?” news is that Hope Sandoval, formerly of Mazzy Star, has emerged from hiding with her new group The Warm Inventions. Promising to be lush, gorgeous, and dreamy, this new project features Colm O’Ciosoig, formerly of My Bloody Valentine. Look for the debut single “At the Doorway Again,” out now on the Rough Trade label. ... Former Queen guitarist Brian May has continued to keep busy with soundtrack projects. His latest is the score for the French film Furia, a sci-fi romance set in a society in which drawing on walls is an act of civil disobedience punishable by death. So far May’s soundtrack is only available as an import on the EMI label. ... Hug up to your PC this coming Tuesday and catch Madonna’s first concert in England in seven years – webcast on MSN live from London’s Brixton Academy. The venue’s 3,500-seat capacity should lend a intimate nature to the affair, with former Verve singer/songwriter Richard Ashcroft opening the evening, as well as the Scottish band Texas and Liam Howell of Prodigy acting as DJ in between sets. For more info head to ( ... Eighteen mislaid tracks from one the original psychedelic cowboys, Gram Parsons, have been uncovered and will be released this week by the Sundazed Music label. Entitled Another Side of Life: The Lost Recordings 1965-1966, these tracks by the former Byrd and Flying Burrito Brother were simple vocal and acoustic tracks recorded in the home of friend and bandmate Jim Carlton. Available both on CD and 180-gram audiophile vinyl, the package promises rare photos and detailed liner notes. ... Looking for that special piece of history to adorn your shrine to dead Rock n’ Roll icons? The UK based Brian Jones Fanclub has announced the sale (for $175 a pop) of six-inch blue ceramic tiles from the swimming pool where the Rolling Stones founding guitarist was found dead. Almost half of the 320 tiles have been sold with a certificate of authenticity and photo of the pool. Proceeds from the sale are earmarked to fund a statue of the legendary figure in his hometown of Cheltenham, England. On an interesting note, the home and pool property where Jones was found drowned in July 1969 were formerly owned by Winnie-the-Pooh creator A.A. Milne.

Television Alert: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno welcomes Mark Knopfler on Tuesday; The Late Show with David Letterman hosts David Gray on Friday and Christina Aguilera on Tuesday; Late Night with Conan O’Brien lets it fly with the Deftones on Thursday overnight, and Dan Hicks on Tuesday overnight; and The Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn gets weird with Shaggy on Monday overnight.

New Releases Coming Tuesday, November 28:

and like the winds, young grasshopper, are subject to change. ...

ATB – Two Worlds (Radikal) after remixing hits for Moby, Enigma, and William Orbit, Andre Tanneberger takes a break with a new two-CD set of trance-soul

Beastie Boys – Sounds of Science (Capitol) four-LP version of the group’s recent anthology in a special slipcase and 72-page hardbound book

Master P – Ghetto Postage (No Limit/Priority) Melvins – Trilogy Box Set (Ipecac) limited-edition picture-disc versions of the Maggot, Bootlicker, and Crybaby LPs in a special gatefold sleeve

Mouse On Mars – Instrumentals (Thrill Jockey) first time CD re-issue of these rare tracks from 1995 and 1997

Ricky Nelson – Legacy (Capitol) four-CD box set of 54 charting hits and 48 tracks of unreleased, alternative, and live material

Quintron – The Unmasked Organ Light-Year of Infinity Man (Bulb)

various artists – Lyricist Lounge Volume II (Rawkus) featuring Mos Def and Ghostface Killah; Macy Gray and Guru; and Talib Kweli and Dead Prez

various artists – Swing This Baby (Slimstyle/Beyond) the third volume of new hipster swing from Big Tubba Mista, The Uptown Rhythm Kings, The New Morty Show, Bellvue Cadillac, and 11 other artists of this hoppin’ revival

various artists – Wintertime Blues: The Benefit Concert (Evil Twin) two-CD set recorded last year at Warren Haynes’ annual Christmas Jam with fellow Allman Bros. and Gov’t Mule members, Edwin McCain, and Susan Tedeschi
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