Sugar Cane’s Got The Blues — I Don’t!!!

The two CDs I ordered from the German label, Promising Music, on April 20th, arrived this afternoon. Talk about speedy delivery. I was expecting 4 to 6 weeks. I was pleasantly surprised to say the least.

To start, everything they say about their reissues is correct: the CD packaging does resemble the gatefold albums of the era, right down to the grooves in the CD, and the vinyl record sleeve itself. Even the liner notes have been recreated and translated from the original German into English for us uni-lingual folks. In the final analysis, though, it’s not what they look like that matters, but how they sound.

Promising Music explains their re-mastering philosophy as such:

Restauration of the basic material as close to the original as possible. We give the integrity of the original sound top priority. By that we rather turn down an extreme reduction of tape noises (e.g. we feel, in case of doubt, leftovers of tape hiss less disturbing than a limitation of the sound transparency), and we edit the acoustic patterns carefully on the basis of original aesthetics (i.e. no “pseudo stereo” sound, no artificial reverbs, no additional compression, no superimposed “modern” sound scapes).

We remastered the original MPS master tapes digitally on a 24bit/88,2kHz level. By this we feel to reach, in comparison to a sampling rate of 96kHz, a more transparent and smooth sound, as the down sampling to the regular 44,1kHz Compact Disc standard runs much more plain and straight.

By this we produce pristine, true-to-original listening pleasure of these precious recordings at highest possible quality — not high tech sterility.

While neither are vinyl records, I use the same test with these CDs as I do with all the vinyl records I purchase: do they possess a deep, warm enveloping sound as opposed to a sound which is harder and more artificial?

Both CDs are excellent remasterings of these early MPS titles. While, admittedly, this was my first listen to Don ‘Sugarcane’ HarrisSugar Cane’s Got the Blues, the electrifying performances recorded at Berlin’s Philharmonic Hall from November, 1971, were rendered richly and vibrantly. I have heard digital copies of vinyl rips of George Duke’s Faces In Reflection, though, and this CD blows those mp3s out of the water. It’s like listening to a brand new album (which it is, in many respects). A joy in any language.

MPS is Most Promising Sound

The last time I entered an independent music store and asked if they had anything by George Duke in stock, the response I received was a very long, dull, blank stare followed by: “George who?” The same goes for the many of the Zappa alumni from the early to mid-70s. It’s as though they’ve been completely forgotten by the present music store owners and their databases. One cannot completely fault them, though, as much of the music from that period is out-of-print, or has never been issued on CD.

Luckily, a small German label, Promising Music, has gained access to a range of more than 400 titles of the MPS catalogue (which is owned by Universal Classics & Jazz, a division of Universal Music GmbH, Berlin/Germany). They have reissued Don ‘Sugarcane’ Harris‘s classic Sugar Cane’s Got The Blues and George Duke’s Faces In Reflection, (both of which I have already gleefully ordered) with intentions of reissuing other Duke classics such as ‘I Love the Blues, She Heard My Cry’, ‘Feel’, and ‘Liberated Fantasies’.

All promising music releases are as close to the vinyl original as a CD format can be.

  • All discs have black vinyl design (with a groove!)
  • All CDs are packaged in downsize replicas of original LP, incl inner sleeves
  • All CDs feature an extra booklet with legible reprints of liner notes and all original informations, as well as additional retrospective comments
  • The subtle re-mastering is trying to get as close as possible to the warmth of the vinyl originals

Until the CDs arrive, in particular the Sugarcane reissue, I can satisfy myself listening to the five RealAudio excerpts of Don ‘Sugarcane’ Harris available for free download here.

Will Southern Rock Rise Again?

Where are the likes of a Jim Mangrum and a Ruby Starr today? Or the likes of such groups as Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers Band? Do these kind of groups even exist anymore? Groups such as Black Oak Arkansas and Molly Hatchet can still be found touring from time to time, albeit with slightly altered line-ups. Will southern rock rise again? If the following video of the Kings of Leon performing “Pistol of Fire” live on Later… with Jools Holland is any indication, southern rock is appealing to an entirely new generation:

I also found this video of the late Warren Zevon performing “My Shit’s Fucked Up” live on Later… with Jools Holland:

Later… with Jools Holland is a contemporary British music television show hosted by Jools Holland. It has been running without a break since 1992 as part of BBC2‘s late-night line-up, usually around 11PM, and features a mix of both established and new musical artists, from solo performers to bands and larger ensembles.

Signals, Noise & Fog

It’s been a bit of a busy week for me, fellow fen! However, here’s some stuff that didn’t pass by my radar unnoticed:

  • In Japan, this and that hits the streets. Says Thomas Marrot: “the plot happens in Frank Zappa Street where human and animal characters live together in a “funky & pop” city.”
  • A Zappa Music Map
  • Soundpainting: “the live composing sign language created by New York composer Walter Thompson for musicians, dancers, actors, poets, and visual artists working in the medium of structured improvisation.”
    A bunch of clips, again via Thomas:

  • Some books we ordered from finally arrived!
  • Armed America — portraits of gun owners in their homes.
  • Painting elephant — this is nothing short of mesmerizing.

.. and then there’s this:

Buenos Aires Smog

…have a great weekend!…

Feel the Urge to Splurge?

Don\'t be the last cow in your pasture to download a copy.

On Sunday, April 13th, after a four year hiatus from micro-press publishing, Greensleeve Editions released the inaugural issue of Splurge, a zine which decodes and defaces the ostentation of contemporary consumer culture; by any means necessary. Just take the zine’s sardonic title, for instance. We know our world is set up in such a way as to make it virtually impossible to avoid consumerism. And beyond all other distinctions, we are still consumers. We are consumers when we wake up each morning, and we are still consumers when go to sleep each night. Is that the end of the relationship? Like cows being led to the barn for milking, or slaughter? We need not go quietly into that barn of consumerism. Which is exactly what Splurge aims to do: bear witness to the shortcomings of corporate and consumer culture.

Between Splurge’s covers lie several “subvertisements” fake ads altered to seem real. The zine also features a section of fake classifieds (“subifieds”?) which offer derisive tidbits of scathing criticism:

“REMOTE, IMPERSONAL West Edmonton Mall requires Dolphin impersonators to replace live ones which have died. 3 shows a day M-F, 4 shows on Saturday. Payment in halibut, cod, salmon. Free antibiotics.”

“LOVE ME TENDER. Constipated, hopelessly drugged out fat former rock star widely reputed to be dead seeks woman to take quality legal downers with. Must love peanut butter and banana sandwiches and be willing to relocate to Memphis, TN.”

Also found between Splurge’s covers are rants, raves, monologues, articles and even a book review. To download a free copy click

(remember, folks, you’re linking to a 70Mb .pdf — some people don’t like clicking on something that causes them to download something).

Splurge is best viewed from Adobe Reader. You can download free Mac and PC Versions


Wherein Barry Copyrights His Facial Hair

That’s right, you heard right: any and all of my facial hair varieties are hereby copyrighted! You see, being the type of original artist whose legacy is to be protected by my wife upon my biting the big one, I can easily imagine a scenario whereby some East-German lowlife scumbag rips off one of my iconic facial hair designs for a logo concept, thereby confusing fans across the globe.

Copyrighted Facial Hairone, two, three, four, five, six
Click the above image to view all of my Copyrighted Facial Hair Designs (hovering your mouse over the pictures will allow you to navigate back and forth). Any of you so much as think about copying these Facial Hair Designs, I’ll have my Burger Kuhnt scumbag lawyers all over you faster than you can say the words “Accept No Substitute”!

Word to the wise…

Three Little Words

My thoughts lately have been occupied by the meaning of these three little words: Kill Ugly Radio. Exactly what do they mean, philosophically speaking? We know the definition of the individual words, but does knowing these components help us? We can guess as to why they were initially uttered. Why did Barry choose these three particular words, beyond their FZ reference, that is? What do these words mean to you? To me? To them? To anyone? The PHILOSTOPHER’s door is open. Speak your piece.

The Dresden Dolls — Post-War Trade

In a comment in a previous post I alluded to a new revolution in how new bands, their labels, and their fans are making music, selling said music, as well as interacting regarding individual merchandising. In this regard, The Dresden Dolls have developed a unique relationship with their fan base called Post-War Trade:

…so here it is, the age of over-inter-connectedness and the internet and it’s time to change the world. I want to create an internet exchange forum in which really talented artists and artisans can directly reach out fans instead of posting photos their wares to the internet to get feedback. this is awesome but i would really like to see these artists making MONEY and doing BUSINESS with our fans. so it was that after years and years of discussion, the concept of Post-War Trade was born.

my good friend and fellow artist Katie Kay has agreed to take on the job of trying to organize this conceptual nightmare into a daydream reality, but we obviously can’t do it without YOU. the main idea is to get as many artists and artisans as possible to submit their work, we will pick the stuff we think is amazing enough to be reproduced en masse, and the featured items will be sold on the net with the majority of the profit going back to the artist.


no artist is too professional or amateur to get involved. ANYTHING GOES.

The Dresden Dolls are an American musical duo from Boston, Massachusetts, formed in 2001, consisting of Amanda Palmer (vocals, piano, harmonica, ukelele) and Brian Viglione (drums, percussion, guitar, vocals). They describe their style as “Brechtian punk cabaret”.

Does their 2004 video, “Coin-Operated Boy” from their self titled debut record remind anyone of a late 1970s FZ song?