Monday, November 29, 2010


I don't go to many live shows anymore. I've seen more awesome shows than any one person is reasonably entitled to in a given lifetime. Maybe it's just me being an old fart, but the past few non-jazz shows I went to were far more trouble than they were worth. At my advanced age, I can neither bear the disappointment of a mediocre show nor the audience which usually attends such gigs.

There are a few exceptions. And by few I mean maybe two or three bands I'd gladly fork over the dough to see because I can go into it with a fair degree of certainty that they won't let me down and the crowd won't make me want to dismember them. Einstürznende Neubauten is one of those bands. I was so stoked that I would be seeing them play in the next few days until this announcement turned up in my inbox:


It is with great regret that Einstürzende Neubauten announce the
cancellation of their planned thirtieth anniversary appearances in Los
Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto and New York. While the US
Department of Homeland Security did issue approvals for the band’s
visas, it was not done in time to secure the appointments at the
overseas embassies and consulates that represent the necessary final
step in the process.

The band members are tremendously disappointed by this turn of events
and wish to thank all those fans who purchased tickets for these
performances for their support. The band would have loved to do the
tour and meet their overseas fans. Because this tour was a
time-sensitive production, it will not be rescheduled. Ticketholders
can obtain refunds from their point of purchase."

I've seen the mighty Neubauten 4 times in the last 20 years or so years. And each time, they were better than the previous time. The last time I saw them was about 5 years ago, when Perpetuum Mobile came out. They were astounding. Majestic. Wonderful. I was really looking forward to this show, the whole 30th Anniversary thing being the icing on top. But this news is a serious bummer.

November 29, 2010: The day Leslie Nielsen died and the day Eintstürzende Neubauten canceled their North American tour. I think I'll have a drink and watch this performance of "Youme & Meyou" for the millionth time.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Amon Tobin - Esther's

Amon Tobin's sinister yet sweet Esther's is the coolest music video I've seen in a while.

Jazz in the workplace

I love this video by Dutch jazz group De LP Fabriek. Featuring Han Bennink and Ernst Reijseger (behind the plant.)

The Animation of Piotr Kamler

I love all kinds of animation. As a parent, I've probably watched more animated feature length films and shorts in the past two years than I care to admit. They've run the gamut from truly inspired and wonderful movies like Coraline and Despicable Me to dreadfully dull fare like The Tale of Despereaux.

I grew up with Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry-- which is weird come to think of it. Was there such a dearth of cartoons available in the 1970s that they had no choice but to show cartoons from the '40s and '50s? I haven't figured that out. But ever since I was in high school and could rent things like Wizards and Fantastic Planet, I've been enthralled by the potential of animation to take me places that regular films cannot. It allows for a total suspension of belief that even the best science fiction or fantasy films aim for, but for me at least, usually fall short of delivering.

My eyes were peeled wide open after I got out of high school and discovered Japanese animation (even though it was really there all along, what with Speed Racer and Star Blazers-- I just wasn't aware it was what would later become known as anime) and the experimental animation of Jan Svankmajer and the Brothers Quay. This was the stuff that truly resonated with me.

Over the summer, I was turned on to Polish animator Piotr Kamler. I found quite a few of his films on youtube and bookmarked them but most of them have now been deleted.

Anyway, some have reappeared so I'm going to post them before they're gone again. I love his stuff because it's like some of my favorite surrealist painters' work come to life and most feature soundtracks by prominent musique concrète composers. Jean-Pierre Jeunet claims Kamler's films inspired him to get into filmmaking. Enjoy while they last.

Coeur de Secours (Heart of Relief) features a score by Francois Bayle.

L'Araignéléphant (the Spider Elephant) features a score by Bernard Parmegiani and text in French.

His 1982 award-winning film, Chronopolis, featuring a score by Luc Ferrari, can be viewed in its entirety here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Worst selling Guitar Hero titles vol. 4

This idea for creating fake Guitar Hero game boxes has been knocking around in my head for some time. It took a cold night with nothing to do to make me to sit down and waste time(*) actually creating them. I've thought of about 20 guitarists I'd like this way. And I'm absolutely kicking myself for not having Keith Rowe on that list.

No one has changed the very essence of "guitarness" more than Rowe. He didn't turn guitar playing on its head so much as he put it on the table. Instead of adopting the axe as any sort of substitute phallus, Rowe chose to put the instrument on a table and then poke and prod at it as if it were a biology lab project. Call it tabletop guitar if you must, but that makes it sound so clinical. You wouldn't call Frankenstein clinical, would you?

I saw AMM play in Houston, Texas many centuries ago. The show was recorded and released as Before Driving To The Chapel We Took Coffee With Rick And Jennifer Reed (aka the most ridiculous album title in the history music.) It was an absolutely mind-bending experience. I hate to bust the tired music snob cliche out on you, but the recording doesn't do the experience of AMM proper justice. The things Keith Rowe did to his guitar were positively revelatory. I'd never seen or heard anything quite like it. Since then, it's become a fairly standard practice, at least to a certain Wire-reading population of eggheads. You know the type-- the ones standing around before the show, pensively stroking their facial hair, wondering aloud whether Rowe is the guitar's Picasso or Beckett.

So, I'd like to thank my friend, Paul Booker, for planting the seed. I believe the instructions for this game require the player to push the buttons with items found in your dad's toolbox.

Keith Rowe & Toshimaru Nakamura live in ST.Louis Feb 02-03 from joseph raglani on Vimeo.

* "Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time"

-Bertrand Russell

Monday, November 8, 2010

Worst selling Guitar Hero titles vol. 3

You only thought your parents hated your music. This one guaranteed to have your parents paying you to stop.

Oh, Jandek. I love the way you creep me out.

Some youtuber has posted the Jandek documentary: Jandek on Corwood.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Worst selling Guitar Hero titles vol. 2

It's about time Sony reduced this guy's oeuvre to 5 buttons and a toggle switch. You know, for the kids.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Worst selling Guitar Hero titles vol. 1

The first in a series.

I'm pretty sure this guy's a genius

After all, he's from Finland. This is the work of the Santeri Ojala, aka StSanders. You may remember the "shreds" videos he did a couple of years ago. They were brilliant, but lately he's edged into full on genius territory. Instead of just bad guitar solo synching, he's now doing full on covers of entire songs. I guess one would call it a parody. But I think it's something more. I'll call it a "parodigm." It is an art form that would be impossible without the webbernet.

I wanted to embed his Rolling Stones homage, but he's disembedinated it. Watch it. Empty your bladder first.

Kammerflimer Kollektief - Wildling

Kammerflimmer Kollektief is one of the few bands that send me into giddy anticipation when I get news they’ve released a new album. Maybe that’s because they’re one of those bands I can claim as “mine,” and I still get that sophomoric kick when I mention a band my friends have never heard of. And they have a cool name to boot. Just saying “Kammerflimmer Kollektief” makes me feel cool. How many band names do that anymore?

The band is a collective in the true sense of the word. The lineup has shifted constantly over 11 years and 8 albums. Only one original member remains. So it’s a remarkable testament to the vision of the “kollektief” that the music has remained so consistent.
For their newest album, Wildling, the group is paired down to just a trio. This has focused their sound considerably, though the sound is unmistakably “kammerflimmer.”

“Kammerflimmer” translates literally into “shimmering,” which is not a bad way to begin describing the music the band makes. Though it is a peculiar kind of shimmering -- more like the way stars would shimmer on the surface of a lake at night. There’s always a bit of a spooky element just under the surface that makes describing their music difficult. I could tell you that they basically find a subtle, comfy groove, settle into it and let various avant jazz-inspired acoustic and electronic sounds wash in and out of the cracks, but that would be a bit like saying the Ramones played three-chord punk rock. It’s just not fair.

The main thing that separates this new album from the others is the prevalence of Heike Aumuller’s vocals. Though her voice appeared on a few tracks of the last album, Jinx, it is on all but two here. Normally, the addition of vocals is something that would elicit much moaning and gnashing of teeth from yours truly. I adore instrumental music. And Kammerflimmer has produced many albums of astonishing instrumental music. I know I’m in the minority, but usually the addition of vocals usually means the affair is over for me. It certainly ruined my love for bands like Papa M and Mice Parade. So I was fully prepared for the potential of something ghastly. But once again, Kammerflimmer deliver beautifully and surpass expectations.

Not only do Aumuller’s vocals match the eerie qualities of the music perfectly, but they add a new, even more ghostly quality. Her vocals alternate between actual lyrics that you can almost understand and the sort of bewitching, shamanic scat vocalise she debuted on jinx. It’s exactly the kind of thing that could go terribly wrong. Not only is there something truly artistic about the way she pulls it off, but she might actually be exorcizing demons.

I’ve always thought Kammerflimmer Kollektief would be an obvious choice for film music. There is an inherent soundtracky quality to what they do. Many of their pieces would be right at home in a David Lynch movie. Come to think of it, that’s a fairly apt comparison and maybe one of the reasons Kammerflimmer aren’t more popular. They tend to want to explore places that can be a little uncomfortable. But they do it gracefully, fearlessly, and without any sense of irony -- qualities lacking in much of both popular film and music today.

Never Stop

Let's just say I learned a lesson and move on, shall we?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Guest VJ mini set Volume 2: the RCA years

20 years ago, I worked for RCA Records. First I was just a lowly intern, making copies and stuffing envelopes. But then, I became an Alternative Marketing Rep, which sounds awesomely important, but I was still basically making copies and stuffing envelopes.

At the time, RCA's biggest selling record was the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, which came out three years before I got there. Before that, the thing that kept them afloat was the Elvis catalogue.

When I first got there, I was wide-eyed and idealistic. I thought I would be working with lots of other people who were just as into music as I was. Within a month, I had no doubt that, with very few exceptions, most people there didn't know anything about music and certainly couldn't be bothered with the "weird" music in the Alternative Dept.

For me, it was a time of discovery. I came across so many bands that would shape my tastes for years to come. It was also, unfortunately, a pretty bad time for music videos.

My favorite album that I worked as an Alternative Marketing Rep (it sounded a lot less corndog 20 years ago) was Bizarro by the Wedding Present. I still come back to it a lot nowadays and the Weddoes just did one of those tours where they played the album in its entirety. It was the first time I heard the band and the first song on the album, "Brassneck" still pummels my head in the best possible way every time I hear it.

My second favorite album was A Gilded Eternity by Loop. Again, I'd never heard of them, but after hearing this, I quickly bought up their back catalogue which was then only available as imports. I listened to A Gilded Eternity recently and was forced to admit it hasn't aged well. But it still holds a special place in my heart.

My third favorite album is only my third because I was familiar with the band beforehand and it wasn't my favorite record of theirs. But by any measure, Sack Full of Silver by Thin White Rope is an above average record. These guys were actually weird. They were part of the "paisley underground" and blended '60s psychedelia with a peyote-induced mirage of the desert southwest. They were from Davis, CA and in my humble opinion, to this day have not received their due in the annals of indie rock history. They were awesomely powerful, rugged, funny, and didn't sound like anyone else. Their cover of "Yoo Doo Right" on this album introduced me to Can. So, for that alone, I think I owe them a rusty trombone. I can't find any official videos by them, but here's a clip of them live in Ghent, a concert which was recorded for their swan song, the supremely satisfying 2-disc set, The One That Got Away.

The early '90s was the time of Madchester and RCA had two of the best bands from the scene. The Charlatans UK got crapped on a lot as Johnny Come Latelies to the movement, but you can't look me in the eye and tell me Inspiral Carpets were better. I saw them live right after Some Friendly came out and they were shockingly good.

Last, but by no means least, there were the Stone Roses. Their debut album remains one of the most vital recordings of the time and is a touchstone of 20th century Brit-pop. There were so many brilliant songs on it, but I'm going to go with "Fool's Gold" because I'm a sucker for a well-played wah wah. The Roses took 300 years to record the followup record, called The Second Coming, and after its release, they immediately drown in a pool of their own urine, never to be heard from again.

Tomasz Stanko Live

I was fortunate enough to catch Tomasz Stanko live last week. I was interested to see how his new band featured on the album Dark Eyes came across without the ECM soundboard. To my delight and surprise, they were more aggressive, spacey and groovy live than on the CD. In fact, after listening to Dark Eyes again today, I have to say I much prefer the live versions of all the tunes. That's jazz, baby.

The Accidental Fungusarium

No, it's not a band you've never heard of so you can pull your knickers from your clenched bum cheeks. Inspired by a by a post on bOINGbOING a few months back, I made a mossarium. I thought it would be a lovely addition to the crib. And it was. For about a week. Then something started to happen.

I woke up one morning and there were what appeared to be spider webs running across the bottom. I turned to the trusty Internets to find that this was not at all uncommon and, depending on which random know-it-all you believed, it was one kind of fungus or another and I could easily remedy the situation by opening the lid and letting it dry out.

But since I'm all about science, I thought I'd just let nature take it's course and enjoy the mysteries of fungi. Sure enough the webs began to spread and soon there were little spores all over the sides of the bowl.

Then, something strange happened. From out of nowhere, little flies appeared inside. I had a lid on it, so I don't know how they would have gotten inside. I'm quite content to believe it was an isolated case of insta-genesis. Maybe one night, as I was sleeping, they just popped into existence, not unlike the spider webs or a mini-micro-scale big bang.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, my son and I caught some pollywogs at Griffith Park. They've been in a little aquarium for a while, but today, one of them looked more toad than pollywog, so I decided it was time to empty the Fungusarium and turn it back into a terrarium so the little toads can have a little slice of heaven before we release them back into Nature's maw. But before I did, I took some photos of my uninvited guests.

Before you ask, no, it didn't stink. It smelled like the woods after a rain. Like the song says, "Everything is beautiful in its own way."

Monday, March 29, 2010

And this is what I call Rock 'n' Roll

I just picked up the new Besnard Lakes album, The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night, and it rocks. They brought the rock action to the Jimmy Fallon Show and proceeded to show the kids how it's done. Behold.

I'll be reviewing the album in the coming days. Suffice it to say that it's rock music the way Satan intended, with gigantic, soaring hooks and lines that resolve in a most satisfying way. Not only does the singer look like a blue medal winner in the Warren Zevon lookalike contest, but he has a pretty amazing falsetto, which will unfortunately put a lot of people off.

Jaga Jazzist Live on Norwegian TV

Jaga Jazzist have just released a new album called One-Armed Bandit on Ninja Tune. I've been a fan for years, but I was beginning to think they'd broken up because it's been 5 years since their last album came out. Judging by the live clip, they appear to have turned down the electronic elements and cranked up the prog-rock/jazz-fusion to 11.

This clip has me wondering if all of Norwegian television is this cool. I'm sure they must have Norway's Got Talent or The Real Housewives of Skudeneshavn, but if there were five minutes that were this good once a week on any American channel, I might actually be persuaded to buy a television.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Guest VJ mini set Volume 1

If you came of age in the 1980s and you were into music that was decidedly non-Top 40, MTV was a harsh mistress. There it was, after school, beckoning you like a siren-- so tangible, so full of promise, yet just so blandly god-awful. Video after video, you'd wait and wait in hopes of catching something remotely interesting, hoping and praying for a morsel. Maybe you'd get a video by Devo or Talking Heads if you were lucky. But you were far more likely to get Bryan Adams, Lionel Richie, Genesis, or David Lee Roth. Even Hall & Oates began to seem like a blessed reprieve from the mundane.

But then, magically, in 1986, something happened. If you were lucky enough to be able to stay up late on Sunday nights, all of your pent up anxiety suffered at the hands of Huey Lewis and the News was rewarded with two full hours of music that didn't totally suck. It was called 120 Minutes.

It wasn't perfect. Far from it. It suffered from numbing repetition, Dave Kendall, and repetition. Honestly, how many times do you need to see the video for "Bastards of Young?" Every week, apparently.

For me, the highlights were the guest VJ episodes. My favorites were Henry Rollins and Robyn Hitchcock. They're about as opposite as possible, but the one thing they had in common was that you didn't know what to expect from one minute to the next. It felt like it could all come crashing down at any moment. But it didn't. Henry yelled at me to go buy John Coltrane records and Robyn told lysergic fairy tales while he strummed the guitar. Those 120 minutes actually made the rest of the week on MTV forgivable, if unwatchable.

I've always wanted to be a Guest VJ, and now, thanks to the power of youtube and the internet, I can. And after the fun I had traipsing the limitless library of fantastic stuff out there, I've decided to make it a regular thing. So, every now and then, I'll put together a mini set of music videos for your viewing pleasure. This inaugural edition should explain exactly why MTV would never let me take the helm of anything other than a mop bucket. Enjoy!

It's a Trip, It's Got a Funky Beat, and You Can Bug Out To It

I stopped collecting vinyl LPs when I opened my own record store in 1997. My beginning stock was my collection, and I sold all but a handful. While LPs do hold a dear space in my heart and I am a fan of all things anachronistic, I've never felt the urge to start collecting again.

But this Shogun Kunitoki record makes me want to at least own a Fisher Price turntable so I could trip out on the spinning disc. For 25 Euros, you can buy the vinyl version of Vinonaamakasio and a little strobe light (or save 3 Eurous and DIY.) Then, turn the lights out and shine the strobe on the LP for the ultimate mystical experience. OK, it's a gimmick. But it's a really good gimmick.

Available from the always wonderful Finnish label, Fonal Records.

Gone Flakey with the Small Faces

Contrary to the experience of my good friend Paul Booker in Texas, it was a positively beautiful first weekend of spring here in El Lay. It has been cold and rainy nearly every weekend since January, rendering my convertible top useless as an anorak in Hades.

So, now that I can put the top down again, the pressing question is what to listen to? The Kinks are an awesome choice of course, but I was in mood for something more groovy.

Check out this awesome clip of the Small Faces on French television in 1968, getting groovy with the instrumental opening to their seminal record, Ogden's Nut Gone Flake. Or, according to the French translation, "Not Gone Flake." If only we could get that stamped on the forehead of every Angeleno....

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Captain Slow's House of Legos

Top Gear presenter James May has been a very busy man lately. First, there was his cosmic tribute to the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, James May On The Moon. Maybe I'm slow, or maybe it's because BBC is so persnickety about what we Yanks get to see, but I've just learned about two new programs (or as the Brits say, "programmes") that probably won't make it on to BBC America for another year.

So, with all due praise to those fabulous youtubers who figure out ways around things, I just learned of James May's Toy Stories and James May's Big Ideas. From watching the previews, it looks like my favorite middle-aged spanner sorter does everything from building Erector Set drawbridges to flying experimental aircraft to constructing a gigantic slot car racing set. But the house made entirely of Lego bricks is positively magnificent. And hilarious.

I'd eat fish and chips for a week if I could buy NTSC DVDs of each series.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Eight Track's Rich Man

I never thought John Cusak and Tiny Tim would ever be the jumping off point for a blog post, but an odd bit of serendipity has made it so. It started this morning with a post on BoingBoing, wherein Cusak picked a 10-minute video clip of Tim to share with all the happy mutants. It got me to thinking of James "Big Bucks" Burnett, who managed Tim and produced his last record. I had the honor and pleasure of working with Bucks at Dallas' premier dysfunctional, snob-topian record store, Pagan Rhythms, in the late '90s.

Bucks is world big-time famous for a lot of reasons. Yes, there's the Tiny Tim connection. But he was also the president of the Mr. Ed Fan Club. He also tangoed with Robert Plant and had smaller hair than Jimmy Page during the '80s. But Bucks is most famous for his eight track tape collection. So famous, that Texans have seen fit to give them their very own museum. Even the world famous Wall Street Journal has noticed Bucks' famousness.

My personal recollection of eight tracks in my life is spotty. I know they were around in some measure, but it was probably more tablespoons than quarts. I remember an eight track tape of Christmas music at my grandparents' house-- it was a compilation of the classics: "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" by Gene Autry, "Frosty the Snowman" by Burl Ives, etc. Though I remember well the dynamite-blasting players, I can't remember any other specific eight tracks in the LP-centric household of my youth.

That fact doesn't stop my nostalgia meter from pegging into the red. If I were in Texas this month, I'd certainly find a way to make it to the Eight Track Museum. But if I'm honest, it would probably be more to visit with Bucks than to admire his stacks of unopened Rutles eight tracks.

I just hope Texans find a way to make it permanent. It would be a real shame to see this museum go the way of the minidisc.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Earl Harvin is a Tinderstick

The local music scene in Dallas, Texas during the '90s was abysmal. Unless, of course, you were a fan of Pantera or Robbie Van Winkle. But for those with a discerning palate, the pickin's were slim. This was especially true if you happened to be in to jazz.

One consistent bright spot was drummer Earl Harvin. His always tasteful playing earned him recording dates with Seal, The The, Richard Thompson, The Psychedelic Furs, Dallas legend MC 900 Ft. Jesus and tour dates with Air. But his passion at the time was jazz.

The now-defunct Leaning House records documented Harvin's various jazz groups on several CDs, but as is true with most jazz, it was best to catch him live. I had the pleasure of seeing him many times, and he killed every time.

So imagine my surprise when I found out he's now in one of my favorite bands. Congratulations, Earl. Better yet, congratulations to Tindersticks.

We're Killing Music (Again)

This video commissioned by UK ISP TalkTalk (which apparently has nothing to do with the seminal ‘80s band of the same name) as a response to the anti-filesharing proposals making the legislative rounds in Britain does a remarkable job at laying to waste age-old arguments that it's the fans who are killing the music biz.

Cobbled together by Dan Bull, who became an internetional star in the wake of his Dear Lily parody, “Home Taping Is Killing Music” features the unlikely likenesses of Madonna, George Michael and Adam Ant at their ‘80s awesomest, singing about how if you, the fan, were to spuriously record their music onto a cassette tape, you and your proletariat friends will bring the record business crashing down, and all your favorite artists will starve to death in cardboard boxes on the steps of a boarded-up Capitol Records office building.

I realize some of you of a certain age may not remember the campaign (some of you may not even know what a cassette tape is.) but there was an actual campaign by the major labels centered around the battle cry, “Home Taping Is Killing Music” in the ‘80s. I remember it well and laughed about it at the time. But for some reason, it wasn’t until I saw this video that I made the connection between that ill-fated campaign and the new one against downloading that the record companies are fighting now. It’s still a war on the consumer. And that’s why they’ll lose again.

One of the things that made me laugh about the original anti-home taping campaign was the Dead Kennedys. Though the DKs made me laugh frequently, I remember the smug thrill I felt upon purchasing their In God We Trust, Inc EP on cassette and seeing the infamous text printed on Side B—“Home taping is killing record industry profits! We left this side blank so you could help.”

I felt like I was enlisting in the Dead Kennedys Army, and did my part by promptly recording my favorite songs from a Homestead Records compilation on the other side. But I’d already bought the record and Homestead was a valiant indie label. I had unwittingly defeated the purpose. But it felt rebellious.

By the time I began working in record stores in the early ‘90s, a new campaign was underway. The Parents Music Resource Center, headed by Tipper Gore (wife of Manbearpig hunter, Al Gore) was out to save the world from those who dared to swear. Although it wasn't a record company initiative, the major labels were more than willing to grab their collective ankles despite artists' objections. It’s thanks to the PMRC that you now see the ubiquitous “Parental Advisory—Explicit Lyrics” stickers on every other CD. Unless you shop at Wal Mart.

They actually had congressional hearings on the matter. I remember watching parts of the hearings and being amazed by the ridiculousness of it. But the hearings had two unintended consequences for me. First, they formally introduced me to Frank Zappa. I’d heard the name and seen his records, but being a young punk, I assumed by the shear size of his catalog that it was music for old farts. Boy, was I wrong. His eloquence at those hearings turned me on to a new world of sound, humor and virtuosity. For that, I can’t thank the PMRC enough.

The second thing the hearings did was even more remarkable. Coming of age in the ‘80s was rough if you hated heavy metal like I did. Metal acts like Motley Crue, Def Leppard, Poison and Twisted Sister were second only to the cheesy pop that dominated MTV back then. But someone else came to speak out against the PMRC during those hearings—Dee Snider, the lead singer from Twisted Sister. I could tell when he walked into the hearing room with is big hair and ripped denim that the congress critters were all checking to make sure their wallets were secure and they had a clear path to the exit. Snider sat down, pulled his speech out of his pocket, and proceeded to destroy them. It was awesome. Suddenly, I had an unlikely hero. Though I’d never buy his music, I was in Dee Snider’s Army every bit as much as I was in the Dead Kennedys Army.

Throughout the early ‘90s, I watched as the “Parental Advisory” labels took up valuable real estate on CD covers and record companies manufactured “clean” and “dirty” versions of every record that came with a warning. I dutifully wore my Sonic Youth “Smash The PMRC” shirt and watched artists find clever ways to make fun of the stupid label, culminating in Jane’s Addiction’s now-famous “First Amendment” cover art for the “clean” version of Ritual De Lo Habitual.

And so it goes. Back then, there were seven major label distributors. Now they’re down to 3 or 4. I can’t keep track of all the mergers. But it doesn’t matter because the tactics are the same. They cheat the artists, they blame and go after the consumer when profits trend down, nothing is their fault, and, of course, their dated business model is not the problem.

Home taping didn’t kill the recording industry and downloading won’t kill the recording industry. But things like record labels going after consumers and governments treating consumers like children will. Nobody wants to be told what to listen to or how or when they can listen to it. And though it’s unclear whether there is a business model that can satisfy record labels, artists and fans, what is clear is that one of those three is becoming superfluous thanks to cheaper technology and nearly limitless worldwide access directly to consumers. It is the labels who will be left behind if they don’t figure it out. They’ve been slow to act and I believe that “Home Taping Is Killing Music” nicely explains to the major labels that these sorts of tactics did not and will not work. Unfortunately, they won't acknowledge it until long after their obituaries are written.