Sunday, December 19, 2010

Updates and Ephemera-- Christmas '10

Happy holidays from the Sphere! Here are some updates for you all as we transition into the New Year. (2011... Can you believe it?!?!)

It's unfortunate that 2010 had to go out on such a bummer with the loss of one of our heroes, the legendary Captain Beefheart. Old Don was a great man and a hero to many. From a personal perspective, I had just pulled out Trout Mask Replica for the first time in a couple of years and was listening to it when I heard the news of his passing. The combination of the ethereal sounds found on Mask and the emotional severity of the news made for a very spiritual experience for me. If you have yet to hear Trout Mask Replica for yourself, some kind soul has posted the entire album on YouTube. Though it's not an easy record to get into by any means, it's a one-of-a-kind statement that really rewards you when it finally clicks.

We are also working hard to get L.A. Gemstones: The Rock Box out as soon as possible. At the present time, sources are being compared and evaluated in order to attain the best possible sound quality. Rather than rush things and turn out something that we feel is sub-standard just to meet an arbitrary Christmas deadline, we want to make sure that the product is uniformly excellent before unleashing it. Trust me, the results should speak for themselves.

The other major project this winter has been the long awaited SMiLE box set. Currently this is about 80% complete, and should be done by March of 2011. This will be nothing less than the most complete assemblage of SMiLE sessions, acetates, mixes, remixes, concerts and outtakes ever compiled. While other large scale compilations have circulated (Big Bag of Vegetables, Project SMiLE and the mysterious "12 CD Box Set") the Crystal Sphere set should blow all of these away in terms of sound quality, historical accuracy (session dates, etc.) and overall completeness.

In between these two major projects, I also have some special soundboard audio recordings from the legendary Hollywood Bowl by artists such as the Seeds, the Animals, the Buffalo Springfield, Tommy James & the Shondells, Brenda Holloway, Hearts & Flowers, the Yellow Payges, the Rascals, Merle Haggard, Nat "King" Cole, Glen Campbell, Nancy Wilson and more. The historical importance of these shows cannot be overstated. They were literally rescued from a garbage can and lovingly restored, warts and all. A true time capsule in other words.

Finally, we'd like to officially endorse a new blog you may not have had a chance to check out yet. Classic Studio Sessions is a site devoted to just that-- the legendary sessions that produced some of your favorite tracks. They've just posted their first entry on a Wrecking Crew session for Sonny & Cher, and you will not believe the amount of information they were able to uncover using both photographs of the session as well as a first hand interview with legendary guitarist and arranger Don Peake!

Well anyway, that's all the news that's fit to print. I ran into a little trouble with SendSpace and some of the old stuff on the blog has been deleted, so if you'd like a re-up just drop me a message and I'll try my best to get it up for you. Until next time-- further! ~JP~

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

John Entwistle: Tale of the Ox

Compilation (single artist)

If any of you had a chance to check out my recent post on Alan Wilson, you'll see where I described him as the quintessential musical "X-Factor". This is something that I've been thinking about more and more as this humble blog develops. I must have never realized it, but I seem to have quite an affinity for musicians who fit into this category-- guys who may not have sung lead on every track or written every song, but who came through with clutch musical contributions that helped to elevate their bands from "very good" to "classic" status. So here, in no particular order, are My Top 12 musical "X-Factors":
  1. Dennis Wilson (The Beach Boys)
  2. Brian Jones (The Rolling Stones)
  3. Richie Furay (The Buffalo Springfield)
  4. Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson (Canned Heat)
  5. John Entwistle (The Who)
  6. George Harrison (The Beatles)
  7. Gene Clark (The Byrds)
  8. Marty Balin (Jefferson Airplane)
  9. Mike Pinder (The Moody Blues)
  10. Russ Giguere (The Association)
  11. Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (The Grateful Dead)
  12. Peter Tork (The Monkees)
Someday I would love to write a book about these twelve amazing musicians, and the vital contributions they brought forth to their respective bands. Until then, this blog will have to suffice. And in time, they will all get their due, but for now let's focus on "The Ox"... John Entwistle.

There's not too much I can say about John that hasn't been said before. He's probably the best rock bassist of all time, as well as an underrated composer who was able to place his songs comfortably alongside one of the undisputed greatest songwriters of his generation. The Ox was also a man possessed with a brilliantly morbid sense of humor, which was never not reflected in the lyrics he penned both for his solo albums and his work with the Who. Perhaps somewhat strangely, a compilation of all the songs John recorded with The Who has never appeared-- until now that is. Here is hoping you listen to, and enjoy the Tale of the Ox.