Michael Fremer  |  Jun 30, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments

MF: Why are there so many guest drummers on your records?

LP: Because I'm a guitar player. I think what happened in the ’70s with all the disco kind of stuff — all the drummers became, like, machines? So that kind of drumming became a prerequisite....

MF: And how did you feel about that? Was that pushed on the band?

Unidentified voice: The White man again! [Laughter]

MF: That was pushed on the band....

Unidentified voice: The evil White Demon! [More laughter]

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 30, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments

Los Lobos On Record

This survey omits the group's first independent release (1978), and the La Bamba Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1987)

(Album covers can be found in the Photo Gallery, accessible below the picture of the site mascot, Mr. Eno).

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 30, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments

The Tracking Angle Interview: Los Lobos- America's Band

By Michael Fremer

The goodies were stacked on a big table in the corner of the stars' dressing room: an industrial size sack of M&M Peanuts, big bags of Herr's tortilla and potato chips, a jar of Pace brand Thick and Chunky Salsa, fresh fruit, a ten pack of Kellogg's cereals, a plate of muffins, a cheese, tomato and deli platter, jars of Hellman's mayonnaise and Grey Poupon mustard, and some local color- loaves of Stroehmann's Pennsylvania Dutch and white bread and a big red box of Ivins' "Famous Spiced Wafers."

"Did the Los Lobos guys really ask for Pace salsa in a jar? Or did the Electric Factory people figure the beaners would expect it? If Al Kooper plays there do they put out knishes and Cel-Ray tonic?," I'm thinking. I was hungry, but I wasn't going to help myself to the band's food. If I couldn't eat it, I'd memorize it, which I did. And I waited. And waited.

Matthew Greenwald  |  Jun 01, 2004  |  0 comments

The opening track to Starsailor’s sophomore long-player, Silence Is Easy claims “Music Was Saved”. I won’t go so far as to take that totally to heart, but at times, and in some ways, the album makes me feel that way. There is a special sense of camaraderie, and yes, salvation throughout the proceedings, that leaves one feeling buoyant, liberated and cleansed—and it has less to do with musicianship or sonic appeal, and more to do with the songs themselves.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 01, 2004  |  0 comments

Calling himself Palace Music, or Palace Brothers, or Push, and of late Bonnie “Prince” Billy, the enigmatic Will Oldham, aided by a group of musical cohorts, has been making a spare brand of dry, mournful country/rock music for more than a decade. Before the term alta-country had been coined, it could be argued, the 34 year old Oldham had both invented and perfected the musical form on a series of genre-shattering albums issued on the Chicago based Drag City label beginning in 1993.

Matthew Greenwald  |  Jun 01, 2004  |  0 comments

Gene Clark went from superstar status to cult favorite faster than probably any artist in rock’s history. Departing from The Byrds at the very height of their powers (immediately after “Eight Miles High”, which he was the major architect of), he bounced from label to label, cutting some of the greatest albums of the late-60’s and early 70’s in the process. He progressed, flowered and remained, in a quiet way, one of the finest singer-songwriters of the period, and in hindsight, chronicled the stylistic shifts in music and social mores as well as anyone, including larger lights such as Neil Young. Some of his finest work was for A&M Records, either in tandem with Doug Dillard (The Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark, which mid-wife’d the ‘country rock’ genre) and 1971’s Gene Clark - also known as White Light to many fans; as good as any ‘singer-songwriter’ record from the early 70’s. On this album, none other than Bob Dylan commented that one song, the epic “Spanish Guitar”, was one that he wished he’d written.

Matthew Greenwald  |  Jun 01, 2004  |  0 comments

This is such a wide-ranging album of varying degrees of music and entertainment that it’s virtually impossible to classify or label…and that’s probably the way Judy Henske enjoyed it. Like her first two albums for Elektra, this collection of songs ranges from Broadway-inspired pop to folk to soul, folk-rock, and blues (and beyond). Henske’s ability to mark her territory in all of these genres, define it… and then burn it down - is decidedly spellbinding. But aside from her astonishing voice, this live in-the-studio record captures her hilarious, slightly stoned-out humor. To be sure, they’ll probably be a few listeners who will be tempted to skip some of the lengthy, in between song raps and introductions; but they’d be selling themselves short. Inspired by Lenny Bruce and Lord Buckley (among others) Judy’s politically-incorrect/Beat attitude wreaks havoc over codified ‘rules’ of public behavior, especially for women in 1966. As emancipated, independent and equally talented as Slick, Joplin or Elliot, Judy Henske should be mentioned in the same breath as those women - and the proof is right here.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments

Note: due to current website technical limitations, accompanying photos can be found in the “gallery” section, accessible near the bottom of the home page.

Last fall, I was invited to visit the Hornslet speaker cabinet manufacturing facility in Denmark. The company builds high-tech boxes for Audio Physic, Linn, Dali, Naim, Aerial Acoustics and a number of other companies. Take a look at a map and you’ll see that Denmark is but a short distance from both Hamburg and Hanover, Germany, home of the big Universal Music tape vault and the Emil Berliner studio. I’ll be in the neighborhood, I figured, so why not swing by on my way to Denmark?

I’d made contact with Gunther Buskies, senior product manager in charge of vinyl reissues at Universal, who worked out of Hamburg, and he offered to drive me to Hanover so I could visit the facility and talk with veteran LP mastering engineer Willem Makkee. Makkee cuts the Universal LP reissues as well as the Warner Music (Europe) series, and most of the Speakers Corner vinyl.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments

Arriving at the Universal facility in Hanover, I was confronted by a large, multi-storied modern facility. I had been led to believe that the site was the original home of Berliner, but in fact, that was elsewhere in Hanover, and instead a small section of the mastering facility’s first floor had been turned into a small museum showcasing artifacts from among Berliner’s effects. Among them was Berliner’s original flat disc gramophone, early plated lacquers and finished discs, his original “Nipper” drawings, other Berliner designed playback devices, and some photos of the inventors. It was thrilling to see the first flat disc playback device “in the flesh.”

Photos lined the walls and corridors: photos highlighting the rich recording heritage of Deutsche Gramophone and other labels now under the Universal umbrella. There were pictures of recording sessions from the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond, featuring Herbert Von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic while a team of recording engineers and technicians in an adjacent control room oversaw the capture to analog tape. There were shots of Karl Bohm, Leonard Bernstein, Seji Osawa, and other luminaries of a bygone era, exuding a gravity, importance and grandeur that people no longer seem to possess anywhere on the planet. That goes for musicians, politicians, you name it. And if you don’t sense it in everyday life, you surely would walking down that corridor taking in those black and white photos.

Michael Fremer  |  Apr 30, 2004  |  First Published: Dec 31, 1969  |  0 comments

This interview with George Martin was conducted in July of1998 and was originally intended for The Tracking Angle. Unfortunately, we ceased publication before it could be run. It appeared later in Art Dudley’s wonderful Listener magazine, also sadly defunct. Martin was in New York on a media tour publicizing In My Life his farewell production. It wasn’t particularly well received in the press, but it was what Martin wished to do, and that was good enough for him and for me. Meeting Martin was a memorable experience that I shall never forget.

The hotel door cracks open and you're startled to see Sir George Martin has answered your knock, looking just as you've seen him in the photographs, only taller and even more imposing. He welcomes you sincerely, in a polished voice that's soothing yet terribly aristocratic and proper sounding.

Foolishly, involuntarily, (and you hope surreptitiously) your eyes momentarily lose contact with Martin's to dart around the room looking for those other familiar faces always in the photos. You lock onto Martin's eyes, which say to you, "Don't worry. We're used to it. You're not the only one who's looked."