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An Interview with author Bill Kopp.
Bill Kopp is one of those amazing individuals out there who continues to have a substantial and real impact on the world of music. A true self-made man, Kopp has managed to achieve what seems almost impossible and unachievable by most people's standards. Through sheer determination and hard work, he has managed to make writing about music a credible and rewarding career. And what is perhaps most incredible is that he has managed to do so without supporting crap artists (!). Bill's integrity and moral standards come first, and he is apparently not swayed by whatever is currently popular or hip. He seems to focus on artists he finds genuinely interesting and/or talented while ignoring those who are dull and generic or just in it for the money.Kopp began his career in marketing and advertising before he became a writer for Ira Robbins' highly influential Trouser Press magazine. He then went on to create his own enduring and credible worldwide presence.Bill constantly updates his own exquisitely crafted website (blog.Musoscribe.com) and is a contributing editor at Goldmine Magazine. He is also a musician, historian, collector and author.If you peruse his website or do a few searches, you will quickly realize that Mr. Kopp has made connections with some of the most amazing people in music over the past few decades. He has written about and spoken to a wide variety of individuals..."some that you recognize, some that you've hardly even heard of." But they all have one thing in common. They have contributed something credible and/or substantial to the world with their art, music and/or career(s).Mr. Kopp's first book Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon was published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2018. His second book has just been released and is entitled Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave (HoZac Books, 2021). This interview took place shortly before the second book was published.
What made you decide to write Disturbing the Peace?
Ha! Ask a writer a shitload of questions at your peril. I’m going to answer all of them.
Growing up in Atlanta in the ‘80s (a period that included my college years) I got into new wave/alternative/college rock or whatever one might call it. I was playing in a band – mostly covers – focusing on the (slightly) less corporate side of popular music. The letter bands, as we used to call them: U2, XTC, INXS, R.E.M. … you get the idea. Meanwhile, I was lucky enough to see LMNOP many times in those days, at the Moonshadow Saloon, and several times at 688.
Anyway, three albums that formed the soundtrack to my own life experiences of that period were Aztec Camera’s High Land, Hard Rain, Wire Train’s Between Two Words and Translator's Evening of the Harvest. As it happened, the latter two of those were released on a label called 415/Columbia. Three and half-plus decades later, I still own and adore those albums.
Fast-forward 35 years. In 2020 one of my regular writing gigs was for SF Weekly, an altweekly – much like Atlanta’s Creative Loafing once was – covering arts, music, lifestyle and news in the Bay Area. Then as ever, I was always keeping my eyes and ears open for relevant stories to pitch to my editors at altweeklies and magazines. I get about 200 press release emails a day, and believe it or not, some of them actually interest me.
One email in October ‘20 was from a publicist who is also a mentor and close personal friend. He was doing promo for a series of reissue albums, and asked if I thought a story about that might interest my editor at SF Weekly. The reissues centered on music released by San Francisco-based 415 Records, then (in its earliest days in the late 1970s) an indie/unaffiliated label focusing on Bay Area punk and new wave.
I was interested, of course. The early 415 roster didn’t yet include Translator or Wire Train, but it did feature some really cool music by bands like The Units (hints of DEVO and synth pop but wholly original), The Nuns (a punk band featuring a very young Alejandro Escovedo), art-punk collective The Mutants, punk-meets-power pop of The Readymades, and muscular alt-rock from SVT, an unlikely band that featured Jack Casady of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna.
So I was very interested, as was my editor. I interviewed a half dozen of those early 415 acts as well as the label’s colorful, intriguing founder, Howie Klein. The story ran in SF Weekly's return-to-print Thanksgiving issue (though sadly, the paper ceased publication a few months later).
Those interviews revealed that there was a much larger story to be told. The story of how 415 went from an indie to part of the Columbia Records monolith was clearly an interesting story (and an object lesson). So I considered putting together a book proposal. That’s usually a massive undertaking; following industry convention, my proposal for my first book was about 40 pages long. In this case, I put together a query letter, with the idea that if that sparked interest, then I would put the work into creating a proper proposal. I sent the query email to a publisher who was in the midst of doing a series of books focusing on the histories of record labels. A good fit, I thought.
So did that editor, but – for internal reasons I can’t get into, and that have nothing to do with me or my book idea – they passed. When I told my friend/mentor about all this, he suggested another publisher, a very small operation out of Chicago called HoZac Books. HoZac is an indie punk record label that also publishes books; at that point they had done about a dozen.
I sent the same query letter, changing a few words and the “to” line in the email. I got a reply the same day saying, essentially, “Yes, we’ll publish your book. When will it be ready?” It’s a fairytale story, really. That is not how it usually happens. The timeline from proposal to contract for my first book was, I think, two years.
Anyway, all that with HoZac was in mid-December 2020, right during the traditional Holiday slowdown. I decided to wait until after the New Year holidays to start reaching out and scheduling interviews. Some 29 bands released music on 415 Records, and I wanted to interview at least one person from every one, plus as many insiders and close observers as possible.
Did you do all the interviews online? Were any done face-to-face?
In total I conducted 96 interviews. All but four of those were done on the phone. Two were via email, and two were done via Zoom video. Many of those interviewed are no longer in the music business, but quite a few remain active. Fortunately for the purposes of my research – thanks, pandemic! – everybody was at home and pretty much available for interviews.
The pandemic made in-person interviews impractical; my complete lack of budget was a factor in that, as well. Add to all that the fact that most of my interviewees live in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, the Pacific Northwest or the Northeast / New England. I’m in Western North Carolina.
What was the most outstanding moment (or one of the most) while writing this one?
Some of the bands profiled in Disturbing the Peace earned a fair measure of success: Romeo Void, The Red Rockers, Wire Train, Translator and (for a moment) Pearl Harbor and the Explosions. But for every one of those, there were two or three other acts who had a shot but for various reasons didn’t catch fire. And interviewing those artists – many of whom had never been interviewed before, or at least not in 30-plus years – allowed them to tell their (often very personal) stories. And I feel privileged to have been the one with whom they shared their memories.
With that said, I could never pick one, though Derek Ritchie (drummer of Sudden Fun) told me a story about opening for DEVO that ranks among my favorites. Another is a little vignette from when Translator played 688, of all places.
What would you ultimately like to achieve through the publication of this book?
If it sends people back to discover (or rediscover) the music of those bands, then my work is done. And if my interview subjects feel I’ve done right by them, then I’m doubly proud.
In a sense, I was only able to scratch the surface of the stories in just under 100,000 words. I think the punk and new wave scenes of late ‘70s and early-to-mid 1980s San Francisco – and 415 Records’ role in all of that – are deserving of a documentary film. And when that happens, I would be delighted to serve as technical advisor and/or consultant. Just sayin’.
What was the first 415 Records band you were turned onto and when? How did the music affect you at that time?
When Wire Train’s Between Two Words found my ears, I was working at the main office/warehouse of Turtle’s Records in Atlanta. Listeing to that record, I was struck by the way in which Kevin Hunter combined a kind of windswept proto-Americana (though that term didn’t exist for me at the time) with some modern electronics wizardry that – again in retrospect – makes me think of Brian Eno and OK Computer-era Radiohead.
It’s difficult today for me to separate what I think about that record now from how it made me feel in 1985. None of those musical touchstones figured into my thinking at the time; they couldn’t have, of course. Except Eno, I guess: Another Green World was a favorite of mine even back then.
But even then, I had a sense that guitarist Kurt Herr – who was out of the band by the time the record was released – played a very important role in its making. He was very much “on the outs” with Hunter, whose version of things was the one that got told in interviews for Musician magazine and such. My chapters on Wire Train are, I hope, something of a corrective in that regard.
And Translator’s fourth album, Evening of the Harvest blew me away. It reminded me of Television, with its twin guitar attack. And the songwriting was superb; I liked it even more than the band’s debut, which included the college-rock radio hit “Everywhere That I’m Not.”
What was the most interesting realization that occurred while conducting the interviews?
At the outset of the project, I wasn’t sure that there was a narrative that would tie everything together. There was, and it had to do with the unique music scene that developed in San Francisco's North Beach clubs like the Mabuhay Gardens. A similar thing happened – on a smaller but ultimately more prominent scale – in Athens with the 40 Watt Club and the early ‘80s music scene there. And I’d argue that Atlanta had an equivalent in 688, The Metroplex, DB Recs, Wuxtry, Wax ’n’ Facts, David T. Lindsay and all that as well.
But a significant part of the San Francisco scene coalesced around a record label started by a deejay and a record store owner. And the story of all that – interspersed with the stories of the artists as the intersect with that timeline – flows, I think. That was my hope all along, but it was still unexpected when it unfolded that way.
How does this book compare to Reinventing Pink Floyd in terms of time and energy involved?
I did about a dozen interviews for the Pink Floyd book, and as much as I wanted to, I wasn’t able to speak with the surviving members of Pink Floyd (Gilmour, Waters, Mason). So beyond my interviews with some people very close to the band, my research drew upon old interviews and reviews, plus my own observations and my (massive) Pink Floyd bootleg collection.
One might say that the Pink Floyd book was – interviews aside – in my head, and that it was a matter of writing it down. For Disturbing the Peace, I did nearly 100 interviews and spent time listening to a ton of records. The narrative formed itself as I spoke to the people whose stories I was hearing.
Which do you enjoy most and why (writing reviews, doing interviews or writing books)?
All three pursuits are so interconnected, and I really enjoy them all. My favorite interviews – as you might suspect – are those where things turn into a conversation between two music fans. That has happened with a significant number of the more than 1000 interviews I’ve done.
But I really do prefer the deep dive features I’ve been able to write, and books are the logical extension of that. So I suppose “writing books” is the answer.
What initially made you decide to start writing about music?
“Write what you know,” someone wise once said. I knew I wanted to be a music journalist – whatever that means/meant – when I was a preteen in the mid ‘70s. I decided it for sure in the mid ‘90s, by which time I had spent several years in corporate America before unceremoniously being shown the door for something like the fourth time. At that point I turned to freelance marketing and (the then very new field of) web design work. I did that for 20 years until work dried up.
Alongside my all-consuming freelance marketing work, I still held onto my dream of writing about music. So in the early ‘00s I started writing for the online version of Trouser Press. By 2005 I was writing a column for a Boston-based print mag about music. I started there by writing a column about bootlegs – an abiding passion of mine for many years – and eventually started writing features. My first “big” story was an interview with a fairly pedestrian and insipid pop-punk group called Fall Out Boy.
Eventually I got better stories, like an interview with The Flaming Lips. I became a copy editor, fixing the sloppy submissions from the magazine’s huge stable of inexperienced writers. I supposedly shared those duties with another editor, but he did nothing. So I took over the whole thing, and by 2006 I was editing every word in a 120-page semimonthly, as well as assigning all the work. I became Editor in Chief, I fired half of the shitty writers, and brought on excellent writers like Evie Nagy and j. poet.
Unfortunately the publisher had no clue how to sell ad space; the magazine was completely funded by a relative of his. One day, they had an argument, and the relative immediately and irrevocably cut off funding. That was the end of the magazine. I was cheated out of thousands of dollars, and all of my writers went unpaid as well.
Meanwhile, I had loads of industry/publicist contacts, so I launched Musoscribe around 2008 or so. My thinking was, “I want to write books, but I need to build/cultivate my reputation. Right now I’m just Some Guy in North Carolina.” So I wrote new content every business day, and eventually every single day. Today Musoscribe has nearly 4000 entries. And along the way I got published in a bunch of magazines and papers, and got that first book deal, and now a second one. I’m doing in-person talks about classic albums, too, now that it’s (relatively) safe to venture outside the home once again.
Has technology made music better or worse?
When I was in high school and college in Atlanta, I used to go regularly to midnight movies. They showed Rock & Roll High School, Let it Be, and Pink Floyd at Pompeii. I saw each of those dozens of times. And having seen them so many times, you’d think I could quote verbatim. But some of those brain cells perished in the ‘80s, so I’ll paraphrase.
In the Floyd film, Roger Waters notes that the band had been accused of being slaves to technology. He countered with something along the lines of “It’s more about what you do with the technology” that’s important. I’d agree. That said, (a) AutoTune sucks, and (b) I can pretty much always tell when an album was recorded with all of the players in the same room at the same time. Fidelity issues notwithstanding, I prefer that real feel.
What is your favorite physical format at this point (and why)?
I love vinyl. I own about 5000 LPs and play them almost every day. I value the tactile experience, the interactivity of flipping the record after 22 minutes. It’s less of a passive experience than the modern methods of listening. That said, we have a one-in/one-out policy for our record shelves now, as we’ve run out of room. So my collection is getting “curated.” I have more than 5000 CDs as well; those have been under the one-in/one-out policy for several years now. I have a jukebox, too, and it’s full of classic 45s, with hundreds more nearby.
I’m from the “album era.” I know that artists put a lot of thought into sequencing, and not just on so-called concept albums. So I never listen to an album on shuffle, as it were.
Still, I just bought a new (old) car that has one of those modern audio systems in it, and no CD player. So to my shame, I use Spotify in the car. In my defense, I bought all those records years ago. And I don’t drive much; maybe 1000 miles annually.
I still have my cassettes of the first three LMNOP albums, by the way. And I have a tape deck that works.
What has happened to commercial music in the United States in the twenty-first century?
When I was a kid, commercial radio was a great aggregator. You might not have liked KISS, but you damn well knew who they were and what they sounded like. Same for The Silver Convention, Fleetwood Mac, Willie Nelson and The Isley Brothers.
I remember buying the 6CD set Can You Dig It several tears ago. It collects all of the best soul/r&b of the early ‘70s. And I was amazed to discover that I knew about 90% of the songs. Popular music was pretty broad-spectrum in those days. Even a lily-white suburban kind like myself was hip to funk, soul, and r&b. And I wasn’t unusual in that regard.
Things started downhill thanks to Lee Abrams and his radio programming. Today it’s all narrowcasting, with the market sliced into thin, sharply-defined slices. People listen to whatever they like – be it Scandinavian black metal or Christian rap – and they live their lives completely unexposed to anything outside that bubble. Today if an artist mixes or straddles genres, they’re viewed as something outside the ordinary and revolutionary. And uncommercial: Ray Charles wouldn’t be allowed to make a record like Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music in 2021.
I used to belong to a gym, part of a national chain. They played the worst, lowest-common-denominator garbage over the PA, and it all sounded the same. Formulaic in the worst way, it took Abrams’ approach of focus-grouping the music to its horrible extreme: the stuff is written by focus groups.
How do you know if a song or album is good or bad?
The first question I ask – and often the last – is this: does it move me? Discussions of good vs. bad become irrelevant in that context. Something might be perfectly executed, technically perfect, and leave me cold (see: Phish). Something might be shockingly sloppy and inspire me deeply (see Alex Chilton’s Bach’s Bottom LP).
Not to speak for other reviewers – though I suspect this might be true for you as well – but I generally know within 30 seconds or less of a record whether I’m interested. Here’s some unsolicited (and unsurprising) advice for recording artists: sequence your album with the best – or most immediate – tune right up front.
How do you feel about fame?
Dunno. Ask me again when I’ve achieved some.
Do lyrics matter?
That’s purely subjective. To me, they do, but how the lyrics/vocals sound is at least as important. In some cases that matters more to me. That’s why if you tell me Bill Callahan or Stevie Nicks or Geddy Lee is singing great lyrics, I’ll just have to take your word for it.
For what it’s worth, I’m more often moved to tears by music than lyrics. But there are exceptions, like Pet Sounds (an obvious choice, I know), Crowded House’s Temple of Low Men, and some of Porcupine Tree’s stuff. My favorite lyricist is probably Peter Holsapple (The dB’s, Continental Drifters etc.). Pete Townshend has gone on endlessly about struggling to express via lyrics his feelings as a middle-aged (and older) artist; Holsapple succeeds on that score without all the angsty commentary about it.
What kind of person impresses you?
Anyone who’s passionate about what they do is someone I’d enjoy getting to know. Even if what they do isn’t my bag (say, poetry or extreme metal), if it’s important to them and they’re committed to it, I’m fascinated. It doesn’t even have to be a “creative” pursuit.
What kind of person does not impress you?
Bullshitters, sports fans, poseurs, social conservatives. And anyone who lacks curiosity.
What is the smartest thing you have done?
I spent $3000 on Jungian psychotherapy after the end of my first marriage. (Everybody’s good friends now.)
What was your biggest mistake?
Not following my gut, and placing my trust and friendship in those who didn’t deserve it. Happily that’s happened only twice, and those episodes were ages ago.
If you could instantly change one thing in our world what would it be?
“All of them, Katie.” I think clean water or universal health care would be good starts.
Are there any plans for a possible future autobiography?
I suppose I could edit this Q&A down into one, ha.
Seriously, no. I’ve been witness to a lot of important history, but rarely a part of it. I do have several ideas for more books, though. Hey publishers, I’m easy to find!
Was there ever a point when you considered changing careers? If so, when and why?
Many times, and each time, I did it. I was head of marketing for a string of high-tech and industrial firms until I got fired for the last time in 1996. I went freelance and did web development and marketing consulting for about 20 years. By the end of that I had already moved toward being a full-time writer. It pays a fraction of what I made 22 years ago, but I’m much happier now. I write about spirits/cocktails and other stuff as well, but music is my primary beat.
Has the internet made you feel more connected or more disconnected?
This may not be a popular or widely-shared answer: More connected.
As a kid, I always felt different from my classmates and friends. Even among my friends, I had different interests and priorities.
In the mid ‘80s I saw This is Spinal Tap at the LeFont Tara. I fell out of my chair laughing; best movie ever, up there with Airplane! and Citizen Kane. So I gathered together a dozen friends and brought them all back to see it with me. They didn’t get it at all: “This band isn’t very good.” They didn’t laugh at the inside jokes. We were into different things, clearly.
Through the internet I’ve connected with my tribe. I’ve found many like-minded people with whom I share an aesthetic sense, and they’ve broadened my horizons (and, I hope, I’ve helped expand theirs). Had it not been for the internet, I would have missed out on a lot in terms of people and experiences.
Are things important?
I guess it depends on what is done with those things. If they’re a means to a worthy end, than yes. If the measure is simply acquisition, that’s an empty pursuit.
Music seems to be peddled almost exclusively in six month increments. After this six month period, most people consider the item no longer worthy of attention. Is this good or bad? Why or why not?
Some music is created expressly to be disposable. As long as the creators (I don’t think they deserve the term artists) are honest about that, so be it. That kind of music does nothing for me, and I’m not its target consumer anyway.
The good stuff lasts (see: Beatles). And sometimes, often tragically, music is either ahead of its time or otherwise unappreciated until it’s too late. Elliott Smith, Nick Drake, even Arthur Lee to some extent are examples of artists whose fame (such as it is) came too late. Pet Sounds didn’t sell well on initial release, and was widely viewed as a failure.
The machinery of what’s left of the music industry isn’t set up to create lasting works, and any artist who thinks otherwise is kidding him/herself. When music stays on anyone’s radar beyond the brief period in which it’s promoted, that’s generally in spite of the industry, not because of it. I’d like to say that music journalists and critics deserve some of the credit for that. Perhaps they/we do. But we’re certainly not reaching the average music consumer. They like what they like, even when it’s without aesthetic value; this explains the mystifying popularity of Jimmy Buffett, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mumford & Sons and (of course) Nickelback.
If you could instantly have anything, what would it be?
Another book deal, preferably one with an advance. Otherwise, my middle-class life is very full these days, and I don’t want for much of anything.
What is good about the world in 2021?
The people I know and love, and some of the music.
What is bad about the world in 2021?
Grievance politics, inequity, and most (but not all!) of the pop music landscape.
Do you feel like you can generally pick up on the motivation behind the music you listen to?
Oftentimes yes. Inauthenticity in music is hard to disguise. To be coarse about it, my bullshit meter is pretty sensitive. If an artist is swinging for the fences – or even just honestly trying – in terms of lyrics, arrangement, instrumentation or something else, I’m likely to pick up on that. And I’ll honor it even if the execution isn’t in my wheelhouse, so to speak.
Cynically created product is pretty easy to spot. And the aesthetic kiss of death is when an artist is coasting – “That was a hit; let’s do it again” – and instances like that make me sad. That approach often fools the public, though often not for long. That helps explain why after the blockbuster Eliminator – an album to which I personally took an instant dislike – ZZ Top released a record called Afterburner. It sold 5x Platinum, mostly on the strength of its predecessor. But today nobody remembers it, because it was, as the saying goes, old wine in new bottles.
But ZZ Top – a really, really good band for a long while, I should note – did have a sense of humor about the whole thing. I got the sense that they were in on the joke when they titled the next album Recycler.
What do you remember?
My dear wife likes to quote Oprah Winfrey; at least I think that’s who said this (and I’m paraphrasing). “You may not remember what someone said, but you’ll remember how they made you feel.” I remember how I feel.
For me, that’s true when it comes to music, too, incidentally.
What inspires you?
In a word, creativity. That, and genuine emotional content.
Are people more or less open-minded in the twenty-first century?
Some more, some less, I suppose. And we’re more divided, which is bad in a way. But that division has some upsides: I’m happy to have a life that is largely free from closed-minded people. I just have to remember not to venture outside the city limits of my small city.
Are people more or less creative in the twenty-first century?
Certainly more, and while it’s easy to cite legitimate critiques of industrial and technological society, the fact that people today don’t (all) work 100-hour-a-week jobs from cradle to grave is one of the upsides. A century or so ago, the idea that someone would have some sort of day job and then also have a creatively fulfilling pursuit beyond that would have been hard to imagine for most.
How do you know what you know?
The foundation of a good education helped. My mom taught me to read before I started kindergarten, and that made a difference. Beyond that, curiosity to know how and why things work, an interest in going deeper into the things that interest me, and listening to my intuition (as opposed to merely assimilating what I’m told) has informed my worldview.
And taking care not to get smug – avoiding settling into notions that I know all there is to know about something – is important. My adult kids are always ready to call me out when I make an assertion that doesn’t comport with their own highly informed worldviews. And I value that: it’s ok to be wrong, and it’s ok to pivot when you learn something new.
What is real?
Nothing is real. And it’s nothing to get hung about.
Is taste a matter of opinion? Or do some people have better taste than others?
That’s a tough one. Take music. As an informed listener, I can’t help but have the sense that my opinion – my aesthetic judgment – holds more value than the perspective of someone with only Rumours, the Grease and The Big Chill soundtracks, a Kenny G disc and maybe a Mariah Carey Christmas CD in their meager collection. (I own none of those, by the way.)
But ultimately, taste matters only to those who consider it important. For everyone else, there are plenty of choices. I have to remind myself constantly – or at least before venturing out in public – that for many people, music is nothing more than aural wallpaper. Considered in that context, questions regarding whether or not a given piece of music is “good” are largely irrelevant.
That’s not a world in which I care to live. And I don’t. Because as Frank Zappa said (or as he instructed Dale Bozzio to say), “Music is the best.”
JANUARY 2022 NEWS & VIEWS.
Hey ya'll. Welcome once again to your #1 source for everything that matters, the nation's most highly-respected hush hush source of fun facts and genuine gossip. The Daily Spreadsheets. Wanna hear some upbeat infectious modern pop that'll instantly grab you and never let go? Check out "Stay Awhile Stay Awake," the latest single by The Daily Spreadsheets. The band is the project created by Henrique Neves, a Brazilian fellow who has an incredible knack for soaring melodies and kickass hooks. And he's got an incredible voice. This song contains all the best qualities of 1990s power pop. This song blows me away totally. Reminds me very much of the ultra-cool buzzsaw pop band Bracket. The Daily Spreadsheet's debut album A Thing Again will be released early 2022. Chunklet. If you wanna be genuinely entertained in other ways and get turned onto some ultra-cool music, check out Chunklet. Run by Henry Owings, this Atlanta-based website has just about everything you might be looking for and more. Intelligent and intriguing stuff. Live For Today. I always recommend anything/everything by underground pop icon Jeremy Morris. And that, of course, includes his latest album Live For Today (produced by Ken Stringfellow). It's about time Mr. Morris receives the recognition he deserves for all the incredible music he has recorded. Cool documentary. If you haven't seen it, I would recommend watching The Lonely Halls Meeting. It tells the real-life story of the group of super intelligent felllows who created GPS which, of course, pretty much changed the way we all function. It is genuinely mind-blowing when you consider the overall impact of GPS. Constitutional Ruling. The Constitution has been ruled to be unconstitutional. So that's the end of that. More new releases. The new album from The Golf Ball Flops fits keenly inside used sandwich bags and comes with fifty forks and a pair of slippers. Entitled Rompers For Granny's Mush, it is lots of things as well as a whole new sound. Released by the fine folks at Pernolia-B23, you won't find it anywhere. I'm really enjoying the new song entitled "There's A Kind of Squish (All Under The Squirrel)" by Little Dog Mouse. Huge new box set from one of the most important bands of all time. There's a hefty new box set out featuring the complete recordings from 1961 to 1993. The box includes a mind-blowing 2,870 CDs as well as 350 blu-rays with extra songs in surround sound. Also included are 725 hardback books presenting the specific details about each song. Today Is Nice. The immediate news for right now is that today is a nice day. And from what I'm hearing tomorrow will be a nice day too. Follow Your Instincts (True Story). I recently found myself talking with a fellow who was instantly genuine and surprisingly real. So much so, that the conversation quickly catapulted into far more than the usual chit-chatty shallow stuff. All the while I was talking to this amazing guy I keep thinking to myself, "Wow, there is something really really different about this man but I can't figure out what it is." But the more we talked, the more impressed I was (usually it's the opposite). It almost seemed like all the usual personality barriers dissolved and simply...weren't there to get in the way. The conversation was spontaneous, open-ended and free-flowing, the way it ideally should be in all situations. And then suddenly...the truth was revealed. "I had major brain surgery two years ago," he said. "Are you serious?" I asked. "Yes, and it really changed my personality in a good way," he said. "Most of my friends say they like me better now." He even showed me the lengthy scar on his scalp, and told me that a hefty chunk of his brain had to be removed because of cancer. We kept talking for a while and I eventually told him that I knew he was remarkably different, but I couldn't figure out why. As I exited the conversation, I realized that my initial instincts were all correct...and there certainly was a reason why this fellow seemed so unusual. The surgery making him a better and more likable person was the part I liked best. This was one striking interaction that will stick with me for the remainder of my life. A super cool guy who made it through major brain surgery...and he ended up being happier and more well-liked. A La Mode. For many years I completely ignored Jethro Tull's album A. Judging from the cover alone, I figured it would be one of those substandard releases that just wasn't very good. Boy was I wrong. Now reissued as a deluxe six disc set entitled A La Mode (including mixes by Steven Wilson), many people are now seeing and hearing this album in a different light. Ian Anderson originally planned this to be a solo album, but the record company persuaded him to release it under the band name instead. It's a shame that listeners did not offer more positive support for this album at the time. It shows Anderson treading into slightly different territory with different musicians, but the music is absolutely top notch. Fans were probably turned off (and confused) by the original album title and the band members dressed in pure white on the cover which, admittedly, seemed peculiar at the time. After just a couple of spins, I'm pleased to report that this deluxe set is a must have. I can't help but wonder if this album suffered because of the white suits on the cover, because the music was (and is) fantastic. Anderson always offers his fans major bang for their bucks with his superbly crafted deluxe reissues. Get 'em all...while you still can.
NOTABLE NEW RELEASES.
Taylor Simpson - Learning to Live with Precious Time. Chamberlain - Fate's Got A Driver (25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition, Arctic Rodeo). Jah Wobble - Metal Box: Rebuilt In Dub (Cleopatra). Leslie Hunt - Descend (Cherry Red). Clive Nolan & Oliver Wakeman - Dark Fables (Cherry Red). Virginia and the Slims - Busman's Holiday. Old Salt - Live In Room 13. PJ Harvey - Let England Shake (UMe / Island). Big Stir / Spyderpop - 2021 Retrospective. Spygenius - Blow Their Covers (Big Stir). Kate MacLeod - Uranium Maiden. Anna Grindle - The Turning. Bertrand Loreau - Let The Light Surround You (Spheric Music). King Gizz - Live At Levitation. The Gizmos - The Gizmos in New York 1980-1981 (Gulcher). Alan Simon - Excalibur V: Move, Cry, Act, Clash! (Spirit of Unicorn). Brandon Teskey - Screaming Into The Void. David Cross / Andrew Keeling - October Is Marigold (Noisy Recods Ltd.). ILL - ILL (Sounds of Hell). Home Brewed Universe - Triah. Dead Serious - It's a Nice Day (Sounds of Hell).
[Note that Notable New Releases does not list singles, only full-lengths and EPs.]