Saturday, April 5, 2014

Pizza-Shell Game (or What Up, Dough?)


At the time of this writing…

Last night I watched a DVR'd replay of Aloe Blacc on the American version of NBC's hit The Voice. Aloe Blacc was serving as an assistant coach for "head-coach" Usher. As fate would have it, the song that the battling contestants were to sing for that night’s episode's head-to-head competition just so happened to be Blacc's "I'm the Man". What are the odds? More on this later. Providing a story of encouragement on the face of high criticism, Aloe discussed how he came about writing the hit song. He said that after Dr. Dre had slammed his songs, he  "…went home and wrote 'I'm the Man.'"—SSKIRRRRRRCHHHH!!!!! [cue tire screech]. WROTE?!? "…I'm the Man"?

For months I have heard this song playing as bumper music on one of my favorite television sports shows…ESPN's First Take as it was going to commercial. For those who're not familiar with the phrase bumper music, it's the 10 to 20 sec bit of music that's used to transition into and out of the commercials. As such, I would hear just the chorus of the song in question. For those who haven't heard it, the song sounds exactly like Elton John and Bernie Taupin's (ironically titled) "Your Song"

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"Lettuce Produce" or "Producer or Reducer?"

Introducing SIDney Howard the opinionated. Last millennium, in the late part of the last decade of the last century, my nearly lifelong friends and collaborators (Mark Drummond and Aljay Boyd) launched an unfortunately now defunct full-interest music website: The invited me to pen an editorial corner. The following is the one that started the ...and SID Sez column that became the eaSS blog. Indulge and enjoy.  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

To Halve Undo Whole 'Til Deaf Do Us Part

 and SID Sez 120413

I usually fall asleep listening to talk radio. After one particularly great sleep, I remained in bed and watched Michael Jackson's "Ghost" video. While I wouldn't call it a disappointment, it wasn't as good as I would have hoped to see coming from the brain-trust of MJJ, Stephen King, and the great Stan Winston. Maybe (not just maybe) it was too long.

Checking my email I saw one of my favorite notices. From Amazon: $5 albums. Nowadays, $5 per platter is an incredible music buy. When I was a teenager buying vinyl, that was in the neighborhood of the going price of nice. …back when a dollar sort of was real money-like. Today, that's half the price of a new MP3. Today that's what I buy more readily than do I consume hardcopies. And why is that so? Convenience: the ultimate impulse buy. I purchased Raul Midon's first album from iTunes immediately after watching him perform on Late Night with David Letterman. A year or so before, when I heard of Chaka Khan's Classikhan album of classic song covers, I visited at least two stores to finally find it and purchase it at the price of $15.99 + 6% MI sales tax + the price of fuel and the wear and tear of aggravation.

Nowadays, the allure of vinyl sound and its comparatively bigger than life package presentation has recaptured the collectors' hearts. …at steep prices. … comparatively. Thinking about the state of music consumption today, I can make a three-way division of end uses.

Friday, September 20, 2013

B-Sides That, What Is There Left to Say?

January 6th, 2013

Welcome to 2013. Half a century ago, a relatively successful record industry was about to explode with the combined 1-2 punch of the Motown phenomenon and the British Invasion, led by the Beatles—forces often imitated but never ever to be replicated. Ten years prior, the one-off singles market filled jukeboxes

with one-hit wonders. "-tions" and "the" doo-wopper's were all satisfied to just hear their songs on the radio. If any singer songwriter was called an "artist', the hyphenated modifier "starving-" probably preceded it.

To put things in their truest light, the early Motown and British Invader acts followed the same formula. But along the way, the successes of the Beatles (and other Brit art school dropouts, starting with Beatle-to-be John Lennon to members of Pink Floyd to Freddie Mercury to "the other Davy Jones"—a.k.a. David Bowie to etc.) became creative license for high art creative experiments that created cults of album devotees and the FM deep cut professor dee-jays high priest. Meanwhile still bound to the proven business model, singles ruled. Most consumers bought their records to serve as sonic semi-subtle background entertainment. This led to the growth in sales of the so-named "LP's". Dance party people still preferred to spin just the hits, so the singles were still flying off shelves.

Monday, April 1, 2013

J.A.M. Episode 1

Oh (313) '13. On March 13th, 2013, Language Universal Recording Society, LLC proudly released the very first SIDney Howard solo album, Jr. Analogue Monster, as a digital download. Now available is its accompanying PDF booklet containing the song lyrics, dedications, and credits. The CD will be available soon for distribution next month.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

That Would Never Even Get Made in This Day and Age

I was watching Robert Rossen's 1961 classic film "The Hustler" on our PBS HDTV affiliate on the night of July 13th, 2012—the night that I began this writing. It was the feature film on Elliot Wilholm's classic movie. He lauded with great praise the writer/director Rossen, Paul Newman and cast, set designers and everyone but the accounting firm and limo drivers. And then he said this one thing, which is as egregious to me as is it seemingly a bitterly sad statement on our current reality: "A film like this would never get made today. Executives would never green-light its dark and…" And that's when everything "went all black". When I awoke figuratively, I was literally writing the following:

When a great work of times gone by is lauded in apotheosis with the phrase 'It would never get made today', is it an indictment of present culture, or resignation to bow to trends? The obvious follow up would have to be "Why not?" Those of you who’ve read me or have spoken to me have probably heard me make this complaint: in this day and age, where technologically we have to tools at hand to create the greatest artistic works ever, why does mediocrity (and or mediocrity mistaken for minimalism) excel commercially and so often in the arena of critical acclaim? Roseanne Roseannadanna might respond, "Mr. SIDney Howard, you ask a lot of stupid questions."

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word

Has our cordial approach of "soft" critiquing help lead to the degradation of music? The Bernie Taupin lyric starts:

What have I got to do to make you love me?
What have I got to do to make you care?

Then a little later it reads…

What do I say when it's all over?
And sorry seems to be the hardest word?

While the overall narrative along with the singer setting suggests that it is indeed a "love" song of sorts, the words paint a vivid and accurate picture of the awkward place many of us find ourselves when asked our opinion of a far less talented colleague's music offering. Here's my most common scenario:

I play a piece that I've finished and of which I am most proud for someone who has a love for music—like mine. The song finishes and a grin reflects their awe and full appreciation of my artistic accomplishment—like mine, again. Then comes the dreaded response. "Hey. I have something of mine I'd like to let you hear." I play it, hoping for the best. It's nowhere close to the best. Now comes the dreaded question: "Well? What do you think?" What do you say. Fortunately, they haven't asked for my 'honest opinion'—"Oh…and give me your honest opinion." I jinxed it. Again, what do you do? When was the last time you told a friend, family member, or acquaintance that their music, presented to you for your (maybe not) honest opinion, was honestly just mediocre at best? Perhaps the music profession needs one of those common "…professional. Please do not attempt" disclaimer captions. I even saw one used in a Vitamin Water commercial, at the point where a dancer was doing "the worm" Hip Hop dance move.