Saturday, 16 August 2008

Jerry Wexler 10/01/17 - 16/08/08

Legendary record man Jerry Wexler, who helped shape the sound of R&B, guided the careers of titans such as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, and Led Zeppelin, and helped launch Atlantic Records into a powerhouse, has died at his home in Florida, according to Rolling Stone. He was 91.

Wexler began his career in the late 1940s as a journalist, writing for Billboard magazine. He invented the phrase "Rhythm and Blues" for the publication for use on what was then known as their "Race Music" chart. In 1953, Wexler joined Ahmet Ertegun as co-head of Atlantic Records, a post he would hold until 1975. The two were instrumental in bringing the R&B music they loved to a wider audience, further incorporating it into the burgeoning sounds of rock'n'roll.
As both a record mogul and producer, Wexler was a tireless promoter of his wares, and in constant pursuit of exciting new sounds in modern music. Of his many successes with Atlantic, a mid-1960s distribution deal with legendary soul imprint Stax was one of his greatest. The arrangement brought Otis Redding, Booker T. and the MGs, and countless others into the fold, introducing the world to the gloriously loose Muscle Shoals sound that characterized the Stax catalog.

Booker T & The MG's - 'Green Onions':

In 1966, Wexler signed a young singer by the name of Aretha Franklin, encouraging her to sing in a more natural, less measured style. Her subsequent work with Atlantic-- in particular, the recordings she completed in Muscle Shoals-- remain some of the finest albums of any era.

Aretha Franklin - 'Respect':

The late 60s brought a string of British rockers seeking to bump elbows with the soul musicians they'd been ripping off, and Led Zeppelin, Cream, and the like linked up with Atlantic, thanks to Wexler. In 1968, Wexler brought British chanteuse Dusty Springfield to Tennessee to record the legendary Dusty in Memphis, which Wexler himself produced.

Dusty Springfield - 'Son Of A Preacher Man':

Also in 1968, Wexler and Ertegun agreed to sell Atlantic to Warner Seven Arts (later Warner Brothers), a deal that lost Atlantic a sizeable amount of money. He told Rolling Stone, "What a mistake. Worst thing we ever did."

Ertegun left Atlantic in 1975, eventually picking up some A&R work for Warner Brothers that netted the label new-wave pioneers like the B-52s and Gang of Four.

Gang of Four - 'To Hell With Poverty':

He struck out on his own later in the decade, producing records for Bob Dylan, the Staple Singers, Linda Ronstadt, George Michael, and many others. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, becoming one of the very first non-performers to achieve the honour. It's not difficult to see why.

Wexler retired to Florida in the late 90s, where he largely cut himself off from the business elements of the music industry. He is survived by two children, and his wife, writer Jean Arnold.

Thursday, 14 August 2008


Pacific! are releasing their debut album on Monday 18th August (on our label - skills). Ruddy good it is too. Think Phoenix, Air, Daft Punk, Beach Boys, ELO, 10CC etc etc, via Sweden.

Stephane Manel, the French illustrator who does all the drawings for Vogue and Playboy, has drawn all the artwork. You can see more stuff by him here, including his videos for Pacific's 'Hot Lips' and 'Number One' and his video for the new Chromeo single.

There's also a 12" single and download out this week. It has remixes by frYars, Popular Computer (who has also remixed Hot Chip, Midnight Juggernaughts etc) and Triangles (Luke Smith from Clor and producer of Shitdisco's and To My Boy's albums). There was also a remix by Lord Skywave (Simon Lord from Simian and Black Ghosts) that you can download free (link below). His debut album is out now on This Is Music.

Get it from iTunes here:
Pacific - Sunset Blvd - EP have also given Reveries 4 stars and a very nice

The UK press have been saying nice stuff too:

"An expertly assembled electronic tribute to West Coast harmonies" - Q
"Few singles this year envice as much pure, awestruck joy as Sunset Blvd, church bells and all" - Guardian
"A brilliant evocation of Francopop" - NME
"Sun-kissed electro pop" - Times
"Like the Beach Boys, if Brian Wilson was a Blitzkid" - Independent
"The essential soundtrack to your summer holidays" - Artrocker
"A perfect blend of hipster chic and top-down summer tunes" - Gay Times (album of the month)
"Very impressive - 4 stars" - Zoo
"A magical journey to 60's California, across to 80's Sheffield, stopping off at a Paris club circa 2000, then back to rainy Sweden to spread some sunshine" - Disorder
"Gallic-style groove with big pop hooks" - Daily Star
"Perfect pop" - New Noise
“Clipped beats, lovely harmony, they deserve to be catapulted to fame very soon.” - The Fly

Download Pacific! 'Sunset Blvd (Lord Skywave Remix)

The excellent Daily Growl blog have posted a nice review (and a couple of tracks to download too).

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Mixtape Vol. 1

Having a week where I refuse to do any work and sit around at my parents house is all well and good, but it does get a little boring. So I made a mixtape. It's badly mixed (most of these songs aren't 'mixable' and I hadn't used this program for recording or mixing before) and there's a few skips and stuff. I was thinking of re-recording it so it sounds better, but I can't be arsed, Neighbours is on in a minute.

So here you go, some songs that I like all as one long MP3. It's 45 minutes long. which is how long it takes me to get to work in the mornings, which is handy.


Half Machine Mixtape Vol. 1

1. Bring It On Home (Live 1963) - Sam Cooke
2. Memories - Leonard Cohen
3. I Don't Want To Grow Up - Scarlett Johansson
4. Midnight - Yazoo
5. Baby - The Associates
6. A Little Lost - Arthur Russell
7. Lost Cause - Beck
8. The End - Nancy Sinatra
9. Modern Girl - Sleater-Kinney
10. On Fire - Sebadoh
11. Drinker's Peace - Guided By Voices
12. Brulee - Ratatat
13. On The Town Square - Robert Wyatt

N.B. I didn't include J. Dilla, which seems to be a mixtape regular at the moment. Maybe next time...

Download it HERE

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Death of a Ladies' Man

Leonard Cohen seems to be going through a bit of a resurgence in popularity at the moment after doing the festival rounds this summer. I didn't get to see him (so pissed off - damn my Glastonbury aversion), but it jogged my memory of how much I was obsessed with him when I was at college.

There is a second hand record shop near my college called Golden Disc ('Stolen Disc' to the locals due to the amount of nicked cds in there) where I used to spend money I had for lunch on records. One of my purchases was the 'Best of Leonard Cohen':

I listened to it obsessively for ages afterwards, then kinda forgot about it.

When in Music & Video Exchange a few years later, on one of many weekend excursions there, I picked up a vinyl copy of 'Death of a Ladies' Man'. It came out in 1977, I hadn't heard any of it before and didn't know much about the album, but it was Leonard Cohen and a quick scan of the liner notes revealed it was produced by Phil Spector (another long time obsession of mine), so for £2 I couldn't go wrong.

One listen and I quickly realised that, although not 'classic' Cohen, it was one of my favourite albums by him. 'Memories' was the song that hooked me - "won't you let me see...your naked body??".

NB - I think Lenny is taking the piss slightly in this video:

'Memories' reminds me of 'Baby Let's Stick Together' by Dion from his 'Born To Be Together' album , also produced by Phil Spector. Loads of his trademark echo, especially on the drums.

This period of Phil Spector is usually overlooked, but to me 'Born To Be Together' and 'Death of a Ladies' Man' is some of his best work. You should get both albums. Jason Pierce, Bobby Gillespie, Andrew Loog Oldham and Pete Townshend have all called 'Born...' genius. Dion doesn't like it though - "I don't think we ever really finished it".

'Death of a Ladies' Man' turned out to be Leonard Cohen's lowest selling album ever. They wrote it in three weeks, Spector saying "we wrote some great fucking music". Cohen, however, moaned that Spector's mix "stripped the guts out of it" and claiming it was "an experiment that failed". But with Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg on backing vocals on the most famous of the songs here - 'Don't Go Home With Your Hard-On' and with songs as good as any Cohen or Spector have worked on before you can't go wrong with this album. It's cheap too.