The Liner Notes of Liner Notes

maxresdefaultHey, guys.

I’ve talked about LNHQ before.

It’s on the second floor of a rehabbed warehouse. If you come thru the front door (half frosted glass, headphones logo – my concept was based on P.I. joints from countless movies and shows from the ’70s), there’s a reception area. A low, blonde-wood wall shields a work station, and a few tastefully upholstered chairs sit nearby. OM fought me on those, and they were a bit pricey, but we needed to make a statement as an up-and-coming music blog.

Anyway, beyond that, there’s the conference room. (Header image is approximate, tho with more greenery and a better sound system.) It’s pretty fly – lots of windows and natural light, a huge table, chairs, a chalkboard, maps. Yeah, maps: The pull-down ones like from elementary school. They’re vintage, and I leave them down over the chalkboard when we’re not on deadline. (They’re often down, in other words, which puzzles some staffers. Rhodesia is no longer a country, but it was. There’s probably an o.g. Trivial Pursuit geography question there.)

On either side of the conference room, there are open areas with desks. That’s where the staffers work.  OM and I both have teams.  His is more, hm, focused on outreach? I’m super bad at corp-speak, but they’re the ones who “take meetings offsite” with music “industry people” and “attend events” like bar/restaurant “soft openings” and record release parties. (Their expense reports are usually pretty vague.) Mine is more focused on product. We make the content, and they make the rain. It works, and it doesn’t at all. (We’re sorta bleeding money – mostly my settlement with Adidas for a soccer boot mishap when I was younger, fitter, and recently separated from my kids’ mom. All good, until that runs out. O is working on sponsorship, apparently. Don’t hit up Adidas, dude. They’re still pissed.)

At either end of the space – we’ve reconfig’d, mainly bc I was sick of him bouncing that ball on our shared wall – are our individual offices.  My door is always open; O’s door is usually closed because…calls. Or naps. (Not judging. He’s got two little boys and a sweet couch.) There’s art on our walls, for sure. O has a tight framed pic of Bobby flipping the bird and another of Thierry Henry. I have a 1972 Stones poster and another signed one of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Skinny Fists cover. I’ve described our desks, right? Right.

It’s a great place, and I’m really proud of what we’ve built.

So in a staffer (that’s what O calls staff meetings) last week, one of our people – and I’m not going to name names, Trevor/Tre – suggested that it would help “the brand” if we gave you a “bts” (behind the scenes) look at “the sausage factory” (the blog, I guess). So, yeah. That’s our office. We run a music blog. And we have fun.

Is that good enough? That’s good enough. Stfu.

I was told that this post shouldn’t be about music, but whatever. The new Kamasi Washington ep is amazing. Check it out.

More soon.

JF

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It’s Friday, I’m in love…

This Is Not Design @tind

Hey, guys.

Last week, I posed a question about repeats on these playlists. The answer is yes, and many. Sorry.

Recently, I was compiling tracks for my big child’s bday playlist, and using these for material. I discovered that I’ve repeated a lot. Unintentionally, tbh. So I mentioned that I hit certain sources, right? The main ones are my Spotify Release Radar, Pitchfork’s Best New Music, and Drowned in Sound’s Independent Music Monday. When I find a good song, I’ll drop it onto more than one playlist. Or I’ll drop it on one, and then decide to drop it on another one. That’s usually while driving – yeah, not cool. But it’s easy to add, and not easy to delete. And I rarely go back and scan for doubles.

There are some tracks that would be obvious repeats. A new Broken Social Scene track? I’d pry catch that, if it showed up again. LCD Soundsystem? Sure. Something old and well-known? Yep. A bit farther down to totem pole? Bands I like, but don’t listen to much? Well, it gets harder to remember those. I might take a break from the weeklies and cull the repeats. Or I might not. I mean, radio stations do that all the time, ha. If Spotify’s search feature showed which of my playlists featured certain songs, I could figure it out p quick. Rn, that’s not an option. Again, sorry. I’d like to serve up 50 different tracks each week. There’s so much great music, and you deserve better than inadvertent recycling.

Anywhoo.

This week. Wow, that Emma Anderson is great. Her new record is half-great, but wholly sinister. New stuff: her, Angel Olsen, Ratboys (contender for a top five spot – such an outstanding record, front to back), Torres, Lo Tom, Kristin Kontrol, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (also a great record), Goldfrapp, Blondes, Mount Kimbie, Burial (an OM fave), Bjork, Arcade Fire, Luna, Cut Copy, and the Jesus and Mary Chain with Sky Ferreira. Old stuff: SY, and a cool classic-rock-ish segment. Oh, and the song before YLT has become a new inside-joke thing with my best friend. She had lunch at Buddy Guy’s Legends in Chicago last week. And she really, really loves (hates) the blues.

Here’s your 51.

The header image is a crop of something from This Is Not Design (@tind on Ello). Thanks. Your work is fantastic.

More soon.

JF

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

@mlui

Hey, guys.

Here’s a new playlist. This time, the jazz, hip-hop, and EDM aren’t buried in the middle; they’re up top. After that, dance, rock, and a mellow finish. New material? Hm. The Kamashi Washington isn’t exactly new, but it’s his most current release. There’s Kelela, the Jamie xx Remix, Blondes, Four Tet, D33J, Maggie Rogers, Cut Copy, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, L.A. Witch, King Krule, Ariel Pink, Mogwai, Emily Haines, the Mynabirds, and Angus & Julia Stone. And a Lissie track from Twin Peaks, which I finished recently. Older material? There are two nailed-on classics from the peak of Dubstep by Darkstar and Joy Orbison. Some Britpop, and some Julian (hell yes). And a random Yo La Tengo track, so the Cure close out.

I wonder how many tracks I’ve repeated over now 62 of these. Probably a few? I can’t tell  for sure without looking and list-making, and that’s a complete pita.  Is there an easier way to compile the artists and track names? HMU below the line, if you know.

The header image is by @mlui from Ello. Thanks. Your work is great.

Enjoy and have a great weekend. My best friend is on the road for a few days (bonus track for her), so I hope this one keeps her good company. Travel safe, babe. ILYSM.

More soon.

JF

Grateful Dead Monthly: Madison Square Garden – New York, NY 9/18/87

30 Trips - 9.18.87

On Friday, September 18, 1987, the Grateful Dead played Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was the middle of a five-show run at the fabled venue.

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MSG, which opened in 1968, sits atop Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan. It’s the home of the NBA’s New York Knicks, the WNBA’s New York Liberty, and the NHL’s New York Rangers. It’s also become a “home away from home” for Phish, who squatted there for this summer’s amazing Baker’s Dozen series of thirteen shows over seventeen nights. LN GD guru ECM was at a few of those Phish shows.

MSG - Gorilla

As I’ve mentioned, Ed is a great resource for these posts. He does the primary research – photos, links, comments from the Live Music Archive – and I do the prattle. Our process is pretty simple. Typically, I ask him for a few options of shows in the upcoming month that we can cover. He gives me a list. We chat about that, and decide. Then I get an email with a ton of material. This month was different.

In early August, here was the list:

1970 – 9/19 or 9/20 Fillmore East
1972 – throw a dart. there are so many good ones
1974 – 9/11 or 9/18
1975 – 9/28 Golden Gate Park
1977 – 9/3 Englishtown (40 year anniversary)
1978 – 9/2 Giants Stadium (raise $$ for Egypt)
1979 – 9/1 or 9/2 (super long Let It Grow)
1980 – 9/6 Lewiston (Labor Day weekend), 9/2 Rochester (filler on Dicks Picks) or one of the Warfield shows
1981 – 9/26 Buffalo (I think either [GDC members] Fen or Butch or both are big proponents of this show)
1983 – 9/2 Boise or 9/11 Santa Fe
1985 – 9/7 Red Rocks
1987 – 9/18 MSG (30 year anniversary)
1989 – 9/29 Shoreline (Death Don’t bust out)
1990 – one of the shows from MSG – 9/16, 9/19 or 9/20
1991 – 9/26 Boston
My response was sorta non-committal. ” ’87 or ’89 would be fun, but maybe save ’89 for October?”
Little did I know that 9/18/87 was not only a fun show, but also part of my dear friend’s life. He called it, and said, “I’ll work on a brief fan account and get that to you soon.”
What a fan account.  Ladies and Gentlemen, Ed Martin…
It’s hard to believe that I saw this show 30 years ago. The Dead created an enormous amount of momentum in the two months before the start of the band’s much anticipated Fall Tour in 1987. Over the summer, the band released In The Dark, its first studio album since 1979 which resulted in a Top 10 Billboard hit single and its first-ever video on MTV with Touch of Grey, The buzz about the new album coupled with a highly successful summer tour with Bob Dylan thrust the Dead into the spotlight. As a result, everything changed. Suddenly it was cool to like the Grateful Dead and it was fashionable to wear tie-dyed clothing. New fans – referred to by vets as “Touch-Heads” – flooded the scene. So, it was not surprising that tickets were tough to come by for the fall tour. I was lucky to have received mail-order tickets from GDTS for three shows at Madison Square Garden – Sept. 18, 19 and 20. The weeks leading up these shows were very exciting as I began to hear great reviews from friends who attended the shows in Providence and Landover (no internet back then). The band was playing well and had added a bunch of exciting cover songs to their vast repertoire including Devil with the Blues Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly, Fever and La Bamba, the latter was a song from a movie by the same name that had been released over the summer. In addition, there were new songs that were added as a result of recent collaborations with The Neville Brothers (Hey Pocky Way) and Bob Dylan (All Along The Watchtower, When I Paint My Masterpiece and Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door).
Bobby
[Photo credit: Billy O. Photography]
By the time Friday September 18, 1987 arrived my excitement could not be contained. I was hoping and praying to see a lot of the songs the band wound up playing that evening. Shakedown, Watchtower, Dew, La Bamba and Knockin’ were high on my list. My seats were good – loge level on the right side near Jerry and Brent. There was a jubilant atmosphere inside the Garden. When the house lights finally went down the rabid, East-Coast audience exploded. Weir takes a moment to joke about levitating Jerry which was a reference to their appearance on The David Letterman Show the previous night. With that the band tears into Hell In A Bucket.  I must confess that Bucket was not the opener I had hoped for. It had been played to death over the summer and was becoming a bit tiresome for me. However, this is about as good a version as one could possibly ask for. Weir’s vocals are confident. He’s so pumped that he is practically spitting the lyrics out. Brent is pounding his keys and Jerry’s distorted guitar runs are searing. The finale has Weir at his 80s falsetto best. Wow! Sugaree was not unexpected. It was a common pairing with Bucket for show as a show opener at the time. Walkin’ Blues is next. It had been played only a handful of times in 1985 but was reintroduced by Weir at the San Francisco Civic Center on 1/28/87 presumably as another option for the “blues slot” to keep things fresh. It remained part of the band’s regular repertoire through the end. Once again, Weir is in terrific voice and is in total command of this version. Jerry follows that up with Candyman which is one of those little nuggets like Row Jimmy, Althea and High Time that I never tire of seeing. Candyman had taken on a new significance since Jerry’s return from his diabetic coma – “Won’t you tell everybody you meet that the Candyman’s in town.” Garcia’s solo on this version is glorious. I was floating. I never wanted it to end. Weir chooses When I Paint My Masterpiece, the first of three songs from the Dylan catalog that will be played that evening. The band premiered Masterpiece at Ventura on 6/13/87 complete with an engaging 2-part-harmony arrangement accompanied by Garcia. This upbeat version is stellar. A soaring Bird Song follows and the energy with which it is played matches everything that preceded it. The band brings it to an incredible peak and then just as we are all getting started the band pulls the rug out from underneath us and closes the first set out after only 6 songs. What?
Bob & Jerry
[Photo credit: Billy O. Photography]
Fortunately, the break was not too long. Continuing with the same high level of energy, the band opens the second set with the only logical choice under the circumstances – Shakedown Street. It was on my wish list so I was ecstatic. The Garden explodes with appreciation as the band crashes into the opening D-minor chord. This is a speedy version that is very similar to the incredible version they played in Pittsburgh on 7/6/87. Madison Square Garden is instantly transformed into a dance party. Heads are bobbing, bodies are gyrating. Huge smiles everywhere. People are getting DOWN. Once again, Garcia’s vocals are assertive. The “Beat Out Loud” verse is sung with authority and the “Poke Around” vocal scatting sets up the jam that follows perfectly. Garcia finds a pattern he likes and plays it repeatedly. The crowd surges with ecstasy. Having reached the peak, the band cuts it short just like they did in Bird Song and continues the party with Women Are Smarter. They slow things down again with a strong Terrapin which leads to Drums and has everybody scratching their head at the wisdom of a 3-song pre-drums set that lasted just 30 minutes(!) All will be redeemed shortly.
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What follows the Drums and Space segment is a thing of which dreams are made. GDTRFB > Watchtower is high octane 80s Dead at its very best. Watchtower made it debut at the Greek Theater on 6/20/87 and Garcia was blowing the doors off it with his searing leads. This version is one of the better ones. At the conclusion of Watchtower are a few descending notes and a brief moment of silence where the entire world seems to hangs in the balance of what the band will play next. It’s the feeling that is usually associated with the moment of anticipation before the band plays Dark Star. Here, the band plays something almost as sacred – Morning Dew. Over the years, the band had kept Morning Dew kind of rare. However, in 1987 it had been played 13 times already. Not that anybody was complaining! The repetition/practice paid off in spades as the band dropped what is arguably one of the best versions ever – Cornell aside. Most would agree that is one of the top 10 versions ever played. Garcia pours his soul into this one both instrumentally and vocally. His aggressive vocal approach was certainly unique and took every by surprise. Check out how he sings “Where have all the people GONE” and and his inflection on the final “I GUESS it doesn’t matter anywaaaaaaaaay.” along with the way he hangs on that last word. Holy shit! I mean, that is some jaw-dropping, hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck-raising, goose bump inducing, chills-down-your-spine shit right there. The rowdy weekend crowd roars with approval. It was startling how fast and loud the reaction was. It sounded like a stadium after the home team won the Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, etc. Words can not do justice to the reaction. It was mind blowing and it is nothing like I had ever heard before or since then – and I was in attendance for the Dark Stars on 10/16/89 and 3/29/90. Ever the pro, Garcia takes the crowd reaction and responds with a guitar solo for the ages. There is no time to bring this Dew down to a whisper as was customary. This one required a burning solo right from the beginning. His guitar squeals with high-pitched notes. As the band approaches the end the pace quickens. Garcia’s distorted notes are flying at a dizzy pace like they did in Watchtower. Brent’s thundering organ is swirling. Climbing higher and higher. Finally, Garcia hits an impossible note. It’s screeching and it sounds way off-key but, holy shit is he wailing.  He repeats the off-key note with rapid machine gun fire and in the chaos of it all, it makes perfect sense.  I’m losing my mind but II’m not alone. The crowd explodes again. At that moment, everybody knew we had witnessed something so epic that it would be remembered in the legacy of Grateful Dead concerts. Any gripes that people may have had about the concert being too short were quickly forgotten. A finale like that makes a massive statement. Nothing more needed to be said. The band could have put their instruments down and walked off stage without an encore and nobody would have complained. To get Good Lovin’ with La Bamba tossed in was gravy. Obviously feeding off confidence and crowd energy, the band turns in an incredible performance. that brought the house down again. Smiles everywhere – especially when Garcia launched into La Bamba. Bobby’s reprise of Good Lovin’ is filled with falsetto squeals that only further feeds the frenzy. The soothing Knockin’ encore was like church. The Dead destroyed MSG, reducing its fans to a puddle.
Ed Martin / @31daysofdead
Ticket Stub
Yeah. What he said! This show is fantastic, guys. As well-known reviewer Dr. Flashback quipped on the LMA: “This show simply rocks.” It even made the cut and became part of the massive 30 Trips Around the Sun box set to commemorate the band’s thirty-year career on their fiftieth anniversary. (The header image – pardon the watermark – is from that.) Unfortunately, the official version isn’t on Spotify, but other quality versions are available.
Transport to the Charlie Miller transfer of the soundboard recording HERE.
Transport to the Charlie Miller transfer of the audience recording HERE.
Transport to the MattMan remaster of the soundboard HERE.
And HERE is a decent video of the entire show.
Back stage Pass - Larger
Oh, Jerry and Bobby were on the original David Letterman show the night before. HERE is the YouTube link. They played Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece.” I watched that in my freshman year dorm room.
Thanks, Ed. Hope I did this one justice. My life is richer because of you.
More soon.
JF

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

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Happy Friday, pshew.

Here’s this week’s playlist. New stuff from LCDS, Destroyer, Alex Cameron, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Wolf Parade, The Killers, The War on Drugs, Fake Laugh, Brightness, Alvvays, Cults, Nadine Shah, St. Vincent, Four Tet, Do Make Say Think, Mogwai, and The National. Old stuff from Loverboy and PJ Harvey.

Enjoy.

Oh, I forgot to note the artist when I downloaded the header/list image from Ello. So apologies and thanks.

More soon.

JF

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

Michael Craik @michaelcraik

Hey, guys.

This is last week’s playlist. I thought that I posted it here and on Facebook, but there was a glitch. Apologies.

New stuff from Julien Baker, Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs, Beach Fossils, Mogwai, Mourn, Weaves, Car Seat Headrest, Wolf Alice, Alvvays, Girl Ray, Fake Laugh, Tennis, Frankie Rose, Stars, Hundred Waters, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Photay, Frank Ocean, LCD Soundsystem, Grizzly Bear, Bastille, Beach Slang, Beck, This Is the Kit, and Waxahatchee. Old stuff, from Microstoria, Eno, Sonic Youth, Archers of Loaf, Deerhunter, Beth Orton, and Oasis. Yeah, I’m still geeking on the Brothers Gallagher.

Hope your Labor Days were nice. Have a great weekend. And if you’re in Valpo, have a great Popcorn Fest.

More soon.

JF

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

@sashapavicevic1 (1).jpg

Hi, guys. Happy Friday.

This week’s playlist is all over the place. New stuff from Guided by Voices, Brightness, Palehound, Girlpool, Fake Laugh, Grizzly Bear, The National, Destroyer, Hundred Waters, LCDS, Julien Baker, and EMA. Old stuff from other people.

Thanks to @sashapavicevic on Ello for the spacey, eclipse-related image.

Enjoy your weekends.

More soon.

JF