Soundbreaking: Stories From The Cutting Edge of Recorded Music

I find it interesting when we are allowed a further look inside the recording process. I can’t wait to see what is in store with these wide ranging eight PBS episodes.

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Sir George Martin had a last project: a documentary series on the impact of recorded music. Unfortunately, the legendary Beatles producer died before the final work was completed, but his spirit imbues every frame of Soundbreaking: Stories From The Cutting Edge of Recorded Music, an 8-part series that airs on PBS beginning  Nov. 14.

Each hour-long episode tackles a different topic, including recording vocals, the electrification of instruments, the artistry of sampling and the rise of the music video.

The Legacy of Bert Berns

The purpose of this blog post is to promote awareness of the inherent genius of the late Bert Berns. He was born in New York in 1929 and died tragically of a heart attack at just 38 years of age. But in his short career, Berns left an indelible mark on popular music; he made fifty-one pop chart singles in seven years and became one of the most successful songwriters of the 1960s.

Recordings  – There is an interesting catalog of Bert Berns that spans three volumes from Ace Records, UK.

Book

A gem of a book you will want to sink your teeth into is, Here Comes The Night: The Dark Soul Of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business Of Rhythm and Blues researched (16 years) and written by authoritative music journalist Joel Selvin.

Here Comes the Night is both a definitive account of the golden age of rhythm and blues of the early ’60s and the harrowing, ultimately tragic story of songwriter and record producer Bert Berns, whose meteoric career was fueled by his pending doom. His heart damaged by rheumatic fever as a youth, Berns was not expected to live to see 21. Although his name is little remembered today, Berns worked alongside all the greats of the era—Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler, Burt Bacharach, Phil Spector, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, anyone who was anyone in New York rhythm and blues. In seven quick years, he went from nobody to the top of the pops—producer of monumental r&b classics, songwriter of “Twist and Shout,” “My Girl Sloopy,” “Piece of My Heart,” and others.

This book serves as a major source for the documentary about Bert Berns mentioned  below. Joel Selvin wrote the narration for the film.

Documentary

I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Bob Sarles. He has captured on film many moving testaments about the important music industry giants of our time. He has an incredible knack for highlighting people who deserve our focus and attention. I’m grateful for his work.

Bang! The Bert Berns Story – Music meets the Mob in this biographical documentary, narrated by Steven Van Zandt, about the life and career of Bert Berns, the most important songwriter and record producer from the sixties that you never heard of. His hits include “Twist and Shout”, “Hang On Sloopy”, “Here Comes The Night” and “Piece Of My Heart.” He helped launch the careers of Van Morrison and Neil Diamond and produced some of the greatest soul music ever made. Filmmaker Brett Berns brings his late father’s story to the screen through interviews with those who knew him best and rare performance footage. Included in the film are interviews with Ronald Isley, Ben E. King, Solomon Burke, Van Morrison, Keith Richards and Paul McCartney.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Award

Bert Berns was inducted as a non-performer and given the Ahmet Ertegun Lifetime Achievement Award with the 2016 class to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Broadway Musical 2016-2017

The Piece of My Heart, The Bert Berns Story, is slated to open as a Broadway Musical.  Steven Van Zandt and Paul Shaffer, along with Maureen Van Zandt and Joe Grano (Jersey Boys), will serve as lead producers. It was also announced that Mr. Van Zandt will serve as the show’s musical director.

Piece of My Heart tells Bert’s triumphant and tragic story through the eyes of Jessie, the daughter he never knew. Experience what Rolling Stone calls “one of the great untold stories of rock and roll.” This world premiere musical pulls you into a journey of discovery told through his chart-topping hits (and some rare gems) including “Twist and Shout,” “I Want Candy,” “Hang on Sloopy,” and the immortal title song, “Piece of My Heart.” Meet the man you never knew through the music you’ve loved for years.

From His Head To His Heart To His Hands – Michael Bloomfield

Legacy/Columbia has released a monumental blues box set,  Michael Bloomfield‘s From His Head To His Heart To His Hands. It is a gem on so many levels graphics design, culled recordings, rare photos ,extensive liner notes, plus a brilliant documentary. I predict that this box set will be a Grammy Award Nominee for 2014 for design excellence.

The audio/visual scrapbook of 3 Audio CDs and 1 DVD, Sweet Blues: A Film About Mike Bloomfield is a product of devout collaboration by Al Kooper and Bob Sarles, film director . Al Kooper spent 18 months crafting the audio recordings with reverence and precision. I love the creative synergy that exists between and around Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield.

As far as I can recall, Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” was TOTALLY in the can when we played Newport. We reconvened after Newport to rehearse for Dylan’s Forest Hills and Hollywood Bowl concerts, but that was with Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson, Harvey Brooks and myself. Bloomfield had gone back to Chicago.

Also I did NOT remix any Flag stuff. I remastered the entire album but as you know that excludes remixing. The digital tools used in remastering are quite mighty, however.Anything I edited out on the box was done to draw more attention to Michael. I didn’t need/want the long organ solos in our “Modal” songs as they weren’t comparatively up to Bloomers solos and I wanted the attention paid to Michael. Same with the Strazza edit on “Killing Floor” – these were editorial decisions and I stand behind them. It’s NOT an Electric Flag box.

The other editing I did was simply to keep the ball rolling. The whole point of the box was to educate folks about Michael. Though I was a participant in many of the performances presented, I didn’t exempt myself from the razor blade, so I don’t feel that I used the situation to better myself. As you pointed out, the organ WAS softer on “Like a Rolling Stone,” primarily so that others could finally be heard.  – Al Kooper

 

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Steven Wilson’s Software Instrument – Ghostwriter

Steven Wilson makes another innovative contribution to digital music production by introducing his own software instrument, Ghostwriter. Co-produced by Steven Wilson and Doug Rogers from the world’s leading software instrument company EastWest. This music software solution is designed for music, film, games, and TV composers. Ghostwriter can be ordered directly from East/West SoundsOnline. It is packaged on a Western Digital USB3 (with USB2 compatibility) hard drive (Available at no extra charge!! ($70 value) until 1/31/14).

According to Steven Wilson:  For the first time ever this makes some of my signature sounds available to other musicians, as well as replications of recognizable classic sounds originally created by other producers and engineers. These sounds can be used as part of the fabric of complex music productions, or as the basis for cinematic soundtrack-based music, providing a ready-made selection of sonic building blocks.

Mainly I’ve tried to create sounds that you won’t find in any other software instrument or sample library, but in addition more straightforward raw drum, bass and guitar sounds are included, which can be manipulated via the powerful Ghostwriter instrument interface (which includes an amp simulator, SSL EQ, 2 compressors, echoplex tape delay, a powerful reverb, filter and envelope stages) to create your own unique sounds.

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Ryuichi Sakamoto – Playing The Orchestra 2013

I have experienced a wonderful connection in the music of our heart with Ryuichi Sakamoto. It began innocently yesterday when I was listening to the remix of Meredith Monk and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s, “Astronaut Anthem”.

I decided to delve into Ryuichi Sakamoto’s body of work. I rediscovered his superb touch on the piano by listening to Playing The Piano, US Version (2010).

I was captivated by the beauty of the composition, “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence“. I researched Ryuichi Sakamoto on the InterWeb and discovered Commmons. A new music community for real artists and music lovers, an oasis I plan to visit often 🙂

“Commmons (Commons)” as artists, including Ryuichi Sakamoto in order to explore new possibilities of music, is a project which was established with Avex Group. Under the slogan “think global, act local”, and has a point of view ecological, as new music community aimed at social and cultural contribution, in order to create a better relationship between artist / creator, music industry, the user / listener “common land It is intended to be a (commons). ” In the hope that music (music) continues to exist in the center of the common land (commons), was named the three “m” and “commmons”.

I look forward to the future release, Playing The Orchestra 2013 (December 11, 2013)Ryuichi Sakamoto performs on piano with conductor Hirofumi Kurita  and the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.

I hope one day to have the honor of revelling in the musical genius of Ryuichi Sakamoto live in  concert. It turns out he and I are the same age which inspires me greatly.

Narada Michael Walden – Thunder 2013

Wishing I could be in Oakland, California at Yoshi’s tomorrow evening September 5th to attend the pre-release party for Tarpan Record’s owner and consummate artist, Narada Michael Walden‘s album. Thunder 2013. Know that I am there in spirit. My enthusiasm goes out to my friend Steffen Frantz, who I am proud to share with the readers of this music blog, recently became President of the Tarpan Records label. I wholeheartedly agree with Narada Michael Walden’s choice for his top executive 🙂

Thunder 2013 is due to drop on Tuesday September 17th. It’s a vibrant recording with a unique depth of soul that peacefully envelops the music of our heart.

“Brother Narada’s new sound is young and vibrant. Listening to Thunder, is uplifting and transforming! Narada’s vision is powerful with lots of soul. It is a tapestry of vibrant ideas, universal tone and the great vocal hooks that he is known for. This album rocks hard-core with supreme light and raw energy divine.” – Carlos Santana

My favorite track so far is “Dreams of Vinyl” 🙂

I last saw Narada Michael Walden live at Madison Square Garden on February 18, 2010. He was playing drums for Jeff Beck that evening. The group featured selections from Jeff Beck’s Emotion, Commotion, months before its release. I was  totally blown away by what I heard and experienced.

I get a similar feeling plus more from Thunder 2013. It has great feel flow. Give it a listen on Sound Cloud, you’ll crave the vibe 😉

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