Is the popularity of music downloads making finding hidden gems in an album a thing of the past?
I recently read an interview where Richard Thompson said, “Songs like to be together." It got me thinking about our current single-driven music industry and how much I miss albums. Albums like Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, the Eagles' Hotel California, Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Pink Floyd's The Wall, Prince's Purple Rain, Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA, U2's The Joshua Tree, the Beatles' Abbey Road, Dire Straits' Making Movies, and Cat Stevens' Tea for the Tillerman were a journey, a movie, a grand experience. Like a novel, they had a pacing to their flow that took the listener through a series of emotions. Regrettably, that's all but gone from popular culture today. Young music buyers tend to download the songs they know either from radio or music videos, building their own very limited playlist like a child planning his diet based entirely on commercials he's seen—Skittles with a side of Oreos, washed down with a Monster Energy drink. Gone are the sweet surprises of finding those unexpected, wonderful, weird songs that fly under the radar of hit radio.
When I was a kid, “Refugee" made me buy Tom Petty's Damn the Torpedoes, but it was “Even the Losers"—the track sandwiched between the hits—that changed my life. That song was a sonic vision of the tortured life my middle-class teenage self yearned to live. Even now, I just want to spend some nights outside with my girl smoking cigarettes and staring at the moon—even though I swore off those little death sticks years ago—because this song made it all feel so ineffably cool. Those songs that speak to us on such a perfectly personal level rarely become singles, because they're the songs that won't relate to everybody. Conversely, the songs pushed for mass consumption are not necessarily terrible songs, but they are, for the most part safe, unoriginal, simplistic, devoid of metaphor or simile. They are boring, forgettable, and basically interchangeable. They will not be here in two years, much less 30 years, like some of the cuts from the albums listed above. Yes, this is a sweeping generalization and, yes, you will find many, many exceptions without looking too hard.
I'm not going to join the fray and argue that current singles are crap compared to the music of old; there have always been both diamonds and lumps of coal on our airwaves. Our modern problem is that fantastic songs whose only sin is that they are subtle, cerebral, or longer than 3:57 are heard by very few people. Record companies, desperate for hits in this competitive market, are reluctant to support any song that is not a potential single. That alone gives a homogeneous feel to most CDs today. Back in the day, labels hoped for a single or two and let the artist do what they wanted to with the rest of the album—which made for incredibly creative and risky recordings. And those risks were rewarded by the AOR (album-oriented rock) radio format.
Back in the days of AOR, DJs listened to everything they could find and gleaned the hidden gems to share with their listeners. That was when radio must have been one of the greatest jobs in the world. Today, most DJs have a tiny playlist dictated by somebody they've never met in a city far away from their listeners. I have a lot of friends in radio that got into it because they loved music. Sadly, the best part of their gig has been stripped away. Consequently, radio numbers are down across the board. The solution seems so simple: give jocks back their gig. Let them spin what they love. Then maybe labels will let artists take a few more chances and the classic, great album will come back.
Some of you may have tried “Dark Side of the Rainbow" or “Wizard of Floyd." (For the uninitiated, start Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon on the third roar of the MGM Lion at the beginning of The Wizard of Oz and marvel at the synchronicity...a little glaucoma medicine may help.) Personally, I don't see this as a supernatural experience, but rather as testimony to a well-crafted album. Listen to any great album with your eyes closed and you will experience a journey sans chemical aids. Downloads and iPod shuffle have bestowed upon us complete listening control, but in doing so we have cheated ourselves out of the full musical experience that the recording artist developed for us.
My wife, Megan Mullins, completed an honest-to-God great album full of varied and wonderful songs last year with Buddy Cannon, who has produced Willie Nelson and Kenny Chesney, among others. Her label, stacked with cash from Jason Aldean's gigantic success, was generous and adventurous enough to let her make it. Given radio's rigid adherence to tiny playlists and the consumer trend of downloading singles as opposed to buying CDs, the question is whether Megan's killer songs that are stacked between the singles be heard? Come to a concert sometime for a live version.
John Bohlinger is a Nashville guitar slinger who works primarily in television, and has recorded and toured with over 30 major label artists. His songs and playing can be heard in major motion pictures, major label releases and literally hundreds of television drops. Visit him at: youtube.com/user/johnbohlinger or facebook.com/johnbohlinger
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Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
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The Generation Collection of acoustic guitars features the exclusive Gibson Player Port designed to offer a unique and immersive sonic experience.
The G-Bird, the newest addition to the Generation Collection--represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird colliding with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port to add a new dimension to the G-Bird sound. The Gibson Player Port allows players to hear more of themselves as the audience hears it. With a tone that is crisp and resonant, all of the Gibson Generation Collection acoustics are designed to be comfortable to hold and play for long periods of time. All Generation Collection guitars feature the Gibson Player Port, slim, lightweight bodies, a flatter fingerboard radius, Walnut back and sides, Sitka spruce tops, and a stunning Natural finish. Additionally, the new G-Bird, and the G-200 and G-Writer are equipped with LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup systems which amplify deep bass and crystal-clear highs.
The G-Bird represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port adding a new dimension to the G-Bird’s sound. The G-Bird features a stunning solid Sitka spruce top and solid walnut back and sides for the ultimate in crisp, resonant tone. This square-shoulder dreadnought delivers all the rich low end and well-balanced mids and highs the original Hummingbird is famous for. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with chrome Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning. The utile neck, with its easy-playing Advanced Response neck profile, is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Modeled after Gibson’s pioneering small-body parlor acoustic guitars from the 1930’s, the G-00 is a top choice for blues and fingerstyle guitar performances. Despite its more compact size, the G-00 achieves a full, balanced sound. The G-00 fills any room with rich tones-which players can hear like never before, with the exclusive Gibson Player Port. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-00 is handcrafted in Bozeman, Montana, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustic guitars. The G-00 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-00 parlor-sized body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-00 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
The G-45, a round-shouldered jumbo, adds the Gibson Player Port to its famous “Workhorse” J-45 style body, which is Gibson’s best-selling acoustic guitar of all time. On the G-45, players can now hear more clearly than ever how this beloved guitar responds to every style and technique of playing. Powerful one moment and soft the next, the G-45 delivers all sounds with incredible dynamic range in an elegant, medium body size. The G-45 is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-45 features a slightly thinner round shoulder body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-45 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Gibson’s impressive range of square-shouldered guitars have become an expressive standard for rock, pop, folk, and country artists. The G-Writer is known for its wide range of sounds, from gutsy and loud, to soft and sweet; they are superb for all styles and shine, whether strumming chords or fingering intricate solos. The G-Writer comes ready for the stage or studio with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system and the ear-opening Gibson Player Port. The G-Writer is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-Writer features a slightly thinner cutaway body, is more comfortable to play and provides effortless access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Writer is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
Gibson built its first “Super Jumbo” SJ-200 as a custom order for country and western singer and film star Ray Whitley, who desired a big, loud, and deep flat-top over which to croon. The SJ-200 quickly became a staple of cowboy singers and horseback troubadours, and then country music, 60’s folk stars, and onto every acoustic guitar genre that has followed. Ray would be proud to hear the booming sound from the Gibson Player Port on the new G-200, which comes ready for the stage or studio with a LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-200 is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. The G-200 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-200 cutaway jumbo body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and provides excellent access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-200 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
G-Bird | Generation Collection
For more information, please visit gibson.com.