Thursday, December 9, 2010

Modernization/Herman Chin-Loy

originally posted 1.27.07
I figured I might as well join the 21st century, so I've done a little upgrading lately. I convinced my wife we needed a new computer for the house and some additional hard drive storage. Why I found it necessary to do this, I am not sure, but my shiny new devices have arrived and everything has been installed and I'm ready to start being a member of modern society.So I decide my first step toward assimilation in the digital world is to get all my music onto the computer.
Funky Aquarius-The Aquarians

I estimate that 500 gigabytes of memory should be enough to hold my collection. 12,000 songs and 42 gigs into the project, there are a lot more questions than answers. Many of the questions are of a technical nature, Why is (insert your least favorite music storage platform here) unable to correctly identify the genre of so much music? Why do some Jazz CD's show all the artists on a track, even though the CD is credited to one leader, in effect "robbing" the leader of the session of his (or her) proper track count, and messing up alphabetizing, and making it hard to find the track later? Why is it so hard to change the information the program recognizes for all tracks on an entire album with one click, so that you can tailor it to suit your needs? I guess, for programmers, it is hard to please everybody, so I'm not completely turned off to the digital experience, and it does open new vistas as far as organizing your entire collection; so I am doing it. Am I totally pleased? No. Will I miss the joys of CD and LP reorganizing? Yes.My tech problems aside, the main question I'm puzzling over, as I rip my 1500th CD, is why?

I'm not giving up any of these CD's, so it is not a space saving issue. I'm not sharing any of these files, so that isn't it either. I think, in the end, there are a few issues I do understand concerning the project.

1. I am an insane, obsessive, old man (I fear my wife and son are thinking this when they see me, seemingly shackled to a computer terminal by an invisible set of chains all day).
2. I have all this music and I want to do something with it!
3. I am curious to see exactly how much stuff I actually have, so I can brag, complain, converse, catalog, and wish for more!
Alton's Official Daughter- Alton Ellis

Thankfully, there is a lot of discovery going on, especially as I plow through some of the Reggae I've been hoarding for years. Among my newly discovered favorites are titles on the Pressure Sounds label. The folks at Pressure Sounds present Reggae reissues with the depth and class they deserve. Detailed track notes, quality remastering, in depth research, deft sequencing, and an eye for little heard gems, are a part of every package they put together. To pick up one of their CD's is an experience and really lends to an understanding of how pervasive Reggae is in Jamaican culture. There is just so much music that comes from that small island..and so much of it is excellent, but like the US, the music is totally driven by commerce, so there is a good chance that what is hot today, may be forgotten tomorrow. Pressure Sounds is in business, too, but every song has a story, and I'm glad they are around to collect these stories, and some great Reggae music.

Aquarius Rock-The Hip Reggae World of Herman Chin-Loy not only chronicles the story and musical output (rare tracks from Augustus Pablo, Alton Ellis, and Dennis Alcapone) of a part-Chinese/part-Jamaican music shop/record label/studio owner, but drops the science on an Asian/Jamaican cultural connection I had absolutely no idea about.
East Of The River Nile-Augustus Pablo

From the Booklet:
"The Chinese had first come to the island as indentured laborers in 1838 following emancipation and, after their contracts had expired, many settled in Jamaica. Their contribution to the economy was felt immediately and their influence on the development of Jamaican music throughout the second half of the next century is incalculable. Musicians such as Phil Chen and the Chung brothers, Geoffrey and Michael, were hugely influential. Vincent Chin and his son Clive with Randy's record Shop and Studio 17, The Hookim brothers, Ernest, Jo Jo, Kenneth and Paulie, at Channel One, Leslie Kong at Beverly's down on Orange Street, Byron Lee musically with The Dragonaires and taking care of business with Dynamic Sounds and Justin "Phillip" Yaps' legendary Top Deck and Tuneico labels all proved to be vital creative and entrepreneurial forces within the music. Herman Chin-Loy's Aquarius record shops, label, and recording studio are an integral part of this distinguished roll call of musical and commercial achievement."
Aquarius Rock-Augustus Pablo & Herman

In all my gushing I have forgotten to mention how truly cool the records on the collection are. The tunes are very indie, lo-fi, almost homemade sounding, as well as, truly tweaked roots, rock steady, and dub from the late 60's and early 70's, that will be worth your time if you are into Reggae sounds at all. To me though, the package, the story, and the vibe make this a CD essential.As many of you already know, and my record collection will surely confirm this, I am entirely fascinated by music made before my time. I don't know what that says about me (and to be fair, I do listen to tons of new records), except that I'm a crazy 42 year old man, who knows this isn't a problem...yet (It may be if I'm pushing the 100K ripped level). So I welcome the digital age and all the discoveries it may bring.
Roadrunner-Sounds Unlimited

My Top 10 Artists by Number of Tracks-1/27/2007- 00:12EST-subject to change daily-
1.James Brown
2.Tom Waits
3.The Carter Family
4.Billie Holiday
5.Thelonious Monk
6.Cab Calloway
7.Ella Fitzgerald
9. Grateful Dead
10. Hank Williams

Post Script (12.9.10)
Well, I did get rid of most of my CD's, selling 'em in bulk at the Princeton Record Exchange. I figured out how to use Itunes as well. As of today I have 93,597 digital tracks. My lastfm stats say  that I've listened to 160,573 songs by 13,210 artists since 2006.

 My top 10 today has a few changes.
  1.  James Brown
  2. Duke Ellington
  3. Funkadelic
  4. Grateful Dead
  5. Parliament
  6. Tom Waits
  7. The Meters
  8. Gil Scott-Heron
  9. Memphis Minnie
  10. Bill Evans


Deltaman said...

First a rapturous thank you to you and all the other cool cats out there for sharing these cosmic grooves and vital sounds.

I have to say that your comments above regarding technology, transfer of analogue music to digital etc rang a bell with me. I could have written the same words verbatim to give my wife a clue as to why I myself spend hours in front of my laptop researching and downloading music.

I left the UK for my original homeland at the age of 23. At the time I was already an avid collector of music and till today pretty much have all the cassettes, albums and CDs I bought then.

Over the years since I have traveled less to western shores where I can actually walk into a record store of choice and find my so-called obscure/underground material. It's been especially difficult for family and friends who remain in the West as my request lists are never of the common kind and as such very few wants would come through. The internet however has made my life easier and enriched it completely. I don't 'cold turkey' anymore if I can't get to a music store. Indeed the last time I got off in a record store was 2008 at Soul Brother Records in Putney/UK. I had saved a few pennies and spent around 300quid on CDS. Now, I'm not ashamed of it but I can get my rocks off simply finding these little gems posted by like minded folks.

As far as the issue of copyright goes well I figure 1500 albums, 800CDS, 100/45s and 12inchs, cassettes, DVDs etc is enough money spent. Don't get me wrong I will certainly buy more given the chance but right now away from these funky stores I have to settle for MP3s.

I even tried my hand at giving something back to the community but due to slow internet speeds and fluctuating electricity supply I stopped since I really can't keep up with the volume I wish to post.

I'm 43 now, the first single/45 I purchased was Lets Groove by EW&F, first cassette F/Mac Rumours and first album Mondo Bongo by the Boomtown Rats.

Ranted enuff, TC

Cody B said...

Thanks for the incredible,insightful comment. I continue to be enthralled, abhorred, and a little bit scared of these internets.

Deltaman said...

I forgot to mention, any top ten playlist which has the incomparable Gil Scott-Heron on it is worth a listen in it's entirety. I saw the late brother in 2010 at Somerset House UK. I still remember when I heard the opening cords to We Almost lost Detroit I literally had shivers. It was great to see him perform live again. Miss him terribly.

Cody B said...

The last record was tough for me..glad you got a chance to catch him, though.
I did spend quite a bit of time listening to Gil (and Brian) this year..he moved up to 3rd on my charts.