Rock Instrumental Playlist

Rock Instrumentals-This Week On SiriusXM

Tune in today, December 7th, to Volume 106, 7 PM East, 4 PM West.

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Drake Punts

Blame Neil Portnow. Or to use the words of a man sorely ignored by the Grammy organization in his initial heyday, “He not busy being born is busy dying.”

Clayton Christensen said you have to disrupt yourself. Or you end up being disrupted. And the disrupting enterprise that steals your business starts off as outside, and cheap, and then it gets better and more dominant over time, and then it takes over. Can you say hip-hop?

Drake isn’t pulling his nominations because of what was done yesterday, but what was done over the past two decades. While the Grammy organization remained a boys club, while it was all perks and insider dealing, the recording landscape changed dramatically. What was a release? What was an album? Genres were no longer clearly delineated. And while the oldsters were debating Napster and its descendants, the youngsters were giving away mixtapes, knowing that we live in an attention economy, and that’s the number one criterion, getting noticed, and as the years have passed this has become nearly impossible to do. To the point where not only are people unaware of the nominees in the big categories, they’re completely clueless as to the nominees and the winners in the other eighty odd categories. It’s an inside job, a circle jerk to reward believers. Drake doesn’t need a victory on his resumé, the saxophonist in a jazz combo does. But if we’re giving that guy an award, and it always seems to be a guy, how about the person who plays klezmer music, or the doo-wop group. According to the Grammy organization the world revolves around it, when quite the opposite is the case, and the Grammys are struggling to even be in orbit.

There should have been a revolution FIFTEEN YEARS AGO! The organization should have foreseen the future and gotten the hip-hop world involved. It’s not like they weren’t warned, Steve Stoute took out that full page newspaper ad and what did we hear from the Grammys? Crickets.

Awards have been devalued. Every millennial got one for participating in soccer and there are so many the audience has stopped paying attention, never mind caring. Hear any buzz about the American Music Awards that just happened? That used to be a big story, how they were whacked, now there’s not a peep, because nobody is interested in music awards.

For the brief era they mattered, basically the late eighties and nineties, there was a monoculture and the goal was to reach said monoculture. You were either inside or outside, now nobody is inside! You can be #1, like Drake himself, and still tens of millions of people have never heard your music. But in the old days, the goal of winning an award was the name recognition, the exposure and the SALES! There are no sales anymore, it’s all streams, and the Grammy bounce has evaporated. So the truth is, if you’re a superstar in the music world, you’re doing the Grammys a favor by appearing on their telecast, there’s no upside, only potential downside, you risk committing a faux pas.

In addition, in an era where institutions are challenged 24/7, Drake actually gains credibility for not participating. He’s not beholden to the man, he’s beholden to no one but himself! Isn’t that what a rock star is supposed to be?

And speaking of credibility, the Grammys have sacrificed almost all of theirs over the years, with the secret committees, the firing of Deborah Dugan and now the expansion of the big categories to ten nominees at the last minute, including biggies like Kanye and Swift. I don’t care what their motivation was, even if their intentions were pure, it looks like they did it so big stars would show up and add some razzle dazzle to a rinky-dink show.

The Grammys will die of their own accord. Because they’re funded by CBS and all awards shows are losing viewers. The Grammys could take the financial hit and embrace the internet, there would be a painful transition period, but the end result would be a vast improvement. Look at Adobe, which changed its business model from sale to subscription. For a short while revenue faded, and then it burgeoned! And the solution was better, because software is no longer a fixed item, it’s fluid, it’s updated on a regular basis and users want these updates.

The Grammys are like the Democrats. Yes, for decades the Republicans have been chipping away at abortion rights, even in plain sight. What did the Democrats do? Not a whole hell of a lot. And now it’s too late. Change happens very slowly and then all at once. If you want to win in the future you’ve got to start changing when it’s risky, endure the blowback to ultimately emerge victorious.

And it’s not like the Grammys have not been shown the way. The VMAs said it was about humor and moments. What did we get with the Grammys? Endless painful duets. MTV knew it was about a television show, not the awards themselves, no one can even remember who won in years past.

And eyeballs are everything. The Grammys should have made a deal with Netflix years ago. That’s right, live performances streamed on demand. No one watches in real time anymore, you’ve got to give people what they want, and exactly what they want, when they want it. Appointment television? Can you tell me one person who is excited about the Grammys other than the wankers involved?

And I want to stop hearing about the good the organization does, the explanation that Dugan moved too fast. Radical change is needed, and if it’s not executed, there’s no money, no future within which to do those good deeds.

Drake demonstrated his power today. He knows the score, and he laid it down. As he said: 

“You already won if you have people singing your songs word for word, if they’re singing in your hometown. You’re already winning, you don’t need this right here.”

Truth resonates. And truth doesn’t come from network television…young ‘uns, rap fans, may not even have a cable subscription, and that’s fine with them.

Music is an outsiders game. It’s all about being an individual, following your muse, doing it your way, not being corralled by the suits. Meaning anybody involved in the Grammy organization is just the opposite, they want to be members of a group, they want to be involved, they want to compromise, all anathema to artists. So the concept is flawed, and now the internet has blown it all to hell and the Grammys have circled the wagons, put their hands over their ears as they keep telling us how pure their organization and its message is.

Yeah, right.

And Trump won the election and covid is no worse than a seasonal flu.

Gimme some truth. Isn’t that what John Lennon asked for?

Today Drake laid some truth on the Grammys, he’s already won.

One After 909-1969 Glyn Johns Mix



You’ve got to listen to this on headphones.

I got the “Let It Be (Super Deluxe)” boxed set a couple of weeks back. I immediately had to listen to the multiple renditions of “I’ve Got a Feeling,” my favorite song on the original LP. I cherry-picked some other titles that looked interesting, but the experience wasn’t satisfying, they were often just fragments and…

I didn’t listen again until last night.

I was hiking in the mountains and I decided to listen to the 1969 Glyn Johns mix. Which upon previous perusal I thought was a little dull, a little underproduced, but that was before I saw the documentary. I wanted to get as close to the music as possible.

So the original Glyn Johns mix starts on Disc 4, and the opening track is “One After 909.” Which I know by heart, but it was never one of my favorites. And I push play and…IT’S REVELATORY!

It starts with some nonsense noise, but now I know this is the exact track from the roof, and then…

It’s rough in a way the original is not, it’s rock and roll like the original is not, AND JOHN AND PAUL ARE IN SEPARATE CHANNELS! You listen and you can SEE the documentary.

That’s a feature of the documentary, the four lads in the studio and John and Paul doing call and response vocals. But this is the complete, original live track, AND THEY’RE SINGING AT THE SAME TIME, it’s so incredible you’ve got to pull it up to listen to it.

But please watch the documentary, see the rooftop performance first. You can’t help but see the images in your mind’s eye as the track unspools.

A studio recording is different from a live performance. The elements are all mixed, effects are added, it oftentimes sounds very different from how it did when the instruments were all played together initially, if they were all played at the same time to begin with. But live…

Sometime in the seventies they started mixing all the instruments in the PA, but before that, vocals only came through the PA, the rest came through the players’ respective amps. And if you were standing up close and personal, the music was separated. The lead guitar to the left or right, the bass on the other side, and oftentimes the lead vocal on one side of the stage and the backups on the other.

So there are always these intermittent sounds before a song starts live, it’s not silent between the songs like it is on a record.

And the guitars start wailing, and you can feel the energy, and they’re a bit rough, it’s not a homogenous sound, rather the instruments breathe. But really it’s the vocals. Paul in the left, John in the right. And they’re not perfectly aligned, they might be singing the same words, but with different vocal timbres and not simultaneously and in sync. It’s absolutely incredible, it’s the ESSENCE OF ROCK AND ROLL!

But I had to be sure my mind wasn’t playing tricks, so I went back to the original Phil Spector release. It’s a bit dull, the rough sounds have been excised, it’s everybody playing together, although the piano is in one ear and the lead in the other, but John and Paul are mixed together. It’s a record, not a performance. The energy is absent.

So then I pull up the 2021 Giles Martin mix from the deluxe package. It escapes the box, it’s less controlled than Phil Spector’s take, but once again John and Paul are mixed together, something is lost in the process.

But then I went back to Glyn Johns’s 1969 mix. I got the same damn feeling, the fix once again. It had a a raw quality, even Billy Preston’s piano, but with one Beatle singing in each channel, from different parts on the stage, you can hear exactly what they’re singing, the track is alive in a way the other two or not, this is a band, these are people, THIS IS ROCK AND ROLL!

It’s driving, it’s edgy, it’s got that prickly lead guitar so prevalent in the era, especially live, and the band is playing together, but there’s air in between each one of the players, it’s a BAND!

Suddenly what was once an album track, not one of my favorites, becomes the best cut on the album, it’s the Beatles from the first half of the sixties, when they still played live, it’s the exact same sound.

You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.