Author: The Real Chris Brown

I have worked at Bull Moose, a music, movie, video game, and book store chain for most of my adult life. Topics I pay attention to include prog rock, The Beatles, Record Store Day and records in general, gluten-free cooking, prog rock, D&D, fantasy and sci-fi books, and health insurance administration. I drive a dented 1997 Honda because I hate spending money on anything other than music, books, and food.

Roger Waters 5.1 Listening Party Thursday

Hear the new 5.1 mix of Roger Waters 1992 concept album Amused to Death before you can buy it.

Join us at the Gray Public Library Thursday at 6:30 pm for an amazing musical experience. Visit us Friday and buy the album on CD, vinyl, Blu-ray, or SACD and get a free poster while supplies last.

While not as well-known as many of his albums with Pink Floyd, Amused to Death, deserves careful listening. Waters comments on many things we may have missed because we are “amusing ourselves to death” watching television. Fans will be in familiar territory while finding new ways to think about the world.

The original mix was known for its expansive stereo image, with some sounds seeming to come from outside your speakers. The barking dog at the beginning truly sounded like it was coming from the house next door. The new surround sound mix builds on this, creating an immersive environment in which the listener is enveloped by the sound effects and music. This cinematic experience suits the album perfectly. My dogs ignore my home theater system. The war scenes near the beginning of Pink Floyd: The Wall don’t affect them no matter how loud I play it. The barking dog at the beginning fooled them and thought their buddy Sawyer was outside.

The sound effects are really cool, but it’s the music where the mix really matters. There is a lot going on, so pulling some of the instruments around the sides and to the back makes everything a little easier to hear. And you do want to hear Jeff Beck’s guitar solos, don’t you? (Side note: If you ever wondered how Jeff Beck might have handled the opening of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” from Wish You Were Here, find out here.)

The album was very well engineered to begin with and sounds fantastic in stereo or 5.1. The big songs are huge. “What God Wants” is nice and heavy, the gentle moments are super quiet, and the all the vocals jump right out at you. Waters uses all his vocal tricks while often sharing the mike with some incredibly strong female singers. (Another aside: after my first complete audition of the Blu-ray, I checked out Audio Fidelity’s new SACD release of Joe Cocker’s With A Little Help From My Friends. I’d have to give the sonic nod to Roger Waters and sounding better than an Audio Fidelity release is no small feat. I still recommend the Cocker disc, naturally.)

I encourage anyone who is curious about listening to music in surround sound to attend Thursday’s event. It’s an amazing way to experience great music. I promise you will be blown away. (Also, Sony was kind enough to donate a CD, a CD/Blu-ray package, and some posters to give away Thursday night. )

Quick note on the packages available Friday

The album will now be available in five versions:

  • Standard CD with new stereo mix
  • CD (new stereo mix) and Blu-ray (new stereo and surround sound mixes) in a nice book-like package
  • 2LP Picture disc
  • 2LP audiophile vinyl release from Analogue Productions
  • SACD from Analogue Productions

Pugwash @ Bull Moose Portland Friday

With influences including The Kinks, Electric Light Orchestra, The Beach Boys, XTC, and other power pop favorites, Irish band Pugwash has been entertaining audiences since 1999, and is embarking on its first U.S. tour in support of its inaugural international release. While in the U.S., Pugwash will visit Bull Moose in Portland (151 Middle Street) on Friday, October 10 at 6:30 p.m. for a free acoustic in-store performance.

Their new album A Rose in a Garden of Weeds: A Preamble Through the History of Pugwash is in stock now at all bull moose locations for $13.97.

Pugwash will be at Empire in Portland tonight (Thursday) for only $7. Spencer Albee, the perfect opener for them, opens.

Now THIS is a box set – J Dilla “The King of the Beats”

Ioutsidef you listened to a lot of hip hop in the 1990s, you probably heard J Dilla’s beats. He produced tracks for A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, De La Soul, Busta Rhymes, as well as his own group Slum Village.

His mother has curated this incredible box set called The King of the Beats, which collects a bunch of his unreleased beats on four 10″ records, a cassette tape, and a 3.5″ floppy disc.

Let’s start with the box itself. The box is made of lightweight wood, so it’s very sturdy but not unreasonably heavy. It’s made to look like the SP 1200 drum machine/sampler. Jay Dee must have loved his SP 1200. He raps or talks about it on several tracks.

Check it out. Real hinges. By the way, those aren’t real jacks. It’s just really well printed. hinge1hinge2

When you open it, you’ll see that they cared enough to pack bubble wrap inside to protect the contents in shipping. Speaking of shipping, the set comes in a custom box with a styrofoam holder to keep the box from getting dinged, even if the shipping carton is slightly damaged.

A foam tray holds the everything in place. Note the cutaways you can allow you to easily remove the contents.

openBoxnoBubble

The four 10″ LPs contain 40 tracks from J Dilla’s “Batches” series. The images on the fronts are kind of blurry, but the image is apparent when you put them together. The backs are a puzzle too.

recordFrontsrecordBacks

Under the records, we find a Certificate of Authenticity signed by his mom, Ma Dukes, and a short, but nice book with a couple of essays and some great pictures.

certificatebook1

The tape contains a totally finished song. Make sure you put it back with the tape side facing the left, so you don’t touch the tape when you get it out of the box next time.

Don’t forget the 3.5″ floppy disc. For you younger folks, it’s kind of like a big flat USB drive. It contains all the multi-tracks for an un-released J Dilla production. All you need is an SP 1200 to play it back!

This detail of the front of the box shows what a 3.5″ disc drive used to look like.

How about the records? Record one was pretty quiet, with only a little surface noise. It begins with a rough recording of J Dilla talking about his SP 1200 over a beat. What stands out immediately is his big punchy snare sound, which you can hear all through this side. A lot of these recordings are finished tracks, with bass lines and everything. All that’s missing is an MC. If you’re not up to it, you can enjoy these tracks as they are

.recordSpinning

In short, this is a great set, produced like only a mom could. There aren’t very many hip hop box sets out there, so let’s hope this starts a trend.

First Record Store Day Black Friday titles announced

In case you are wondering, once again on Black Friday real music stores will have an incredible array of limited edition records.

We now can announce the first three titles.

  • The Dead Milkmen – Big Lizard in My Backyard – 1000 copies (900 green with 100 yellow randomly inserted) – Pressed by URP
  • Fishbone – Truth and Soul – 1000 copies (900 red with 100 randomly green randomly inserted) – Pressed by URP
  • They Might Be Giants – Flood – 1500 copies (1400 green with 100 yellow randomly inserted) – Pressed by URP

Do you remember the days before Nirvana when what became modern rock was still called college rock? The only way you’d ever hear of these any of these bands was on college radio or from your friend’s older sister. These albums, along with records by R.E.M., The Pixies, Sonic Youth, and others set the stage for Nirvana, Soundgarden, and um…. Hootie & The Blowfish.

You can relive those exciting days on Black Friday when you buy any or all of these classics. I have fond memories of all three. If you shopped at Bull Moose in the early days, you almost certainly heard us playing them in the store.

Iron Maiden vinyl details


Iron Maiden Logo

 

STARTING ON OCTOBER 14TH   2014
 
BMG /INGROOVES MUSIC GROUP TO RELEASE
THE COMPLETE SERIES OF 7” SINGLES
TAKEN FROM THE FIRST EIGHT IRON MAIDEN ALBUMS IN THE UNITED STATES
 
THE ALBUMS WILL BE REISSUED ON HEAVYWEIGHT 180GRAM BLACK VINYL
 
IRON MAIDEN / KILLERS / THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST / PIECE OF MIND / POWERSLAVE /
LIVE AFTER DEATH / SOMEWHERE IN TIME /SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON
 
(AUGUST 27, 2014)  BMG and INgrooves Music Group will follow the 2012/13 IRON MAIDEN vinyl picture disc reissues of the first eight Iron Maiden albums, which spanned the 1980s, with brand new pressings of the albums in heavyweight 180g black vinyl in the United States.
 
In conjunction with these premium album releases, a strictly limited one-off run of the 7” singles from each respective album will be made available. These highly collectable black vinyl singles will be cut from the original UK analogue master tapes. Released in replica artwork packaging, this will be the first time ever that these black vinyl singles have officially been made available in the U.S. and sure to become a must-have item for fans, collectors and anyone who missed out first time round.
 
Iron Maiden vinylThe albums will also be cut from the original UK analogue master tapes and packaged in identical artwork to the initial 1980’s releases.  As a bonus, the first batch of album releases (Iron Maiden/Killers/The Number Of The Beast) will also be made available in a Collector’s Box sized to house all 8 albums. This package will be a strictly limited edition and available while stocks last.
 
The records will be released chronologically across a two-month period starting October 14th with the first 3 albums (Iron Maiden/Killers/The Number Of The Beast) and the seven corresponding 7” singles:
 
“Running Free” b/w “Burning Ambition”
“Sanctuary” b/w “Drifter” (Live) and “I’ve Got The Fire” (Live)
“Women In Uniform” b/w “Invasion”
“Twilight Zone”/”Wrathchild” double A side
“Purgatory” b/w “Genghis Khan”
“Run To The Hills” b/w “Total Eclipse”
“The Number Of The Beast” b/w “Remember Tomorrow” (Live)
 
Followed by:
 
October 28th: Piece Of Mind, Powerslave and Live After Death and the six corresponding 7” singles:
 
“Flight Of Icarus” b/w “I’ve Got The Fire”
“The Trooper” b/w “Cross-Eyed Mary”
“2 Minutes To Midnight” b/w “Rainbow’s Gold”
“Aces High” b/w “King Of Twilight”
“Running Free” (Live) b/w “Sanctuary” (Live)
“Run To The Hills” (Live) b/w “Phantom Of The Opera” (Live)
 
November 25th: Somewhere In Time and Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son and the six corresponding 7” singles:
 
“Wasted Years” b/w “Reach Out”
“Stranger In A Strange Land” b/w “That Girl”
“Can I Play With Madness” b/w “Black Bart Blues”
“The Evil That Men Do” b/w “Prowler ‘88”
“The Clairvoyant” b/w “The Prisoner” (Live)
“Infinite Dreams” (Live) b/w “Killers” (Live)
 
The release of these high quality, black vinyl records offers optimum choice to fans who would like to own a piece of Maiden’s authentic 1980’s vinyl sound, or for those simply wanting to rediscover this much loved, iconic format. Coupled with the end of the Maiden England World Tour which began in North America in 2012 and finished last month at Knebworth Park’s Sonisphere Festival in the UK, this now completes Maiden’s 1980’s touring and catalogue reissues cycle, so the band are free to focus on their dynamic future plans.
 

Pre-order here: http://www.bullmoose.com/c/12387

Pre-order Pugwash and get an autographed trading card

If you are a fan of smart power pop, particularly bands like XTC, Jellyfish, The Move or any of the great groups who inspired them, you will love Pugwash.

Now that you lPugwash_Rose_OV-100-180x180ove Pugwash as much as I do, be one of the first 133 people to pre-order their upcoming CD, A Rose In a Garden of Weeds, and you’ll get a 1970s-1980s trading card autographed by the band. This offer is good in all Bull Moose locations and on bullmoose.com.

Lando Calrissian, Bones & Kirk, Chewie, The Joker, & Phoebe Cates. What is Jerry Garcia doing here?

Is that cute hairy thing in the middle an Ewok or Jerry Garcia?

Here is a sample of the trading cards you might receive. We’ve got Star Wars, Raiders of The Lost Ark, Star Trek, Batman, Gremlins, The Empire Strikes Back, plus some truly random stuff like Grateful Dead trading cards.

 

Tom Petty’s new album sounds great on Blu-ray

Tom Petty’s album Hypnotic Eye on Blu-ray

Tom Petty’s new album, Hypnotic Eye, was released yesterday on Blu-ray Audio. It’s on CD and vinyl too, but this review will focus on the Blu-ray.

Let’s get the music out of the way. It sounds like you think a (good) new Tom Petty should. It’s got a mix of his deceptively simple well-crafted rockers, mid-tempo songs, and a really cool smoky ballad. Even my wife likes that song. This album won’t create many new fans (besides my wife) but old fans certainly will enjoy it. Audiophiles who think Petty is OK should buy this because…

The Blu-ray is fantastic. Don’t let anybody tell you can’t hear the difference. You can!

It contains stereo and 5.1 mixes of the album and very limited video content. Both mixes contain the same bonus track that is on the LP.

The stereo mix is the same as the CD, but the Blu-ray allows for 256 times greater resolution than the CD. That means that the more complex sounds such as distorted guitars and Petty’s gravely voice have a lot more presence and detail. Can you hear the difference? Yes, you probably can, if you listen on a half-decent system and pay attention. You don’t need fancy equipment or special training.

It’s also more dynamic, meaning that the subtle changes in volume human musicians make are better reproduced. You shouldn’t notice that. Most likely you will think that the music is really expressive, and rocks when it needs to.

There is a huge difference between the blu-ray to the mp3 album preview streams you can find online. The blu-ray has way more bass and power. Petty’s vocals jump out at you. The drums sound much better, etc. It’s night and day.

Some 5.1 mixes have the music swirl around you. That’s prefect for Pink Floyd and Beck, but for a rock record, surround sound should be much more subtle. Here most of the action is in the front three speakers. Some of the instruments creep towards the sides a bit, but that sounds very natural, like you’re in the studio with them. Petty’s vocals and some guitar solos sometimes come out of the center channel. This nicely emphasizes his singing without having to actually make him louder. Sometimes it sounds like he is singing directly to you.

Don’t think for a minute that you can’t appreciate the better sound. You will feel like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are giving a private concert in your living room. Trust me. If you plan to buy the CD and have a Blu-ray player, consider getting the Blu-ray. You’ll be glad you did.

Get your Destiny beta code

Stop by your favorite Bull Moose and pre-order Bungie’s Destiny on Xbox One, PS4, PS3 & Xbox 360 and receive a code that is redeemable on bungie.net for the opportunity to participate in the Destiny beta; taking place July 17th through July 24th.  You “beta” stop by and pre-order Destiny because beta codes are limited and you don’t want to be left behind now do you?

(Not) The Best of Atomic Rooster in 5.1

Do you collect old DVD-Audio titles? Feel free to avoid The Best of Atomic Rooster unless you find a cheap copy. This is a great example of when a good stereo mix crushes a poor 5.1 mix.

Atomic Rooster is best known because Carl Palmer was on their first album They released an excellent proggy doom metal album, Death Walks Behind You after he left in 1970It’s dark like early Black Sabbath, but the grooviness reminds one of newer bands like Graveyard and The Sword. Much of the prog feel comes from Vincent Crane’s piano and organ.

Doom metal fans certainly should get to know Atomic Rooster–just not with this release. The label that released this has been accused of creating fake 5.1 mixes, but this sounds like a genuine 5.1 mix to me. Unfortunately, it’s not a good mix and the fidelity is disappointing.

Last word: great band; inessential purchase

 

Note: This is the first in a series of reviews of music for people with surround sound systems. Coming soon: The Yes Album, Quadrophenia, and some older hard-top-find titles.

Our LEGO Firewalk photo goes viral

The other day we posted a photo of the LEGO Firewalk setup to our tumblr blog. Yeah, we have a tumblr.LEGO Firewalk

You know how the internet works. Last night someone posted it to an image sharing site. Someone linked to it on Reddit.

Then George Takei posted it to his Facebook page, which led to a zillion more shares.

We wish we could say we planned this, but we were just trying to have some fun.

It made the TV news too. Here is the video.