Friday, April 07, 2006

Q : When is a Studio a Workshop?

A : When it's an LP by Chet Aktins. Stopped by Half Price Books today & picked up some vinyl by The Faces, Hendrix, Bryan Ferry, David Essex (in Quad) and this gem by Chet Atkins. It's part of the RCA Living Stereo series & has a "Miracle Surface." Turns out from the sleeve notes (which track Chet's early career) that the album tracks were recorded at a studio then Chet retired to his "workshop" to finish the album on his own. Apparently his rig includes a 3-track recorder, a single-track recorder, a jack panel, a voltmeter, a signal generator & a distortion meter, some constructed by Mr. Atkins himself. I also spotted a scope, a speaker cabinet & some homebrew rack gear. A head demag'er is lying dangerously close to the recorder mind you.

So how does Chet's workshop sound? Nice, full & well rounded. Good detail in the bass and a surprisingly fat sound considering it was recorded in 1961. A recording to be proud of. The guitar work is impeccable of course.

The only theory I can espouse for the Workshop title is that, reading between Pulitzer journalist & author David Halberstam's sleeve notes, a Studio is a place for hire whereas a home set up would be a Workshop. For further enlightenment I contacted Halberstam's publisher to see if I can shed some more light on this.

Fashion Victim & Che

Fashion Victim's David McWilliams responded to my piece below with the desire to tell his side of the story. I welcome his arguments and will post them unabridged and without inserted comment (assuming they contain no bad language & are shorter than Beowulf that is).

Watch this space.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Che, Korda, Fashion Victims & those Damn Lawyers

Che Guevara, Cuban revolutionary & 20th Century pop idol. This, the most well known image of him was taken by fellow Communist Alberto Korda and used as the basis for Jim Fitzpatrick's red & black line art. Appearing on everything from posters to mugs to T-Shirts, Fitzpatrick's image has probably graced more college walls & breasts than any other. Korda himself never asked for royalties from the image, preferring that it be used "by those who wish to propagate his memory and the cause of social justice throughout the world." It wasn't until Smirnoff appropriated the image for an ad in 2000 that he even (successfully) claimed copyright.

Now it seems that Korda's egalitarian spirit passed away with him in 2001. Lawyers representing the family estate have not only pursued perceived infringers vigorously but also licensed the image (and any others based on it) to Atlanta based Fashion Victim. In typical high handed style, internet specialties company CafePress has been "cease & desisted" even for images which are merely artistic renderings of Korda's photograph.

From Fashion Victim's website: "Join the revolution with us here at Fashion Victim! These are revolutionary times, so where better to get the gear you need. We have all the latest designs in the world of propaganda and revolution, not to mention we are the only licensed retailers of Che Guevara shirts in the US of A."

The shirts themselves are apparently not made in the US of A, but then perhaps that's the ultimate statement in this whole sorry case. Revolutionary wear made in sweatshops, no coincidence then that the word revolting comes from the same root.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Boys Of Summer

Opening day for the MLB again, it seems so soon but then again the modern World Series risks being spotted by the Great Pumpkin . But do the Boys of Summer, Root, Root, Root for the Hometeam & the Mudville 9 have any place today? Not only did the Mighty Case strike out but so has Major League Baseball. I associate the game more with steroids, overpayed whining players, city handouts, $60 mid-week tickets, $6 dollar hotdogs & $1o beers than America's Pastime. I think MLB should probably go ahead and put an asterix against the entire league, players, teams, owners, vendors, corporate sponsors and the guy selling the parking tickets too.

The phrase most dreaded by sports fans across the US? "Here we are, tied up, bottom of the 14th."