Issue 78

Issue 78

Issue 78

Bill Leebens

Fairchild, Part 4

Bill Leebens

The last three Vintage Whine columns have looked at the pro and consumer audio companies owned by Sherman Fairchild, with a side-look at his many other holdings. We began in Copper #75 with Part 1; Copper#76 had Part 2; Copper #77 had Part 3.

I can honestly say I’ve never encountered such a complex web of interconnected and interrelated companies as those carrying the Fairchild name, nor have I encountered another serial entrepreneur with Fairchild’s  deep interest in music and audio. There truly is a fascinating story waiting to be written about his life and the dozens of companies that bore his name. Rather than turn Vintage Whine into a one-note column, we’ll wrap up this topic with an overview in this column.

As mentioned in Part 1, Sherman Fairchild’s father was one of the founders of the company that became IBM, and was the first Chairman of IBM. Upon his father’s death, Sherman became the largest single shareholder in IBM—a status he would hold until his own death in 1971.

It would be true, therefore, to say that Fairchild came from wealth. 

Wealthy or no, Sherman Fairchild was no dilettante or dawdler: His interest in photography led to numerous patents, the founding of aerial photography as a tool for both reconnaissance and mapping, turning a hobby into a major business..which led to other businesses: purpose-built aircraft for aerial photography led to passenger aircraft. Motion picture cameras led to talking movies which led to sound recording gear—and on and on.

And when World War II came, Fairchild aerial cameras were vital tools for reconnaissance (like the F-56 camera shown below), another Fairchild company produced thousands of trainer planes used in pilot training, Fairchild electrical computing gunsights were widely used, and all manner of tactical devices for the war effort carried the Fairchild name.


After the war ended, management of Fairchild Camera decided to sell off or shut down the audio division, which was an early developer of reel-to-reel recorders based upon the Magnetophon technology brought over from Germany. The high standards and high prices of the audio division’s products made it unprofitable; rather than see the technology and talent disappear, amateur jazz pianist/recordist Sherman Fairchild personally bought the division, and renamed it Fairchild Recording Equipment. We’ve already mentioned the lasting value and desirability of a number of Fairchild studio products, including the 660 and 670 compressors (a 670 is shown atop the page).

Fairchild’s home audio products were also well thought out and built to last—meaning, again, they weren’t cheap. As the stereo age emerged, Fairchild mono amps were still viable, and the model 245 mono preamplifier could be stacked to form a stereo unit, with an overall volume selector added. Marantz did something similar with the original Audio Consolette (Model 1), which was stacked and sold as a stereo unit as the Model 6.

The 260 mono amplifier was every bit as overbuilt as anything from McIntosh, Marantz, or Fisher—but is rarely seen these days. Perhaps the battleship gray finish is just not as appealing as the bling of those other amps.   

The ’50s also saw Fairchild aircraft and cameras used in the Korean war, and Fairchild cameras were utilized in the reconnaissance flyovers of the cold war—and then in the first efforts of NASA, and sadly, again in war use in Vietnam.

In 1957, a group of young physicists and scientists were working for Thomas Shockley, the inventor of the transistor, at his company Shockley Semiconductor, near Palo Alto. Shockley was famously difficult to work with or for, being dismissive, paranoid, and abusive. The group decided to start their own company to develop products for the burgeoning field of silicon semiconductors, and called upon New York financier Arthur Rock to find them financing for a start-up company.

Rock struck out with a number of companies who didn’t understand the potential of transistors—but Sherman Fairchild agreed to provide $1.5 million to fund the group. Shockley referred to the group as “The Traitorous Eight”. When the group began in June of 1957, they didn’t even have contracts—so they all symbolically signed a dollar bill.

Among the group were Robert Noyce, who would become known as one of two inventors of the microchip, and Gordon Moore, whose “Moore’s Law” has survived for decades as a paradigm of growth of the computer industry. Noyce and Moore would leave within a few years to start Intel.

Fairchild’s funding of The Traitorous Eight, facilitated by Arthur Rock, marked the birth of Silicon Valley. Rock—and later Eugene Kleiner, who funded Intel—were the pioneers in venture capital funding for tech companies. Rock is still alive and revered as the Godfather of the industry by today’s Valley VC types; Kleiner went on to form Kleiner Perkins, which funded AOL, Compaq, Genentech, Amazon, Google, and dozens of other companies which came to be worth uncounted billions.

Fairchild’s wide-ranging holdings brought him to the cover of Time magazine in 1960. At that point Fairchild companies were involved with the development of Cinerama, video tape recorders, a full range of pro audio gear including microphones and transcription turntables, improved cargo planes for use in Vietnam, new generations of cameras for use on satellites and for the projected manned space flights—among many other fields.


Around that same period, Noyce, Moore, and Fairchild (L-R) were photographed in the Fairchild Semiconductor facility. For a wealthy guy, Fairchild could’ve used a better tailor!


The number of companies directly or indirectly spun off of Fairchild Semiconductor is hard to calculate. If you Google the term “Fairchildren”– you’ll encounter numerous different family trees like the one below. Estimates of  the number of offspring run into the several hundreds. 

 Two other things must be said of Sherman Fairchild: he never stopped learning, exploring, and looking for ways to do things better; and he actually seemed to have fun. His modernist mansion in New York near Central Park featured a room with two grand pianos adjacent to a fully-equipped recording studio. Fairchild enjoyed music, was reputedly a fair pianist himself, and often recorded jazz musicians in his home. Photographer Hank O’Neal’s blog provides fascinating details of Fairchild’s life and passions, including a record company started by Fairchild, O’Neal, and jazz pianist Marian McPartland. Over the years, Fairchild’s love of sound had led him to work with audio pioneers including “Buzz” Reeves, Bob Fine, Lawrence Scully, and many others. 

O’Neal’s blog also provides sad details of Fairchild’s death in 1971—in a hospital he helped to build. Fairchild undoubtedly had numerous new fields left to explore and develop.

Fairchild never married, and upon his death, the bulk of his $200M estate went to the Fairchild Foundation and the Sherman Fairchild Foundation. Both are still in existence, endowing a variety of educational and charitable endeavors. It’s difficult to imagine anyone today making their mark in as many different and disparate fields as did Sherman Fairchild. It’s even harder to imagine that such a person would make major contributions to the world of audio.

[Special thanks to Tom Fine for his insights and information—Ed.]

Andrea Brinkmann, RIP

Bill Leebens

Brinkmann Audio is a highly-regarded German manufacturer of turntables and electronics.

From the Brinkmann USA newsletter—

In Memoriam: Andrea Brinkmann 1977-2019

“It is with great sorrow that we report the passing of Andrea Brinkmann. During her long tenure as head of Brinkmann’s International Sales effort, Andrea served as the face of Brinkmann at trade shows and events and enjoyed excellent relationships with our dealers and salespeople.

“She will be sorely missed by the entire Brinkmann Family.”

She is survived by her husband, Helmut, and son, Laurin. We send our condolences to Andrea’s family and colleagues.

 From the Brinkmann USA newsletter--- In Memoriam: Andrea Brinkmann 1977-2019 "It is with great sorrow that we report the passing of Andrea Brinkmann. During her long tenure as head of Brinkmann’s International Sales effort, Andrea served as the face of Brinkmann at trade shows and events and enjoyed excellent relationships with our dealers and salespeople. "She will be sorely missed by the entire Brinkmann Family." She is survived by her husband, Helmut, and son, Laurin. We send our condolences to Andrea's family and colleagues. httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei4YIrAoiRQ

Stay Hot!

Lawrence Schenbeck

Last week I finally signed up for a streaming service. First two albums I clicked on were Yuja Wang: The Berlin Recital and Nemanja Radulović: Baïka, both DG releasesNot sure why I chose them, except that I wouldn’t have jumped to buy either one—which is why streaming’s so attractive, of course. You can sample all sorts of things.

For better or worse, I don’t consider myself a huge fan of the late-Romantic repertoire that Yuja Wang embraces. But when I hear this:


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it doesn’t simply take me back to my middle-school days, when I was learning that piece. It actually makes me feel like an eighth-grader again. What I mean is, it delivers the palpable excitement of that music’s grandeur, hauteur, and tension (for tension read fearfury, and desire in all forms) just as if I were hearing it for the first time. Wang not only plays all the notes right, she gets a big sound out of the instrument, and she phrases so that a sense of coiled-spring intensity is always present.

These elements help define hotness, which has little to do with this performer’s glamorous outfits. The term itself is seldom used in describing any classical music, probably because it connotes adolescent sexual appreciation (apprehension? awareness?), an activity considered irrelevant—offensive, even—as one ascends the slopes of the art-music value system. Carmina Burana is certifiably hot, the Art of Fugue certifiably not. Need I even ask which is the “greater” work?

Furthermore, hotness requires specific sorts of intensity, including textural simplicity, repetition (especially, driving or catchy rhythms) and sensuous intent at the Department of Melody. The trick is to balance these factors while maintaining a “serious” façade and—these days—avoiding any whiff of exoticism (i.e., lingering stereotypes linked to Africa and the Middle East).

What else should you know about The Berlin Recital? Besides another Rachmaninov prelude and two of his Études-Tableaux, Ms. Wang includes a Scriabin sonata, three Ligeti études, and the magisterial Prokofiev Sonata No. 8 (full track listing here). It is the only work on her program that directly addresses romantic love, having been inspired by (and dedicated to) Mira Mendelson, a young woman Prokofiev met five years earlier and with whom he lived after his wife Lina was sent to a labor camp. In the first movement, lyricism dominates:


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Recording quality seems fine. (I’m still fooling around with my streaming setup.)

Onward: Nemanja Radulović is a Franco-Serbian violinist of demonstrated ability in mainstream repertoire; with Baïka he doubles down on the folk element. He’s working again with the Borusan Istanbul PO and conductor Sascha Goetzel, and the chemistry between them is obvious. Their main course is the Khachaturian Violin Concerto; for once I didn’t fall asleep in twenty seconds.


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The album also features Khachaturian’s very fine Trio for clarinet, violin, and piano, plus an arrangement of Rimsky’s Scheherazade for chamber ensemble by Aleksandar Sedlar (the composer, not the footballer) who contributes two lively ethnic lollipops. Here’s his Savcho 3:




Like the Yuja Wang album, Radulović’s offering scores high points for energy, tunefulness, and repetition (and no, I’m not forgetting Wang’s Ligeti moments, tuneful and repetitive in their own way). Both artists’ repertoire gets fewer points for counterpoint or “development.” Their cover photos suggest Betty Boop and Niccolò Paganini, two sexual archetypes: Jail Bait vs. His Satanic Majesty, perhaps. From Liszt to “Leopold,” Romantic performers have adopted electric personae as a way to fix their iconic status in audiences’ minds. For women, however, effective visual presentation often meant styling oneself as a Chaste Priestess of Great Art: Clara Schumann, Angela Hewitt. In that sense Wang is bucking a deeply rooted tradition. And since we’re veering into pseudo-academic territory, perhaps we should analyze the finer points of hotness.

Really, there aren’t any. The more a piece of music occupies itself with heat, the less likely it’s got any fine points at all. That’s okay, especially if your hot little number lasts less than, say, four minutes. (Savcho 3 clocks in at 2’58”.) Longer than that, we inevitably encounter the falling-asleep-in-twenty-seconds issue. Heat makes more of an impact when a bit of non-heat lurks nearby; as I recall, even the Sex Pistols occasionally sang about ennui.

Consider, then, Berlioz’s Harold en Italie, a four-movement symphony with viola obbligato and a useful, practical share of intensity. It’s not how hot you are, it’s how you ration out the heat. In the first movement, we meet our hero via his very own idée fixe, but he’s clearly in a reflective, moody frame of mind:


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Things pick up later in the movement, helpfully labeled “Scènes de mélancolie, de bonheur et de joie”). Here’s some of that:


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Movements 2 and 3 give themselves over to Pilgrims Chanting Evening Prayers and a Montagnard Serenading His Sweetheart. Perhaps Movement 4 (“Orgie de brigands,” marked Allegro frenetico) compensates. In it, poor Harold is completely overwhelmed. You can hear the entire work in the video below; it starts at 44:00. To hear just the final movement, skip to 1:14:20.




Let’s be clear: all of Harold en Italie is well-made and enjoyable even if it’s not brimming with hottitude. Nor does it brim, incidentally, with anything related to George Gordon (Lord) Byron, whose Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage was Berlioz’s ostensible literary source. Donald Tovey’s 1930-ish essay tells us that

No definite elements of Byron’s poem have penetrated the impregnable fortress of Berlioz’s encyclopaedic inattention. Many picturesque things are described in famous stanzas in Childe Harold; but nothing remotely resembling Berlioz’s Pilgrims March, nor his serenade in the Abruzzi. . . . On the other hand there is no trace in Berlioz’s music of any of the famous passages in Childe Harold.

Tovey also gets picky about Berlioz’s self-proclaimed role as Wild Man of Music:

Mendelssohn declared that what he found so Philistine about Berlioz was that “with all his efforts to go stark mad he never once succeeds.” . . . [A] large part of Berlioz’s charm consists in his earnest aspirations to achieve the glamour of a desperate wickedness against the background of his inveterate and easily shockable respectability.

So, even Berlioz’s intermittent rambunctiousness could be dismissed as inauthentic. Fear not, dear reader: in Berlioz and His CenturyJacques Barzun cited mitigating factors: the Orgie de brigands was

a cultural symptom. . . .The brigand of Berlioz’s time is the avenger of social injustice, the rebel against the City, who resorts to nature for healing the wounds of social man. . . . In Harold [Berlioz depicted] the release of violence and vulgarity. . . .as a needful antidote to the repressions of conventional life.

Hector and George, soulmates in spite of their differences. We’ve been listening to violist Tabea Zimmermann and Les Siècles (François-Xavier Roth, conductor) on a new Harmonia Mundi recording. It’s terrific; I warmly recommend it. If there’s such a thing as Viola Hotness (warm, supple sound), Zimmermann owns it. Roth provides exquisitely caffeinated support. (Yes, they’re the folks in the video.) The album is filled out with Les Nuits d’éte, which further emphasizes Berlioz’s classicism.

In conclusion: remember that not everything loud, fast, and repetitive is therefore hot. I’m thinking of my earliest encounters with Le Sacre du printemps. The Scottsbluff Public Library possessed an LP of Stravinsky’s performance for Columbia, which—as a ninth-grader—I checked out repeatedly over a six-month period. I didn’t “get” it. Everything I’d read about Le Sacre had led me to expect wild, scandalous, deeply sensual and transgressive sounds. But Stravinsky as conductor stripped the music down to its bare, cold bones. Yes, it was fairly loud, fast, and repetitive. (Also, not surprisingly, quite scratchy.) But it felt cerebral, not hot. Years later I got ahold of Bernstein’s Sacre, definitely hotter.

So today’s closing exhibits—intense, engaging, not hot—come from Górecki: Complete String Quartets 1 (Tippett Quartet, Naxos). Do you know Henryk Mikołaj Górecki because of his Symphony of Sorrowful Songs? Here is music colder, yet stronger. Its ice will get into your bones. Hope that’s a good thing. Here’s an excerpt from the earliest work in vol. 1, Genesis I: Elementi, for string trio:


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It dates from 1962, following Górecki’s return from youthful adventures in Paris. Clearly he had absorbed the new language being developed by Boulez and others. Elementi presents a virtual catalog of avant-garde sounds and techniques, but it also succeeds brilliantly as pure musical narrative. The three string quartets, written between 1988 and ’95 for Kronos, are among this composer’s most important music from later years; the first two are given here. An excerpt from the second, subtitled Quasi una fantasia:


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Well, so much for hotness. Time to put away those old Carly Simon album covers and cultivate more wholesome thoughts. I’ll be back with uplifting music to match.

The Most Remarkable Man, Redux

The Most Remarkable Man, Redux

The Most Remarkable Man, Redux

Dan Schwartz

I’ve discussed a few of the heavyweight characters I encountered in my initial years as a player. But I didn’t yet talk about the man whose influence on me is so pervasive that it’s unseen — it’s just who I am: my father.

I write this to cause everyone who reads it to think about where they come from, what their influences are, and how they’ve ended up wherever they are today. I think my father, more than any other person, is the cause of my path. I latched on to certain influences on the way, like Casady, and Lesh, and Moog — that was largely after he was gone. But in my early years, the years before I took up music, his presence was huge.

Last year, Rick Turner, Jack Casady and I appeared at the Fretboard Summit, a semi-annual gathering of guitar enthusiasts. The subject matter sort of got away from us, but the intention was to talk about the way our upbringings were similar, and shaped by our fathers‘ enthusiasm for electronics. Of the three of us, only my father was actually an electronics engineer, though, and largely a self-taught one at that.

He grew up in a village in northeast Hungary, very close to present-day Ukraine and Slovakia, the eldest of four – two boys, two girls. In 1934, when he was 13, his father died, leaving my father to take care of everyone. He moved across the country to Budapest and apprenticed himself to a radio repairman (my wife’s father, who I didn’t know, has a remarkably similar story –– these were the times). And so ended his formal education.

He sent money home regularly to support his family, and on a visit he wired up their one room, dirt-floor house with a light bulb. As I said, these were the times, the place: it was Eastern Europe between the wars. I’m sure many people who are reading this could tell a similar tale. My parents told me that he saw my mother when he was 18, and for him, it was love at first sight. She had a few suitors as years passed, but HER father zeroed in: he liked my dad as much as my dad liked my mom. Her father saw a mensch.

Then came the war, and Auschwitz, and 60 people from my family dead — including my three remaining grandparents and my father’s sisters. My mother and her siblings survived – they all ended up in different places during the war; my mother, the youngest, went to Auschwitz with her parents. The Hungarian army, of course, was not on the Allies side, and Jewish men were put into slave-labor divisions. My father though, was highly skilled by this point, and was moved around from place to place, working on radios and engines (which he would, when circumstances allowed, sabotage).

The tale of their coming to the US is fascinating I think, but not really appropriate for this piece. I was born at the end of ‘56 in Camden, NJ, and grew up a couple towns east. So my growing-up was during the 60s, and that’s what I want to talk about.

I never thought about these things at the time of course, but in the years that have passed, I’ve found out the details. I have a brother who is ten years older than me (yes, he was born in Europe), and talking with him it’s become clear. But as kid, it was just the environment that I was in.

My father was an electronics engineer, but he never went to back school after 13 –– he was, quite literally, a man. And when he came to the States, to RCA in Camden in 1951, he hid that fact from most people. And yet, he designed automation systems for RCA, and then IRC in Philly. He had a second business, called Delta Industrial Electronics, in our basement all through the years. My brother assisted him with building what were actually analog computers for his clients, but specific ones. I remember large devices that I thought were ”simply” resistor counters. Yeah, my brother said, they did that, but that was the least of what they did — they prepped and tinned the resistors for soldering into place. And…

He built the first stereo system in our neighborhood, the first actual 2-channel system in the area. And he built the speaker cabs at first. I don’t know how into really good sound he was, but in those days, it was the best sound of which I knew. There were gadgets everywhere, and he at least aspired to good sound. When I was 13, when my (slightly older –– there were three of us) brother Bob and I set up a wall of the neighborhood kids’ amps in the basement, it was in the midst of the Delta Industrial workbenches. And, most importantly, our father was our fan. Although he and my mother occasionally had to crack the whip (they took away our guitar and bass lessons when our grades started to slip — I was in 8th grade, Bob was 10th), he never suggested we stop playing. And he built my first bass amp, from scratch: cabinet, chassis, and front panel — from a Heathkit schematic.

I remember this: Bob was 15, and had a band with another guitarist and the guitarist’s wife, doing their own music (as we always have done). My parents sat on the basement steps listening to them for a while, and when they went back up to the kitchen, my dad said, “These guys are GOOD.” I agreed.

In his last year, he carried a cardboard cutout of the not-yet released HP-35 calculator around in his shirt pocket. Yes, he was super-hep, but he could be a nerd.

It’s impossible for me to talk about him without discussing his politics, and I suspect he formed me here more than anywhere. After we went to Expo ‘67 in Montreal, he announced to my mother that we were moving there. She wouldn’t go. Too cold and her brother and two sisters were nearby. He then came home with four tickets on the SS United States and said, “Fine, we’re moving to London for a year.” And we did; it was the best year of my education (68-69). Later, my mother said we did it to save him from a nervous breakdown. He was so upset about what the US, his adopted country, was doing in Vietnam, that he needed to get away for a while.

He died of a massive heart attack a week after McGovern lost the race to Richard Nixon. When Nixon resigned the presidency, I thought of him.

But I also think of him regularly when I mess with my media system, or play my Moog. I think he would have disapproved of the life (or at least the occasional lack of dollars), but he would have loved the gadgetry of it all.




Maggie McFalls

Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre

Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre

Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre

Anne E. Johnson

There was never a more promising time than the late 17th century to be a musician in France. King Louis XIV, after all, loved music and dance as much as he loved life, and he did all he could – and more than the royal coffers could afford – to support the careers of performing artists. Lucky for harpsichordist and composer Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (1665-1729), she started life with a connection to the Sun King’s court, thanks to the harpsichords her father built.

She was educated at court, married an organist, and spent her whole life composing and playing music, revered as a virtuoso by her male colleagues. Yes, that was as rare for a woman at that time as you’d think, even in Paris.

Because harpsichord was her primary instrument, it’s no surprise that her earliest published works (in an era when only a small percentage of compositions were ever immortalized through publication) were her First Book of Pieces for Harpsichord in 1687. You can hear all of them on a new 50-track collection by Francesco Lanfranco, Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre: Complete Harpsichord Works on Brilliant Classics. It’s an outstanding recording.

Typical of the early Baroque in general, these pieces are suites of short movements inspired by dances. And typical of the French Baroque in particular, the movements are often not named after the dance rhythms that inspired them, but are given names of the composer’s friends and patrons. We may never know who “Cannaris” was, but Lanfranco offers a satisfyingly wild spin through the movement named for him/her in the D minor suite:


Lanfranco is just as impressive at the other end of the emotional spectrum, with this mournful yet stately Sarabande from the A minor suite:


The first and third suites from that early collection were also recorded by French harpsichordist Marie van Rhijn on an album for the Evidence label called L’Inconstante. Here she plays the Chaconne that gives the album its name. Notice the difference in touch between Rhijn and Lanfranco. Rhijn’s ornamentation is overwhelming, obscuring the rhythmic and harmonic motion. Her playing does not sound grounded.


One of the things that sets Jacquet de la Guerre’s early works apart from her later pieces for solo harpsichord is the presence of a prelude movement to open each one. It’s our good fortune that she bothered with the preludes for a while, since they’re some of her most intricate and compelling compositions. Here’s one from another recent album, Suites pour le clavecin, Livres 1 et 2 (OnClassical). This video captures a brilliant performance by soloist Elisabetta Guglielmin, who wanders breathlessly along the prelude’s surprising turns like she’s finding her way through a magical forest:


The majority of movements, however, follow dance rhythms. Guglielmin’s playing of this Gavotte from the A minor sonata shows keen attention to historically informed practice: While it is notated and structured in strict duple time and four-bar phrases, Guglielmin keeps the phrasing supple, not square.


A harpsichordist at the turn into the 18th century would not have spent most of her time playing solo, but as continuo – the chordal accompaniment for melodic solo instruments. In Paris at the time, the most common melodic instrument for such pieces was the violin. E voi-là, Pan Classics has re-released a recording (previously on the Verso label) called Jacquet de La Guerre: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1-6. Lina Tur Bonet is the violinist, with Kenneth Weiss on harpsichord, and Patxi Montero rounding out the continuo on viola da gamba.

Hang onto your hat when you listen to this lickety-split presto from Violin Sonata No. 1 in D minor. (Four of the seven movements in this sonata are marked “Presto,” so the players must be truly knackered when they’re done!) Bonet is playing a Baroque violin with enough skill to take advantage of the scraping, echoey sound natural to that instrument, letting it help her shape the quick phrases so they burble and sparkle.


Violin Sonata No. 3 in F Major: III. Adagio

Until recently, scholars thought these violin sonatas were written just before their publication in 1707. But then manuscripts of some of them were found in the collection of Sébastien de Brossard – a theorist and composer and a good friend of Jacquet de la Guerre – dating back to around 1695, which shows they were composed earlier.

The members of the British ensemble The Bach Players are now experts on this after rooting around in Brossard’s library. Their new album, Chamber Music from the Brossard Collection (Coviello Classics), contains several complete and partial pieces by Jacquet de la Guerre – just the sort of thing a composer might hand to her pal to see what he thinks of her works in progress.

These tracks aren’t on YouTube, but you can hear them on Spotify, including this yearning rendition of the Trio Sonata for Two Flutes and Continuo in G Minor. A couple of interesting choices to note: 1) The Bach Players have substituted violins for the solo flutes. No one in Jacquet de la Guerre’s time would have blinked at that; you used whatever instruments and musicians you had available to get the job done. 2) This multi-movement sonata has been recorded as a single track with takes barely a breath between movements. Many experts in performance practice believe works like this would have been performed with one section flowing immediately into the next.

Just for fun and interest, here’s a video of three members of the Bach Players performing a Jacquet de la Guerre sonata live on period instruments in an appropriately Baroque setting. Notice how short that violin bow is! Especially in slow movements, the player has to learn to draw it over the strings at a much slower speed than she would a modern bow, or she’ll run out of real estate.


During her lifetime, Jacquet de la Guerre was as famous for her secular vocal works as for her instrumental music. Sadly, her pieces for singers haven’t been getting much love in the recording industry in the past few years. I’ll keep my ears open and report back.

Audio Love

Audio Love

Audio Love

Tom Methans

I know exactly when my love of audio began  ̶  maybe not the day, date, or hour, but the man who gave me the priceless gift. It wasn’t a salesman, friend, or parent, but an unsuspecting mentor. Little did that person know he would create an audiophile just by playing a few tracks.

I was once sent off for a week to stay with an aunt and uncle out in New Jersey, somewhere in middle-class suburbia not too far from the George Washington Bridge. They weren’t my real aunt and uncle, but friends of the family  ̶  Russians not Yugoslavians like us. They lived in a two-story white house in a cul-de-sac complete with a tidy front yard and spacious backyard with a creek running through it. Militza (MEE-lee-tsa), once a music teacher, stayed home to care for the house, her mother, grandmother, and a toddler.

John was a nine-to-fiver who worked at one of the countless office buildings in Manhattan where he did some vague office job. He got up when it was dark, put on a suit, and returned home when it was dark. We always waited for him to have dinner together. During my stay, Militza made linguine and white clam sauce a few times, my new favorite meal. While slurping up garlic, clam bits, and greasy noodles, I couldn’t help but notice John’s choice of evening libations: water with his meals and a watery yogurt drink for dessert. In my limited experience at age ten, that was odd. I’d never seen a grown man drink anything weaker than a beer.

Dinner was a sedate affair, even with Sasha drooling his homemade vegetable juice all over the place. He was a good baby though, and was very happy to have a fellow only-child stay in his room. Afterward, John cuddled with Sasha, watched some news, and prepared for bed, only for the whole routine to start over the next day. These people were dull, but I grew to appreciate their predictability.

In addition to pasta with clam sauce, Militza also introduced me to schmeared bagels and sweet black tea, thus flipping nearly every inherited addiction-switch in my fourth-grade brain. Caffeine, sugar, casein, and chewy crunchy glutinous bread all in one sitting? Yes, please, I’ll have lots more of everything. She had to limit my tea intake after I started brewing it myself: the dose increased to two bags of Tetley (one was not doing the trick) with two big heaping spoons of the white stuff. After she moved my junk to higher shelves in the kitchen, Sasha showed me the step stool to get tea bags for me and cookies for him to keep his mouth shut while Militza attended to the babas upstairs.

During the week, I ran errands with Militza and played with Sasha so she could get her work done. Otherwise, there were plenty of naps and snacks but no TV during the day, only free piano lessons courtesy of Militza. When Friday came, John was home earlier than usual. I must admit I was a little jealous that I no longer had Militza to myself, and, at the same time, a bit fearful of John – not because he did anything to me, but because he was the man of the house, and, well, you never know what mood they can be in. Sometimes they’re really happy, sometimes they’re really sad, and sometimes they’re really mad.

Before changing into weekend clothes, John told me to meet him in the front living room, which was restricted to Sasha and me. All the meals were eaten in the kitchen and lounging was done in a sitting room behind the kitchen – perhaps servant quarters at one time. That’s where the only television was too. This arrangement was familiar to me. Everyone in my ethnic sphere observed this rule: the living room was reserved for special guests. Kids, pets, close friends, and family had the basement, kitchen, or yard. No housewife wanted to double her cleaning.

My stomach was churning and tingling over my meeting with John. Perhaps he was done boozing in the city and was ready to have a meandering, slurry conversation with me. I couldn’t figure out why he was home early to be with us kids and the old women on his night off! My own father often left on Friday afternoon and sometimes didn’t return till Sunday after brunch.

An overgrown 1970s Manhattan club kid and all-round bon vivant and charmer when he wasn’t at home, my father hated boring people and would often tease straight folks for not partaking. A drunk hates nothing more than drinking alone in a crowd, so he liked nothing more than talking people into “just a little something” in hopes of finding simpatico souls. It didn’t matter if it was a confirmed teetotaler, a senior citizen on medication, driver, or newly minted drinking-age teen, he loved getting the party started. John would rarely take a glass of wine or beer, despite the peer pressure, let alone a convivial shot of slivovitz or vodka. To the drinking crowd at our family gatherings, John was a snob who just sat there without gossiping or weighing in on near bloody political arguments.

It turned out that John called me into the living room for no other reason than to share the hobby he held dear: his music. John opened an armoire containing a turntable, what I know now as an integrated amplifier, and his classical record collection – think of those box sets displaying severe old men on the label with unpronounceable Slavic names. Not really my thing, but he looked as thrilled to be showing off his ebony vinyl as if it were Romanov china, handling it just as carefully.

The needle went down and POW!! The music sprang out of the two cabinets at each end of the room. And I use the term “cabinet,” not in the technical sense. The front speaker panels were as tall as any kid in middle school, and the tops were draped with hand-crocheted lace doilies. Fooled by a clear marital compromise of an heirloom samovar on one and white porcelain elephants on the other, I assumed the speakers were cabinets containing the good silverware and crystal.

I don’t recall the composers, conductors, or the symphonies that he played. I don’t remember the equipment other than the speakers, but none of that matters. What stayed with me was the alternating tranquility and excitement of listening to John’s beloved gear as the behemoths filled the space with music. He explained what he had just played and what was up next. I didn’t care for opera or soloists but loved the big orchestral sound with its sweeping drama, and so he would flip through what was probably a bunch of Deutsche Grammophon and RCA Victor for other pieces I would enjoy. Like any audiophile, he loved showing me what his system could do and alerted me to notable passages with upraised index fingers as if conducting.

With Militza and Sasha nowhere in sight, this time was just ours, and I soaked it up. This much individual attention was a rarity. Who was I to have John sharing his afternoon with me? Perhaps an inconsequential few hours for John, but for me, it was the foundation for a lifelong hobby given to me by a quiet, thoughtful man.

I have not seen John, Militza, or Sasha more than once or twice since that week. Why that is, I don’t know. Perhaps it was because I wouldn’t stop showering compliments on Militza. “How come you don’t buy bagels? Militza’s house is so nice! John is home at night. I need tea! John taught me all about records.” After having heard enough, my mother told me I could live with Militza if I loved her so much. Had I known better, I would have taken advantage of the offer.

A few years later, I would subscribe to stereo magazines, and there they were, those cabinets at John’s house! They were the Klipschorns. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a pair in person, but a mere photo brings back memories of classical records, black tea with sugar, the mysterious workings of stereo equipment, and the concept of quality time.

Is that what a hobby is for most of us, just a reenactment of frozen moments we still treasure? I suppose that’s why some people make lures, build cars, amass collections, or fetishize tubes, vinyl, and horns.

If I ever have the budget and space for the Klipschorns, I would get them immediately  ̶  regardless of the crowded field at that price range and quality level. But until I can procure the latest version of Paul Klipsch’s seventy-three-year-old design, I try to connect with John – forty years later – by delving into the deep black discs of Shostakovich, Rachmaninoff, and Stravinsky. I handle them like Romanov china.

Paradise by the Dashboard Light

Christian James Hand

It was his High School football coach who christened Marvin Lee Aday “Meat Loaf” due to his weight and general physical attributes. Little did his coach know, he had created an iconic nom de guerre for one of music’s most unlikely leading men. Before we go any further, just watch this video. THAT’S who we are talking about. That’s Meat Loaf. That’s the name he performs under. That’s what people call him. I’ve often wondered if those who are familiar get to use the abbreviated “Meat” when heralding him. That’s some weird shit. Even WEIRDER is that that bloke went on to co-create the 6th BEST SELLING RECORD IN MUSIC HISTORY! You can’t make this stuff up, man. You just can’t.

My man has EARNED it.

Bat Out Of Hell started as a series of songs that Jim Steinman had written for his futuristic re-imagining of the story of Peter Pan. Wow. Sounds absolutely AWFUL. We may have dodged a bullet there, people. He and Meat (I’m gonna do that for the whole piece, JSYK) had met while touring with the National Lampoon show and felt that the songs were magnificent and should be the back-bone to an album. Unfortunately, nobody else shared in this conviction. No label wanted to touch it with a ten-foot barge pole. Industry legend Clive Davis even went as to ask Steinman:

“Do you know how to write a song? Do you know anything about writing? If you’re going to write for records, it goes like this: A, B, C, B, C, C. I don’t know what you’re doing. You’re doing A, D, F, G, B, D, C. You don’t know how to write a song…Have you ever listened to pop music? Have you ever heard any rock-and-roll music…You should go downstairs when you leave here…and buy some rock-and-roll records.”

Meat waited until he was down on the street to yell “Fuck you, Clive!” up at Davis’ office window.

Todd Rundgren is a bonafide genius. That moniker gets thrown around a lot in this day and age, but it applies to THAT guy. In interviews after-the-fact, he mentioned that he thought the album that Steinman and Meat Loaf wanted to make was a Springsteen parody and that it was so OUT there that he just HAD to make it. Oh, and the lads told a LITTLE porky-pie (Cockney rhyming slang for “lie”) to the producer and mentioned that they had a deal with RCA. They didn’t.

The song itself is divided into three parts.

Part I. Paradise:
The song opens with the characters reminiscing about days as a young high school couple on a date. They are parking by a lake and having fun, experiencing “paradise by the dashboard light”, until the male character insists they’re “gonna go all the way tonight” (the audio track suddenly cuts out, quickly pans through the left and right channels once, then slowly returns to both channels).

Baseball broadcast:
His pushing the matter is mirrored by New York Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto, who is broadcasting a portion of a baseball game that serves as a metaphor for his attempts to achieve his goal, accompanied by funk instrumentation and the two characters talking in the two individual left and right channels.

Rizzuto’s baseball play-by-play call was recorded in 1976 at The Hit Factory in New York City by producer Todd Rundgren, Meat Loaf, and Steinman. Rizzuto publicly maintained he was unaware that his contribution would be equated with sex in the finished song, but Meat Loaf asserts that Rizzuto only feigned ignorance to stifle some criticism from a priest and was fully aware of the context of what he was recording.

Part II. Let Me Sleep on It:
Just as the boy is about to score (via the suicide squeeze), the girl bursts out telling him to “Stop right there!” She refuses to go any further unless the boy first promises to love her forever and marry her. Reluctant to make such a long-term commitment, the boy repeatedly asks her to continue on for the time being and promises to give his answer in the morning. However, she is not giving in that easily, so he finally cracks and gives his promise: “I started swearing to my God and on my mother’s grave/That I would love you to the end of time”.

Part III. Praying for the End of Time:
Back in the present, the male character can no longer stand the woman’s presence. As the man cannot break his vow, he is now “praying for the end of time” to relieve him from his obligation. The song fades out on the situation, juxtaposing his gloomy “it was long ago, it was far away, it was so much better than it is today!” in the left channel with her nostalgic “it never felt so good, it never felt so right, we were glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife” in the right channel.

The Players:

In 1975, the above musicians all gathered in Rundgren’s Bearsville Studios, in Woodstock, NY, to begin the lengthy process of committing the myriad of ideas and layers to tape. The Springsteen reference is supported by the usage of a couple of The East Street Band in the tracking. “Mighty” Max Weinberg on drums and Roy Bittan on keys and piano. The rest is a drafting in of blokes from Todd’s band Utopia, a motley crew of complete fucking BADASSES! There is no way that you play with Rundgren if you AREN’T one. Nope.

Let’s get to the tape!

Max Weinberg. No joke. Swagger. His friggin’ hits are SO consistent. He’s like a machine back there. If you’ve never seen Bruce live, then I encourage you to as soon as possible. MMW is the heartbeat. On this track you can hear the precision. For over 8 minutes. And it’s not just that the hits are balls on, it’s that KICK. Holy moly. Swing…swung, but with force and finesse. The kick pattern in the verses is one that would drive me NUTS when I have been asked to play it. There are so many sections on this thing and each one requires a different feel and personality. All accomplished flawlessly. The fill at the 4:20 (naturally!) mark is the one. That ending bit where he’s gone to 64th’s?!?! Come on now. He drives it all. This song is almost a Max Weinberg/Springsteen Feel Primer. In the 8:30 minutes you get all of Bruce’s Greatest Hits EXCEPT for the “Bum-Bum-Bum-Blap” beat of “My Boyfriend’s Back” that Springsteen employs often; they waited until “You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth” to use THAT trope. The rest? Classic Weinberg. And he does it without ever breaking a sweat. In a suit. I do not know how he does it.

THIS dude. The part, I mean, PARTS that he constructs for this track are absurd. Kasim Sulton was Rundgren’s guy in Utopia, and you can see why in the bass track for “Dashboard.” The entire song is based in this pseudo Rocker-Billy feel and then runs all over the place. But, the Engine Room of Weinberg/Kasim gives it the rich foundation that is needed to hang a song of this ridiculous a nature on. At the 3:16 mark, we are off to a land of Bootsie Funk and some MAJOR slappin’ and octave jumps. Gorgeous. In the middle of this mini Rock Opera. I particularly enjoy the way that Kasim is all over the neck of his instrument, and Max is just KICKING it behind him with a Rock Solid Back Beat. The funk is alive and well for the ensuing minute. All of that work for ONE MINUTE of song time. Epic. He also smashed the build with Mighty Max. Dammit this band was sick. After the last build, the rhythm section just gets down to business and it’s some fantastic Smashy Bashy for two minutes, and then Kasim just RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDES a two note part as the whole thing comes to a crescendo. The arrangement is inspiring to listen to. Every part has been clearly, mathematically, worked-out to accomplish the goal of telling this story. When the foundation tracks are this strong then, as a Producer, you can just exhale and start to fuck around…I imagine that being Todd’s fav thing to do. And “Do It” he does.

The KEYS!:
Steinman wrote this thing on the piano, that much is obvious. However, it is interesting to note that the Ode to Springsteen breaks down on this track. It’s WAY more Elton than Bruce. Springsteen never really went with this level of Musical Theater in his writing. It should be remembered that Steinman and Meat met doing a stage show and proceeded to spend many hours “plying the boards” together. I wish that I could have just played the entire keys track for everyone. The “Phantom of the Opera” organ? The clav bit during the Baseball Announcer section? And then the culminating hony-tonk jam for the last 2 minutes? The climb at the 6:50 mark? There’s more than a passing reference to “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting”, and the Broadway’ish aspect of Billy Joel’s writing is also evident. However, it’s once he plays the signature riff that you can here the Springsteen in it. The bloke manages to play an 8-minute-long part that references some of the greatest piano players, and writers, of modern music. Good grief. Anyone who talks shit is not listening correctly. At all. Steinman pulls of a magic trick. Kudos to him. But, the credit for the performance goes to Bittan. A “Tour-De-Force” of an ivory tinkiling. It’s one thing to write this, it’s a whole OTHER to execute it. It would make sense that it’s Roger Powell who comes correct on the clav when it cranks up. Steinman is credited with “Keys and Lacivious Effects”, which i believe is the bunch of sexually peculiar silliness on the weird track UNDER the baseball section. That’s a LOT of hands-on-deck/keys to make it through the opus that is “Dashboard.” ALL OF THEM!

The Todd:
The riff. Nailed it. We’re rocking, that much is for sure. It has always felt, to me, like the American version of Elton’s “Saturday”. It had to be BIGGER! The guitar track and the bass together are ABSURD! Man, I could’ve spent an hour on all of this. So damned good. There is more than a passing reference to Utopia when it comes to the spidery guitar lead that rides under the “Glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife” part. Everyone is working. And then the high pitched Morse Code bit that announces the arrival of The Funk?!? These dudes got to throw it ALL at this song. What a pleasure it must’ve been to orchestrate all of these parts. Right up Todd’s alley. If there isn’t an alley named “Todd’s Alley”, there should be. In the audio of the radio show, I mention Todd’s Faithfully album where he remade some of his favourite songs, playing all of he parts, and recording them, and engineering them, and mixing them, HIMSELF. Solo! Listen here to his version of “Good Vibrations”…it’s shocking. All him. The dude is a LEGIT Genius. And is as grumpy, ornery, individual, and exasperating as someone with that level of intellect and creativity SHOULD be. He can be a real bastard, by all accounts, just ask Andy Partridge of XTC. But, most times, I have discovered that the level of madness is commensurate with the level of genius. Every time. Oh, and the original mix of the ALBUM was done in ONE night. The WHOLE ALBUM. Some of them didn’t make the cut so Jimmy Iovine, Rundgren, and John Jansen are credited with the album mixes in aggregate. But, to even ATTEMPT to mix a whole album in a night is madness. Or…is it Genius?

The Vocals:

Meat Loaf has a BIG voice. He’s a BIG bloke. And you can hear the volume he creates when he’s singing. Don’t forget, he’s a Musical Theater Guy so he’s used to projecting and singing from inside a character. Steinman had said that he wanted to write “the ultimate car/sex song in which everything goes horribly wrong at the end”…Mission Accomplished. The female voice on the album is that of actress Ellen Foley; she and Meat had sung together in a number of productions for the Lampoon. She went on to star in Night Court, Married To The Mob, Fatal Attraction, and Cocktail. She was ALSO the inspiration, I recently found out, behind The Clash’s “Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now?” When the band went out on the road, and appearing in the music video, it was Karla DeVito who played the role of the female character fighting off Meat’s advances. That is the first time THAT sentence has ever been written, I’ll put money on THAT! At the 7 minute mark, Meat Loaf goes Full Beans and just carries the emotion. Amazing. His whole run from here to the end of the song is sick. And then the call & response that the track concludes with. And if you listen on headphones, the two start hard-panned to each side and then slowly move across the field top and finally end up at different sides of the center of the mix. It’s almost as if they are walking around on the stage as you “watch” the song come out of the speakers. Every aspect of this recording is theatrical. And it’s only 8:30 of Bat Out Of Hell!! WTF?!?!

Phil Rizzuto was the New York Yankees announcer at the time and his part was specially written for him using a bunch of his “catch-phrases.” He has said in interviews since that he had been unaware that his V/O would be used in a sexual manner, but Meat Loaf and Steinman reject this saying he knew full well and only changed his tune after receiving blow-back from a priest that he knew. Come on now, Riz. And I love that the whole V/O is done with the Funk Jam happening behind it. The absurdity is World Class.

In a SHOCKING turn of events, upon completion…no label wanted to put the record out. None of them got it. Rundgren paid for the recordings himself, and his label wouldn’t release it without more money being assigned. Finally, another East St Band member, Little Steven, contacted Cleveland Records owner, Steve Popovich, who was blown away and agreed to put the album into the world. Bat Out Of Hell went on to sell 44 million copies world-wide, making it the 6th highest selling record OF ALL TIME! Only goes to show that this shit ain’t a science and you cannot quantify art. I will say that the band worked their ASSES off and basically hit the road for two years, playing almost every night, to convert crowds, almost one person at a time, into fans. As Todd has said on a number of occasions “Put something on the road for long enough and it’ll find an audience.” All bands should adhere to that rule. But, it’s hard graft, as we would say in the U.K.

The best part of the ENTIRE story of this EPIC song and tale is that when finished…it almost didn’t make it onto the record. Can you imagine?!? Craziness. Cooler minds prevailed and it has gone on to become a signature song for Meat Loaf. And one of the three big hits that carried it to the massive sales it has accrued. I remember seeing the video for “Paradise” on MTV as a teen and being VERY confused at what I was seeing. Sweat, skin-tight cat suits, ruffles, the LICK?!? I could make neither head nor tail of it. If you need a refresher then take a look. It’s QUITE something. But, be warned…there is SOMETHING about it that doesn’t quite sit well. Just saying.

Bat Out Of Hell is an album that reached a place in the musical pantheon that few records have. It put Meat Loaf on the map and proved the critics and labels COMPLETELY wrong. It stayed on the Album Chart in the U.K. forever. There has not been a record like it since, I don’t think anyone has the BALLS to even try it, let alone the talent. But, a note-for-note remake MIGHT be AWESOME!! Anyone?!?!

Oh, and Meat Loaf was AWESOME as The Bus Driver in Spice World The Movie.

Arite, I’m out. Los Angeles is FREEZING right now and I gotta go warm my hands. If you would like to know more of the stories and meet the character who conspired to create this masterpiece then I urge you to hunt down the Classic Album Series DVD on it. So good. Rundgren, man, Rundgren.

See you at the next one.


PS – You can find me on IG, Facebook, and here if you want any info about The Sessions and where to catch me live.


Anne E. Johnson

Singer Annie Lennox and guitarist David A. Stewart began working together as members of a London-based punk band called The Catch (later The Tourists), which split in 1980. Soon thereafter, Lennox and Stewart signed with RCA and recorded an album under the name Eurythmics. Almost nobody noticed.

Two years later, they were rock stars.

So, the obvious starting point for an overview beyond the hits is to look at Eurythmics’ debut album, In the Garden (1981), from before they were famous. The title is deceptive – if you’re expecting twee folk music, you’re in for a surprise. What you get instead is a couple of energetic youngsters experimenting with psychedelic sounds.

The session musicians included two members of the experimental German rock group Can, not to mention the son of avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen on brass instruments. Stewart’s interest in combining electronica with acoustic sounds is evident in the mesmerizing “All the Young (People of Today),” which also gives a glimpse of the charismatic power of Lennox’s voice.


Eurythmics’ emergence was perfectly timed for RCA to take advantage of the staggering growth of “new wave” music, a synth-based pop outgrowth of first-generation punk. By their second album, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (1983), the duo found itself labeled as this genre. The second record focuses much more on electronica, doing so in a way that captivated the market. The title track was a bit hit single.

Lennox and Stewart were also honing their songwriting skills; all but one track on the original album was their own compositions. Ironically, the other big hit was Isaac Hayes’ “Love Is a Stranger.” At the time they also recorded “Satellite of Love” by Lou Reed, but it was not released until a special edition of the album in 2005. The theremin-like synth lines and Lennox’s confident delivery make for a stunning contrast with Reed’s simple and hesitant original.


The source of one of their biggest hits, “Here Comes the Rain Again,” the album Touch (1983) was Eurythmics’ first record to hit number one in Britain, and it made the top ten in the U.S. The track “Aqua” is an intriguing mix of timbres, blending electronics and acoustics on an album prized for its usefulness as club dance music (and one of the first albums to be quickly rereleased in an extended dance-mix version).

Maybe the most important detail about “Aqua” is Lennox’s many layers of backing vocals in a style inspired by African women’s chanting. In the decades since this album, she has become one of the world leaders in outreach to AIDS-affected areas of Africa, and her interest in that continent is already apparent in 1984, even as AIDS is just being discovered.


An excellent opportunity fell into Stewart and Lennox’s lap when they were tapped to provide the soundtrack for the Michael Radford-directed film of Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984. While the studio album version, For the Love of Big Brother (1984), showed disappointing sales, the project challenged the duo to use their love of electronica, African music, and R&B/funk to create programmatic soundscapes.

They used no session musicians, providing all the playing and sampling themselves. Lennox’s voice becomes a scat-like instrument, merely adding to the color palette in the atmospheric “Greetings from a Dead Man.”


There couldn’t be a greater contrast between that 1984 soundtrack experiment and the mainstream pop of Be Yourself Tonight (1985). That album has so many hits and so few secrets, that I’ll skip ahead to the following year’s Revenge.

“In This Town” is a studio recording that pretends to be live (the cheering and applauding has mysteriously disappeared by halfway through the track). The pop-rock sound, with standard drum-kit and bass patterns, had become the norm for Eurythmics at this point. Maybe the most surprising thing about this song is that the band Madness did not sue for the heavy “borrowing” (to put it nicely) in the chorus from their 1982 hit “Our House.”


Happily, the foray into pop ended with the 1987 album Savage. Here was the true Eurythmics back again, doing weird things with digitized sound and Lennox’s sandpaper-wrapped-in-velvet contralto pipes. Needless to say, Savage saw a marked drop in sales compared to the top-40 radio hit machine albums.

The title track, “Savage,” opens with atmospheric shades of Brian Eno. The sultry vocal line is low-key and meditative, keeping much of the spotlight on Stewart’s complex structure of sampled textures and timbres.


We Too Are One is the last of the Eurythmics studio albums until Peace ten years later. By 1989, fickle American taste had moved on, so We Too Are One was far more successful in the rest of the world. Longtime Eurythmics collaborator Chucho Marchán gets a co-songwriting credit for “You Hurt Me (And I Hate You).” What sounds like a cabaret turn for Lennox ramps up into a Latin jazz-infused rock number, colored by Marchán’s programming of flute and brass samples.


For ten years, Lennox and Stewart took a break from the relentless work of keeping a touring, recording duo up and running. In 1999, inspired by their growing mutual concern about world affairs, they made their final Eurythmics studio album, Peace.

The song “Peace Is Just a Word” employs synths in a new way for the band: the smooth, rich sonorities are meant to buoy Lennox’s soaring vocal line instead of challenging it with complex, busy rhythms and textures. One could argue the new style is too sentimental. Then again, aging has had that effect on many a songwriter (not to mention listener).


Roy Hall

In the mid-sixties, I managed a furniture store in Motherwell, Scotland. Motherwell, in those days, was a steel town of about 37,000 people and when business was good, the Ravenscraig Steel Works employed approximately a third of the workforce. It was a grim, tough town with a grey exterior. And, as in most small Scottish towns at that time, unemployment was high and crime was ever present. My customers were largely working class.

Mr. and Mrs. McTavish.

Every Saturday afternoon the McTavishes would come in to pay their hire purchase (credit) bill. They were salt of the earth people—clean, well dressed, and respectable. Their Saturday ritual consisted of paying their bill, walking about town, and ending up at the movies irrespective of what was playing. Their son, Hamish, was always in tow. Like his folks, he was well mannered and polite. He rarely spoke and always deferred to his parents. As the years progressed, he finally reached the age of 15 and his father, a shop steward in Ravenscraig, got him a job in the steel mill. It was quite common in those days to leave school at 15 and go into the world.

His proud father told me of his son’s first job and I went over to Hamish to congratulate him.

“How do you like working?” I asked.

“It’s fine thank you,” he replied.

“Have you had your first paycheck?”

“Yes thank you.”

“What are you going to do with all that money?”

“One pound goes to my parents and one pound to me.”

“What will you do with the rest?”

“I’m saving it for my retirement.”

Scottish Kids.

I spotted him as he entered with his mother. His eyes were big as he looked around in awe. Furniture stores are magnets for small kids. All they see are bunk beds to climb and mattresses to jump on. He was around six or seven with dirty nails, scruffy shoes, and unkempt hair. Mothers often left their children to their own devices while shopping. This made it doubly difficult for me, as I had to do police duty while trying to sell.

My standard opening line to boys like this was,

“Be careful. You may hurt yourself.”

This was, of course ignored, and the monster would begin reeking havoc on the store. At some point the little bastard would do something that really pissed me off, forcing me to intervene. I would excuse myself, go over to the child, pick him up, and deposit him alongside his mother. What the mother never knew was that in carrying the child over I would squeeze his sides really hard with my fingers. It usually took a few moments for the pain to start and the kid to wail. By this time, he was beside his mother and in typical fashion she would say something like,

“What are you crying for?”

And then she would give him a belt on his bum.

The child would glare at me, hollering.

My standard answer was, “I told you you’d get hurt.”

One of my many jobs was delivering furniture. I learned how to securely and efficiently load a van and how to safely carry furniture. This kept me fit as some of the items we sold (sleep sofas, armoires, etc.) could weigh hundreds of pounds. One of the hazards of driving a furniture van was the profusion of street kids who loved to chase the van and try to hitch a ride. I tried speeding up but often some kid would leap on the back, forcing me to stop and get the kid off the van. All this did was encourage others to give it a try.

One day as I was driving away I saw three kids running behind me. I waited until they almost caught me and slammed on my brakes. The “thunk, thunk, thunk” sounds were most gratifying. Somehow word got around and, after that episode, the kids left me alone.


She was amazingly beautiful with dark hair, flashing eyes, and she flirted outrageously. I was 19 and she was about 10 years older. Moira and her husband had purchased furniture from me previously, so she popped in regularly to pay the bill.

The chemistry between us was so strong that I asked her to go out with me, even though her husband was twice my size. She immediately agreed and we made a date.

I took her for a meal, and then we went dancing. The electricity between us was magical and before taking her home, I parked in a quiet cul-de-sac in the Lanarkshire hills. We started to make out and then suddenly she stiffened and said,

“You wont hurt me will you?”

I was speechless as all I had done was kiss her.

“I’ll do anything. Anything! As long as you promise not to hurt me.”

My naïve 19-year-old self had never even heard of or even considered hurting a woman, and it profoundly shocked me.

I put my arm around her and held her until she stopped trembling.

When she had calmed down, I started the car and drove her home.


Mrs. Wordsworth (I’ll always remember that name) came into the store one day contemplating buying a 3-piece suite (a sofa and two chairs). I showed her around the store and she settled on a modern set with grey upholstery. She was thrilled, but when I told her the price, her face fell. I looked at her amazed and she told me that she had expected to pay much more and that it was too cheap. As she was leaving the store, I had a brainwave. I took her upstairs, showed her the identical sofa, and told her it came from the same factory but was made of sturdier wood and better upholstery. I doubled the price and she immediately put her hand in her bra, took out a wad of £20 notes, and paid me on the spot. The following week she returned and I braced for the worst. She smiled and told me that she loved the suite and now she wanted to buy more furniture. She became one of my best customers and even sent me referrals.

To this day I am troubled about what I did. But in the end, she was happy.


I immediately knew he was a farmer. Perhaps it was his long woolen coat, or his baggy dungarees, or most likely his Wellie boots covered in cow dung that tipped me off. He had a thick Lanarkshire brogue (accent) and was in town to buy a fitted carpet for his living room. Motherwell was surrounded by Mooreland, which consists of low growing vegetation on acidic soil. With the exception of the fruit farms in the River Clyde valley, not much grew there, but there were quite a few farms with sheep and cows. Business was quiet that day, so after we looked at some carpet samples I suggested that I drive him home so I could measure the room and give him an estimate. This usually meant a sale, as it’s harder to refuse when the salesman is in the house. He was amenable to this and we took off. We drove for quite a while through Wishaw, Bogside, and Carluke, past Carstairs, then north towards Braehead. The further we went, the more desolate the countryside became, and the few farms we passed seemed distant from each other. He didn’t talk much and his silence added to the gloom.

As we were finally driving up the rutted lane towards his farmhouse, I asked what he did for entertainment in this god-forsaken land.

He looked at me and smiled.

“We screw each other’s wives!”

John Lennon: Come and Gone

Jay Jay French

[Portions of this story were originally published in Goldmine magazine—Ed.]

February 7th was the 55th anniversary of the Beatles’ arriving in America.

To commemorate this date in Beatles history, I present this true story of fate that involved a random conversation I had one afternoon about an event that still blows me away!

About 6 years ago, I was having trouble with my cable boxes. My cable company, Time Warner, had sent several teams over the previous year, with each team of young repairmen confiding in me that the previous ones didn’t know what they were doing.

I got fed up and demanded a senior repair supervisor to check out my problems.

When the doorbell rang, there in front of me was a guy who looked to be near my age. I was impressed. He looked like a senior technician, and sported a grey beard to boot! He apologized for the lack of knowledge of the previous TWO repairmen and proceeded to diagnose my issues. He was a no-nonsense kind of guy who wanted me to finally stop having service disruptions.

At some point, he was in my living room and kneeling down to check the TW modem. He looked up to see an 11-foot-long picture frame that housed two huge black & white photos of the Beatles, taken when the Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan show.

He stopped what he was doing and said these words:

“Man…that John Lennon cat. I was there the day he arrived & I was there the day he left.”

I was reading the newspaper at that moment and was really only half listening. Then, suddenly, I reflected on what was just said, put down the paper, and asked him to say that again.

He repeated the statement exactly as he had already done.

I said to him, “What does that mean?”

Here is what he said:

“Man, I’m 60 years old (so was I at the time of this conversation), and in 1964 I was in 6th grade at my school in Queens, NY across from Idlewild Airport. Y’know, that was what JFK was before they changed the name. In February of 1964, my class was visiting the airport, selling candy for a school fundraiser, when all of a sudden there were police everywhere and girls screaming.

“The Beatles walked right by us. It was crazy and insane. I couldn’t believe my luck!

“I saw it on the news that night, so I was there when John Lennon arrived in NY!”

Wow, I thought, what an amazing story.

I wasn’t, however, prepared for the second part.

He then went on…

“On December 8th 1980, I was working for Western Union delivering telegrams. I had just delivered one at the Dakota, and as I walked around the corner onto Central Park West…I heard the gunshot.

“I heard the bullets that killed John Lennon.

“I was there the day he left!”

I was stunned.

I said, “You are probably the only person on earth who could say that.”

A cable supervisor, because he was in my apartment and saw that photo, had just told me a story that sends chills down my spine every time I tell it.

As this was 6 years ago, and I didn’t get his name, I can’t acknowledge this person and the profound nature of the conversation.

There may be no greater example that on any given day you may either meet someone or engage in a conversation that stops you in your tracks.

I will never forget those words:

“I was there the day he arrived & I was there the day he left.”

Quantum Theory

Richard Murison

Quantum Theory troubles many people, even some of those who actually understand it. That would include such luminaries as one of its founders, Albert Einstein, who expressed serious concerns with what he saw as some of Quantum Theory’s fundamentally counter-intuitive precepts. This from a man who saw nothing counter-intuitive at all in General Relativity!

At its core, Quantum Theory is concerned with how the universe looks when you focus down to extremely small dimensions. What if we magnified a single atom to the size of the solar system – would there be anything to see if we looked that closely? How about if we magnified it to be the size of the entire observable universe – would things appear any differently at that scale? Viewed solely as philosophical imponderables, these are intriguing enough issues. But classical physics really does start to run out of ideas once dimensions get small enough – and many of its fundamental precepts no longer seem to hold up to a close examination. And there are plenty of experiments out there which insist on delivering perplexing results.

The first clear view that all may not be quite as it seems came with the realization that very small particles – such as electrons – can be observed to behave as either waves or particles. Particles occupy a specific point in space, and interact with each other by colliding. Waves are distributed across space, and interact by interfering with each other. The two behaviors would appear to be fundamentally exclusive. Yet if we conduct certain experiments with electrons, we find that there are times when they behave exactly as waves would – including interfering with each other. And there are other times when they behave exactly as particles would. This phenomenon has become known as wave-particle duality.

Attempting to reconcile wave-particle duality has taken physics in unexpected new directions, and has resulted in a number of concepts that not only lay people, but also physicists themselves, often find troubling and difficult to understand. It is fair to say that as our understanding deepens, so does the depth, breadth, and complexity of these many apparent paradoxes. The branch of physics that studies – and seeks to explain – these phenomena is known as Quantum Mechanics. It is a measure of the success of Quantum Mechanics that a detailed understanding of it is necessary to explain a growing number of well-established physical phenomena. For example, in the field of semiconductor lasers (devices that are used to power high-bandwidth fiber-optic communications links), microscopic structures known as quantum wells are fundamental to almost all of the designs. And quantum dots can deliver yet further advances in performance.

Quantum Mechanics says that everything is described by wave functions. For a single particle (such as an electron) in isolation, the wave function is a simple oscillating wave. The physical interpretation of this wave is that it represents the probability that the particle can be located in a specific place at a specific instant in time. That can be a troubling enough concept on its own, since the wave function extends over all space and all time. But when you go on to consider the situation where the particle is no longer in isolation, the complexity of the wave function concept can rapidly spiral out of control, because in those situations the wave function becomes a superposition of the individual wave functions of all the separate components that comprise the overall system.

This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It is a bad thing because even the simplest superpositions of wave functions can complicate the mathematics to an intractable degree. But it is also a good thing because the more wave functions you superpose on top of each other, the more likely they are to end up canceling each other out. For example, the complex wave functions describing all of the component particles which together make up a golf ball sitting on your coffee table, will tend to cancel each other out in all places other than on your coffee table. So although the wave function for the golf ball extends over all space and all time, the possibility of actually observing it anywhere other than on your coffee table, at the present time, will work out to be vanishingly small.

One of the aspects of Quantum Mechanics that many lay people have heard about is quantum tunneling. This says, in effect, that when you bounce a tennis ball off a brick wall, if you make the wall thin enough then occasionally the ball won’t bounce off it, but will magically pass through it and re-appear on the other side. Now, in the specific case of a tennis ball and a brick wall, the required thickness of the brick wall for us to actually observe this effect would be many trillions of times thinner than the thickness of an atom. So quantum tunneling doesn’t impact these sorts of aspects of our daily lives. But if instead we consider an electron, and a barrier formed by an arrangement of atoms within a solid crystal, then we can readily observe the electron tunneling through the barrier, provided the barrier is thin enough. Not only can we observe this, but we can also exploit it to make classes of electronic devices with properties that would otherwise be denied to us…flash memory is a common everyday example.

Quantum Mechanics leads physicists along a number of bizarre paths which remain far from being thoroughly mapped out. For example, there are solid theories which postulate that there is a smallest distance which can possibly exist. It is a thing called the Planck Length, and the suggestion is that space itself is constructed of discrete chunks whose dimension is the Planck Length. Furthermore, it also suggests that like space, time also comes in discrete chunks called the Planck Time. The models further suggest that the universe comprises regions of space and time, of the scale of the Planck Length and the Planck Time, which are constantly popping into and out of existence like some sort of roiling quantum foam. As yet, there are no practical implications which arise from these theories.

One of the most intriguing examples of a thoroughly bizarre property of Quantum Mechanics being used in a practical real-world system to solve a real-world problem is Quantum Cryptography. A fundamental problem with Cryptography is that you cannot tell whether someone is intercepting a private signal sent from A to B. Quantum Cryptography solves this problem through another of these strange manifestations called entanglement. Entanglement has no analogy whatsoever in classical physics. Perhaps the best way to describe entanglement is to think of it as a telepathic link between a pair of almost identical particles, in this case photons. The entangled photons can be in completely different locations, but if somebody does something to one of these photons a corresponding reaction will be instantaneously experienced by the other. Quantum Cryptography exploits this phenomenon in such a way that if a third party observes one of these photons, both the sender and the receiver will instantaneously know that this has happened. This prevents someone from eavesdropping without either sender or receiver knowing. In some implementations it also has the effect of rendering the information itself invalid. Quantum Cryptography is already in commercial use today.

Another area in which Quantum Mechanics is poised to make a dramatic impact is in Quantum Computing. In this class of device, ordinary binary bits are replaced with quantum bits, or qubits. A qubit consists of a particle which is in a superposition of two quantum states. Compared to a conventional computer bit, which can only represent one of two numbers at a time, a qubit is effectively in both of its superposed quantum states at the same time. Taking this further, four binary bits can represent one of 16 different numbers while four qubits can be in 16 different superposed states simultaneously. This scales up exponentially, so that 64 binary bits can only represent one of 18 billion billion different numbers at any one time, whereas 64 qubits can be in 18 billion billion different superposed states all at the same time. Quantum computers have the potential to operate at staggeringly fast speeds compared to even the fastest of today’s computers, which has enormous implications in many, many disciplines. Already, the taxi service in Tokyo uses a commercial quantum computer to schedule and route taxis city-wide. Intel has commenced testing a silicon-based qubit processor produced in their D1D fab. And IBM is showing their prototype Quantum Computer at this year’s CES. So this particular future might not be as far off as you might think.

Quantum Mechanics continues to open doors to unexpected avenues of exploration, the implications of which can stagger the mind. Roger Penrose is one of the most feted and decorated physicists alive today. He is described primarily as a mathematical physicist, and his thinking can be truly said to bridge the worlds of physics, mathematics, and philosophy. Penrose has proposed a theory he calls Quantum Gravity, which attempts to bridge classical and quantum physics. And he famously used the incompleteness theorem of Gödel (which basically postulates that some things can be true but are also fundamentally unprovable) to propose that human consciousness cannot be a phenomenon of classical physics, and therefore has to be a quantum process. It’s not immediately clear where you might be able to go with such a notion.

But then along came Professor Stuart Hameroff of the University of Arizona, an anesthesiologist who studies the physical basis of consciousness. His research led him to propose – controversially, it must be said – that consciousness arises from quantum states in certain neural microtubules within the brain. This got the attention of Roger Penrose, and together they developed a theory called Orchestrated Objective Reduction (known as Orch-OR), which makes use of Penrose’s theory of quantum gravity. Essentially, Orch-OR proposes that consciousness is the manifestation of processing carried out by qubits formed from superposed resonance rings within neural microtubules. And unconsciousness occurs when the superposed quantum states collapse to a classical state (i.e. no superposition) due to chemical changes in the microtubules. [That is probably the least comprehensible paragraph anyone has ever written for Copper.]

So the fact that I can write this – and that you can read it – is possibly a manifestation of Quantum Mechanical effects. How meta can you get!

Music is the Space Between the Notes

Bill Leebens

Depending upon whom you believe, that statement was made by either Claude Debussy or Miles Davis.

I’m certainly no authority on Debussy, but it seems to me that his stuff never had a shortage of notes. Miles was more about the meaningful nothingness, the zen of notes that ain’t there.

Again: no authority.

Whoever said it, think about what that statement means: there has to be breathing room in order to just absorb music, much less appreciate it. These days, it seems as though there’s very little opportunity to take a breath, much less absorb the meaning of music. Or even experience the silence required for music to work against.

The ’50s image of the hi-fi enthusiast is appealing largely because there is a sense of relaxation, immersion, actually being able to pause and listen. Kindly ignore the innate chauvinism, or the damned cigarettes.

At this point in my increasingly-arthritic life, if I were to lay on the floor to listen, there might be a call to 911 in the offing. But that’s another matter.

I’ve never been a fan of rapid-fire, busy guitarwork or frantic piano noodling; all they do is make me nervous. They remind me of trying to read a Victorian novelist who uses three times as many words as are needed to tell a tale. Whether it’s jazz or drawing, a well-defined, expressive line is preferable to me. Give me a B.B. King, who knew how to let a note hang in the air, over the frenetic thrash of, say, Yngwie Malmsteen (and spellcheck was ZERO help on that one!).

It seems as though any time you see a 12-year-old guitar prodigy presented on TV or YouTube, they dazzle with speed, rather than finesse or musicality. Well, of course: that’s what nimble young fingers are good at. Nonetheless, it would be nice to see and hear some thoughtful, contemplative playing.

That’s probably an unreasonable expectation—sort of like condemning Brett Easton Ellis for having written Less Than Zero when he was 21, rather than Remembrance of Things Past. As has been said more than once: time takes time. While there may be innumerable young speed demons and memory experts, wisdom and discretion are generally gained through experience, not a happy accident of genetics.

Speaking of B.B. King, here he’s a youthful-looking 48, masterfully playing the crowd as well as he plays Lucille. Skip to about 1:35 to bypass some time-killing palaver:


Compare that to speed-metal king Michael Angelo Batio—whose playing is actually more lyrical than that of many speedsters. Even so: yikes. It gives me a headache and spilkies, simultaneously:


As much as I try to avoid piano-players whose primary skill is playing with ridiculous rapidity, this one was unavoidable. Sheesh:


Compare that to the always-tasteful playing of Cuban jazz composer/pianist/Steinway Artist Elio Villafranca—here playing slow passages of Rachmaninoff, live from the Steinway factory floor. You can breathe:


Decades ago my brother Chuck— always far ahead of me in exploration of music— pointed out that as he grew older, he listened more and more to music with a tempo that mimicked the human heartbeat: 60-80 beats per minute.

I guess I’m headed there, myself. If I want a stress test, I’ll visit my cardiologist.

How About THX 1138?

How About THX 1138?

How About THX 1138?

Charles Rodrigues