A few weeks ago I wrote about Les Paul, who died in mid-August at the age of 94. My podcast co-host Dave Chick and I decided that our next episode of Inside Home Recording would be a Les Paul special edition, dedicated to different aspects of Les's career, because as the inventor of multitracking and pioneer of solidbody electric guitars, he was so important to modern recording.
Tonight, we put that tribute episode (IHR #74, available as an enhanced AAC or audio-only MP3 podcast) online. In the process of putting it together, both Dave and I were astonished by how much Les Paul accomplished that we didn't even know about—most of it before we or any of our listeners were born.
I came to the conclusion, expressed in the our editorial at the end of the show, that Les was the single most important person in the history of modern recorded music—more important, on balance, than Thomas Edison or Leo Fender or Elvis or the Beatles or any of the other contenders.
You can listen to the show to find out if you agree. But it's indisputable that anywhere in the world where there is a microphone or a speaker, a Record button or a set of headphones—from every music studio or TV soundstage to every car stereo or iPod earbud, from every crummy punk dive bar to every high-end hip-hop nightclub, from the Amundsen-Scott outpost at the South Pole to the International Space Station—Les Paul played a part in making them what they are.
It's now available online from London Drugs too, as well as on DVD in their stores here in Western Canada. Why not buy some copies for your friends (and enemies, for that matter)?
Cross-posted from Inside Home Recording...
Many people know him only for the solidbody electric guitar that bears his name—indeed, he hand-built his own solidbody electric years before that, but Gibson was uninterested in the design until rival Fender successfully sold similar concepts in the early 1950s. Still, Paul was not only a talented and prolific player (who continued a regular live gig in New York until very recently), but also a hit-making jazz and pop artist, as well as the inventor of multitrack recording and overdubbing, as well as tape delay and various phasing effects:
He was a constant tinkerer, heavily modifying even his own Les Paul guitars with customized electronics and switching, and often acting as his own producer, engineer, and tape operator. Every listener to Inside Home Recording, and every musician or recording enthusiast today, owes him a massive debt, and we'll all miss his talent and contributions.
My Quick Start to GarageBand video course from MacVideoTraining (a company co-founded by my former podcasting partner Paul Garay) is now available on DVD:
You can get it at London Drugs and many other retailers in North America, or if you use the promo code ihr, you can get a 20% discount if you buy a DVD or download online. The discount code also works for John Biehler's iTunes course and other stuff from MacVideoTraining, including bundles.
Over the past year, I've put myself forward as something of an expert on GarageBand, Apple's intro-level audio recording and podcasting application. I've been using the program intensively, through every version upgrade, since it first appeared in 2004, and I've kept in touch with Apple (through both formal and informal channels) about it ever since.
Plus you can now buy a comprehensive video course I recorded to show you how GarageBand works.
So you might wonder what I think of Apple's newest version of the program. If so, I've just published a big GarageBand '09 review article over at the Inside Home Recording blog, which should interest you. There's also a link to my audio review from a couple of weeks ago.
A few months ago I recorded a big series of more than 50 short instructional videos for the Quick Start to GarageBand course at MacVideoTraining.com, a new video training company co-founded by my former Inside Home Recording (IHR) podcast co-host Paul Garay. Some of their other training DVDs are available at lots of retailers throughout North America.
However, if you want a better deal, you need to do it online. You can buy my course, or one of several others from the company, with a 20% discount on any single video or bundle, through a new affiliate program at IHR. Just go to insidehomerecording.com/mvt and enter the coupon code ihr at checkout.
While my cancer treatment means I haven't been able to work for my employer, Navarik, for close to two years, I still make time to attend a few company events, including the Christmas party last night in downtown Vancouver:
This year my colleague Nathan and his wife had an excellent idea for our traditional employee gift exchange: instead of getting each other trinkets, we were to imagine what our assigned recipients would have liked when they were children. They would get to open the wrapping in front of everyone at the party, then say whether the choice would have worked for their childhood selves. Now that the unwrapping is over, Navarik will donate all the presents to a children's charity for Christmas. Perfect!
My wife's Lip Gloss and Laptops podcast has been featured on the main page of the Fashion and Beauty podcast category in the U.S. iTunes Store (they're on the second page here in Canada). We also figured out today that the show is #34 in that top 100 in Canada, and #68 in the U.S.A.
So congratulations, LGL, on 84 episodes and a feature at iTunes.
Today my podcast co-host Paul Garay and I recorded our 50th episode of Inside Home Recording (IHR). Usually we put together a whole bunch of separate segments and edit them into a proper show over the course of several days, but today we simply sat down at a restaurant and chatted for about 45 minutes about that process: how we usually construct our podcast.
Paul started IHR back in August 2005, when podcasting itself was less than a year old, and Apple had just added podcasting support to iTunes. It's the longest-running podcast on home and project studio audio recording. I joined on episode #16 in early 2006. It's been a fair bit of work for an essentially unpaid hobby, but also a lot of fun.
Episode #50 be a bit of a different show, but I hope an interesting one. We should have it posted in a day or two.
I've been listening over and over to Stevie Wonder's 1970 version of "We Can Work It Out" since I grabbed it on iTunes earlier today.
I think it could be the greatest Beatles cover anyone's recorded so far. Fantastic gritty keyboards, then, boom, straight into a superfunky, harmony-laden version so very different from the original, yet at least as good. I love the "hey!" background vocals, the frantic Motown tambourine, all that.
For everyone who's grown up after Wonder's peak in the early '70s and is puzzled at what the hype is about, "We Can Work It Out," like "Superstition" and many other tracks from that time, is the evidence you need.
I'm just lying here on the couch, reading my RSS feeds and listening to The Who's 1971 "Who's Next" album for the first time in a long time. Holy crap, I'd forgotten what a great piece of work that is.
As Dave Wilson wrote in Salon a few years ago, somehow even infinite replays on classic rock radio have failed to dilute these tracks. Pete Townshend magically turns out not only to have created some of the greatest, most muscular guitar sounds in the history of rock 'n' roll, but also to be a genius with the primitive analog synthesizers of the era, which no one would have expected. Roger Daltrey makes his case to be among the best rock singers—powerful without being shrieky, cheesy, or slick. John Entwistle uses his bass both to anchor the rhythm and to fill in the melodies behind Townshend's power chords in marvelously creative ways.
And Keith Moon, well, what can you say? I've written about him before, how he's always been impossible to emulate because his drumming reflected the same unhinged personality that led to his early death. He was, it seems, incapable of playing quietly or subtly. So on "Who's Next," even the softest ballads seem on the verge of a complete train wreck, which is just the sort of tension rock music needs.
And then, of course, there is The Scream, 7 minutes and 45 seconds into "Won't Get Fooled Again." It should have become self parody after appearing in car commercials and following David Caruso's witticisms at the beginning of every episode of CSI: Miami. Yet still, when I listen to it in context, after the long, burbling synth interlude and Moon's edge-of-chaos drum intro, Daltrey's "Yeeeeaaaaaaah!" still gives me goosebumps every time (he sang it so loud that the microphone actually crackles with distortion), and the guitar that follows it is my own Platonic ideal of what overdriven chords should sound like.
Anyway, if you like The Who, or any band that owes them a debt, from AC/DC to Green Day to every emo-pop-punk group of today, go listen to "Who's Next" again and give it its due.
It describes how, in 1988 or so, you could follow a methodical plan to get a #1 single in Britain with no musical talent whatsoever. In the intervening years several people in several countries have modified its instructions to do just that, or come close.
I loaned the book to my other friend Sebastien and never got around to asking for it back, but it turns out the whole text is online anyway, so have at it.
We skipped an episode because of my ongoing cancer treatment, but now my co-host Paul Garay and I have finally posted Episode #41 of our podcast Inside Home Recording. It's extra-long to make up for the delay, and includes a bunch of recording industry news, letters and audio comments from our listeners, a new giveaway contest we're running till July, reviews of speakers from Audioengine, and (most interesting for me) the beginning of Paul's "MIDI 101" series on how the ubiquitous Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) standard arose in the early 1980s, and still persists today.