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This is a rerun of a post from 2014, when Gus and Dave a lego model of the record store. The kids are home for spring break here in Minneapolis this week, and we talked about trying to re-build the model, but the consensus was that we’d have to disassemble too many other amazing creations to free up all the blocks.
Whenever a performing artist passes away, there is a rush of interest in their music. Fans flood stores looking for a favorite album or their most recent album, suddenly making a mediocre record a best-seller (let’s call this “the Double Fantasy effect”). Its a phenomenon that may be as old as record stardom — Enrico Caruso continued to enjoy commercial success long after his passing with new recordings still making news into the late 30s.
Presently the treatment of unissued recordings is a central issue in the settlement of Prince’s estate. We have mixed feelings on the subject. As fans we’re eager to hear more recordings, but also as fans we respect that he may have chosen to set the recordings aside for a reason.
This past weekend we were listening to Marvin Gaye albums, including the first two which were released after he was murdered in April 1984. Some good songs came out on the albums. One of the best of these was “The World Is Rated X,” which appeared on the Motown Remembers Marvin Gaye LP but was first recorded for his ‘lost’ 1972 album You’re the Man.
Columbia Records, with whom Gaye had signed after his tumultuous split from Motown, and to whom he’d delivered the enormously successful Midnight Love in 1982, was first to capitalize on his passing with an album of unissued recordings. The album Dream of a Lifetime collected unissued material and contained the hit “Sanctified Lady,” partly covering Gaye’s debts at the time of his death. Motown’s album followed the next year and included material from as early as 1963. Many of the early recordings on Motown Remembers Marvin Gaye were overdubbed to feature a more contemporary drum sound (the so-called “fat snare’ sound of the era) and new backing vocals.
Monday’s snowstorm was the biggest here in Minneapolis since 2012. We were thrilled to have a snow day and spend it romping outside with our kids, except that there was also a lot of shoveling to do. Even Irene took the day off yesterday, which is very rare.
We haven’t had the snow piled so high on the sides of our shop since that 2012 snowstorm, and unfortunately the parking spaces on Lake Street haven’t been plowed very well. We’re hoping that improves today, but if not we’ll have to get out there and shovel some more.
Although he spent many years away from his homeland, Masekela’s music is indelibly marked by South Africa. He was twenty-one when he left in 1960, in part because being an anti-apartheid activist made him a target. He finally returned in 1990, after Nelson Mandela had been freed.
Masekela’s song “Bring Him Back Home” was a hit in 1987 and became an anthem of the anti-apartheid movement.
Masakela also had several pop hits in the U.S., notably the 1968 cowbell jam “Grazing in the Grass.” He recorded two hugely successful albums with Herb Alpert and also had a dance hit from his 1984 album Techno Bush. Our favorite of his nearly fifty albums is Introducing the Hedzoleh Soundz, the first of three albums he recorded with that group in Lagos, Nigeria during the middle 70s. Here are the first two tracks from that record, called “Languta” and “Kaa Ye Oya.” Masakela wrote the first song and members of Hedzoleh Soundz wrote the second.
Sometimes we don’t look too closely at the art on these Musical Heritage Society LPs. They often contain excellent recordings of both well-known and esoteric classical pieces.
This album collecting what’s called Schubert’s Biedermeier Dance Music is a great example of the latter. They are the most famous of the fifteen hundred compositions he wrote in his thirty-one short years, but the album is an interesting addition to a collection of his music. We thought “Biedermeier” might refer to a beer hall or tavern, but it is actually a reference to a time period in Central Europe during which the middle class took an interest in the arts. One significant aspect of this in regard to music was that it was a time when people performed music in their homes and even held small concerts.
This was where Franz Schubert thrived, in as much as he was ever successful. In fact, during his lifetime his music was only performed in a public concert once, in March of 1828. Otherwise Schubert was a denizen of the house show, so to speak.
This album has several chamber works for a quartet with piano, and a pair of pieces (including “Six Valses Sentimentals” above) for piano performed by Verena Pfenninger.
It was only posthumously that the music of Franz Schubert was fully introduced to the concert hall, but many of his works have become a staple of the classical repertoire ever since (for instance his String Quintet in C Major, the “Cello Quintet” as it is often known, is considered one of the finest chamber works by any composer).
This copy of Schubert’s Biedermeier Dance Music is here in your friendly neighborhood record shop for just $3. Of course, there’s some asshole selling it on Amazon for $225 right now, if you’d rather have it delivered to your door. Absurd prices such as this for classical recordings are fairly common, especially on Amazon, so there must be some unfortunate souls out there who actually pay them. Is the music on the LP actually worth a couple hundred bucks? Well, if you look closely at the jacket you can see that it is in fact so good that its taught dogs and cats to get along with one another…