Category Archives: Music

7 Christmas Albums

Christmas is a time to spend with family and friends and music. Whether it’s a focus or simply playing in the background, music is a big part of many holiday memories. It’s also big business for the industry, which means pretty much every great artist has released at least one Christmas album in their day. Here are seven of the best to listen to while the Netflix fireplace is on in the background.

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A Charlie Brown Christmas – Vince Guaraldi Trio

The Charlie Brown Christmas special is a holiday tradition for many families but whether you watch the show or not, you should be enjoying the music. Best known for creating the memorable theme song for the Peanuts TV specials, the Vince Guaraldi Trio performed all the great jazz music heard during the special. Whether they’re playing classic traditional songs like “O Tannenbaum” or “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” or original music like “Christmas Time is Here,” that has become a standard in its own right, this is by far the coolest Christmas album you could hear.

Buy A Charlie Brown Christmas at SoundStageDirect here!

A Christmas Gift For You – Phil Spector

If there’s one problem with Christmas albums it’s that the material tends to limit their appeal. However, if there’s one Christmas album that transcends its genre it’s Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift For You. This isn’t just one of the greatest Christmas albums ever, it’s one of the greatest albums ever made, period. Brian Adams of the Beach Boys has called it his favorite album of all time. There’s a reason. If you don’t know what it is, go find out.

Buy A Christmas Gift For You at SoundStageDirect here!

The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole’s recording of “The Christmas Song” is the definitive version of the song. The 1960 album of the same name may contain the definitive version of his performances. That’s far from the only thing on here, however. He sings “O Tannenbaum” in German, because he’s a badass like that, and he belts out the not covered often enough “I Saw Three Ships” with palpable joy. Finally the album settles you in for a long winter’s nap with a beautiful version of “Silent Night.”

Buy The Christmas Song at SoundStageDirect here!

When My Heart Finds Christmas – Harry Connick Jr.

While the era of crooners like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra may be over, every generation seems to have one to keep the style alive. In the 90s that man was Harry Connick Jr. The style lends itself well to Christmas music which may explain why his best selling album ever is this one. Whether you prefer your Christmas music with reverence, or as upbeat pop tunes, this one has you covered.

Christmas Eve And Other Stories – Trans Siberian Orchestra

Unlike anything else on this list, but just as much a Christmas album, Trans Siberian Orchestra creates rock operas using traditional Christmas songs as their base, though with significantly more electric guitar than usual. This is one of their best albums and while most of the music is original it’s no less Christmas. You’ll want to sit and listen to this one as the album in it’s entirety has a beautiful story to tell. Pay special attention to “The Old City Bar.” There may be no other Christmas song ever written quite like it.

Merry Christmas/White Christmas – Bing Crosby

The album is the same, though it got reissued with the title changed in order to be sure that everybody knew they’d be getting the one song they were really looking for. “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby is one of the most popular songs ever recorded, end of discussion. If the song is somehow not already in your collection it needs to be, but this album contains several other favorites that you’ll also enjoy.

A Pentatonix Christmas – Pentatonix

Christmas music is such big business that rarely does the same Christmas album lead the sales charts for more than the the year it’s released. However, Pentatonix has taken the crown the last two years. Will 2016 make it three in a row? The accapella group shows you just how beautiful the simple human voice can be, unadulterated by any additional instrumentation.

Buy A Pentatonix Christmas at SoundStageDirect here!

Top 12 Vinyls For People New To Vinyl

While vinyl has not been the preferred method of listening to music for several decades, the format has never entirely disappeared and many music fans still swear by it as the best possible format when it comes to quality. Maybe you’re interested in checking out this whole “record” thing, but you have no idea where to start.

The good news is, it’s actually really easy to get started. If you don’t know where to begin when it comes to turntables, look at something like the Klipsch R-15PM turntable pack. It has everything you need to get started listening to records, well, except the records. When it’s time to pick those up, here are some places we would start.

Revolver – The Beatles

There’s a federal statute that requires you to purchase at least one Beatles record when starting a record collection. While we could have filled this entire list with Beatles albums, we decided to limit it to this one. From the string heavy “Eleanor Rigby” to the psychedelic “Tomorrow Never Knows” and the outright bonkers ‘Yellow Submarine,” Revolver covers the gamut of musical styles, which makes it a great option for your vinyl sampling.

Buy Revolver on Vinyl From SoundStageDirect Here!

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars – David Bowie

Much like picking a single Beatles album, picking just one from the late, great David Bowie seems like an insane prospect. However, Ziggy Stardust may be the eclectic singer at his best. There isn’t any other glam rock on the list, so where else are you going to get it?

Buy Ziggy Stardust on Vinyl From SoundStageDirect Here!

Rumours – Fleetwood Mac

Quite simply one of the best pop music albums of all time. Whether it’s the guitar picking on “Never Going Back Again” or the transportive piano on “Songbird,” there’s plenty to absorb you here. This album should be in every music collection of any kind, not simply vinyl.

Buy Rumours on Vinyl From SoundStageDirect Here!

What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye

You probably know the title track well, but you may not know the rest of What’s Going On. A fantastic soul music album that’s going to let you hear what solid bass is supposed to sound like when you’re hearing the music and not simply the walls vibrating. An album that is both relaxing and thought provoking. Give it a listen.

Buy What’s Going On on Vinyl From SoundStageDirect Here!

Thriller – Michael Jackson

What is there to say that hasn’t already been said? It’s Thriller. It’s Michael Jackson at his absolute best and it’s the album that made him the king of pop. You may know it well, but listening to it in vinyl might just some reveal some aspects of the music you’ve never heard before. Besides, when was the last time you actually listened to the album all the way through? Fix that.

Buy Thriller on Vinyl From SoundStageDirect Here!

Kind of Blue – Miles Davis

Your collection needs jazz. While some might look to John Coltrane for their jazz album of choice, we’re going to call Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue the single greatest jazz album ever made. There we said it. It is, and you should own it. This is not an album to put on in the background. This is jazz to be experienced.

Buy Kind of Blue on Vinyl From SoundStageDirect Here!

Dark Side Of the Moon – Pink Floyd

One of the reasons that music fans have decried the rise of digital music is because it has damaged the album as a single piece of artistic expression. Sometimes a song by itself simply doesn’t convey its importance to the whole unit. Dark Side of the Moon needs to be experienced as a complete album more than almost any other. With or without The Wizard of Oz.

Buy Dark Side of the Moon on Vinyl From SoundStageDirect Here!

Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys

While we included Revolver on this list instead of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (an oversight you’re welcome to remedy yourself) it would be criminal not to include the album that was a response to that record. While The Beach Boys signature harmonies are here, they’re not singing about surfing here. Brian Wilson was a musical genius and if you don’t believe that they you really need to listen to this album.

Buy Pet Sounds on Vinyl From SoundStageDirect Here!

Purple Rain – Prince

Maybe we’re still in mourning, but there’s a distinct lack of 1980’s music on this list, so we’re going to remedy that with the album that put Prince on the map for most people. There may be no better song to ever open an album than “Let’s Go Crazy.” It sets the tone for a fantastic album which showcases Prince’s magical ability to play a guitar. The album is the shortest on this list, but no note is extraneous. It’s an example of how less can certainly be more.

Buy Purple Rain on Vinyl From SoundStageDirect Here!

1989 – Taylor Swift

Did you know they’re still making records of new albums? I know, right? The popular thing to do these days in hate on Taylor Swift but we can’t help but feel that 1989 is going to be an album that people will remember decades from now. If you come to it with an open mind, we think you’ll agree. If you can’t bring yourself to buy a Taylor Swift album, you can also pick up Ryan Adams cover of the entire album in the same format. It’s pretty damn good too.

Buy 1989 on Vinyl From SoundStageDirect Here!

Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 1 – Various Artists

We’re going to cheat a little bit with this one. We need to add a bunch of great pop music to your collection, we’re going to kill several birds with one stone with this modern collection that used the tunes to great effect as part of a science fiction movie. No album title has ever been more accurate. This is one awesome mix that you’ll love.

Buy Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 1 on Vinyl From SoundStageDirect Here!

Random Access Memories – Daft Punk

If you know Daft Punk then you know then as the slightly otherworldly duo responsible for the Electronic Dance Music that keeps repeating itself in your head. While Random Access Memories isn’t completely without some of that EDM flavor, it’s a lot more than that. A number of guest musicians blend their own styles into Daft Punk’s digital sound to create something completely unique. The fight between analog and digital will go on, but the two live together in harmony here.

Buy Random Access Memories on Vinyl From SoundStageDirect Here!

The Best Horror Movie Soundtracks: Our Top 5 List

October is the month that ends with Halloween, which means many of our minds will turn to all things scary. For many of us there is no better way to enjoy Halloween than with horror movies, and while the most memorable aspects of most horror movies are the terrifying visuals of gruesome deaths at the hands of famous movie monsters, of course, we like to focus on the sounds.

Music creates atmosphere, which means that a great horror movie soundtrack can scare the hell out of you before a single drop of blood is ever shed on screen. Whether you’re listening to these by themselves, or pumping them through your home theater on scary movie night, here are five horror movie soundtracks you should check out this Halloween.

Psycho


While there are a couple of notes from this soundtrack that we all know, the shower scene soundtrack is only a slim part of a great sounding movie. Bernard Herrmann’s score for Psycho is chilling and brilliant from beginning to end. It’s what makes Psycho a horror movie from the start, even though the violence doesn’t start for quite some time. And the shower scene music is brilliant. Herrmann created it without direction from Alfred Hitchcock, because the director wasn’t planning on the scene having music at all. We can’t even conceive of such a thing.

The Nightmare Before Christmas


So, this one may not be a traditional “horror” movie, but there needed to be at least one scary movie the whole family could enjoy on this list, and the soundtrack to The Nightmare Before Christmas is just too good to ignore. Danny Elfman is one of the greatest modern composers and he’s in top form here. From “This is Halloween” to “Oogie Boogie’s Song” there’s plenty here to give you a legitimate fright. The music hits all the great notes of dread and tension that a true horror movie will give you, even if nobody actually dies.

It Follows


It Follows is the most modern film on this list and the man who scored the film, who goes by the name Disasterpiece, had never written music for a movie before. Some people just get it right the first time. The music feels like it’s a throwback to a 1980’s slasher movie, while being better than the music for most of those. The old school sound does its job of transporting you into the world of the film, which itself takes a lot of cues from classic horror movies. If you missed It Follows last year, you owe it to yourself to check this one out.

Halloween


If there’s a single piece of music that instantly evokes Halloween, it is likely the theme from the movie of the same name. It’s repetitive piano is one of the most iconic sounds in all of movie music. Even if you had never seen Halloween we bet hearing those notes would instantly give you a sense of underlying dread. The fact that the music was actually written by John Carpenter, the same man who wrote and directed the film, just makes it all the more perfect. We know that music makes you feel exactly how the director wanted you to feel.

Suspiria


Suspiria is a film you may not be familiar with, but you owe it to yourself to fix that immediately. From the legendary horror director Dario Argento, it’s a 1977 Italian horror film that is one of the master’s best works. The soundtrack, from an artist known only as Goblin, is an equally great creation. This soundtrack was written in and recorded in a single day which is only one of the amazing things about it. The music absolutely drips with atmosphere. There’s literally no way to listen to it, even outside of the film, without beginning to feel somewhat scared.

Klipsch and Elijah Wood: A Prophecy Fulfilled

Chances are you know who Elijah Wood thanks to Lord of the Rings, Flipper, Wilfred and Sin City, among other films and TV shows, but what you might not know is that he is massive Klipsch fan and customer. He is the proud owner of each of the Klipsch Heritage speakers including some really sweet vintage La Scala speakers.

Now, we must state that we have no official relationship with Elijah Wood. It’s merely a mutual fondness for each other’s work. You could even say that a prophecy has been fulfilled…

It all started when Klipsch tweeted a nerdy Lord of the Rings joke in regards to the Klipsch X7i in-ear headphones. While I cannot drudge up the tweet right now, I remember that it was some sort of semi-humorous “my precious” reference. Unbeknownst to me (and the rest of the Klipsch team), Elijah Wood was following @KlipschAudio on Twitter. He saw the tweet, despite not being tagged or referenced specifically and responded enthusiastically at the attempted joke.

Elijah Wood La Scala stickerWe then started “DMing” (direct, private messaging) on Twitter and it came to light that he has been a Klipsch fan for a long time and a proud owner of the famed Klipsch La Scala speakers. He even sent as a photo of the card on the back of the La Scalas which is signed by the individual craftsmen who built his speakers. Elijah’s La Scalas were inspected by Jerry White and tested by Judy Clayton.

As we learned more about Elijah, we learned he is truly a devoted audiophile who has the very best equipment across the board and has a deeply-rooted passion for DJing. His passion was stoked by his close friendship with fellow DJ Zach Cowie who is another massive fan of Klipsch Heritage Speakers and got Elijah hooked on them. The Vinyl Factory got to go inside Elijah and Zach’s record room, where the two talked about their massive record collection in front of Klipschorns. Zach even used a vintage PWK mug in the short film that he picked up over eBay for a sum he doesn’t want you to know. Without knowing their relationship, we actually did a profile on Haley Solar, owner/founder of fashion label Junim LA, who is Zach’s girlfriend and a proud owner of vintage Heresy speakers thanks to Zach.

Without meaning to sound arrogant, it isn’t exactly uncommon for there to be somewhat-secret celebrity fans of Klipsch speakers and headphones. After all, we think our equipment is the best choice for people who are serious about their sound which would include many/most people involved in the movies and music industries. This particularly comes to light at events such as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony presented by Klipsch Audio, where we are able to talk one-on-one with some of the biggest stars in the business.

What makes our friendship with Elijah a little more uncommon is that he goes out of his way to help promote Klipsch products. He frequently retweets Klipsch posts about the company’s famed Heritage speakers. Responding to our comments, questions and requests in a timely manner, Elijah is always willing to hear us out and even plays along with our silly jokes.

Klipsch Hobbit Shirt Front and Back social

One of those such jokes is one that is dozens of years in the making. In the 70s, Klipsch produced a bunch of t-shirts to help promote the La Scala speaker. These vintage t-shirts actually go for quite a bit of money these days on Ebay. Check out one listing here.

On the front of the shirt sits a hobbit on top of a La Scala with Klipsch lettering. On the back you can see the back end of both the hobbit and the speaker with the word “Bullshit” spelled out in some form of the elvish language. We

You have probably picked up on the delightful coincidence. THE hobbit – Elijah Wood – is a fan of the La Scala speakers displayed in the shirt. We could never have imagined that when we originally produced the shirt.

When we tweeted Elijah a picture of the vintage t-shirts from an old marketing campaign and he got a big kick out of it. He wanted one of those shirts! Sadly, few of these shirts are available apart from the few that pop up here and there on eBay as mentioned previously.

Partly thanks to Elijah’s request, Klipsch decided to come out with a “reissue” of the shirt. Instead of blue and white, the shirt is in the company’s now signature colors of black and gold. We sent one over to “Frodo” who immediately had a friend take a picture of him with the shirt on and on top of his own La Scalas, tweeting it out to his hundreds of thousands of followers.

Thus, the 40-year-old prophecy had been fulfilled.

Elijah Wood La Scala edited

Do you think it is as cool as we do that Elijah Wood loves Klipsch speakers? Post in the comments!

 

 

 

Klipsch Reference R-15PM Powered Monitors: Just Add Vinyl

Whether you are just getting into vinyl or returning to this cool-again medium of music, you are going to want the very best equipment to play your new records. That’s where Klipsch comes in.

The Klipsch Reference R-15PM Turntable Pack has everything you need to make your album collection come to life again – or for the first time.

“How so?” Glad you asked. We explain all the main reasons why the R-15PM Turntable Pack is the ideal solution for any vinyl love. Heck, even if you have a vinyl setup already, we strongly suggest you consider the R-15PM Turntable Pack. It’s that good. It’s that versatile. It’s that EVERYTHING.

There are a lot of solutions out there from companies trying to get a piece of the vinyl one. This just happens to be the right one.

(The R-15PM Turntable Pack is 20% OFF through 8/31/2016 from Klipsch.com if you’re in the U.S.)

R-15PM Bundle - Nick Fouquet - Lifestyle 3 social

R-15PM POWERED MONITORS

First and foremost, Klipsch is a speaker company and we’re pretty sure that we’re the best at making great-sounding speakers. The Klipsch Reference R-15PM Powered Monitors carry on the company’s legacy, providing room-filling sound in a compact package.

Technically speakers, each monitor includes a 1″ aluminum diaphragm compression driver mated to 90° x 90° square Tractrix Horn and 5.25″ copper spun magnetically shielded IMG woofer. The R-15PM powered monitors also have a built-in custom amplifier, eliminating the need for external amplification which means that world-class Klipsch engineers have full control of the signal path. We’ve picked and tuned the components to be an absolute perfect match throughout, making the system sound incredibly immersive and complete.

Don’t believe us? Just ask CNET and AVS FORUM who reviewed the R-15PM powered monitors.

CNET’s Steve Guttenberg: “No one would describe the R-15PM’s sound as shy and retiring; this little guy kicks butt.”

AVS Forum’s Mark Henninger: “Regardless of whether I used the R-15PMs to listen to my music collection, catch a movie, play video games, or simply to watch a TV show, they delivered clear, dynamic, and completely non-fatiguing sound.”

Oh and they aren’t too shabby on the eyes either. Their minimal, yet striking, design fits with almost any décor situation and the Reference series’ copper cones ensure that these aren’t the typical black box speakers.

©AndrewStuart.com

©AndrewStuart.com

KLIPSCH PRO-JECT DEBUT CARBON TURNTABLE

We are very proud to have teamed up with Pro-Ject Audio Systems to deliver a Klipsch-branded version of the company’s award-winning Primary turntable. Pro-Ject is an iconic brand in its own right, long serving as one of the gold standards in the turntable business and making some of the very best turntables at attainable prices.

Packing a low vibration synchronous AC motor, a perfectly-matched 8.6” aluminum tone-arm, and an audiophile-grade, low-distortion Ortofon OM 5e magnetic cartridge, the Pro-Ject Primary and R-15PM powered monitors are a match made in heaven.

©AndrewStuart.com

©AndrewStuart.com

NO RECEIVER OR PHONO PRE-AMP NECESSARY

We mentioned it previously in this blog post; however, it is worth repeating. The R-15PM Powered Monitors have built-in amplification AND inputs, meaning that you can ditch that clunky receiver that takes up entirely too much space on your countertop or in your media cabinet.

Most importantly for the sack of this turntable pack is the inclusion of a phono input. That means you can plug the turntable directly into the speakers. Normally, you would have to plug the turntable into the phono pre-amp and phono pre-amp into the receiver. Not this time!

Really, it’s all about making it easier for the customer who just wants to listen to their dang music BUT also doesn’t want to sacrifice the sound quality for ease of use. We believe we have covered all of the bases with the R-15PM Turntable Pack, making one of the easiest to setup vinyl solutions out there.

©AndrewStuart.com

©AndrewStuart.com

ALL CABLES INCLUDED

We can probably all agree that there is nothing more frustrating than when cables or batteries are not included in the box. We’ve fixed that here. Everything you need to complete your turntable setup comes together. Heck, we’ve also included a few options if you want to connect your R-15PMs in a different way.

This is what you get in the box:

  • 68″ AC power cord
  • Remote control
  • CR2025 3V battery (installed in remote)
  • 16′ Length of 18AWG speaker wire (bare tinned wire on each end)
  • 5′ USB-A to USB-B cable
  • 5′ Stereo RCA cable

Isn’t it about time someone actually did this? We have done everything we can to make sure you have the easiest setup without giving up ANYTHING in terms of sound quality of versatility.

What do you think of the Klipsch Reference R-15PM Turntable Pack? Post in the comments!

Parts of a Record Player

Before there were MP3s, CDs, and cassette tapes — heck, even before eight-track tapes — there was the record player. Although today, unless we have an affinity for vinyl, we think of record players as “old-school”, often forgetting they revolutionized music and the music industry as much as MP3s have today. Record players allowed for listening to music at home for the first time; before the record player, it was live or nothing. It made such an impression, we still call music releases “records” and “albums,” and the spinning album phrase “getting rotation” still means a song is heard on the radio.

Once record players came onto the scene in 1877, they didn’t leave until almost a century later — although they never fully left. Nostalgia as well as preference for the sound quality has kept vinyl alive, and DJs and hip hop artists still use turntables as part of their music-making. We celebrate the beauty of albums with our recent collaboration with Classic Album Sundays – monthly active listening sessions of entire albums in a studio setting with the best equipment available. It’s a truly unique experience.

So how does a record player work? What are the different components, and how do they work together to produce sound? Let’s take a closer look at this amazing game-changing contraption.

The Turntable

Although “turntable” and “record player” today are used almost synonymously, a turntable is technically the part of the record player where the record sits. Sometimes the turntable is also called the “revolving platter.”

The center of the turntable includes a metal rod, holding the record in the center as it turns. The plate of the turntable itself is generally metal, typically covered with plastic or rubber so the record isn’t inadvertently scratched.

The least expensive record players use steel for the turntable. The steel plates used in record players are light and cheap to produce, however, the consequence is that these plates have a low inertia, meaning any instability with the motor speed are quite pronounced.

A more expensive turntable plate is aluminum. Aluminum plates have better balance, reduce vibration, and don’t accentuate motor speed instabilities.

The turntable’s rotation is controlled by the turntable drive system. The two main types of drive systems are the belt-drive system and the direct-drive system. The belt-drive system goes a long way in reducing noise heard from the motor, because the elastometric belt helps to absorb vibrations and other low-frequency sounds. A direct-drive system, by contrast, doesn’t use intermediary gears, wheels, and belts. The advantage of a direct-drive system is later models had stronger motors and pitch control sliders. For this reason, direct-drive turntables were favored by disc jockeys for decades.

The Stylus

turntableThe stylus is the needle that rests against the record. Ideally, a stylus is a cone-shaped component made from diamond, which is the hardest natural material on Earth. Besides diamonds, sapphires are also commonly used for record needles. The stylus is connected to the tone arm by a flexible strip of metal. The flexibility in the middle allows for the stylus to ride up and down within the record grooves.

The stylus can be either spherical or elliptical. Elliptical styli have the advantage of increasing the fidelity of the music by allowing for more contact with the record groove. A spherical stylus provides less fidelity but is more sensitive.

Even a diamond-tipped stylus will need to be replaced after a while. Experts recommend changing the stylus after every 1,000 to 2,500 hours of listening pleasure.

The Tone Arm and the Cartridge

The tone arm is the arm of the record player that holds the stylus and, together with the cartridge, it is responsible for actually producing the sounds. Tone arms can be straight or curved. Which one is better? It depends who you ask. Some people insist curved tone arms produce better sound, but DJs and hip hop artists usually prefer straight arms because they’re easier to scratch with.

As the stylus follows the grooves of the record, vibrations travel through the metal wires inside the tone arm and arrive at the cartridge at the tone arm’s end. The cartridge contains coils within a magnetic field, and when the vibrations hit these coils, they are transformed into electrical signals. These electrical signals can be amplified and broadcasted through the speakers.

Amplifiers and Preamplifiers

Today, most audio receivers are designed for the signals that come out of a CD, DVD, or MP3 player. That means that they are not well-equipped to play the audio signal coming out of a traditional record player. Older audio receivers included what was called a phono preamplifier (also known as a preamp or phono stage) to boost record player signals to appropriate levels, but modern receivers lack phono preamps. Some record players include built-in preamps to solve this problem; talk to a true audiophile, however, and they will insist that you get a dedicated preamplifier for the best sound quality.

The right preamp depends upon the cartridge. Modern cartridges will play well with preamps at the 100pf to 150pf level; older cartridges, such as those from the 1980s, work better with preamps of the 200pf level. It should be noted, though, that if your cartridge hasn’t been changed since the 1980s, you should go ahead and replace it anyway!

Summary

In short, the vinyl record is placed upon the revolving platter. As the record revolves, the stylus bumps up and down within the groove, sending its vibrations along metal wires within the tone arm and into the cartridge. The cartridge converts these vibrations into an electrical current using a magnetic field. This current is sent into the preamp, which boosts the signal on its way to the speaker. When the amplified current hits the speaker — presto! — we hear music or whatever is recorded onto the vinyl.


We hope you enjoyed this short tour of the anatomy of a record player. Did we leave out anything crucially important? Do you still listen to vinyl? Let us know in the comments section below.

Good Poop: Joe Edwin Holland

Legendary drummer Joseph “Joe” Holland has a unique and colorful origin and story, to the say the least. His career has been a string of interesting stories, celebrity encounters and time spent with Paul W. Klipsch (PWK). Let’s start from the beginning…

Joe was born November 2, 1927 in Shreveport, Louisiana. He attended Centenary College in Shreveport, as well as Louisiana Tech in Ruston, LA, and Texas Western in El Paso, TX (now UT El Paso).

Joe began drumming all the way back in grade school. In those days, the Shreveport schools did not have a junior high. Elementary graduates went directly to high school. There was a push to prepare these elementary students for high school music programs. Joe’s first music teacher was a type of “circuit teacher” – one that makes the rounds. He had just graduated from college and he admitted to Joe “I don’t know anything about drums at all, about how to play, but I know how to teach it.” He gave Joe a book and told him: “Do what it says here and I’ll be back next week and check on you.”

Joe practiced from the book’s instructions the whole week, and when the teacher came back, Joe had learned a great deal. Joe continued the year in this manner very successfully. There were three levels of bands in high school. Joe was admitted to the A level.

Joe’s first brush with celebrity occurred when he was only 10 years old. His father was a builder and built their family home on Scoville Court. Across the street, on Dalzell, lived “Bubba” Broyles, owner of a profitable music store. It was the gathering place for local and transient musicians. He had a fine home and also owned the house next door, which he would occasionally offer to hard-up musicians who needed a place to stay.

Pud Brown, a tenor sax man of some repute, was there at the time, and he was a close friend of Louis Armstrong. Louis was having trouble dealing with threats from the owner of a Chicago nightclub. It seems that Louis had received a better offer from another club and gave the owner his two-week’s notice. He called his old buddy, Pud Brown, and was invited to Shreveport to use the “sleepin’ porch” until things cooled down. Bubba gave his OK and Louis felt safe there.

Joe said, “I awoke to the sound of Louis’ trumpet and followed the sound to the sleepin’ porch. There sat Satchmo’ himself, smiling and playing his horn.” Of course “Jim Crow” was the order of the day in the Deep South, but Louis felt safe there because Bubba and Pud were his friends. Joe continued, “I had recently seen him in a movie short featuring Louis and his band, and I was fascinated by the man. He played for me and soon there were half-a-dozen other kids lined up at the door, equally wide-eyed. Bubba came over to get Louis and take him down to his store in the entrance of the Inn Hotel. I spent the afternoon listening and talking to Louis. I kept calling him Lou-ee until he corrected me, saying, “Joe, mah name, spelled L-O-U-I-S, not L-O-U-E-E! Say it: Lou-ISS.”

I have forever after called him LouISS. The last time I saw Louis, he and his band were featured in a performance at Shreveport’s Municipal Auditorium. He had “Big Sid” Catlett, one of our finest, playing drums. Sid played a fabulous drum solo and dedicated it to me, a 14-year-old kid with tears in his eyes.”

World War II was only months away when Joe got a job in Shreveport playing in a “low-down honky-tonk band.” His parents never paid much attention to his musical activities and knew nothing of his job, which paid $100.00 a week. At the time, this was more than many executives in Shreveport made. Joe saved his money and opened a bank account, which soon grew into the thousands.

Riding home on a city bus one afternoon, Joe noticed a new Packard in front of a house with a sign on the windshield: “Buy this car for $300.00, I have been drafted into the army, Must Sell.” Joe hopped off the bus, rang the doorbell, looked at the car, drove it around the block and paid $300 cash.

His parents were astonished when he drove the car home and they asked him where the money came from. They both drove “mere Dodges.” This also prompted his mother to find a good, tough military academy. Schools with a military mission were becoming popular because of the looming certainty of war.

They decided on a military school in Gulfport, MS. When the family car arrived, a sign greeted them: “Send us the boy and we will return you the man.” It proved to be the low point in Joe’s life. He said it was like being in jail with a bunch of little boys from Mississippi, all being treated like prisoners. It even involved hazing from upper classmen that escalated. Joe credits the presence of his drums for “saving his life” and sanity. After a year or so, around 16 years of age, he “escaped in broad daylight” by taking a bus about 60 miles to New Orleans. He went straight to the musician’s union, signed up and had a job offer in a matter of hours. They kept him busy with good jobs that paid well and put him in association with a variety of celebrities.

These celebrities included Rosemary Clooney, Earl “Fatha” Hines and Candy Candido. The latter was a comic personality who had done many voice-overs, including work in the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” After this months-long tour concluded, the union recommended Joe to an all-girl band that had lost its drummer.

Mickey Stevens was the leader of the ten-member group. In order to maintain its all-girl status, the press releases said “All girl band. Featuring Joe Holland on drums.” “We worked well together,” said Joe, “We had a great time playing fancy resort hotels in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida before Mickey found a fine female drummer.”

After their tearful goodbyes, Joe moved on to a luxury hotel in Kansas City for the drum spot in a Mickey Mouse Band. Translation: very corny music but even higher pay scales, plus room and board were on the house! Just for kicks, he dropped in on some of Kansas City’s top jazz clubs.

Joe got to sit in with the likes of Count Basie, Earl Hines and many other greats of the day. However, he would not be able to work with black musicians again until his army days. That would come in 1957, the night after the 101st Airborne’s occupation of Central High School in Little Rock. It was the night he met the great Art Porter Sr. at a club in downtown Little Rock.

Joe Holland v01Joe will never forget the feeling of working with such a great jazz personality. “Art should have been an internationally known pianist, but he did not want to leave Little Rock and his children,” said Joe. His son, Art Porter, Jr. became known internationally for his skill with the alto saxophone.

One of his early jobs in 1944 was in a “hillbilly band” for Jimmie Davis’ run for Louisiana governor. Joe says it was just by luck that Davis secured the “world’s greatest guitarist,” Snoozer Quinn. Joe and Snoozer became personal friends and worked together several times. Snoozer taught Joe one of his greatest lessons, how to integrate his skills with other band members. They continued playing Davis’ rallies right up to a successful election.

As soon as he was ensconced in office, Governor Davis left his advisors in charge while he made a beeline to Hollywood, where he starred in some of the worst movies ever made. There were two other notable musicians in the Jimmie Davis Band: brothers Hoke and Paul Rice. They wrote one of the greatest country music songs of all time, “You Are My Sunshine.” This beautiful, sentimental ballad was shopped around to top country singers of the day, but no one recorded it. The boys needed money so badly that they sold the song to Jimmie Davis for a mere twenty-five dollars!

The rest, as they say, is history.

Davis recorded the tune and both he and the song became instant hits, selling in the hundreds of thousands. Davis listed himself as the composer of the song and wouldn’t pay anything more to the Rice brothers.

“In 1946, just before I left New Orleans I got to spend five days working with The Three Stooges when they were booked into the St. Charles Theatre. Curly had had a stroke, Moe was worn out and Larry Fine had been cheated out of most of the money he was due from the movie company they worked for.

They did very little hitting and spent most of their time on stage singing! They were very good at that. I was on stage with them, using the bass drum pedal to enliven their stomping around on stage and providing sound effects with Korean temple blocks to provide sound for what little hitting they did do. Just a few months later I saw Curly’s obit in the paper,” Joe said.

In 1960, Joe found himself working in another “colorful” Louisiana governor’s race. This time it was with Earl Long. Earl had carried on an embarrassing tryst with a stripper named Blaze Starr. The band didn’t see much of Ol’ Earl. The routine was to get to the dusty towns first, set up on the rail freight platform, play and draw a crowd.  As soon as they saw the white Chevy sedan they’d load up and move on to the next town. Joe said, “These things started mid-morning and continued until around 5 pm. The old boy was a trooper, as long as he had his glass of “amber colored liquid.”

In 1967, Joe broke with his tradition of Louisiana governor’s races and worked with the future governor of Arkansas, Winthrop Rockefeller. This was Rockefeller’ third and most difficult run. Joe provided the musical background for all of his commercials and 33 rallies around the state. Johnny Cash and Cal Perkins appeared at many of those rallies. On several occasions when Johnny’s drummer failed to show up, guess who sat in? Much later, in 1980, Joe worked with Frank White in his campaign that unseated Bill Clinton as governor of Arkansas. Initially, Frank was still wearing his tired plaid “country boy” suits and work shoes. Joe ended up being Frank’s advisor on how to dress for success.

The music business has been a central part of Joe’s life for over 70 years. However, Joe has held several “day jobs,” mostly in sales positions. According to Joe, “Music was always been something I was trying to escape from. The minute I’d escape, I couldn’t stand it. I had to go back and play. As a young musician, I received a lot of advice from older, experienced musicians. They always said to have a back-up plan.” Joe explained that the dependency of the music business on the liquor business must be recognized. “Once a club starts to fail…the first thing they do is lay off musicians.”

Joe’s first day job was with Revlon, representing the Louisiana area and continuing over to Dallas, Texas. This put him in contact with Neiman-Marcus, a company Joe paid careful attention to, learning a lot of the fundamentals. At the time there were many popular quiz shows, one of which was sponsored by Revlon. There was some cheating involved in the show, and it really hurt Revlon.

Joe’s next job was with Playtex covering a bigger area for two to three years. The pressure for greater sales was intense so Joe moved to Yardley of London. This was a great job, including trips to Great Britain and Europe. Yardley’s head executive in London had a daughter who married a businessman in Little Rock. Through this connection, Joe managed to meet him and escorted him on a visit to Little Rock. When Joe took him to the airport the man asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?” Joe asked him for a job in London.

Unfortunately, the British did not look kindly on giving their jobs to foreigners. However after some consideration, it was worked out that Joe would come over as a consultant, for which Joe admits he was not qualified. The British stint included trips to Paris, Belgium, and a several-week-long trip in 1970 to Russia. He returned to the U.S., continuing to work for Yardley, until they closed their U.S. operations. Prior to this, Yardley had a practice of rewarding employees with a Cadillac. Joe got one.

Joe was an early Hi-Fi buff and had naturally heard of Paul Wilbur Klipsch. Joe built his own speakers but is quick to say that they were nothing compared to what PWK was doing. In early 1955, he drove from Shreveport to Hope on the off chance that he might meet Paul. He was amazed that PWK invited him in, and later took him to lunch.

Paul was “easy to meet, easy to talk to, and easy to get along with, just a great guy. I could sense that he was going to be a fun guy because I never knew what he was going to do or say.”

When Paul discovered that Joe had his drums in the car, he asked Joe to play them in a live versus recorded scenario during their first encounter. PWK said he wanted to play some records and asked Joe to bring his drums inside. He pointed a speaker right at Joe. He wanted Joe to play along with his Glen Miller music. Fortunately, Joe had just gotten out of the Army Band and knew all of the arrangements by heart!

Joe played along with the recorded drummer exactly, which fascinated PWK. This exercise was conducted in the hallway of what is now Klipsch’s Hope office building, with Joe not being able to see whether the source materials were records or tapes (dammit). The result was the beginning of a serious dialog on possible collaborations.

Shortly after, they were doing a live versus recorded demo for a large audience in an auditorium at Centenary College. Dealers and the public were invited. Curtains hid a speaker on one side and a drum set on the other. Joe would play and then a recording of Joe would be alternated. The audience was asked to identify the live performance. Several more of these demonstrations were staged.

Soon Paul suggested a recording session. On the morning of June 19, 1955, Joe and the short-lived Joe Holland Quartet entered KWKH in Shreveport, Louisiana. At the same time, Elvis Presley was exiting the studio. He and his band recorded all night due to Elvis’ proclivity to put five notes in a four-note bar. The band members were afraid to call him out, so they just kept telling him that they had made a mistake and needed another take. [Do not irritate Elvis!] Elvis’ drummer, D.J. Fontana was a good friend of Joe’s and related the events of the previous night.

The recording session lasted most of the day, but included no pictures or other documentation – just the music. All songs were recorded straight through without mixing. Playback at the studio was via a pair of Klipsch Rebels as they were small enough to fit in the back of Paul’s airplane. If there were a serious mistake or flaw noted in the initial playback, the whole number would be repeated. Only a few required retakes. Extraneous noises were left in some of the recordings. One noise that was thought to be the drummer’s chair squeaking was actually a pedal. Joe used a Ludwig Speed King, which has also been referred to as a “Squeak King.” Unfortunately, it is not known if any of the band members ever heard their finished product on Klipschorns. [Joe has not, but I plan to remedy that!] Joe had Rebels………………

In 1957, a second recording session was arranged with a reunited Joe Holland Quartet. Paul explained to Joe that during his demos at frequent dealer visits, many people would request a copy of the material. At the time, the KlipschTape division had just been created with the help of John Eargle. Joe recalls that John represented himself as an A&R man from RCA. As with the earlier recording session in 1955, PWK utilized a Berlant tape recorder and two widely spaced, omnidirectional Stephens microphones. The second session did not seem to impress the band like the first. A “been there, done that” mentality could have been at play.

PWK and Joe remained in contact for many years. Joe knew some generals at Barksdale Air Force base. He arranged to take a General Westmoreland (the “lesser” Westmoreland) up to Hope to visit with PWK. The General was a huge Klipsch fan, so it was somewhat amusing to see his “subservient posture” in Paul’s presence. Joe gave at least another general the same “audience with King Klipsch.” Much later, PWK orchestrated, pun intended, an invitation from Arthur Fiedler for Joe to play with the Boston Pops. Unfortunately, this never materialized due at least in part to the pressure of Joe’s day job.

In the 1980’s PWK ran into Joe at Cajun’s Wharf in Little Rock. It had been 20 years since they had seen each other but Paul instantly recognized Joe. At 88, Joe lives on the west side of Little Rock, and is still getting paid to play his drums.

 

The Klipsch Guide to Record Store Day 2016

Record Store Day (RSD) is treated differently by each independent record store across the country, but it’s safe to say that your local independently owned record store will likely have a whole bunch of activities planned for its visitors.

Our friends at Indy CD & Vinyl are located in Indianapolis, just a few miles from Klipsch HQ, and have a whole slew of fun stuff planned on Saturday: live music, product giveaways, food, drink, and of course, all of the vinyl you would ever need. Indy CD & Vinyl is co-owned by Andy and Annie Skinner, who were gracious enough to give us some additional insight into Record Store Day. (Schedule)

Here’s a taste of what Klipsch is looking forward to on Record Store Day on local and national fronts.

Indy CD & Vinyl Sign

WHY IS RECORD STORE DAY IMPORTANT?

“Record Store Day is important to Indy CD & Vinyl because it gives us a chance to show our appreciation to all our customers that shop here all year long. It is also a chance to show new customers all that we have to offer, both as a retail record shop and as a community center. We are proud of our role in our music community and are thankful for all that our customers do to support us – RSD is a way to give thanks and show off our place!” – Andy Skinner, Indy CD & Vinyl

Indy CD & Vinyl inside 1 social

MOST WANTED VINYL ON RECORD STORE DAY

“We have been getting buzz about quite a few of the limited releases, like Dr. Who, an Iron Maiden picture disc, a David Bowie picture disc, a Twentyone Pilots 7″, and the box set from the band Lush. That box set is beautiful! There also is a unique item from hip-hop legends Run The Jewels, it’s a virtual reality box called RTJVR, it looks awesome and it is nothing we’ve ever seen before! Even a piece from The Monkees will probably go quickly, it’s a really cool, clear die-cut picture disc.” – Andy Skinner, Indy CD & Vinyl

Oreo Jones

MUST-HEAR ALBUMS ON RECORD STORE DAY

“Although not a sanctioned Record Store Day item, local hip-hop sensation Oreo Jones plans to hide a copy of his new album “Cash For Gold” somewhere in the store for a lucky customer to find. He is definitely someone to watch out for nationally this year.” – Andy Skinner, Indy CD & Vinyl

Devil to Pay band

Devil to Pay (Photo via theobelisk.net)

LIVE MUSIC ON RECORD STORE DAY

Klipsch is proud to sponsor the main stage at Indy CD & Vinyl, utilizing our kick-ass graffiti PA speaker system. Some people think it’s too much for a small space, which we don’t really get. After all, there really isn’t such a thing as “too much” speakers.

Regardless, Record Store Day is a great opportunity for you to check out amazing artists in an intimate setting without being price-gouged. Better yet, you may stumble upon some artists you’ve never heard before who will blow your mind. That’s all part of the magic.

The music will be kickin’ from 10 AM – 7 PM with Shoobee Loo, Mr. Daniel, Sweet Poison Victim, Moor.dub, Veseria, Desert Planet, Devil To Pay and U.S. Bastards rockin’ the Klipsch Stage. “Each band is amazing in their own right, but together we can hear music from many genres all in one day,” Andy Skinner said.

It is also a family-friendly affair with kids music available along with face painting, games and crafts for music lovers who would like to bring their little ones.

R6 On-Ear Vinyl

PRODUCT GIVEAWAYS ON RECORD STORE DAY

We’re assuming companies are giving away tons of crap (ok, maybe not only crap) all over the country to help celebrate and promote Record Store Day, but we’re pretty sure you won’t get anything that sounds better than the Reference R6 In-Ear and Reference R6 On-Ear headphones that we’ll be giving away at Indy CD & Vinyl.

You’ll have to be in attendance to enter to win (sorry!), but it’s totally worth it because you have to eat something from Kuma’s Corner Burger in order to be eligible to win. That’s what we like to call a “win-win.”

Unfortunately, we won’t be giving away any of our vaunted new Reference R-15PM powered monitors that have internal amplification and a built-in phono pre-amp (which means no receiver or separate phono pre-amp required). The good news, though, is that the R-15PMs are available for $50 OFF from Indy CD & Vinyl, Klipsch.com and participating dealers through the month of April. The aforementioned Klipsch Reference headphones are also available at Indy CD & Vinyl for a special price.

rocket 88 doughnuts

Photo via IndyStar.com

FOOD & DRINK ON RECORD STORE DAY

No one wants to listen to music on an empty stomach, right? We’re looking forward to loosening our belts and stuffing our faces with burgers from Kuma’s Corner and doughnuts from Rocket 88 doughnuts. Indianapolis has been developing a serious food-scene and it extends into Record Store Day.

Of course, you have to wash it all down with something and yet another Indianapolis company is partnering with Indy CD & Vinyl – Hubbard & Craven’s Coffee. That’ll do quite nicely. (P.S. You’re missing out if you haven’t dipped a glazed yeast doughnut into coffee before eating it.)

To top it all off, Indy CD & Vinyl’s good friends, Dogfish Brewing Company, will be supplying the adult beverages for the evening. We have no complaints on this matter whatsoever.

Reference R-15PM Phono Pre-Amp

WHAT TO DO AFTER RECORD STORE DAY IS OVER

OK, so you have a bunch of new vinyl. What’s next? Well, we would advise that you get yourself a real pair of speakers. Enough of those crappy all-in-one solutions. It’s time to stop vinyl abuse.

While any Klipsch speakers would be suitable partners for a proper audiophile-grade turntable setup, we’ve created a couple of handy guides that will help you make the best decision.

The Best Record Player Speakers

Turntable Setup Guide for Passive and Powered Speakers

What are you doing for Record Store Day? Let us know in the comments below!

Recap: 2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Presented by Klipsch Audio

While the Klipsch partnership with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame extends far beyond the Induction Ceremony, the event is certainly one of our favorite moments of the year. It gives us (and fans across the world) the chance to honor legendary musicians who have delivered endless amounts of joy through their music.

Before we round up everything that happened this past week, we would like to once again congratulate Bert Berns, Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple, NWA and Steve Miller on their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To learn more about the inductees, please click here.

Klipsch Audio Presents Intimate Conversations with John Varvatos

Intimate Conversations with John Varvatos

PHOTOS

The week’s festivities kicked off with a collaborative listening event involving Klipsch, John Varvatos, Soundstage Direct and The Musician’s Ear. It took place at the John Varvatos retail location in NYC at 315 Bowery St, which you may recall, is the former site of legendary punk rock club CBGB. It’s practically impossible to count the number of legendary musicians who once played at this location, giving the event the ideal backdrop.

Together, we all pulled together for a night that exceeded all expectations. John Varvatos himself interviewed Hall of Famers Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Rob Zander (Cheap Trick) about being inducted in the Rock Hall, their music (past and present), the importance of quality sound and many other topics. Varvatos even managed to lure Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to come on stage for a few words. Having known all of these artists for years, Varvatos was completely at ease talking to the three legends of rock.

It legitimately became a conversation between friends. At one point, Hughes even shared a crazy story about a female police officer who allegedly handcuffed him for doing cocaine in public, undressed in front of him and sexually “prosecuted” him. (By the way, Hughes’ wife, who was laughing hysterically in the second row, chose the word “prosecuted”.)

It was that kind of night. Just a bunch of fun people sharing a laugh, some drinks and a bunch of memories.

Music and audio was played through Klipsch Heresy III speakers that were custom-designed for the John Varvatos flagship location in Detroit.

Steve Miller Klipsch Gifting Suite Rock Hall

Rehearsals at the Barclays Center

PHOTOS

You may be surprised but many of the inducted bands are still playing together and at an extremely high level. In fact, Cheap Trick’s brand new album Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello is getting great reviews. Regardless, there is always the need for rehearsals especially at the 18,000 seat capacity Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

After sweating it out on stage, the artists swooped on down to where we were all hanging out backstage to check out the latest and greatest Klipsch speakers and headphones, including the musician-pleasing R-15PM powered monitors, Klipsch Groove portable Bluetooth speaker and Reference On-Ear headphones. Oh, and many of them were down to share a celebratory Smart Beer and snacks with us.

We shouldn’t be surprised anymore, but it’s still always a treat when famous musicians get excited to hear our name and tell us a story about their first Klipsch speakers, like Steve Miller, when told us all about his love for Klipsch La Scala speakers.

Special shout-out to Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty fame, who came by a few times during rehearsals. He’s a lot of fun!

2016 Rock Hall Induction Ceremony

2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Presented by Klipsch Audio

The main event for the week was, as you expect, an awesome show. A sell-out crowd at the Barclays Center was on-hand to celebrate the legendary musicians who shared the stage.

We were happy to show the Klipsch video “Tiny Spark” to the thousands in attendance because, after all, we are celebrating the Hall of Fame musicians, as well as each and every person who has had that tiny spark to create their own piece of musical magic.

There were too many moments to pick an absolute favorite with every inductee (minus N.W.A.) playing some of their most beloved songs. Of course, surprise performances from David Byrnes (accompanied the Roots) and Sheryl Crow (with Grace Potter) also added to the evening’s shine.

We are definitely suckers for the all-star jam band tradition at the end of each Induction Ceremony. All of the artists get on stage and perform together. It may sound like a total cluster, but the nearly overwhelming amount of talent on stage makes it all come together into something truly special. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

HBO will air the 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony presented by Klipsch Audio on April 30.