Bands known by initials

Bands Known By Initials

by Robert Benson

In rock ‘n’ roll history there have been many bands whose moniker and names were shortened and universally recognized by abbreviated lettered names. Let’s explore some popular initial nicknames of bands.

Creedence Clearwater Revival (also known as CCR) began churning out classic rock ‘n’ roll singles shortly after the John Fogerty led band formed in 1967. With their “swamp-rock” sound and style, the group amassed seventeen top 40 hits like “Bad Moon Rising,” “Green River,” and the wedding band staple “Proud Mary.” The group disbanded in 1972 and any hopes of a CCR reunion were quashed with the death of band member Tom Fogerty in 1990.

Another 60's band that had huge commercial success was Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, also known as CSN &Y. Band members David Crosby (formally of the Byrds), Graham Nash (of Hollies fame), Stephen Stills and Neil Young (both with Buffalo Springfield), blended their flawless harmonies into a long and successful career. With hits such as the Nash led “Teach Your Children,” Neil Young’s antiwar protest song “Ohio” and a Joni Mitchell composition “Woodstock” about the legendary rock festival, CSN &Y blended their unique acoustic-folk and progressive hard rock sound to be a classic example of the 1960's psychedelic era. Additionally, after Young left the group, Crosby, Stills and Nash (also known as CSN) continued to release melodic pop/rock songs with 1977's “Just A Song Before I Go” and “Wasted On The Way,” which was released in 1982. The group still tours, occasionally joined by Young.

Hard-rocking Bachman-Turner Overdrive, or simply BTO consisted of Randy Bachman (formally of the Guess Who), fellow Guess Who alum Chad Allen, C.F. “Fred” Turner and Randy’s brother drummer Robbie. Capitalizing on the arena rock/pop rock era of the mid 70's, BTO had a short but successful career with chart singles such as “Takin’ Care Of Business,” “Let It Ride” and the number one single “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” a song which was intended for an audience of one- Randy’s brother Gary Bachman who had a speech impediment-stuttering. They recorded the song for fun but needing another song to complete the lp “Not fragile,” Randy Bachman was pressured to include the joking stuttering lyrics and the song spent twelve weeks on the Billboard charts in 1974.

There are many other rock ‘n’ roll bands that were known by initials as well as their “given” name and I will include a couple more that I know of. The Electric Light Orchestra (also known as ELO) led by guitarist Jeff Lynne, scored twenty top ten hits with songs like “Telephone Line and “Don’t Bring Me Down.” A similar sounding name ELP was a supergroup consisting of keyboard genius Keith Emerson, bassist Greg lake (of the band Nice) and drummer Carl Palmer (a former member of The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown). They instilled their keyboard dominated, progressive rock throughout the 70's, creating a FM radio phenomenon with songs like “Lucky Man,” “Still You Turn Me On” and “From The Beginning.”

Author Robert Benson writes about rock/pop music, vinyl record collecting and operates www.collectingvinylrecords.com where you can secure your copy of his ebook called “The Fascinating Hobby Of Vinyl Record Collecting.”
Robert can be contacted at robert@collectingvinylrecords.com.

Album Cover Art II

Album Cover Art
Part Two
Album cover art software allows you to explore this pop phenomenon

In the last article, we discussed some of the elements of album cover art and I would like to continue the discussion with some more details and an album cover finder that is a must for any fan of album cover art.

As I stated previously, many famous artists have been commissioned to design and produce album covers. For example, the Rolling Stones and pop artist Andy Warhol are famous for the cover art on the Stones’ album “Sticky Fingers.” As the story goes, at a party in 1969, Andy Warhol casually mentioned to Mick Jagger that it would be amusing to have a real zipper on an album cover. A year later, Jagger proposed the idea for “Sticky Fingers.” But, there was a flaw in the shipping process, the zipper would press onto the album stacked on top of it, causing damage to the vinyl record. The solution? The zipper had to be pulled down before the album was shipped, then it would only dent the album covers. However, they never figured out how to keep the zipper from scratching the other album covers. Additionally, some department stores refused to display the album, feeling it was risque and not family oriented because of the model’s snug jeans and the zipper display. But this album is historic because it broke new ground and also saw the debut of the now famous Stones logo: a caricature of Jagger’s lips and tongue.

If you are a Janis Joplin fan, then you would probably know that the famed cartoonist Robert Crumb designed the cover for Joplin’s album “Cheap Thrills.” This revered, yet misunderstood artist, drew the cover as a favor to Joplin, who he befriended in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood where they both resided. He was paid $600 for his work by Columbia Records, which later sold the artwork. Crumb was asked to do a cover for the Rolling Stones, but refused because he did not like their music. Crumb is also the artist for the “Keep On Truckin’” poster and “Fritz The Cat,” and has more than seventy covers to his credit.

The Internet is full of sites related to album cover art and is just too numerous to list. There are sites devoted to fan favorites, the weird and unusual, particular decades and so on. Many users have turned to ebay to find lost art treasures from their childhood. But I want to share a website and album cover artwork finder that is not only convenient, but a must have for any art lover.

I recently spoke with Richard Nicol, the program designer and owner of “Album Cover Finder.” (www.albumcoverfinder.com) The program has been available for more than two years and is a godsend for anyone interested in album cover art.
“Album Cover Finder”allows the user to not only find specific searches for interesting album cover art, but also allows the user to download selected songs from the release. I asked Richard about his fascination with album cover art.

“I’ve always been interested and loved album cover art and wanted to create a database where the users could not only look at album cover art, but experience it as well. The program allows the user to browse through the cover art of a particular band and also lets the user to download particular songs through iTunes as well. The main feature is convenience, you can utilize iTunes and not only get more of an experience for the music, but the great artwork involved with the music and artists.”

But “Album Cover Finder” is more than just iTunes and album cover art. The program allows users to look at different art work from different countries as well. Some of the art work involved in a US release may be different from that of a UK release or German release, only adding to the experience. The program also allows users to review artist biographies, read reviews of a particular release and add the artwork to their iTunes library and an iPod. “Album Cover Finder” also allows users to find additional cover art from a particular artist or band, copy the artwork to a clipboard and has artist videos and applicable tour information. “Album Cover Finder” is a fully functional way to search for album artwork and includes free updates for registered users and is available at www.albumcoverfinder.com.

Now, I have only had the program about a week, but I have to admit spending literally many, many hours looking at historic artwork and listening to the songs associated with the acts. This software gets a hardy “thumbs-up” and is a “must have,” affordable program for album cover art connoisseurs and anyone with a fascination with art and music.

Needless to say, there can be a lot more written about album cover art and the impact it has had upon music and pop culture and cannot be summarized in a couple of articles. There are countless books, (I actually own one that talks about and illustrates naked vinyl and the images used to try and sell albums!) That detail album covers and the impact upon pop culture and music. I have a short list below for you to explore:

www.albumcovers.net
www.annexus.homestead.com
www.zubeworld.com
www.superseventies.com
www.popcultmag.com/oddglimpses/albumcovers/albumsdefault.html

Additionally, there are so many web sites and blogs associated with album cover art, they are to numerous to list. Why there are even web sites devoted to preserving this treasured art and frame it for display.

Furthermore, did you know that June 1st marked the 40th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band?” Not only is the release one of the most influential albums of all time musically, the cover art itself is iconic as well. I spoke with Gary Freiberg, owner and operator of www.rockartpictureshow.com about “Sgt. Pepper” who related to me that the album “broke new ground and challenged the industry.” Gary and I talked about album cover art and the influences it has had on our culture. He also told me of a recent poll conducted by www.vinylrecordday.org that voted the “Sgt. Pepper” album cover the favorite album cover of all time. Gary is world renowned for his work in the album cover art industry with his patented record album frame and his work has been cited and used by the Smithsonian, Home & Garden TV, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and thousands of satisfied Internet customers. And if you interested in getting your great album art framed, you may visit www.rockartpictureshow.com and tell Gary you heard about him from www.gemm.com

Author Robert Benson writes about rock/pop music, vinyl record collecting and operates www.collectingvinylrecords.com, where you can secure your copy of his ebook called "The Fascinating Hobby Of Vinyl Record Collecting."
Robert can be contacted at robert@collectingvinylrecords.com.

Album Cover Art

Album Cover Art
Part One

by Robert Benson

In 1939, Alex Steinweiss was employed at Columbia Records as the first art director for the company and decided to spruce up and repackage vinyl records. We all know the result, album cover art has become an important part of music and pop culture. (Prior to Steinweiss’s creative influences, records were generally stored in plain, undecorated packaging).

For collectors, album cover art can sometimes be as valuable as the vinyl record it holds. For instance, one of the most famous album covers of all time, the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” cover was one of the most inventive at the time and included cut out inserts and lyrics. The price one would pay for a copy of this album is influenced by whether or not it has the original contents and they are intact. There are many album covers that included posters of the band as well and other “perks” for the buyer and all these elements factor into the resale price and collectiblity.

There have been many dynamic and world-famous album covers. Consider the Beatles’ album “Yesterday…and Today” (1966), also called the “butcher block album” because the Beatles were pictured on the front cover wearing white butcher coats surrounded by bloody meat and cut up dolls. The album was quickly pulled by Capitol Records after the company received numerous complaints from reviewers and DJ’s. The company recalled the issue and ordered a new cover but did not want to waste the several hundred thousand that had already been printed. Capitol then hired part-time helpers to remove that photo from the cover and paste on the new photo for the cover. But, it seems that there were many lazy employees and to save time, they just pasted the new cover on top of the old cover and the one that was supposed to be removed. The result is three different versions of that particular album and a collector’s dream, the different versions of the album are worth several thousand dollars (prices vary-check a record price guide to ascertain exactly what album you may have to get the exact price).

Album cover art has also spawned numerous web sites in which to view famous covers and designs, readers’ favorites and top ten lists. One such site, www.superseventies.com offers a comprehensive look at some of the most famous covers from the 1970's including the Sex Pistols “Never Mind The Bollocks,” the Eagles “Hotel California,” Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon” and the Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” among others. Additionally, www.superseventies.com offers their reader’s favorite seventies album covers (more than 300) with detailed descriptions and reviews of each specific release. This is a great way to spend a rainy day, as you discover some of the best album cover art of the 70's.

Album cover design is an art form and allows the musicians greater control over the content and another important avenue in which to express themselves. In my humble opinion (and I share this opinion with countless others), with the advent of the CD, the music buying public lost a national treasure, album cover art. It is part of pop culture and recorded music in general. Sure, Cd’s offer you a “stripped down” version of the original cover art, but it certainly pales in comparison to the real thing. I am sure Mr. Steinweiss would totally agree with me.

Author Robert Benson writes about rock/pop music, vinyl record collecting and operates www.collectingvinylrecords.com, where you can secure your copy of his ebook called "The Fascinating Hobby Of Vinyl Record Collecting."
Robert can be contacted at robert@collectingvinylrecords.com.

Celebrate Vinyl Record Day

Celebrate Vinyl Record Day
By Robert Benson

When Thomas Edison invented the phonograph on August 12, 1877, little did he know just how much influence his “Talking Machine” would have, not only in the music industry, but in pop culture as well. Records are a part of the music of the ages and it is up to us as individuals and retailers, not only to enjoy our favorite recordings, but to preserve them as well; thus Vinyl Record Day was born.

Vinyl Record Day (www.VinylRecordDay.org) is celebrated on August 12th (or the first Saturday following the 12th) and was conceived and brought to the forefront by vinyl enthusiast and vinyl record historian Gary Freiberg. I spoke with Gary about the meaning of Vinyl Record Day and how we can help as individuals and what retailers can do to help preserve this timeless medium and international treasure.

“Vinyl Record Day is about celebrating vinyl records and the public should take notice of this special day. Invite friends and family over for a barbeque, maybe form a block party and play records, think records and talk about records and what they mean to each of us individually and culturally,” explained Gary.
Gary went into further detail, "Whatever the feel good aspects of Vinyl Record Day are, a retailer will ask how will this help my bottom line? Vinyl Record Day can get free publicity, it puts a good face on a business within their community and is a reason to have something special at the location: a parking lot sale, entertainment, store specials are great examples. I would hope the industry would become more involved with Vinyl Record Day so that, not only are the goals of Vinyl Record Day spread, but that people trying to make all or part of their living with vinyl could be part of an industry and not scattered individuals. We need to have a cohesive national impact as the milk industry did with their "Got Milk" campaign. I truly believe that Internet and traditional brick store owners could benefit financially, and in the case of brick store owners, in their communities by being part of Vinyl Record Day. Another important goal of Vinyl Record Day is to preserve the cultural influences, the recordings and the cover art. We also hope to increase awareness that economics prevents companies from transferring everything on to compact discs.”

A very dynamic and immensely important point Gary talked about is that only 5% of our musical history has been transferred to cd, so it is our responsibility to preserve this medium. Maybe your grandfather, sibling or cousin released a record and, although it may have not made the “top ten,” it is our music and some of these wonderful recordings cannot be found anywhere else. For instance, I own a vinyl copy of a Spiro Agnew speech and one of our most revered presidents John F. Kennedy has released several recordings, as have other influential and historical figures.

Additionally, Vinyl Record Day is a nonprofit organization that aims to educate the public and encourage all of us to preserve these international audio treasures. It is also a marketing opportunity for any vinyl record retailer.

“Vinyl Record Day is focused on educating the public that this timeless medium is in our hands, don’t leave the preservation of vinyl to fate. Vinyl records represent historical audio documents and just as we preserve historical literature, we are the custodians of this audio history. Vinyl Record Day is more than one day a year set aside for celebration, it is also for the industry itself,” acknowledged Gary. "

We also discussed past celebrations, from the inaugural Vinyl Record Day in San Luis County, California and the international support and attention that Vinyl Record Day receives as well.

“Vinyl Record Day hopes to continue to educate the public on why and how to care for a record collection because these collections are not only a part of who we are individually, but to assure that future generations will not lose a vital link in recorded history,” related Gary.

As an avid vinyl record collector, I truly enjoyed my conversation with Gary, who is very passionate about the cause. Vinyl Record Day is a nonprofit organization that needs the help of all of us, consumers, collectors, musicians, retailers as well as the record companies. So, as you celebrate Vinyl Record Day this August, think about the history, preservation of the format and enjoyment you receive when listening to your favorite records. For more information and how you can help as an individual, please visit the website, www.VinylRecordDay.org and let Gary know that you endorse all of his efforts.

(You may even donate your record collection to Vinyl Record Day and you can receive full value as a tax write-off. Vinyl Record Day needs money to promote, not only Vinyl Record Day, but can help retailers in their own business endeavors)

Author Robert Benson writes about rock/pop music, vinyl record collecting and operates www.collectingvinylrecords.com, where you can secure your copy of his ebook called "The Fascinating Hobby Of Vinyl Record Collecting." Copyright 2007-Robert Benson
Robert can be contacted at robert@collectingvinylrecords.com.

Robert Benson goes on record about his venture in vinyl

http://www.sheboygan-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070222/SHE04/702220331/1097/SHElife

Robert Benson goes on record about his venture in vinyl

By Ann Grote-Pirrung
Press correspondent

Don't tell Robert Benson that vinyl record albums are passe.

He has more than 3,200 reasons to believe differently.

Benson, of Oostburg, is an avid collector of vinyl records, a passion that started in the late 1960s.

He vividly recalls one of the first 45s he fell in love with: "My brother bought 'Fever' by The McCoys," Benson said. "And I kept listening to it over and over again, and the first beginning of that song is the drum. And I kept listening until he yelled at me. I don't have that one, but I still have some of my brother's other old 45s."

Benson caught "the fever" in more ways than one, embarking on an almost 40-year search for vinyl albums, both 45s and the longer-playing 33-1/3s.

"I stay away from the 78s because they're very breakable and a lot of them aren't worth very much," he said.

He still fondly recalls some of his first acquisitions. "The first album I bought was probably a Gordon Lightfoot or a Jethro Tull. And the first 45 I got was Neil Young's 'Heart of Gold.' And I'm still a Neil Young fan now," he said, showing off a recently released Young album which Benson plans on preserving.

"This will never be played."

Through the years the record industry turned more and more to 8-track and cassette tapes and then CDs, but music-lover Benson, who appreciates all different types of music except for opera, kept his sight on vinyl albums, which appealed to him for a variety of reasons.

"Part of the allure of vinyl is the hunt," he said, "finding them. To me that's the fun part."

The hunt takes him to flea markets and rummage sales.

"I just found a gold mine here in Oostburg about six weeks ago, right down the street," he said, displaying some of his newest finds that included a number of girls' groups from the '60s.

Benson plays his albums on both a traditional turntable as well as a newly-acquired machine that records albums onto CDs.

"It preserves the album and it makes the record portable so I can listen to it in the car, the beach or anywhere I want to take it," he said. The machine is manufactured by a company called First Street and costs about $400.

"I think it's a good buy. I love it," he said.

Turntables, needles and accessories for the traditional "record player" are very easily found, according to Benson.

"The Internet has opened up a lot of doors … and has brought down the prices of albums," he said.

Cost of the albums can range from $1 apiece or less to big bucks. A record price guide gives a variety of values for albums, depending on condition. One of Benson's most recent acquisitions was The Angels, "My Boyfriend's Back," a record that could conceivably bring in $60 but for which he paid $1.

"Just because this book says it's worth $60 doesn't mean it's worth $60," he said.

Scratches bring the value down, but more important to determining the value of the record is how the album sounds.

"I'm very picky with my grading," Benson said. "I'll listen to the full album all the way through and then I'll 'play grade' it. I look at the visual grade and then I play it and then I rate it."

The book value of $60 for The Angels' album would go down to about $40 in his "book."

But Benson doesn't sell his albums. Collecting is strictly a thrill for him, which is obvious as he goes through some of the acquisitions he made at that Oostburg rummage sale, including albums by Jan and Dean, the Electric Prunes, Mae West, Shirley Temple and more.

"That was just like a jackpot to me," he said.

As many treasures as Benson has found, he has a wish list of recordings he would like to find.

"The 'Butcher Album' by the Beatles. I talked to a guy who actually has one and it went for $10,000 to $20,000," he said.

And even though there are no record stores around here, companies are still making vinyl albums.

What's the attraction?

"Nostalgia, love of vinyl, the hunt, album-cover history…it's an adrenalin rush. When I found all those albums, (from the Oostburg rummage sale) I was up until 3:30 in the morning going through every single one of them," Benson said. "To me, that's exciting."

Benson has shared his fascination with collecting in "The Fascinating Hobby of Vinyl Record Collecting," an e-book that he recently completed, a process that took him a couple of months.

"It talks about album collecting, why people collect. I go a little bit into the hobby," he said.

The e-book is available through Click Bank. "Click Bank is an online marketplace that sells downloadable products," Benson said. The book is available for $5.99.

Benson isn't the only person to find vinyl albums attractive. Young people have discovered the product.

"Kids are drawn to the allure of vinyl because it's a more sincere sound production. They enjoy the thrill of finding them," he said.

And the drawings on the cover are also attractive.

"My favorite album cover is The Beatle's 'Revolver' album," he said.

Benson can't put a price tag on his album collection, as the prices fluctuate. But he'd be the first person to say that the enjoyment he gets from listening to the Beatles, Neil Young, Rolling Stones, Elvis, Dylan, Kiss and many of the artists of yesteryear are "priceless. They define music."

For more information on vinyl record collecting, check out Benson's e-book at www.collectingvinylrecords.com.