home taping is killing music and its illegalOne of the most misdirected campaigns of all times is "Home Taping Is Killing Music". The campaign was launched by Chris Wright chairman of British Phonographic Industry (BPI) on Oct. 28, 1981. The campaign had a fateful and high-pitched tone ("and it's illegal") accompanied by a vivid imagery (a skull-like cassette and crossed bones). The background for this bizarre initiative was that the record industry felt threatened by the newly introduced dual cassette deck (single recorders and decks had been doing its thing for years). The dual cassette deck was considered as the eqvivalent to Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Series 800 in Terminator 2 by the industry. They feared home taping (tape to tape) in an industrial scale. The underlying assumption was that home taping would cause a decline in record sales. Did they have reason to be concerned? The theoretical and empirical support was non-existent. In fact, home taping was often a gateway to a lifelong commitment as a paying consumer. The compact cassette can be summarized in crappy sound quality and poor substitute. They home tapers made copies and mixtapes for their own personal needs but in addition they bought vinyls, and later, cds. Some people may argue that home taping is morally eqvivalent to illegal downloading. However, there's a big difference. Illegal downloaders never had any intentions to begin to pay for music. The campaign failed and was ridiculed, parodied and mocked. The coverage ratio (using stamped logo and slogan on records) in the UK record industry was far from 100 percent. The cd player was launched. The nail in the coffin was when a UK court verdict ruled that "whilst it is clear that the copying of copyright material without permission is an infringement in almost all jurisdictions, the provision of a service or equipment to facilitate such copying, where that service or equipment has other legitimate uses, may not be an infringement or illegal." (CBS vs the Amstrad dual cassette deck). The campaign vanished into thin air. The campaign resurfaced 10-15 years later, but that's a different story.    

 

 

Budgie earlyThis blog post may seem a bit off-topic, but it actually has some bearing on how I later in life became the Ambassador. It’s funny how the brain works. When I wrote a blog post recently about home taping and then listened to some early heavy metal albums it triggered a memory from childhood. Obviously, it had been filed somewhere. Here it comes. I grew up in a small ”company town” at the mercy of structural change. There wasn't much to do besides football (soccer) and icehockey. Some of us upper primary school kids without direction turned to music. I didn’t have any money, but my classmate (we can call him Carl) had excellent contacts with older guys who could afford to buy LP albums. Actually, it was in his cubic-formed and semi-detached house with needle-loom carpets that I heard ”Band of Gypsys” with Jimi Hendrix for the first time. From that moment I was on the slippery slope of a milder form of music addiction. Carl later pursued an adroit career in shoplifting, insurance fraud and using shell companies for tax evasion. Carl was, despite his later career choices, entrusted and could borrow albums over night and record them on compact cassettes. This was analogue times. How did you get a copy from a cassette in those days? It was simple. Nowadays, we consider this procedure as obsolete and tedious. This is the way it was done. I borrowed the cassette from Carl and went home and connected a cassette recorder (A) to a reel-to-reel audio tape recorder (B) through a five-pin DIN connector and started to record. Then I recorded back from B to A (new cassette). All of this was done in real time (this was before any slow living or mindfulness). The sound quality was, at this point, quite terrible. Carl also had an illegible handwriting. In fact, he had trouble reading his own handwriting. I had to put in a lot of work into transcribing his scrawl from the cassette cases and I didn't always get it right. Anyway, I'm thankful to Carl for introducing me to Budgie.

budgielogo

Budgie was formed in Cardiff in 1966 by Burke Shelley (bass and vocals) and Brian Goddard (guitar). They soon found drummer Ray Phillips through an ad in the local paper. Tony Bourge (guitar) joined in 1967. They weren’t "Budgie" from the beginning. In fact, they played a few gigs under the unglamorous name ”Hills Contemporary Grass” before changing their name to the more spectacular ”Six Ton Budgie”, then changed again to just "Budgie". The story behind the band name is that they loved the idea of playing noisy, heavy rock and calling themselves after something diametrically opposed to that. A budgie is a fragile thing. Brian Goddard left the band early for family reasons (got a girl pregnant and had to get a job). Since then Budgie always had a three-piece lineup. The username Brocashelm really hit the head on the nail in a blog entry in The Metal Archives; "If you took Black Sabbath’s density, King Crimson’s peculiar song constructs, and added a dash of Rush’s overall style, you should get an idea of what’s going on here." Budgie never got the recognition they deserved. However, when Metallica, Iron Maiden and other bands later made covers of their songs they got a late but rightful redress. In this blog entry I will walk you through their first five albums; the MCA years and their golden age.

     

freudBudgie didn't sell enough albums so that the members could retire in a nice country house in the countryside with crawl distance from the local pub. The conditions for this event were in fact quite good. First, there was a growing interest for early british heavy metal. Second, the met a renowned producer, Rodger Bain (producer of Black Sabbath's first three albums), who was on a talent spotting mission in Wales. Third, they signed a contract with the big record company MCA. Their self-titled debut album is raw and brutal. The album was recorded in Rockfield Studios in Monmouth in South Wales in only four days on a eight track tape. The album starts off with "Guts" which encompass their trademarks; nasal and high-pitched vocals, thick bass lines, proficient guitar riffs and pounding drums. The second song "Everything in my heart" is a delicate ballad and only one minute long. The heavy stuff is back again in the next song, "The Author". Burke Shelley had a penchant for wordplay and pun. The fourth song is "Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman". This song is a good example of their other trademarks; weird arrangements, dynamic variations between hard and soft, shifts between mangling and sensitivity and last but not least unexpected tempo changes. The song is eight and a half minute long. The first song on the flip side is "Rape of the Locks", which bears many similarities with classic Black Sabbath. Second to Toni Iommi, Tony Bourge was the riffmaster of early heavy metal. The next song is "All night petrol", which is rather tiresome. The next to last song is a short ballad "You and I", delevered in 1 minutes and 45 seconds. The album closing song is "Homicidal Suicidal", a compact song to say the least. "Homicidal suicidal / Big time loser, big time boozer / Live and learn, let it burn / All time winner, you're a sinner". Not any lyrics of Nobel Prize standards, but the lyrics served its purpose.

  

freudThe self-titled debut album received moderately positive reviews. It's hard to believe today, but in the 1970s a band could get an opportunity to grow and evolve through albums and find its true shape and form. Even the big record companies had a certain element of patience. However, Budgie was bent and shaped from the very beginning. There was no difficult second album syndrome (DSAS). Budgie began to work on their second album called Squawk (a loud, harsh or discordant noise made by a bird or a person). Rodger Bain got renewed trust as producer (co-producer is more correct). Budgie knew which song to place where. "Whiskey River" is a hard and driving opening song. The second song "Rockin Man" got the guitar riffs, plink-plonk basslines and drums in the right places. In the third and extremely Beatles-inspired song "Rolling Home Again" it's all too clear that this album isn't as focused as its predecessor. The fourth song "Make Me Happy" makes this fact even more clear. They were trying to combine different styles and made experiment. The order is restored in the next song "Hot As A Docker's Armpit", allegedly coined by Steve Marriott in another context. The song has the same song structure as many of Black Sabbath songs. The first song on the flip side is "Drugstore Woman". This bluesy song is as simple as a shoe sole. The song seamlessly goes over into the instrumental "Bottled". The next to last song on the album "Young Is A World" is one of the highlights. It begins as a meditative ballad and gets slightly harder. The song is a good example of the unexpected tempo changes. The closing song "Stranded" was inspired of a bass guitar riff from John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin). Squawk was recorded in two weeks in Rockfield Studios. The album isn't as doom-sounding as the debut album. It's more of heavy metal intermingled with acoustic interludes. However, the album meant that Budgie could reach a larger audience and begin to tour in UK and Europe. The album outshines the other MCA albums at one point, namely the album cover. It's the work of legendary artist Roger Dean.

      

freudThe third album "Never Turn Your Back On A Friend" is flawless. It veers more towards progressive rock than their previous two albums. Produced by Budgie and recorded at Rockfield Studios. Album cover by Roger Dean. The opening song "Breadfan" deals with the love of money (slang: bread) "Breadfan, open up your mind, open up your purse / Open up your bones, never, never gonna lose it." The song starts with one of best guitar riffs of early heavy metal. Speaking of unexpected tempo changes. In the middle of the song there's a melodic interlude which goes over into the initial riff. The next song is a cover of "Baby, Please Don't Go", a blues song popularized by Big Joe Williams in the 1930s. Budgie's claim to fame in covering this classic song is the rolling basslines, rhythmic drums, catchy guitar and Shelley's spectacular vocals. The third song is a beautiful ballad "You Know I Always Love You". The fourth song "You're The Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk" begins with a drum solo for nearly two minutes (it was the 1970s) before a guitar riff comes into play. This song has all the desirable attributes. It's gets even better in "In The Grip Of A Tyrefitter's Hand". This proves that Budgie were a class act and also give a glimpse of what might have been. The next to last song is "Riding My Nightmare", a ballad and the weakest song on the album. The closing song "Parents" still hits me with the same force after all these years. The music is mid-paced and acoustic. The lyrics are percipient. "When I was a little boy / They would say to me / Don't go in the world and play / It's bad company". A couple of verses later Shelley sings; "Wash your hands and up to bed / Mind your manners / Or you're dead / Mind the cars cos you've got school on Monday". Guitarist Tony Bourge makes his guitar sound like squeaking seagulls in the end of the song, maybe a nostalgic reference to the upbringing on the South Coast of Wales. Anyway, this is a groundbreaking album.      

  

muensterbergerThe fourth album "In For The Kill" is their masterwork. Actually, this was the first album of Budgie I heard (and taped). By this time drummer Ray Phillips had left the band and been replaced by Pete Boot. The album was produced by Budgie and recorded at Rockfield Studios and Lee Sound, Birmingham. Album cover by John Pasche Gull Graphics. The opening song "In For The Kill" is six and half minute of hard mangling with a thick bassline, a few but disctinct guitar riffs and effective drumming. The second song is "Crash Course In Brain Surgery". It was originally released in 1971 as a single. This is a catchy song with lyrics as weird as the title. The third song on the album is an acoustic song, "Wondering What Everyone Knows". For once, Burke Shelley lowered the pace and sang in clear and beautiful way. The result is flabbergasting. The fourth song is the suggestive "Zoom Club". Almost eight minutes of droning heavy metal. Tony Bourge brings out his hardest riffs and solos. Distortion, echo and reverb - all at once. The bass and drums are exquisite. "Come on everyone of you g.I's / You are the ones who can care / Speed on you wonderful dropouts / We'll break the walls of this room in". This grandiose song has stood the test of time. "In For The Kill" contains one of the best A-sides in early heavy metal. Time to flip side. The song "Hammer And Tongs" isn't a nod to Led Zeppelin's "Dazed And Confused", it's a deep bow. "Running From My Soul" is a straightforward rock'n' roll song and doesn't leave any mark in history. The closing song "Living On Your Own" is almost nine minutes long and wraps it all up. The song structure is, as I wrote above, similar to many of Black Sabbath's songs. This can't be a bad thing.

 

freudNothing lasts forever. Even the longest, the most glittering reign must come to an end someday. The downfall of Budgie began with their fifth and last album on MCA, "Bandolier" (a bandolier or a bandoleer is a pocketed belt for holding ammunition). The album was produced by Budgie and recorded at Rockfield Studios and Mayfair Studios, London. The album illustration was made by Patrick Woodroffe. Drummer Pete Boot had left the band and been replaced by Steve Williams. The albums opens, as always, with a very strong song "Breaking All The House Rules". But what happens next? The dreamy "Slipaway" is pure soul music and "Who Do You Want For Your Love" is a funky groove. The order is restored on the flip side in "I Can't See My Feelings". The fierce guitar riffs, bass lines and pounding drums (including cowbells) are all there. The following song is a cover of Andy Fairweather Low's "I Ain't No Mountain" from his 1974 album "Spider Jiving". The decision to include this song on the album is beyond the pale. Budgie ends the album in style with "Napoleon Bona-Part One" and "Napoleon Bona-Part Two". Very witty and amusing song titles. "Bandolier" marks the end of the band's golden age. Since "Bandolier" they have released six studio albums, four live albums and five compilation albums. Furthermore, they changed the lineup several times, disbanded and re-formed and are since 2010 on a long-term hiatus. All resuscitation attempts were in vain after "Bandolier".

The injustices in the music industry are numerous, extensive and outrageous. Budgie never became as big as ”the big three”; Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. On the other hand, it's only fair. Budgie didn't belong on the pedestal among "the big three", but they were better than most other contemporary bands (except maybe for Judas Priest). Budgie stood beside the road and saw themselves being overtaken by less talented bands. Despite talent, dedication and hard work Budgie only achieved moderate success. Why? Here are some hypotheses. They were too normal. No sex, drugs and rock'n roll mystique. Burke Shelley would fast from 3 PM before gigs and perform breathing exercises to keep his voice in shape. Tony Bourge sought musical purity and avoided to listen to other bands in case it would influence him. Ray Phillips, the first drummer, wanted to do more commercial things. No provocative religious themes or references. Budgie suffered from bad press and lacked strong management of Peter Grant-type (Led Zeppelin). Their record company MCA did nothing to promote them. At the same time, they were too abnormal. Quirky, humorous and playful lyrics, weird arrangements, banshee vocals, unexpected tempo changes and an unorthodox mix of hardness and softness. The critics mocked them, not many people liked them and "we few, we happy few" loved them. The most important reason for the lack of success was the absence of a hit. "Breadfan", "Crash Course In Brain Surgery" and "Zoom Club" came close. Close but no cigar.

 

freudI collect cds in general and gothic country cds in particular. Now, there I've said it. It's not easy coming out as a collector. People either tend to smile a little at that, pity you as a person or even associate collecting (good) with its ugly twin, hoarding (bad). In my opinion, collecting shouldn’t be easy. First, the difficulty level must be considerable. Else, why bother? Second, accept that your collection is not going to be complete. Hard to take in, but deep down you know that’s probably true. What are the driving forces behind collecting? There are almost as many psychological theories as there are collectors. Neurologist and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud thought he had the answer to why people collect. In short: we seek an object of desire. The desire, and the urge to collect, begins the moment you enter this world. Sigmund Freud was convinced that collecting emanates from unresolved toilet training conflict. The loss of bowel control was a traumatic experience, and the feces are disgusting and frightening to a child. Therefore the collector is trying to gain back bowel control as well as his own feces (obviously, too late). Object fixation is related to the anal-retentive stage in childhood (from age 18 months to three years). We are talking about the second and anal stage in his theory of psychosexual development. Another theory asserts that collecting could serve as protection against death by creating something that will live on after you are gone. Often you want to pass your collection over to the next generation. I told my kids that if (after my demise) I find my cd collection on Tradera (Swedish Ebay) I will come back and haunt them. They looked as if they were ready to take their chances. True collectors even try to keep their collections intact after their deaths, or memorialize them in other ways.

      

freudIn contrast, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung traced collecting to the way that pre-agricultural cultures survived by gathering food and storing it. The people who were persistent and industrious were more likely to survive harsh climate, hard times and other difficulties, letting them pass on their genes to future generations. People continue this behavior, despite the fact that they don’t need to gather or store food anymore. Accumulating is an evolutionary advantage, which creates a feeling of security. The collector takes gathering to a more intellectual level, seeking selected objects instead of simply gathering food and storing it. Close to Jung is the theory of mastery. In short: the world is large, hostile and beyond our control. The collector can create a smaller world, friendly and controllable. By acquiring, arranging and protecting items in a collection the owner will feel a sense of mastery and satisfaction. Mastery could also be achieved through certain knowledge. By exploring a tiny area you will become a big fish in a small pond. I count myself in here. Another related theory focus on collectors as consumers. The collector both rejects and embraces consumerism. On one hand, the collector rejects disposable products. On the other hand, the collector embraces consumerism by devoting time, money, and efforts to items of lasting value. We are defined by our possessions. The collector defines himself by the quality and value of his collection.

 

muensterbergerThe most influential person in collecting behavior is psychoanalyst and art historian Werner Muensterberger. His magnum opus ”Collecting: An Unruly Passion” (1994) is the most-quoted book on the psychology of collecting. Muensterberger viewed collecting as pathological. Collecting in his world is merely a compulsion or defect. The pathological collecting impulse begins when an infant is separated from his mother and realizes what it means to sometimes be alone. The infant substitutes this for a security object, blanket or teddy bear, which provides temporary comfort. As an adult, acquiring new objects also provides temporary relief from these feelings (anxiety, loneliness and uncertainty). The feeling of comfort fades and the collector must continue to add to the collection to avoid these negative feelings. A related theory focus on reliving your childhood. Collecting behavior peaks at a prepubertal age. The theory claims that collectors are born as children, reborn in middle age or retirement when they gain the time and disposable income. Adult collectors often buy the things they wish they had as children. Many people want to return to the things that enthralled them or gave them security in their youth. That’s why adult people pay top dollar and collect Star Wars-memorabilia (including box in mint condition), comic books, toys etc. The implicit presumption for this  theory is that you had a happy childhood.

Unresolved toilet training, preventing and accepting death, gathering and storing, mastery and control, pathology and compulsion or reliving your childhood. As I wrote, it's not easy coming out as a collector. There’s a lot process and digest. However, you don't need to be lost. There's a quote in "High Fidelity" by Nick Hornby where the protagonist's reflects upon his collecting. “Is it so wrong, wanting to be at home with your record collection? It’s not like collecting records is collecting stamps, or beermats, or antique thimbles. There’s a whole world in here, a nicer, dirtier, more violent, more peaceful, more colourful, sleazier, more dangerous, more loving world than the world I live in; there is history, and geography, and poetry, and countless other things I should have studied at school, including music." I'm not particularly interested of laying down on a psychoanalysts couch. Therefore, I embrace these liberating lines.

 

 

ratchetTime to stand up and be counted (or to be accounted for). I launched this website exactly four years ago. The first blog entry I posted had the fateful title "So it begins...". Three years ago I posted a one-year anniversary blog post with the expectantly title "So it continues..." in which I discussed the past, present and future for the site. Two years ago I posted a two-year anniversary blog post with the prosaic title "And so it goes on and on and on and on and on..." in which I did some merciless following up on ambitions and promises. One year ago I posted a three-year anniversary blog post with the patronizing title "The necessity of content gardening" in which I stated that a website, with proper content gardening, could live forever. Today I will focus on how organic growth of the website have created a ratchet effect.

Assessment

The content of the site has grown, but the growth rate has decreased. Here are some hard facts to back this up: since last year there are zero new articles, 7 new artists in the table, 5 new lists and 17 new blog entries. My modus operandi for adding new articles is that first I buy all the artists physical albums and then, and only then, I write the article. This isn't always a good working method when the catch of rare cds is close to zero. However, this coming year will be different (at least two new articles will be published). The number of new artists in the table is the same as last year. The number of new lists is only half of last years production, which probably only reflects the fact that it's getting harder and harder to come up with an idea of something to make a list of. There are definitely more blog posts this year. Not really sure why. Maybe it's a subliminal compensation for the other departments. Should I be worried about the growth rate? A decreasing growth rate is expected when the most of the important artists and bands are covered. No need to worry.

I found a really interesting paradox. The growth of new content is decreasing, while visitor statistics is increasing. How can that be? One should expect fewer visits when the site isn't updated with new content on regular basis. The answer is that the web indexing and the Google algorithms seems to be doing its thing. Don't ask me about the details, but there's a ratchet effect. A ratchet is a mechanical device that allows continuous linear or rotary motion in only one direction while preventing motion in the opposite direction (see picture above). There are ratchet effects in almost every scientific field which refer to escalations in factors that tend to self-perpetuate. In this particular case, the website has reached a certain critical level (ratchet) which creates a new dynamic which drives traffic to the website.  

Visitor statistics

Number of visitors and date: 10 000 (November 20, 2014), 20 000 (July 5, 2015), 30 000 (March 5, 2016), 40 000 (October 21, 2016), 50 000 (April 9, 2017), 60 000 (August 18, 2017) and 70 000 (January 9, 2018). Today, the visitor counter shows 73 857 visitors. This is far more than I could ever dream of. If this continues, the visitor counter will show 100 000 (!) or more this time next year and would be a real nice 5-year anniversary. We'll see what the future holds.  

The most visited pages on the site are:

1. Home (73 857)

2. Artists (9 983)

3. Sons of Perdition (7 753)

4. 10 essential gothic country albums (7 540)

5. Artists (7 155)

I consider no. 4 as a sign of that I'm influential and normative in the field. I have always dreamt of becoming the high priest of something.

Menu status

There are 62 articles published under the menu "Articles". The "Artists" department is a simple table overview, but one of the most visited pages. At the moment there 135 artists. There are links to the "Albums" department and, where applicable, a link to ”Articles”. The "Albums" department consists of plug-in product (Music Collection). The "Lists" department (artists, albums, songs and miscellaneous) contains 32 lists. The Miscellaneous department have only 9 links, but on the other hand a beautiful ivy stem. At the moment there are 99 blog entries. The "Contact" form works as it's supposed to.

Flaws

I take some pride in that the website is up and running twenty-four seven. I can proudly say that there's been no disruptions of any kind during the last year. I also take some proud in that everything is correct on the site. If you stumble over any obsolete or incorrect information or, even worse, dead links don't hesitate to contact me and I will fix it. 

Reflections

I recently got an e-mail from Daniel Parker, allegedly a digital marketing expert (DME). Mr. Parker wanted to help to attract more visitors and overturn my competitors. In Mr. Parkers auto-generated e-mail (with imposition of hands to pass the reCAPTCHA spam robot filter) there were remarks about low PR link building and lack of social media promotion on the site. Did I request any services? No, I didn't and here's why. First of all, a DME who has a simple gmail-address. Not very dignified. Second, a DME whose e-mail goes directly to the junk mail folder. Not very trustworthy. Third, a DME who don't have the basic skill to create spaces between auto-generated text. Not very impressing. But, all this is subordinate. What annoys me the most is the presumption of earning money from visitors and advertisers. The site is non-profit and free of advertisment. This is the way it has been and will always be.

Future

I will go on untiringly within the limits of family, work and other duties.

 

scac25 6bilderSlim Cessna’s Auto Club (SCAC) is definitely the most resistant, hardwearing and viable band in the gothic country genre. They have successfully defied all depressing survival rate statistics. SCAC celebrated the band's 25th (!) anniversary over three nights at Denver's Globe Hall on December 29, 30 and 31 2017. 25 years is an extreme life span in the genre. SCAC have somehow marched on. But, not without personnel turnover. Over twenty musicians have passed through the band since 1992. Musicians tend to go in and out of the band depending on their other commitments. This open door policy isn't very common in the genre, where leaving a band often is definite and irrevocable. This is a key factor in keeping the band alive and kicking. Another factor is the solid core. Since a couple of years back Slim Cessna (founder) and Munly Munly (Jay Munly) are the hub and creative force in SCAC. The current lineup, besides Cessna and Munly, consists of Lord Dwight Pentacost, Rebecca Vera, Ian O'Dougherty and Andrew Warner. With time SCAC have acquired a loyal, no to say fanatical, local fan base, the “Cessnuts”. SCAC is widely known for the rowdy live acts and regarded as the undoubtedly best live band in the genre. At live gigs they play the songs of their choice, with the arrangements of the day. After all the years on stage they have some experience to fall back on and dare to improvise. The distance from Stockholm to Denver (as the crow flies) is 7 845 km (4 875 miles). I wasn't in Denver to celebrate, but it must have been great. The bands Pale Sun and Wake The Bat opened the first night, DBUK consists to 80 percent of SCAC members) and Rotten Reputation opened the second night. The Breachers and Loretta Kill opened on New Years Night. 25 years is a long time. It's not over yet, SCAC. Live long and prosper!

  

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