Go To Sleep!

Ep 026 – ekshtended

gts026 “ekshtended”

01-01 Benny Goodman Orchestra – Sing, Sing, Sing (1938-01-16)
— The height of Gene Krupa, shortly afterwards the drummer quit Goodman’s band in a huff. The pianist wasn’t expecting to be called on for a solo, but he railed on it. People were talking about the show for weeks, musicologists still call it the greatest concert ever performed. Sociologists point to the broadcast as a factor knitting the whole country together before Pearl Harbor.

“Sing, Sing, Sing” was a 1936 song by Louis Prima. Majority of historians accept “Rocket ’88” (1951) as the first rock’n’roll song, but I have heard pundits say the honor belongs to this 1938 broadcast version. The reasoning is that it legitimized swing, introduced an inter-racial band, and such a sharp break of musical tradition lifted jazz to a par with classical and opera. Before the guitar took over, the saxophone was the dominant R’n’R instrument, and here it’s the core of the horn section. If this isn’t the first rock tune, then at least everyone agrees that it paved the way for rock and roll.

Lots of music pundits gloss over the fact that early rock’n’roll was targeted to a black audience and bubbled over to the mass market, while this version of “Sing, Sing, Sing” was a percolation of black music, aimed at a white audience. What I personally believe is just the facts, this concert sold a million albums less than a year before “Rocket ’88” was recorded.

I don’t know for sure, i wasn’t there, but here’s the legend and the lore as i was told the story…

So it’s 1938, January 16th, Carnegie Hall in New York. The Benny Goodman Orchestra is set to play and it’s going to be broadcast nationwide, so there’s a microphone right up front, middle of the stage. The cord from the mic goes to the house soundboard, and from there via dedicated wire a few blocks to the flagship station of the Columbia Broadcasting System, then piped out nationwide to the CBS network affiliates over long-distance telephone lines.

But, according to the legend, CBS was not taking any chances on a live broadcast, so they installed a second mic off to the side, the cord of which went out the stage door of Carnegie Hall (at ground level!), snaked along the sidewalks of New York City over to WCBS, and connected to a second acetate tape recorder, to be used in case the main feed went out.

Now fast forward a dozen years, and Columbia is getting ready to release the concert on the new LP 12″ record format. It was a smash, over a million copies, which was stunning in 1950. But at this point, an engineer discovers the second recording, the backup. Lightbulb moment, he realizes that he has two tapes from two separated microphones. That’s what stereo IS.

It would be years before stereo records came out, but, according to the lore, this engineer mixed a stereo version of the 1938 concert and it circulated underground for years. Decades.

So that’s what this is. Like i said, i wasn’t there so i can’t give you any guarantee. But this is “purported” to be the first stereo recording ever made, before stereo recordings existed. Harry James is on trumpet here, and that’s Gene Krupa on drums, this is why Krupa is said to be the greatest drummer who ever banged, John Bonham is his direct descendant. This was the last tune of the show, culminated the concert, and it brought down the house. Out in radioland, it exploded people’s heads.

01-02 Steppenwolf – in Gothenburg, Sweden 06 – The Pusher (1972-09-20)
— true example of the value of an extended version.

01-03 Blue Floyd – Wetlands Preserve 301 – Jammin’ With The Wizard of Oz (2000-01-31)
— you can try this at home, at the start of Wizard Of Oz, the MGM lion roars twice. On the second roar, start Dark Side Of The Moon and turn off the volume of the tv.

The coincidences are hilarious, like when Floyd sings “who knows which is which,” there are two of the Witches of Oz onscreen. The album is shorter than the movie, so you can start DSOM over again immediately and there are a few more coincidences. When DSOM ends, you can play Echoes off Pink Floyd’s album Meddle, and that’s a fine time too.

The arpeggios near the end of this monster 25-minute piece tidily presage the next tune.

01-04 Genesis – Selling England By The Pound 203-204 – The Cinema Show – Aisle Of Plenty (1973)
— the pinnacle of Steve Hackett, his towering compositions on next year’s Lamb Lies Down On Broadway are more technical, this is Hackett still organic. UK listeners in the dawn of the chain-supermarket era would catch the sly lyrics in Aisle Of Plenty: “there’s the safe way home, thankful for her fine fair discount, Tess cooperates.”

Fine Fare, Safeway, The Co-Op and Tesco were Britain’s early market chains.

02-01 Beatles – Take This Hammer (1969-01-31)
— once the jewel of any beatlegger’s collection, now released officially so the lustre has dulled. Just an example of the lads fooling about, but ends up being an iconic illustration of how cohesive they were and yet also beginning to spiral out of orbit.

02-02 Arabs In Aspic – Sydenes Magi 03 – Morket 3 (2017)
— opens as a gentle patting of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, and 20 minutes later you’re saying wait what the hell just happened? I’ve never been black-out drunk, but thanks to AIA can now understand it.

02-03 Crosswind – Live (Unknown Days) 07 – Ryuhyo (2007)
— fits right in here, with opening licks from the midriff of Pink Floyd’s “Time”.

02-04 Ave Rock – Ave Rock 02 – Viva Belgica (1974)
— nobody’s ever heard of this band. They’d clearly been listening to Yes, Genesis, King Crimson and ELP, yet come through with original ideas.