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Found 51 results

  1. Yep. Another album review. I've been waiting for this one to come out on CD since, well, since CDs first came out. Why some albums take forever to come out on CD is beyond me, but better late than never. In this case though, it's not just one album... but two! MF Horn 3 and MF Horn 4 & 5: Live at Jimmy's by Maynard Ferguson. This finally completes the CD release of all of his Columbia albums. Now, not all of the work he did while he was with Columbia was all that great. Some of it was very commercial. Some of it was laughable. And some of it, was unlistenable. But not so with these albums. MF Horn 3 is a great fusion of jazz and rock, and is one of his best albums of that era. In fact, unlike pretty much every other Columbia studio album Maynard recorded, there isn't a single track on here that I feel like skipping over when listening to it. The standout track is "Awright, Awright", which has what can only be described as a "funky groove" to it. (Bear in mind, I almost never use the term "funky groove".) There's some first-rate soloing on this album, and even Maynard playing around with a wah wah pedal on his trumpet solo in "Mother Fingers". MF Horn 3 also has the single best ballad that Maynard ever recorded, in my opinion: "Love Theme from The Valachi Papers". I've never seen the movie, so I don't know the context of the original song, but this version is exceptional, and Maynard manages to play a beautiful flugelhorn solo that, in all honesty, doesn't sound anything like the way he usually plays one. (For those unfamiliar with it, the flugelhorn has a much softer, mellower tone to it than the trumpet.) But as good as MF Horn 3 is, it's not the reason I bought this two CD set. It was for MF Horn 4 & 5: Live at Jimmy's. MF Horn 4 & 5 was a double live album recorded in 1973, and has been among my favorite albums since I first bought the LP many years ago. It's also been a fan favorite and a critically acclaimed album since its original release, which only deepens the mystery of why it took so long to get issued on CD. Moreover, is why Sony didn't release it themselves, and it took an independent company in the UK to finally make this happen. But the important thing is - the album is finally out on CD! While there are hints of Maynard's jazz/rock fusion here, the album is pretty much straight-ahead, high-powered, big band jazz at its best. There's some phenomenal soloing throughout (notably by Bruce Johnstone on baritone sax in "Got The Spirit", and Bob Summers and Maynard dueling with trumpets in "Fox Hunt"), and the excellent arrangements make the 12 piece band (plus Maynard) seem much larger than they are. Yet because of the compactness of the group, and their skill, the band is much tighter than a larger group could have been. It's a great combination of power, flexibility and speed. Just the right balance of instruments. Just the right mix of musicians. Maynard toured with groups like this for years, and his live concerts were always where the real music could be heard, even when some of his studio albums became mired in commercialism. There's been some criticism (more like whining, actually) on the message boards over at Maynard's website about some overdubbing being done on this album. I don't know if there was or not. It wouldn't surprise me (as "fixing" live albums was pretty common at the time), but it doesn't really matter. The end result is what counts. This is the album Maynard wanted to release, and is what represented his live shows at the time. It's well worth having, if you're a fan of jazz at all, or just really good music. Although if you live in the USA, you might want to wait until Amazon carries it. As for me, I couldn't wait. The only thing that could make this better is if there were more tracks still in the vault that could have been added to it. But two albums, and an hour and 42 minutes of great jazz is hard to beat! In fact, I'm giving this two disc set a 10/10. Beat that!
  2. Maynard Ferguson passed away yesterday at the age of 78. I won't try to recap his life or career. You can read all about that here. Maynard wasn't the reason I started playing trumpet originally, but he was certainly the spark that ignited my interest in playing jazz, and in fact, kicked off my love of jazz in the first place. He toured pretty much his entire life, right up until the end. I hope that I can find something that I love to do that much, and be able to leave something of it behind for other people to enjoy, too. Here's an astonishing clip of Maynard with Stan Kenton in 1950. (Note: this clip was pulled from YouTube... again.) One of Maynard in the 60's. Maynard wasn't a household name, but he inspired countless trumpet players, single-handedly expanded the range of trumpet music, and launched the careers of probably hundreds of musicians who played with him throughout the years. Recently he recorded a new studio album, and included some alumni from previous bands in the sessions. There's a nice write up and photos here. What a great way to go out. Surrounded by friends, doing what you love to do the most. There will never be another like him, and he will be sorely missed. But we'll always have his music to enjoy. Hopefully more of his recordings will see release on CD someday. When your career spans over 56 years, there's a lot to listen to. Bye Maynard.
  3. From the album: 2600

  4. Good morning all. I took a break from my other Intellivision development projects and tinkered with the IntyBASIC music program. I changed the music to a couple tunes from NES games. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. Enjoy. music.bas
  5. My brother just dug up this MIDI file that he made back in the 90s of the "Alternate Reality: The City" intro tune. Perhaps one of you RMT musicians can import it into RMT and do something really cool with it. http://www.rasterline.com/Alternate_Reality.mid My brother's name is Chris Jones, if you need to mention credit for the midi conversion. Have fun!
  6. Hey guys! I have a few questions involving Visual batariBasic. 1) How would I make gravity on player0 (the player/sprite1) and only on him? 2)In my game, the player has to avoid the playfield and land safely on player1 (landing pad/sprite2). How would I make it so when you land on it, you win? 3) The music making software doesn't work. How would I fix it? Thanks! RHillFake
  7. I used to have a music file for the TI that sounded almost EXACTLY like this .MOD file. I no longer have the TI file, but I was wondering, is there anyway to convert this 99.2K .MOD file into something the TI could use? https://www.wetransfer.com/downloads/246706f6295a173728860ffba0cd2f2020131017183400/311fe41d29628c0521d2f7c51e35884520131017183400/69ceca I'd love to get this ported over!
  8. No... I am not going to start off this blog post with "Hey, hey - it's The Monkees' 50th anniversary". Even though it is anyway. Fortunately, I'm not quite old enough to remember when they were originally on TV. But I am old enough to have started watching them in the mid-70's. Anyway, you can read all about that whole thing here. Go ahead... I'll wait. Caught up? Okay. So Rhino Records, the owner of the Monkees' properties since 1994, has a bunch of stuff planned this year for their anniversary. The one I was most looking forward to is the Blu-ray release of their TV series ( from the original films, and packed with bonus content, including their feature film, outtakes, and various TV appearances). I say "was", because I figured that would likely be the highlight of the year. I had no plans to go to any concerts, or plans to buy any T-shirts or such things, and there were only vague hints of other projects. Maybe a DVD release of their videos/TV specials from their reunions in the 80's and 90's. That sort of thing. Oh, and a new album. Hmmm... well. Wasn't sure what to make of that. When it was first announced several months ago, I figured only Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork would be involved, since they were the only two still actively touring (Davy Jones having passed away in 2012, and Michael Nesmith having gone back to doing other things, as he typically does). Also, at first, I wasn't really keen on the artwork either. It seemed... amateurish. Sloppy. But I'll get back to that. News gradually started trickling out that there was going to be an outside producer and some new songs written by people from bands with names such a "Death Cab For Cutie", "Weezer" (who I'd actually heard of - believe it or not), "XTC", "Fountains of Wayne" and some guys named Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller. Yeah, I know. I thought, "Why is the guy from Robocop writing songs?" too. Nope. That was Peter Weller. Turns out, the producer - Adam Schlesinger - is the guy who wrote the songs for the movie "That Thing You Do" where he pretty-much the vibe of early 60's pop. And he won some Grammys, Emmys, and was nominated for an Oscar, some Tonys and a Golden Globe. Well... can't win 'em all. Anyway, I wasn't sure how this was going to turn out, since it seemed like Rhino was returning to the formula of the first two Monkees' albums, where studio musicians would lay down all the tracks, and the two remaining Monkees would just go in and throw some vocals over 'em. Boom. Done. It looked like they might have minimal involvement, at best. And I wasn't sure about "music" written by a bunch of Gen-X slackers, either. (No, I'm not an ageist. Okay... yes I am. Punks. Some of 'em are barely in their 40's!) How would it stack up to the massive catalog of Monkees' work? By the way, when I mean massive, I mean massive. They were part of a music making machine that featured the likes of Neil Diamond, Harry Nilsson, Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Jeff Barry, and countless others, and they had their pick of songs to record (in addition to those that they wrote themselves). Besides their original run of nine albums (roughly 105 tracks, depending on how you count), there was enough leftover material for three "Missing Links" albums of rarities (almost 60 previously unreleased tracks), plus more additional bonus tracks and alternate takes on various CD reissues than I can count. It numbers in the hundreds. The amount of music they cranked out in around five years is impressive. More impressive, is how good most of it is. Now, when they got back together and did their reunion albums, it was with mixed results. They did three tracks in '86 for a Greatest Hits compilation ("Then and Now... The Best of The Monkees"), which were essentially produced for them, with their vocals laid down after the fact. Same with their album in '87 - "Pool It!", although Tork played guitar on the one track that he wrote. And for what it was - 80's pop - it wasn't bad. There are even a few good songs on there, but mostly it sounds pretty dated now. Plus, Nesmith wasn't part of either project, so the group had lost effectively 1/3 of its lead vocals. (I've been a big fan of Nez's solo work for almost as long as I've been a fan of The Monkees - so the gap he leaves in the group is particularly significant when he's not there.) In '96 the four of them got together and did an album entirely themselves - no outside producers, writers or musicians - called "Justus". The idea was to return to the era of their third album "Headquarters", where they played more as a band, rather than as a product of Screen Gems (although they still used outside writers and a producer to help with it). The problem with "Justus" though, was it really needed an outside producer to guide it. While Nesmith (who did the majority of work producing it) had done over a dozen excellent solo albums, the Monkees seemed to be struggling with trying to be relevant in a musical world they weren't familiar with or comfortable in. The reviews weren't kind (one referred to is as "old man grunge" - which, sad to say, is pretty accurate), and sales were even less kind. Monkees fans, while thrilled that all four of them had reunited, weren't all that enamored with the results either. After the opening U.K. leg of a reunion tour and a mediocre TV special, Nesmith backed out of the group again, stung by the critical response to the album and tour. So in 2016, twenty years after that, and four years after Jones had passed away - what was left? I wondered what kind of a fresh mess awaited the Monkee-faithful? As the release got closer though... some more news was leaked out. Besides the new songs, Rhino had found some unfinished tracks from the 60's by those same original songwriters mentioned above. They'd be recording new vocals for them, and one would feature a vocal originally recorded by Jones as a tribute to him. Okay... so we'd have some old and some new. I wondered how those would all mix together. But then, Nesmith got involved. Not just singing, but playing guitar, and writing a new song as well. And not just singing background, but lead on several songs. And Tork wrote a new song. And Dolenz wrote a new song. And they were all playing - to some degree - on most of the tracks as well. So... not a return to the first two albums - "The Monkees" and "More of The Monkees". Not "Pool It!" either. Not "Headquarters" or "Justus". But rather - their fourth album - "Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd.". Widely regarded as their best album - because it was a mix of them as a band with professional session musicians, and an outside producer working with them. The best of both worlds. Now, things were sounding promising. But, how would the album sound? Well, Rhino pre-released two of the new songs - " " and " ". I gave them a quick listen (despite my no-spoiler policy) and thought they sounded pretty good. They had a definite 60's pop vibe to them, without sounding too dated. But would the whole album be like that? One of the things I like about The Monkees' catalog is the sheer diversity of music. Remember - this is a time when the entire music industry was being up-ended by the likes of The Beatles, Dylan, The Stones, The Who, The Beach Boys (more to the point - Brian Wilson), the British invasion, Monterey Pop, Jimi Hendrix (and yes... he actually did open for The Monkees on tour), and everything that went into and was influenced by the culture of the mid-60's. The Monkees', and the songwriters they were drawing material from, were just as influenced by what was going on as everyone else in the music world. So while bubblegum pop had been the order of the day when the TV show started, their later albums were far more diverse - dipping into psychedelia, country, folk, acid rock, and exploring whatever genre happened to be of interest at any given time. So I was hoping that, while these were certainly nice enough pop songs, the entire album wouldn't be so narrowly focused. Then they released the third song - " ". It wasn't a pop ditty. It was an introspective, simple, melancholy track beautifully sung by Nesmith and Dolenz. It reminded me of some of the deep album cuts from the Monkees' later albums. A song they made because it was good and interesting. Not because it was commercial pop. It looked like they were on the right track with the album, finding the right balance. Someone, it seemed, understood The Monkees. Suddenly, I was looking forward to the album. So much so, that even though I pre-ordered the CD and it was due to arrive last Friday, I bought it on iTunes when it was released, because the mailroom at work was going to be closed Friday through Monday (Memorial Day weekend), meaning I would have to wait until Tuesday to listen to it. That just wouldn't do. So now, I own two copies. I'll get back to owning multiple copies of the album in a minute. So I listened to the album Friday. Then I listened to it again. And again. And each time, I found something else new that I liked about it. Dolenz's duet with the late Nilsson on a demo he'd recorded for them in '68 (the two were good friends). The new songs blended well with the old. Dolenz's voice was in excellent form - at times even sounding better than it had on either "Justus" or "Pool It!". The unique and almost magical blend between his and Nesmith's voice was there again. Nesmith's singing throughout are the best vocal performances he's turned in probably since his 1992 solo album "...Tropical Campfires...". Tork, who rarely sang lead back-in-the-day, turns in two great lead performances himself, especially a Goffin/King number dug up from the vaults (this despite a battle with cancer in 2009 that affected his voice). The lyrics, the humor, the harmonies, arrangements, song selection, and sequencing... all excellent. Seriously. (Okay - there are a couple of tracks that I would deem less-than-outstanding, but there's nothing skip-worthy here.) The variety is there, too. Somehow, amazingly, Schlesinger was able to pull all of these different songs together, from different times, different sources, different writers, and make a cohesive whole from them. Sure - the happy TV-pop music is certainly there. But there are quiet songs, rockers, psychedelia, Beatles-esque influences, and to be honest - at times I have to look at the track listings at times to figure out which songs were written in the 60's, and which are modern. Maybe what makes The Monkees what they are, is that they don't have "a" sound. They have several. Their voices are the constant, while the music changes around them. But it all fits together. This is the reunion album Monkees' fans have been waiting for. It's The Monkees brought into the present. Modern, but not trying to be something they're not. Classic, but not dated. It's... just right. Funny thing about that. People are apparently noticing. It's been the #1 CD on Amazon all weekend: It's also the #5 album on the pop charts on iTunes: Even more surprising, is that they're getting good reviews to go along with the sales. Besides holding an 89% five-star rating on Amazon, and a 95% five-star rating on iTunes, they're even getting good press from the likes of The New York Times and Rolling Stone. Wait... Rolling Stone?! Did hell freeze over, and I missed it? I'm pretty sure that would've been on the news. Even Nez is flabbergasted. No longer a punching bag for hipper-than-thou music critics, liking The Monkees is somehow acceptable now. I guess given enough time, even nostalgia becomes respectable. But in this case - it's nostalgia done right. Which takes me back to the artwork. While listening to the album, and seeing similar promotional artwork for it - I get it now. It's not supposed to be perfect, or tidy. It's a memory. A sketch out of time. And it fits the music perfectly. In the end - the real testament of the album is that I keep listening to it. I have yet to tire of it. It's great pop music, but it has depth. It's fun, but it has maturity. It doesn't feel like guys in their 70's trying to be guys in their 20's. It's three guys having, quite appropriately, Good Times! It has everything it should. The only thing truly missing from it, sadly, is that Davy Jones didn't live to be part of it. But he's still there. Never forgotten, and the album is dedicated to his memory. The only lingering question now is... will they do another? Part of me hopes yes, because this was so good. So welcomed. On the other hand - it would be a great one to go out on. Nothing wrong with ending on a high note. Good Times! gets a 9/10. Now then... the only reason it doesn't get a 10/10, is because of something that I hate about the music industry: exclusive bonus tracks. You see, the CD I ordered from Amazon has 13 tracks. The iTunes Deluxe version has two bonus tracks. F.Y.E. has an exclusive CD with a different bonus track. There's also a fourth bonus track that you can only get on vinyl from Barnes & Noble or on a Japanese import CD. I've already bought two versions... to get the rest of the music, I have to buy two more. I hate the music industry. But thanks for the album! Or rather, albums.
  9. This is part movie review, and part music review. Because it's a review of a movie about music. A few years ago, I'd heard there was a documentary in the works about The Wrecking Crew. I waited years for it to get released, as it was hung up in trying to get the rights for all of the music it contained. But finally, a successful Kickstarter campaign pushed it over the top, and last year it finally got released. This may not mean much to most people, since they don't know what The Wrecking Crew was. Well, that's largely the point of the documentary - to tell this amazing story. I knew of The Wrecking Crew because, as a fan of The Monkees, they were a prominent part of the history of the Monkees, and a critical part of their success. So... who were they? Simply put, they were the studio musicians that largely defined the sound of pop music of the 60's and early 70's. And by largely, I mean hugely. The Monkees were "outed" in a sense, for not having played the instruments on their first two albums. Well of course they didn't - those albums were essentially soundtracks for a TV show about a band. They weren't intended to be anything other than products. And when you're creating a product for mass consumption, you manufacture it. And the way pop records were manufactured in the 60's, was often by bringing in professional studio musicians to lay down the instrumental backing tracks. Thinking back a little bit - of course that makes sense. Especially for vocal groups. Someone had to lay down tracks for Sonny and Cher, or The Mamas and The Papas, or the Everly Brothers, right? There you go. But it went beyond that. It's pretty well known by now that Brian Wilson used studio musicians on a number of Beach Boys albums - notably Pet Sounds. Other groups did too. Why? Because time is money, and some of the bands of that era, while capable musically, weren't full-on professionals, hopping from recording gig to gig 12-16 hours a day, day after day. The Wrecking Crew could knock out backing tracks in a fraction of the time that a typical pop group could, and could do it to a much higher level. They didn't just play the music though. They helped create it. Often shaping it. Adding to it and improving it. Just how much came as a surprise to me the first time I watched The Wrecking Crew. I thought I knew a little about them... but I had no idea just how much they shaped the music of that era. I'd get chills as a musician would play a melody, riff or bass line from some classic song that they'd originally recorded back-in-the-day. Highlighted and brought to the surface, I began to see just how much they contributed to the music, and all without most people ever knowing it. One of the surprising things about that anonymity - is that they're all pretty okay with it. They got paid (and paid well) for their work. Each project was a job. They did it, and moved on to the next. In some cases, playing on number one hits, songs of the year, and doing so occasionally without even knowing who was going to come in later and lay down vocals over it, only later hearing their finished work on the radio when it was selling millions of records. It's all incredibly fascinating stuff. An amazing glimpse into the world of making records. The documentary was written and directed by Denny Tedesco - the son of the late, legendary guitarist Tommy Tedesco. Who? You've heard him play. You may not know it, but you've heard him. Ever hear MacArthur Park? Or Be My Baby? Good Vibrations? Viva Las Vegas? He played for The Beach Boys, Frank Zappa, Harry Nilsson, Elvis, Frank (and Nancy) Sinatra, Cher, The Mamas and The Papas, The Monkees, The Partridge Family... Oh, speaking of TV... ever watch M*A*S*H? Bonanza? Green Acres? The Twilight Zone? Remember the theme songs? Yeah, that guy. And he's played on countless other TV and movie soundtracks. Some speculate he may be the most recorded guitar player ever. Just on M*A*S*H reruns alone, he's probably had his work played more often than anyone. And he's just one of the amazing musicians profiled in this documentary. Sadly, many of them have passed away as this documentary was originally started back in 1995. But even though they didn't live long enough to see the completion of the documentary, we're still fortunate enough to get to hear them tell their incredible stories. I rented the documentary when it was first available on iTunes a year ago. Then I watched it again when it aired on AXS. And I watched it again the other night on Netflix. I think at this point, I might as well buy the Blu-ray. Since I know I'm going to watch it again. Plus I want to watch the bonus footage now, too. The Wrecking Crew gets my absolute highest recommendation. I even watched it once with my folks - and they loved it too, even though they weren't into 60's or 70's pop music. But they do love music, so they were completely fascinated by it. If you love music, you need to watch this film. It's on Netflix, or available to rent on Amazon Prime and iTunes. Or buy it on DVD or Blu-ray. And check out Rob Nichols' Wrecking Crew playlist on Spotify sometime. The Wrecking Crew gets a 10/10. Check it out.
  10. It's been awhile since I wrote reviews for Herb Alpert's music. But that doesn't mean he's stopped making it. Previously, I reviewed a pair of duet albums he did with his wife (here and here). Since then, Herb (still going strong at 81) has cranked out a new album every year for the past three years. 2013: Steppin' Out 2014: In The Mood 2015: Come Fly With Me I'm going to review these together because... well, they're all very similar. Which for Herb, is kind of an oddity. Even his Tijuana Brass work, which always had identifiable underlying style to it, evolved over the course of its thirteen year run. But his solo career which followed was constantly changing. Music has been a moving target for Herb, exploring different styles, genres, cultures, moods, instrumentation and arrangements. From melancholy and introspective to bright and cheerful, from disco to hip hop, Latin to orchestral, soft jazz to electronica, you'd be hard pressed to define him as a particular type of musician, other than "trumpet player". With Steppin' Out, In the Mood, and Come Fly With Me, the album titles themselves (taken from vintage songs) imply retrospection, and Herb does revisit many classic songs in the albums. From Irving Berlin to the Beatles, or from Duke Ellington to, well... Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass (reimagining his original hit - "The Lonely Bull", along with a few others). On the Sunny Side of the Street, Danny Boy, America The Beautiful, Ol' Man River, and a host of other familiar titles pepper the three albums. Herb has said he's drawn to classic, memorable melodies. A good song is a good song. But then he puts his own spin on them. There are new songs as well, so it's not all a trip down memory lane, except that even then, a lot of it feels oddly familiar. Where in previous solo efforts, Herb would usually stick to a particular style throughout a given album, many of the tracks on these albums feel like they're taken from another time - as if he were revisiting some of his earlier solo work stylistically. Some of this has to do with who he worked with on some of the tracks - Randy Badazz Alpert (his nephew) produced some of his work in the early 80's (notably ), and Jeff Lorber produced some of his more jazz-oriented work in the mid-90's. They have distinctive styles that reassert themselves in the tracks they arranged or produced on the three new albums. Other tracks have the orchestral feel of his album Under A Spanish Moon (The Lonely Bull, Europa - from Steppin' Out; Ol' Man River - from In The Mood), or the more haunting, melancholy feel of his first solo LP - Just You and Me (Oblivion - from Steppin' Out, Love Affair - from Come Fly With Me). Our Song (from Steppin' Out) sounds like it could have come off of his soft jazz album Midnight Sun. The tracks featuring his wife Lani Hall sound like they could have come from either of their two collaborative efforts. And there are other tracks which seem reminiscent of various other albums of his as well - although after a solo career spanning 40 years and over two-dozen albums, there's bound to be some familiar ground that gets covered from time to time. I suppose with Herb, since he's tried so many different things musically over the years, when he stays in one place for awhile, it seems kind of strange. Many artists make entire careers out of never moving from one spot. And that's not to say all of Herb's previous efforts have been completely to my liking - but I can always find some tracks on each album that I really like, that mark those albums as unique. Still, on these three albums, there are some tracks which defy attempts to neatly categorize. La Vie En Rose (from Steppin' Out) and Let It Be Me (from In The Mood) are almost completely stripped down to just Herb and some minimal accompaniment. Elsewhere, Herb samples one of his own Tijuana Brass songs (Summertime - from the album Summertime) as the hook for Don't Cry (from In The Mood), turning into a completely new track. Night Ride (from Come Fly With Me) is one of my favorite tracks, since it's a completely different style altogether (it actually reminds me a little of some of Michael Nesmith's Rays), and Herb does a slowed-down version of Take the "A" Train that Duke Ellington would be hard-pressed to recognize. Confused yet? Well, this may help explain why I haven't reviewed these albums until now. I just couldn't (and still can't) pin them down. It feels like I've got Herb's solo career on random shuffle when I listen to them. I'm not saying this to be critical of the music - all of which is very good. Some of it's excellent. Herb's playing sounds great, and his band is top-notch. There aren't really any skip-worthy tracks on the albums. The problem is more sequencing than anything. As they stand now, the albums feel largely disjointed. I think taking all of the tracks from the three albums (45 in total), and carefully reshuffling them, would probably result in three different, yet overall more cohesive albums. What lends consistency to it all is, first and foremost, Herb. His playing is the very definition of timelessness. Some trumpet players do not age well, and lose their chops. But Herb has never been one for what I call "trumpet heroics". He's not a high-powered, high-speed, high-note player. That was never his thing. He is completely comfortable with, and true to his own unique style of playing, and if anything, he's actually getting better at it. Miles Davis once said, "You hear three notes and you know it's Herb Alpert". He plays with great feeling and thought. Every note counts. The second thing which helps with consistency is the instrumentation. Apart from a few additional strings and sidemen, he's still using the same band he's been recording and touring with now for ten years. This is his most persistent line-up since his Tijuana Brass days. And the fact is - it's working for him. They are a tight-knit group, and they make great music. Taken as a whole, the albums make a solid, enjoyable collection of music. The problem is, taken as individual albums, they each lack a unique identity. Apart from Come Fly With Me, (which has the benefit of a self-titled track), I have a hard time remembering which tracks belong to which album. I'm listening to one of them as I type this, and I honestly couldn't tell you which album it is without looking. There aren't any tracks which really define any of the albums for me. Even for the music videos (see below) that he made to promote two of the albums - I still have to look to see which is from which. It's not that I don't enjoy the music... it's just that I wish each of the albums were more unique unto themselves. Herb (reportedly) has another new album coming out September 30th. I'm looking forward to it. I always welcome new albums from him. I know it will be good. But I'm hoping it will be great. Come Steppin' Out In The Mood And Fly With Me gets a 7/10.
  11. Ah yes! Fresh Maynard! Straight out of 1968... I first got into Maynard's stratospheric trumpet exploits back around 1981. Another trumpet player brought a tape (remember those?) of Birdland into high school, and I'd never heard anything like it. I was immediately hooked, and went out and started buying up whatever albums of his I could find. Initially I was drawn to more of the rock/jazz fusion work of his Columbia Records era ('69-'82) although that was certainly a mixed bag, notorious for such musical catastrophes as 'Theme From "Battlestar Galactica"' and 'Rocky II - Knockout'. Featuring a punching bag solo. By Sylvester Stallone. I am not making that up. But that's not this album. I'd also found some of his older work dating to the early 50's (the Mercury era) and the late 50's - early 60's (the Roulette era). Not much, but a few compilations and used records that I was able to find at the now-defunct and sorely-missed Bud's Jazz in downtown Seattle. I spent a lot of money down there. Somehow though, I never found Trumpet Rhapsody. My parents did. To this day, I don't know how or where they found it (I should ask, but I suspect they probably wouldn't remember), or how they knew that with all the albums I already had, that that one wasn't among them. More over, they managed to find one of Maynard's best albums, and at the time it was over a dozen years old, and it was absolutely mint. I still remember getting it (for Christmas I believe) and being floored by all of this. And they say parents just don't understand. Anyway... this is sort of an oddity in Maynard's career. After Mercury and Roulette, came a brief stint with Mainstream, and then, well... nothing. He drifted from label to label, disbanded his big band, and sort of dropped off the radar for awhile. This album was recorded in late 1967 in Germany with an all-German radio band (Rolf-Hans Müller's Südwestfunk Big Band, to be exact), and initially released just over there (gesturing in the general direction of Germany). However, when Maynard's popularity was on the rise again, the album eventually did see a stateside reissue, which is how I ended up with a copy over a dozen years later. And now, it's finally on CD! Something I never thought would happen. With the major label releases, pretty-much everything of Maynard's has seen release on CD. But there was no sight of this one. Until, that is, someone on the Maynard Ferguson message board tracked down the company that owned the rights to it, and wrote them a letter. Lo and behold, some six months later... it's on CD! It just goes to show, it never hurts to ask! Not that it's been that easy to get ahold of. I initially ordered it through Amazon (which took awhile, since initially it didn't even show up in their U.S. store). Then after it had been on order awhile, Amazon wrote saying, "Sorry. We can't get it right now. Do you want to cancel?" I wrote back, "No." Eventually, an Amazon partner store (Grooves, Inc., out of Switzerland) had it, so I ordered if from them. Then my original Amazon order shipped. So then I had to cancel the Grooves, Inc. order. But finally, today, it arrived. It sounds excellent, too. Even though my LP never sounded bad, having a CD freshly remastered from the original tapes is almost always preferable. The band is tight, and really swings. The soloists are exceptional (they have a couple of amazing sax players in there) and Maynard is about as good as I've ever heard him. I don't know how long they had to rehearse together, but if you didn't know this wasn't his regular band, you couldn't tell by listening. The reverb is a bit much at times, but maybe that's just an effect of where they were recording. Still, it doesn't detract from what is an absolutely excellent, first-rate big band jazz album. From the high-energy opener "It's Almost Like Being In Love" to Maynard's epic foray's in "Olé", to the driving, solo showcase of "Got The Spirit", the album shows off Maynard's versatility, tight ensemble work, a rock-solid rhythm section, and virtuoso soloing throughout. The only thing that's a shame, is that this is the only album Maynard ever recorded with these guys. But at least now, we have it on CD. The only negative I have about it (besides the difficulty in obtaining it) is that the original liner notes are printed in practically microscopic type (a result of simply scaling down the LP artwork to the size of a CD). But that's okay, because a) it's written in German anyway, and b) I still have the English liner notes on my original LP. Grab one if you can. 9.5/10 Track listing: It's Almost Like Being In Love Knarf Olé Dancing Nitely Tenderly Whisper Not Got The Spirit
  12. Herb Alpert and Lani Hall released their second jazz album a few weeks ago, entitled "I Feel You". Their first ("Anything Goes") was an excellent collection of mostly older standards, recorded live at a number of venues with a small and very talented combo. "I Feel You" is a mix of some older and some more contemporary standards, again recorded with the same group of musicians, but this time in the studio. While this results in perhaps a more polished album, it loses some of the spontaneity of the live performances. The album varies more in style and experimentation though, perhaps because they had more time to explore different musical ideas, rather than being locked into a set list night after night. The end result, while certainly very enjoyable and musically interesting, lacks some of the cohesiveness of the previous live album. Speaking of the music, Herb is in fine form again, as is Lani. She's sings in phonetic Portuguese again on a couple of tracks, and still has a remarkable voice, but there was no English translation of the lyrics included in the liner notes. The band is first-rate, but seem to be playing more of a background role than being as front-and-center as they were in the live performances. As for Herb - he simply doesn't seem to age. Some of his playing (most notably "There Will Never Be Another You") could have almost come right out of The Tijuana Brass era. Speaking of The Tijuana Brass, Herb revisits some of his old stomping ground with a nice update of "What Now My Love", as well as "A Taste Of Honey" (which is an iTunes-only bonus track). It's nice to hear some of those old familiar strains brought up to date, and he does a great job of retaining the familiarity of the songs without simply treading over old ground. (This is something Herb has done at other times over the years.) There are some really nice moments in "I Feel You" (notably the title track written by pianist Bill Cantos), and some that are less successful. Still it's great to have Herb and Lani still producing new music, pushing in new directions, and still touring (I really need to try and get out to see them this year). I'm a little irked at the iTunes bonus track nonsense. When I pay for a CD - I should be getting the whole album. I don't see bonus tracks as a "reward" for those buying from iTunes, I take it as punishment from the record companies who obviously couldn't care less about the customers who are paying to buy music in the format of their choice. Small wonder the music industry is collapsing. Nonetheless, "I Feel You" gets a 7.5/10 Track listing: Moondance Cast Your Fate To The Wind There Will Never Be Another You Fever Viola (Viola Fora De Moda) Something Cool What Now My Love Here Comes The Sun Blackbird Club Esquina (Clube De Esquina) Berimbau I Feel You Call Me 'Til There Was You A Taste of Honey (iTunes-only bonus extortion track)
  13. A few weeks back, "Weird Al" Yankovic released a couple of Blu-ray discs: Alpocalypse HD and "Weird Al" Yankovic Live! The Alpocalypse Tour. "Weird Al's" last live DVD was released in 2000. Doesn't seem all that long ago... Anyway... Alpocalypse HD is basically just the videos from his recent album, in HD. The only bonus material are three videos from his previous album (Straight Outta Lynwood) which were made too late to be included on that CD/DVD combo disc: White & Nerdy, Do I Creep You Out and Trapped In The Drive-Thru. The videos (which I reviewed along with the album) are pretty good, although a little hit-and-miss. It's his first time making videos for every single song on an album - most of them are animated, and most of those are animated pretty cheaply by the looks of them. But you can't really expect high-budget productions for that many songs. The lack of 5.1 mixes is disappointing. Because the album has been out awhile and all of the videos have been online at some point, there's really not much here to recommend. But if you haven't seen his videos yet, or are a completist "Weird Al" fan and want to make sure you have every single one of his videos, it might be worth the $17. Shown in part on Comedy Central, "Weird Al" Live! was recorded earlier this year, so it features his most recent concert tour and material. It's a mixed bag for me though, because while he puts on a good show, all of the interstitial clips shown during the actual concerts from his movie UHF or various episodes have been left out. During the show, these are used to bide time while costume changes are done backstage, so maybe that wouldn't work so well on home video, but it would have been nice to have the option to play them. The bigger issue I have is that there are songs during the show that are so heavily produced, they rely pretty heavily on pre-recorded backing tracks (instrumental and vocal). While most of the music is performed live, I really detest the idea of using pre-recorded anything during a live show. To me, it feels more like the kind of performance you'd get on a talk show, rather than a proper, live venue. The songs tend to lack vibrancy and spontaneity when they're over-produced like that. However, later in the concert, Al and the band start ripping through a medley of some of his older songs, with Al on accordion, and the show comes alive. Now generally, I also hate medleys. Play the whole song - or leave it out! But in this case, suddenly the wacky guy with the accordion is back. Not the big Grammy-winning music celebrity, but the guy who used to send in tapes to Dr. Demento. The band and Al absolutely shine during these moments, and I'd love to see a whole show where they stripped everything back, ditched the samples and backing tracks, and just played pure, LIVE music. Al has an amazing band when they're allowed to cut loose. The finale is especially excellent, and must be a tremendous amount of fun to see live (I haven't seen Al live since the mid-90's). Bonus material-wise, there are a few extra live songs which for some reason aren't included with the rest of the concert, but were clearly filmed at the same time. It would have been nice for them to have been played with the rest of the concert, but it's still great to have them. They're some of the best performances on the disc. There are also some of Al's YouTube videos in there, but nothing all that compelling. No behind-the-scenes stuff, which is too bad. I'd really like to see what goes on backstage to make one of his shows happen. You can, however, get some idea of that with this nifty time-lapse he posted on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cg28dtyRq3g While I liked the concert video overall, I just couldn't shake one thing that struck me as odd - his parodies of dead people. It was just a little... morbid watching him still making fun of Nirvana and Michael Jackson. Especially because his Nirvana parody was about Nirvana. So he's dressing up as Kurt Cobain, and running around imitating him, and it's a little creepy. Now this doesn't bother me watching Al's videos of those songs, because they were of their time. But maybe he should consider retiring those songs from his live shows. Even though they were big hits for him, and I don't particularly have any great admiration for Nirvana or Michael Jackson, it just seems kind of inappropriate now for a guy this far along in his career dragging out ghosts of people who died, by all accounts, tragic deaths. He's got enough other material to be able to move on. Anyway, that's a minor quibble, and maybe nobody else will take notice. It's a good show, and I think that it's worth getting the disc, especially if you've never seen him live, or hadn't bought the previous DVD (which I also recommend). Now then, speaking of making fun of dead people... I wanted to give shout-outs to a couple of other favorite parody artists. First up - Dread Zeppelin. All you really need to know is how they describe themselves: "Led Zeppelin inna Reggae Style". Well, maybe not all that you need to know. They're fronted by a Vegas-era Elvis impersonator named Tortelvis. Yeah. That's what I'm talkin' about. I first picked up one of their CDs in '96, when they released The Fun Sessions. While the band started out doing almost exclusively Led Zeppelin covers, The Fun Sessions was a collection of other rock classics done inna reggae style. With, of course, an Elvis impersonator singing lead. The Who, Lynyrd Skynrd, The Doors, Cream and others got the Dread Zep treatment, and it's all great fun to listen to. ("Freebird" may be my favorite track, just because some of its pomposity gets deflated a bit. ) Tortelvis is actually quite a good singer, too. The band is also really good. Weird, but good. They've released quite a few other albums, but I don't have them all. A little goes a long way. However, I'd recommend starting with Un-Led-Ed, since that was their first. Then 5,000,000*, Hot & Spicy Beanburger, and No Quarter Pounder. They're all fun to listen to, and have sort of their own weird little world they exist in. Pass me my water 'n' towels, Charlie. Thankyouverramuch. Lastly - Big Daddy. No, not that Big Daddy. And no, not that one, either. Big Daddy was a group in the early 90's that re-recorded newer rock hits in the style of 50's doo-wop. The first album I had by them was a complete re-recording of Sgt. Pepper's, as if it had been done 10 years earlier. It's really amazing. They nail the styles just right, and also manage to very cleverly juxtapose songs from the 50's with their 60's counterparts. For example, "Within You Without You" is done as beat poetry. Recently, I picked up Cutting Their Own Groove. This was a collection of 90's hits, done in 50's style. From Talking Heads to Madonna, Bruce Springsteen to Guns 'n' Roses - pretty much nothing escapes their musical re-imaginings. And again, the pairings are brilliant. Setting "Welcome to the Jungle" to the tune of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" made me laugh out loud. "Money For Nothing" was sent up to the tune of "16 Tons". Well worth tracking down this CD if you can find it. Sadly, some of their stuff never made it off vinyl, and CDs can be hard to find. Guess I'll have to do some more hunting.
  14. About a month before passing away last Summer, Maynard Ferguson recorded what turned out to be his last album. It's just been released, and is now available exclusively through Maynard's website (and iTunes). I was rather disappointed with his previous album, MF Horn VI: Live at Ronnie's. Of course, recording live albums is always hit-or-miss. However, since that album was recorded, Maynard had gotten into better shape physically, and his playing had improved dramatically, according to those fortunate enough to hear him in concert during the last year of his life. I missed my chance. Just about one year ago in fact, when he last played in L.A. Here's a piece of advice for you... if you're thinking of going to see a concert, and it seems a little inconvenient at the time... go anyway. You never know when it's going to be your last chance. The One and Only Maynard Ferguson (which is how he was introduced at his concerts) is an excellent album, and a fitting finale for such a long and storied career. It's some of Maynard's best playing in years, and the band he assembled for it (consisting of alumni and current touring band members) is first-rate. The band sounds fuller than with some of his recent albums (he'd been touring with a scaled-down big band since the early 90's), yet remains tight and focused during the ensemble sections. There's great soloing throughout, including some impressive work by Maynard. Not just his "usual" stratospheric stunt-work, either (which isn't just remarkable for someone who was 78 at the time - it's remarkable for any trumpet player), but also some really nice, laid-back ballad work, particularly in "Vita Bella", and the closing number "Darn That Dream". Besides several new tunes, there are some exceptional and innovative arrangements of standards such as "Besame Mucho", "The Days of Wine and Roses", and "Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone", which really point to Maynard's abilities to always find the most talented composers and arrangers to work with. Of course, I'm always going to be somewhat biased towards Maynard's music, but I'm delighted that this last album is so good. Maynard hasn't always put out top-notch work (in fact there are couple albums of his which are borderline unlistenable), but this shines as a thoroughly enjoyable big-band jazz album, that any fan of the genre can enjoy. The liner notes, written by members of the band, also serve as a nice tribute to "The Boss" (as Maynard was affectionately known). Between that and the photos taken during the recording session, you almost get the feeling of actually being there while listening to the CD. Clearly, a good time was had by all. In the dedication, written by his daughters, this line sums it all up: "For him it wasn't his last. It was going to be one of his best." 10/10. What else could I give it?
  15. There's nothing quite as cool as getting new music from one of your favorite artists. But maybe even cooler, is getting new old music from them. Stuff that, for one reason or another, was left in the vaults and never released. Such is the case with Maynard Ferguson - The Lost Tapes Volume One. This is a great collection of unreleased live recordings and demos from the late 60's - early 70's. Recorded by Maynard's manager at the time, Ernie Garside, these tapes - dozens of them - have been sitting in a trunk for the past 35-40 years. Now, some of them are being released on CD. Even though time hasn't been kind to the reel-to-reel tapes, and it's obvious none of these recordings were ever intended for commercial release, it's still a real treat to be able to hear them now. There's a raw power and energy with live music that studio recordings never seem to capture. The performances are vivid and exciting, with the musicians being able to explore and have fun in ways that wouldn't be practical in a studio setting. These were candid, one-off performances, and are presented warts and all. The best part is that a number of these songs were never released on an album, so the only way to have heard them before was in concert. For those around at the time, it's a trip down memory lane. For those of us who came into it later, it's a whole new voyage of discovery. In either case, it's a win-win situation. My only minor quibble, besides the degradation of the source tapes, is that in the liner notes (which are otherwise excellent, and full of rare photos) neglected to include the dates these were recorded. That's a pretty bizarre omission for a collection like this. Perhaps the best news though, is that this is "Volume One". There are many, many more recordings to come, provided Sleepy Night Records can sell enough of the first volume. At last report, they were within a mere 40 copies, so that's a very good sign indeed. A few audio clips are available on their website. If you're into jazz, this is well worth picking up. (Especially to get us closer to Volume Two!) Definitely have to give this one a 9/10. (Update: this album is now also available on iTunes.) Also, a 1970 TV special The World of Maynard Ferguson will be seeing a DVD release soon. There are on YouTube from it, but they're all of poor quality. The DVD version was dubbed from the original 16 mm film a few years ago, and is reportedly of excellent quality. * Yeah baby! Get in the groove!
  16. Well, a saw a sure sign today that iPods have indeed, become a cultural phenomenon. Yes, I'd heard there were iPod vending machines... but I didn't expect to see one... in my local grocery store. That's right, the Vons on Lyons avenue, in little old Newhall, California, has one of these: This isn't it, but it's the same basic machine. Except the one at Vons has nothing but iPods and iPod accessories. Here's the really weird thing about all of this... I actually bought something from it. I was planning to drive out to Best Buy tomorrow to pick up a power adapter for work, but then I saw this thing, and it had the adapter right there, same price that I would've paid at Best Buy or an Apple Store. So I bought it. Saved me a trip out to Best Buy, and I didn't have to deal with salespeople or checkout lines. So my question is this... what happens if you're buying an iPod, and it gets stuck in the machine like a candy bar? If the next guy comes along to buy an iPod, does he get two for the price of one? If you shake the machine hard enough, will it fall out? (Well, no... a robot arm picks the items off the shelves, but it's still fun to think about.) Pretty weird though. But hey... kudos to Apple for finding yet another way to increase its retail presence. I'm just trying to figure out how they're going to fit a Genius Bar in one of those things.
  17. Some months back, I wrote an entry about some upcoming albums that were coming up that I was planning to buy. I already reviewed one of the albums in the comments (Herb Alpert's Whipped Cream & Other Delights - Re-Whipped), but hadn't gotten to the other ones yet. One of them, "Weird Al's" new album, isn't finished yet. It's mostly finished, but apparently he has to go back into the studio for some reason (he mentioned something about silly record company politics on his site). Whenever it comes out, I'll be sure to get it and review it. However, he did release one new song (for free) on his website (4.5 MB MP3). I'm not keeping up with current music at all anymore, but I gather from various forum discussions it's a parody of something. Rumor has it, he couldn't work out a royalty arrangement with the original artist, so instead of just canning it, he released it for free. No royalties there. (Edit: the full story behind the new song is available here.) Anyway, here we go with the other two albums. Maynard Ferguson: MF Horn VI - Live at Ronnie's For those not in the know, Maynard is a trumpet player who became famous in jazz circles through his incredible playing in the upper register. A rather amazing clip of him at the age of 22 (with Stan Kenton) is available on YouTube (the video quality is pretty awful, but it is from 1950). Some 56 years later, at 78 years old, he's still touring the world, playing dozens of gigs every year. This album was recorded in London last year, and depending on which fan you listen to over at the forum on Maynard's official site, this is either the worst album MF ever recorded, or the best. I think it's somewhere in the middle. In an interview, the tour manager said, for unspecified reasons, that after listening to what they'd recorded, they figured they only had about 60% of an album. I'm not sure if this was due to technical issues, an off-night for the band, or just Maynard showing his age, but I'd say 60% is about right. Certainly, it's not one of Maynard's best. It fails to reach any spectacular heights that are the hallmarks of most of his albums. But it's still a pretty good jazz album. The band plays pretty well, although they sound a bit thin at times (particularly the lead trumpet - Patrick Hession). Some of the arrangements feel a little lifeless, but there's some good soloing to be found throughout (although it doesn't sound like the trombone player was ever in tune). Maynard mostly punctuates the songs with high notes here and there, and chimes in with relatively short melodic lines. His playing sounds pretty good at times, still hitting notes younger players would kill to be able to play, and at other times it seems rather sloppy, as if he was just plain tired. On a DVD shot a few years ago, Maynard was badly overweight, had trouble catching his breath, and seemed to tire rapidly. Reportedly, Maynard is in better health now (having lost some 50 pounds in recent months), and is playing better, too. It's just too bad this album wasn't recorded after that. Really though, for someone to play the way he does (and as often as he does) at 78 is remarkable. Reportedly a studio album is in the works this year, so I'm looking forward to that. While I prefer live albums for the most part over studio recordings, it does take out the risk of recording something on a bad night. As for MF Horn VI (yes - there are 5 previous MF Horn albums, all from the early 70's), it's got some good tracks on there (although most have appeared on previous albums), decent arrangements, and performances ranging from merely competent to rock-solid. I could have completely done without the "MF Hit Medley" though. This is an ever-changing collection of pieces of songs he recorded mostly in the 70's, at the height of his commercial success with Columbia Records. I don't care much for medleys, since you're just getting into one song when they switch over to another (often abruptly), and invariably there's some stuff in there that's just filler. I'd rather have less songs, but have them complete. A guest artist on this album is sax player/flutist Denis DiBlasio. While the MF faithful are always glad to see him on another album (he was a fixture with the band in the early 80's), he does entirely too much of his scat-singing shtick for my tastes. Admittedly, it's only one song, but given that it's an eleven minute song, it kills a good chunk of the album for me. Overall, I'd have to give this a 6/10. Michael Nesmith: Rays I gave a little background on Maynard, so fair is fair. Michael Nesmith (aka Nez) has several claims to fame. He invented MTV, won the first ever Grammy awarded for a video, his mom invented Liquid Paper, and... he was a Monkee. Although he started in music prior to getting hired for The Monkees, that 60's TV show was where he gained most of his fame. However, after leaving the group, Nez went off in a completely different musical direction than the slickly produced TV pop music most people are familiar with. Blending country and rock, he produced a string of critically acclaimed albums that are considered pioneering in that genre. After that, he went on to create more music that was uniquely his and largely defied classification, and was one of the pioneers (there's that word again) of music videos. Nez's latest album is an interesting project. In some ways it feels like his previous work, The Garden. It's mostly instrumental, with lots of synths and sequencers. And like The Garden, it's very programmatic music. But whereas The Garden was a book with a soundtrack (which was a follow-up to The Prison - one of my all-time favorite albums), Rays has no written narrative to support it, although from the cover and some of the lyrics, a journey of some sort is implied. Where the journey begins and ends is left up to the listener, although I've found it to be, as Nez suggests on his website, well-suited to just driving around, and letting the music work as a soundtrack to wherever you happen to be at the moment. While the music is well-produced, and often enjoyable, I really missed Nez's ability to craft brilliant lyrics. The Garden also suffers from this, but perhaps that's not quite a fair comparison, since this music is obviously meant to be different from other music he's written in the past. Judging it on its own merits then, it's a pretty good album. Whether someone who is not a fan of Nez's own self-defined (and undefinable) genre would like it or not is another question altogether. But that's what the song clips on his website are for - trying before buying. I'll give it a 7/10.
  18. Hi Folks, here's the Lynx Music & SFX I've made. Enjoy or Suffer, the choice is yours MUSIC Stereo Test http://www.atari-lynx.de/mp3s/Der_Luchs_-_Stereo_Test.mp3 Dubbing All The Way http://www.atari-lynx.de/mp3s/Der_Luchs_-_Dubbing_All_The_Way.mp3 Ab in die Kiste! http://www.atari-lynx.de/mp3s/Der_Luchs_-_Kiste_-_Song_1V2.mp3 Frogger Level 1 http://www.atari-lynx.de/mp3s/Der_Luchs_-_Frogger_Level_1.mp3 Frogger Level 2 http://www.atari-lynx.de/mp3s/Der_Luchs_-_Frogger_Level_2.mp3 RPG Fight http://www.atari-lynx.de/WyvernTales/Der_Luchs_-_Wyvern_Tales_-_Fight.mp3 RPG House http://www.atari-lynx.de/WyvernTales/Der_Luchs_-_Wyvern_Tales_-_House.mp3 Scrolling Shooter Level 1 http://www.atari-lynx.de/mp3s/Der_Luchs_-_Scrolling_Shooter_Level_1.mp3
  19. Hi everyone! My name is Yoda Zhang, formerly known as Kemal Ezcan, owner of KE-SOFT, maker of the German ZONG magazine for Atari 8-Bit computers, and author of lots of games (Zador, Techno Ninja, Drag, Sogon, Antquest, Donald, Brundles etc.) and music for lots of games including Atari's Karriere, Hotel, Atlantis and others. I'm writing this post to let everyone know that I'm still alive and still active in retro-style computing. I personally don't own an Atari 8-Bit computer anymore, but use the emulator quite often to play, review and research games and other stuff. Here's the projects I'm currently working on: yodasvideoarcade.com I'm developing new retro-style games as browser-playables. There's already more than 10 games online, some of which are remakes of my Atari games, like The Pit, Bomber Jack, Sogon etc. All the games are 8-Bit style. Play for free. For this project, I'm looking for some graphics artists and also level designers. I have a lot of new game-concepts under development. yodagames.de I'm also developing board games, including retro 8-bit pixel style board games like Goldrush. Anyone who like board games may have a look. yodaprint.de This is my printing-company, basically my main job. What's special about this? I can make game-boxes with full-color print, like the one I made for Goldrush. This means anyone who wants customized game-boxes for homebrew games, can have these made by me. Very high quality, like the ones we are used to see for board games. I think this should be interesting for 2600 developers. I can of course also print the instruction-booklet, put an inlay in the box, shrinkwrap it etc. kemalsatariarchiv.gmxhome.de This is my Atari 8-Bit archive. You'll find descriptions and some screenshots of every single game / product I've ever made for the Atari 8-Bit. Also there's descriptions of the German ZONG magazines. Another project, without a website yet, is a new Retro Gaming magazine - yes, a printed magazine. My focus here is on real 8-Bit systems, that means Atari 2600, Atari 8-Bit, plus (sorry) C-64, VIC-20 and also the gaming consoles like Vectrex, Intellivision etc. but only 8-Bit, so no Mega Drive, Playstation etc. Anyone interested in helping with this and/or getting a copy of the printed magazine when finished, please PM me for details. Feel free to ask me any type of question, about my Atari games/music or new games. I'm here to answer. Cheers, Yoda Zhang
  20. I finally got around to hooking my ST up to this old CASIO digital piano. The mount was made of scrap parts (brackets were from a rack mount network switch at the back, steel rod from a laser printer at the front), and slots in place of the music stand. It passed the cat stability tests too. MIDI cables are the high grade audiophile ones with ferrite beads (also known as ones that I soldered up from scrap DVI cables and cut down 8 pin DIN plugs).
  21. we will soon have a simple solution for Colecovision music/sfx Check this out!!! For infos will be posted by the author very soon Meanwhile, enjoy!! Songs are started with the joystick or fire button, sound effects with the number keys. There is a feedback line at the top to demonstrate you can keep track of the music, too. High priority sound effects will interrupt low priority sound effects, but not the other way around (they are pretty short, so it’s hard to hear this ). They also properly restore the playing music when they end. playerdemo.zip
  22. For any interested and/or can help... http://atariage.com/forums/topic/199637-work-in-progress-bentley-bear-crystal-quest/page__st__550?do=findComment&comment=2741903
  23. Hi! I have an Atari 800XL. First time user. I am having an issue. POKEY sounds are VERY distorted. They seem to be playing just fine, but certain sounds are badly distorted. I hear that the stereo POKEY mod helps the sound, but I want to keep this machine mono, as it would be worthless upgrading a US machine to Stereo. I soldered the RCA jack to from audio to audio out and ground to ground on the DIN monitor pins. using the internal amp keeps the issues, even connecting DIRECTLY to the POKEY gives distortion. Using a 0.75uF bipolar cap doesn't help at all. low or high volume on speakers, still distortion. adding various resistors, still distortion, but the audio is quieter. I've enclosed a recording of Szczur, by Grzegorz Kwiatek, as this song is the best example for what I am expiriencing. Thanks. (Please not that I am a beginner with the Atari 8-bit line) Atari Distortion.mp3
  24. I made a thread about this in the Atari 7800 forum, but I'm not sure how much overlap there is with that in this forum. So I thought I would make a thread that I'll keep updating with stuff I write on both forums. https://www.dropbox.com/s/e0kt2uihubvd3h9/dbASF.mp3?dl=0 https://www.dropbox.com/s/2xqr51wq3f8rivs/dbAS.bin?dl=0 https://www.dropbox.com/s/6z4bhlll8b8s1xw/float.mp3?dl=0 https://www.dropbox.com/s/7kec2h0q85fquwe/bigrace.mp3?dl=0
  25. So Rockstar recently releases a patch to remove a whole bunch of songs from GTAIV (great patch guys!) because the "liscences" had expired. That's funny, I thought it used to be if a song was in a game it was in a game....? https://www.polygon.com/2018/4/27/17292836/gta-4-soundtrack-removed-song-list-patch At any rate, i haven't fired up this game since the update and was wondering if I could simply turn off my Wifi when playing this game to avoid having the songs removed. This is one in a long list of reasons modern gaming annoys me. But the previous update was quite stable and the game is pretty complete at this point, so I see no need to do anymore updates to remove content. Has anyone thought about this attempted this yet?
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