A few years passed and I decided that Cleveland wasn’t a bad place to live, but there were probably more interesting things going on elsewhere. I left my teaching position at an ill managed charter school and prepared to cross the country in a U-Haul. While we perceive our country to be vastly different in scope of the populous from town to town, really everywhere, people are the same. Surely, LA people probably dress better by and large than the average citizen of Anyplace, New Mexico, but they still need the same basic things: food, shelter, love and something to occupy their time. The only tangible difference in people across our enormous country is the backdrop upon which they seek these things. I choose to seek them in the Northwest.
“We started with mixed vinyl, which was just the leftovers,” begins Mauceri as he describes a few steps along the way. “Now, we’re investigating some other record pressing plants and new solutions that will make the actual record more green.”
While Mauceri wants “to be an example in the industry,” there’re still other avenues needing attention. Simply plotting out marketing strategies and distributing press materials employ reams of paper even for smaller imprints. There’s obviously been a shift towards digital servicing in regards to not just biographic material related to bands, but the music itself.
During an earlier part of the decade, Rykodisc and its unique packaging was easily spotted in record stores, independent and otherwise. Issuing work from the likes of Mission of Burma, Elvis Costello and Bootsy Collins ingratiated the label to scores of enthusiasts dedicated to all manner of genres. But with the further homogenization of the country’s taste as media became more easily disseminated, the imprint’s focus shifted.
Growing dissatisfied with not just the material Rykodisc was working with, but its wastefulness, Shipley quit his position as A&R manager and embarked on an excursion to found what would eventually become the Numero Group.
Some of Shipley’s tactics, though, don’t jive with the insular approach that some imprints are taking. He doesn’t find it a necessity to dwell on the green practices of his business. And with an increasing demand for vinyl and its more expansive materials, that comes as a surprise during a time that finds most folks strapped for cash and a great many business coming up short at the end of the month.
Surprisingly, the public demeanor of this women is virtually absent from her writing. And as the letter progresses, issues like unfair contracts are broached. That topic has long been under discussion, but probably most succinctly detailed by Steve Albini, front-man of Chicago based rock act Shellac and owner of a local recording studio called Electrical Audio, in his “The Problem with Music.”
For a time, folks were endeavoring to recreate scenes connected to the seventies, though. That made a bit more sense. There was still a lingering sense of optimism, but so many different genres of music expanded to include a broader range of influence, that perceiving the decade as a high water mark makes a great deal more sense. Of course, the seventies also included a great deal of warfare, material shortages and some problematic political maneuvering.
Anyone even remotely familiar with popular music from this period of American history can probably name acts like the Temptations, Smokey Robinson or Marvin Gaye. Each of those performers benefited from the Funk Brothers contributing to their individual, recorded output. These headliners or their descendents, while obviously not in charge of label contracts, garner around forty percent of the revenue currently being generated by their back catalogs. The Funk Brothers receive nothing. As a part of the musicians’ initial contract, each was paid at the time of the recording session. No provisions for further recompense was indicated. Twelve of the most important players in American popular music were left to fend for themselves and work multiple jobs while songs they’d played on made everyone else involved rich9.
Being born in the middle of the nineteenth century, folks might figure Satie for some sort of Romantic or staid classical composer. While the latter might be something we could all debate, Satie’s compositions were starkly in contrast to the major modes of classical composition then in vogue. He’s said to have influenced Debussy, but we can’t sit down and ask the guy, right?
Either way, Simply Saucer is drooled over by enough folks without needing the assistance of the New York rock cognoscenti. Whether all of the gleeful fawning is warranted or not remains to be seen. At best, it seems that Simply Saucer, regardless of presaging other scenes, was an uneven ensemble that wasn’t able to find too much of an audience out there in Ontario.
Mike Fellows gave the merger a shot a while back with good success. And his disc might well be the most endearing of the genre – for me at least. But at around the same time, a group from England began releasing long players after a spate of singles made it something of a popular ensemble in its home country.