Tag Archives: Classic Rock

Meet The Wanderlust (or Why I Fell For A Comeback Album From A Band I’d Missed Back In The Day)

One of the frustrating parts about being a musician, music fanatic/record collector and reviewer is becoming painfully aware of the absolute wealth of incredible music that is out there which doesn’t get mainstream attention it deserves. I actually have set up a subsection of my collection for not only “one hit wonders” but “no hit wonders.”  These are the groups who have put out recordings that never really realized their potential yet which I’ve grown attached to and have kept them in my collection. Some of these groups are still around in some form or another. Some have disappeared entirely. But the music lives on…

What are some of these bands,” you ask? Off the top of my head, let me count the ways that are not Big Star: Interview (from the late ‘70s/early ‘80s), The Glitterhouse (from 1968), Superdrag, The Grays, Idle Wilds and The Sugarplastic and Creeper Lagoon are some that come to mind from the 1990s or thereabouts. The list goes on.  So many great albums by fine bands. Should-have-been-hits that were here and gone in a flash. Some got on the radio. Some you heard about by word-of-mouth.  

Some of these artists persevered and put out other albums independently. Others imploded and went on to do other things with their lives. And every now and then, one of these groups magically reappear. Creeper Lagoon did just that several years back playing a fantastic reunion show here in San Francisco. 

One such group from the East Coast which I’d never heard of up until recently is Wanderlust.  They have reunited and have new album out that really implanted an earworm in me.   

From Philadelphia, in the ‘90s they’d apparently opened for The Who and released one critically acclaimed album on RCA called Prize. Yet, they were dropped from the label before they could finish their second album. Each of the key members seem to have gone on to great successes releasing solo albums, co-writing Grammy winning hits for other artists, opening for Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, touring as a member of Brian Wilson’s band and more. 

Called All A View, when I put on their new CD I wasn’t prepared for such a fully formed rich recording, especially from an indie release. Chockfull of great rock songwriting festooned with glistening power-pop-fringe, the album is infused with hooks and melodies for days. At times it feels like Badfinger channeling Squeeze with the muscle of Television. But then it feels like Big Star with the free-falling abandon of The Dukes of Stratosphear. At another turn suddenly the lights go out and you turn off your mind, relax and float downstream on a green tambourine with R.E.M., Matthew Sweet, The Grays, The Posies, Neil Young and Ireland’s Pugwash along for the ride. 

From the opening one-two-punch of the trippy title track followed by the ripping “Black Current Jam”  Wanderlust starts out strong. But then the album keeps giving. “Something Happens” feels like some lost Paul McCartney track from around the time of Flaming Pie (note: the band apparently got its name from the Macca tune of the same name from the Tug Of War album). By the time you get to the lovely and haunting “Two Million Pieces” you realize this album is a complete song-cycle meant to be listened to end to end.  “Trick Of The Light” feels like an wondrous outtake from Emitt Rhodes‘ tremendous comeback album several years ago by way of Seals & Crofts’ (“Summer Breeze”) as if played by The Grays (side note: I do wonder if the painterly album cover for Wanderlust is somehow an homage to The Grays’ album Ro Sham Bo?).

The great thing about a recording like All A View is that you can listen to it on the surface as just a fine fine song collection. Or, if you are like me and appreciate bands which have internalized their influences on such a sweet micro-level that it gets fun to play a game of “spot the influence.” 

But perhaps the best thing about an album like this is that in addition to it making me want to play the album over and over, it also makes me want to track down the band’s earlier albums (which I plan to do!).  

I was so impressed with this album I wrote back to their publicist about the possibility of hearing the vinyl version. Amazingly, not only did they send me a copy but it arrived super quickly (the postal service can still work!). I’m happy to report that the pressing is solid. The sturdy black vinyl is quiet and well centered. And the music which I suspect was made in some hybrid of digital and analog sources sounds very good overall. The low end and mid ranges in particular benefit from the playback on my system. Listening to All A View on LP, the soundstage is a more focused and three dimensional feeling than on the CD (and the compact disc sounds quite good as they go).

Songs like “Something Happens” benefit really well from the vinyl edition with the acoustic guitars popping beautifully and the little percussion touches and electric guitar flourishes standing out in the mix. “Two Million Pieces” sounds somehow even more haunting and intimate on LP than the CD if that is possible. Definitely worth getting the vinyl if you can.

It’s nice to be able to recommend both the LP and CD of a new independent released album. Wanderlust’s All A View is a winner.

Original Resource is Audiophile Review

Glassjaw’s Coloring Book EP Gets 10th Anniversary Vinyl Reissue and Comes to Streaming

Glassjaw have reissued their 2011 EP Coloring Book for its 10th anniversary. The record is available now on streaming services, along with a new video for an old song, “Gold,” which you can watch below. The EP is also coming back to vinyl, with a limited number of copies left over from the original …

Original Resource is Vinyl Records

Elliot Mazer, Legendary Producer/Engineer, Dead at 79

Producer Elliot Mazer in October, 1973.
Producer Elliot Mazer in October, 1973. Getty Images

New York, NY (February 10, 2021)—Legendary producer/engineer Elliot Mazer died of a heart attack in his San Francisco home on Sunday, February 7, 2021, after suffering from dementia in recent years, according to Rolling Stone. Mazer was a lifelong audio pro and inventor/entrepreneur whose interests—and their influential results—ranged well beyond the recording studio, though he remained best-known for his career-defining work with Neil Young, The Band and others. He was 79.

A producer/engineer for more than 50 years, Mazer worked with a broad cross-section of artists across a variety of genres, including Linda Ronstadt, Chubby Checker, The Dream Syndicate, Dead Kennedys, William Ackerman, Michael Hedges, Janis Joplin, Gordon Lightfoot, The Byrds, The Tubes, Y&T, David Soul, Bob Dylan, Juice Newton, Rufus Thomas, Maynard Ferguson and many more.

Born in New York City on September 5, 1941, Mazer was raised in nearby Teaneck, NJ, and got his first taste of the music business working in retail for the then-burgeoning Sam Goody record store chain. In 1962, he became acquainted with Bob Weinstock, a customer who also happened to be the founder of Prestige Records, and soon Weinstock offered the 21-year-old Mazer a runner position, tracking tapes and delivering music to radio stations. In the course of his work in Prestige’s tape library, Mazer discovered forgotten, unreleased John Coltrane tracks from a 1958 session at the famed Van Gelder Studio in Hackensack, NJ. In the intervening years, Coltrane had left the Prestige label and gone on to growing acclaim, so Mazer compiled the four tracks, which were released without the artist’s input, as the album Standard Coltrane. Soon after, the first producer credit of Elliot Mazer appeared on Dave Pike’s Bossa Nova Carnival.

Phil Spector, Producer/Murderer, Dead at 81

Throughout the early Sixties, Mazer worked with a variety of artists at Cameo-Parkway, from co-writing hits for Chubby Checker (“Hooka Tooka”) to recording the likes of Rufus Thomas and Maynard Ferguson, before moving on to work independently later in the decade. During that time, he hit the studio with the likes of Big Brother and the Holding Company, Gordon Lightfoot, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ian & Sylvia and others. His knack for recording live shows emerged during that era as well; throughout his career, Mazer would go on to capture seminal concerts by Bob Dylan, Michael Bloomfield, Lightfoot, Janis Joplin and Big Brother, It’s A Beautiful Day, Leonard Bernstein, Young and most notably, The Band’s iconic The Last Waltz.

Mazer moved to Nashville around the turn of the Seventies, where he quickly made a name for himself applying engineering techniques he had picked up recording different genres in New York City, thus offering something different from the region’s pros who had come up solely through country music. He established Quadrafonic Studios (a joke name, as it didn’t have quad capabilities), which in turn was put on the map when it became the musical birthplace of Neil Young’s landmark Harvest album.

Neil Young's Harvest
Neil Young’s Harvest, engineered and co-produced by Elliot Mazer.

The two met at a dinner party while Young was in town to appear on The Johnny Cash Show, and by the end of the evening, they’d arranged to track some songs the next day. Mazer called up some top session players—many of whom would go on to play with Young regularly through his career—and they went on to record the majority of the album at Quadrafonic. The resulting record, packed with classic rock radio staples like “Heart of Gold,” “Old Man” and “The Needle and the Damage Done,” became the biggest hit of Young’s career, going quadruple-platinum in the U.S. and becoming the top-selling album of 1972. Mazer and Young would collaborate on 10 more albums over the next 40 years.

Mazer produced and engineered throughout his career, going on to found another recording facility, His Master’s Wheels, in San Francisco, but his audio pursuits took him outside the confines of the studio as well. In the mid-Seventies, he co-developed the D-Zap, a simple device used by live sound pros to detect gear that wasn’t properly grounded, thus preventing artists and crew members from receiving dangerous, potentially fatal electric shocks.

In the late Seventies and early Eighties, Mazer was a consultant to Stanford University’s Computer Center for Research in Music and Acoustics—the team that built the first all-digital recording studio. While there, he also developed an interest in early AI technology, leading to his co-founding Artificial Intelligence Resources Inc. in the late ’80s to create AirCheck, an automated system for tracking songs’ radio airplay. Selling the company to Radio Computing Services in the Nineties, he continued AirCheck’s development through 2005. In 2011, Mazer joined the faculty of Elon University as a Visiting Distinguished Scholar in Music Technology, where he offered a series of master classes to students.

Mazer’s family has requested that all donations in his memory be given to the Recording Academy’s charity, MusiCares.

Original Resource is ProSoundNetwork.com