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This section features humble opinion and commentary from this site's intrepid webmaster, blog watcher, designer, roadie, broadcaster, errand dude and late-night office cleaner

Rear-View Mirror: 2007
By M.C.  Posted January 6, 2008

Here's our look back at 2007: The year started off with news The Police would perform at the Grammy® Awards ceremony in February. We also caught word of the now released new studio album from none other than the Eagles. It was to be the west coast band's first album of new songs in 28 years since their infamous success streak back in the late seventies. In February, Apple the computer and software manufacturer reached an agreement with the Apple corps. music publishing company, bringing to an end many years of legal disputes over infringement of the "Apple" name and logo. The month of March brought us sad news in the suicidal death of Boston vocalist Brad Delp. In April, an office cleaner mistakenly sent several boxes of rare Beatles photos and negatives off to a hasty demise in a trash compactor. It matters little to us how the ensuing dispute between EMI and their cleaning contractor worked out. No amount of damages would ever bring those photos back. In April, a gala tribute was held in New York City to honor Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun who had died following a head injury. In May, Tex-Mex blues rockers ZZ Top canceled their upcoming European tour due to a tumor in bassist Dusty Hill's inner ear. June brought more legal action, this time between Motley Crue and Tommy Lee's manager. The band felt they got a raw deal when Lee's involvement with a TV reality show held him back from going on tour. Speaking of tours, by August, the reunion between Van Halen and original vocalist David Lee Roth was confirmed. Bassist Michael Anthony had parted ways with the band and was to be replaced in the tour lineup by Eddie Van Halen's teenage son, Wolfgang. In September, Phil Spector became a free man after murder charges against the 67 year old music producer were thrown out following a protracted impasse among jurors. In November, Ozzy Osbourne got his dander up regarding the use of his name as "bait" by North Dakota police in a criminal sting operation. Sadly that same month, Quiet Riot singer Kevin Dubrow was found dead in his Las Vegas home. Also, former Midnight Oil vocalist Peter Garret cemented his new political carrier with an appointment to the government cabinet post of Environment Minister in his native Australia. Finally, the year 2007 was capped off in grand style by the critically acclaimed December reunion performance of Led Zeppelin at the memorial fund-raising concert for Ahmet Ertegun at the O2 arena in London.

These events and others are more thoroughly documented in our Plugged In news and commentary.

The set list and some stats from the Led Zeppelin performance at the Ahmet Ertegun fundraiser held December 10, 2007 at the O2 arena in London
By M.C.  Posted December 13, 2007

Set list (16 songs):
Good Times Bad Times, Ramble On, Black Dog, In My Time of Dying, For Your Life, Trampled Underfoot, Nobody's Fault But Mine, No Quarter, Since I've Been Loving You, Dazed and Confused, Stairway to Heaven, The Song Remains the Same, Misty Mountain Hop, Kashmir

Encores (2 songs):
Whole Lotta Love, Rock and Roll

Duration :
2 hours, 10 minutes

Attendance :
aprox. 18,000. Tickets sold only via online lottery at 125 U.K. Pounds or aprox. $250.00 (U.S.)

Led Zeppelin :
Vocals - Robert Plant, (age) 59
Bass - John Paul Jones, 61
Guitar - Jimmy Page, 63
Drums - Jason Bonham, 41

U.S. Copyright Guns Aimed At Internet Radio
By M.C.  Posted March 7, 2007

There's simply no other logical way to summarize this. The U.S. recording industry with the virtual blessing of the Copyright Royalty Board (a supposedly "neutral" government agency) is on a dogged mission to destroy Internet Radio as you and I know it. The new royalty rate structure recently approved by the CRB basically stands as a rubber stamped approval of what a few quasi-monopolized mega-large record companies requested. The converse interests of thousands of Internet Radio broadcasters that will be adversely affected by the rates (to put it mildly) were virtually ignored by the board. These rates are very crucial for broadcasters, because they are set and payed on a per performance basis, which means every song played multiplied by every listener. Do the math and even a seemingly low figure like $.0019 per song performance can work out to an annual royalty tab of tens of thousands of dollars for small-audience broadcasters and billions of dollars in the case of the largest broadcasters. The Live365 stations affiliated with this site are a typical example of "small" broadcasts. Live365 as a whole would be considered a "large" broadcaster. This magnitude of financial burden is guaranteed to vastly alter, if not destroy most of the catalog-music oriented Internet Radio landscape within the U.S. Keep in mind that terrestrial broadcasters (AM and FM stations) have never been required to pay a cent in royalties because their participation has always been deemed as "promotional." The inference seems to be that if a listener hears a song she likes on her FM clock radio, she's going to rush down to a music store and purchase the CD, but if she hears the same song on Internet radio... well, she'll just do nothing or else illegally download the song from a sharing site! Even satellite radio's rates are lower than what Internet Radio is being asked to fork over, and that medium is universally modeled as a user-pay subscription-only service. If you enjoy listening to reasonably accessible Internet radio with a wide selection of stations to choose from, please take a look at and consider involving yourself with these on-line resources:
Save The Streams
Save Our Internet Radio
Keep Internet Radio Alive
These resource links were originally published in the Radio And Internet Newsletter.

A (Slightly) New Look
By M.C.  Posted February 22, 2007

While there's no guarantee that change simply for the sake of change is necessarily a good thing, I trust that in this case it was! I'm referring to the new page-top "mast" design you now see gracing the pages of The Rock'n'Roll Zone. I'll be the first to admit there were no compelling technical reasons to update the mast's logo and appearance, but from more of a creative design perspective, the time to do so had simply arrived. To be brutally honest, that "time" had really arrived at least two years ago, but other priorities kept us pushing it back onto the infamous back-burner heap of on-going projects. Now that the new look is live, we'd be glad to hear what you think of the relative change (in the case of previous visitors) or simply how it strikes you on a first impression basis. FYI, this is essentially "phase 1" of an on-going process. The next effort will be to upgrade the general standard of the HTML page coding. A lot of this stuff should be quite transparent to visitors - mostly under-the-hood tweaking, as it were.

Digital Rights ...and Wrongs
By M.C.  Posted January 16, 2007

Anyone who's been asleep for the last decade or so would no doubt be greeted by a few changes upon awakening. Among these changes, the way music is marketed and purchased would be way up front and center. Think about it. A decade ago the CD had finally completed it's long-predicted triumph over the arcane vinyl and tape formats of decades past. It seemed as if no single new format could possibly ever step in and deflect the CD off it's formidable path toward eternal format glory. Our newly awakened friend would further notice the once-triumphant music CD was ambushed by a motley proliferation of networked computers and hardware gizmos.

By now, most of us know what an Apple iPod is. Almost as likely, we own and use one! We have also witnessed how it's popularity (along with that of functionally similar music players from other manufacturers) has fueled a revolution in distributing music via network download (as opposed to physical media). No longer must songs be purchased as an "album" set, but individually - and at a very compelling price. For Apple's iTunes Music Store customers this price is a nifty 99 cents per song. I can remember going to the record store as a teen-ager and buying "top 40" 45 RPM vinyl records (for you present-day youngsters, those were the 7 inch records with the very large diameter hole in the center!) for a buck each - essentially the same price as Apple's downloads! Corny example? Perhaps, but I only mention it to preface a point I'm about to make. Namely, the old "45" - analog and low-tech as it is, would play on any "record player," as you'd well expect it to. In the case of an iTunes download, this is simply not the case! You didn't actually purchase the "music" anywhere nearly so much as purchase a disguised software program that "plays" the music albeit only under correct conditions! And what might those "correct" conditions be? You had better be attempting to play the song on either the same computer it was originally downloaded onto or else on an iPod player used in direct conjunction with that computer. Any other circumstance will very likely result in the software "wrapper" refusing to play the song. In music industry parlance, this scheme is known as "Digital Rights Management" or DRM. The term "rights" had originated as a reference to the copyright held by the music's artists and/or publishers. Unfortunately, the way the scheme works, there's somewhat more to it than that. Such as how Apple Music Store songs will only play back on Apple players and software. Apple of course, argues that without DRM "security," they would have never been able to reach an agreement with the rights owners (artists and labels) to sell music on-line. However, this argument flies in the face of the fact that some labels are proudly selling universally playable "un-managed" downloads in standard mp3 format. One of those labels is Nettwerk Records of Vancouver BC, whose CEO Terry McBride has voiced his opposition to the record industry's heavy-handed anti-consumer tactics on numerous occasions.

It stands to reason that Apple enjoys a competitive advantage from the use of their ironically dubbed FairPlay DRM. Essentially, anyone who wants to play downloaded music directly over their iPod has little choice but to purchase all their downloads exclusively from Apple's store. One way around this is to first burn "managed" downloaded tracks from multiple sources onto a blank CD in standard audio format and then "rip" the songs down to unencumbered mp3 files that will be playable on virtually all mp3 players - including iPods. Unfortunately for technical reasons, this procedure is all but guaranteed to extract a toll in audio quality - something that's already marginal at best in many music downloads. This can also prove costly and time consuming - especially when dealing a large music library, completely negating the hyped convenience factor of downloaded music. In conclusion, whoever's "rights" it is that Apple's digital rights management scheme empowers, they are in no way those of the paying music fan and consumer. And in our opinion, that's just plain wrong!

Rear-View Mirror: 2006
By M.C.  Posted January 5,2007

Briefly looking back over 2006: Neil Young was featured in a music performance movie - but please don't call it a "concert film!" Seventies band The Cars reformed, refueled and hit the road on tour as The New Cars. The legal battle between Apple Computer and Apple Records resurfaced. Keith Richards fell out of a tree. Paul McCartney and Heather Mills broke up. Four legendary Black Sabbath members reform in a new metal band. Details of the FBI's interest in John Lennon surfaced following a legal tug-of-war. Members of Procol Harum battled it out in court over their respective shares of music royalty income. Finally, musicians Billy Preston, Syd Barret and James Brown passed away, regrettably leaving our world a less musical place.

These events and others are more thoroughly documented in our Plugged In news and commentary.

For The Record...
By M.C.  Posted June 7,2007

So is this what it's come to after 50 years of rock'n'roll ???


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