Friday, May 13, 2011
I used to work for this incredible old school record industry lifer, the kind of guy who was closer to a mob capo than an executive. There was no question he was involved in some dirty business, but he always walked away clean. His occasional stories about lawsuits in Texas and strongarming oldies stations used to leave me speechless in his office. He put out his first record when he was nineteen or twenty, the Soul Survivors “Expressway to Your Heart” and hasn’t strayed from the record business since.
He used to have this thing about sequencing LPs, he said you should put the best song first and the second best song last, and the rest didn’t really matter. He also said, playing live, you should reverse that, and save the best for last. Anyway, his energy was always so quietly menacing and untouchable that it didn’t even occur to me to contradict him, but even then I thought he was wrong. I always liked records that start a little slow and then rage for the last 2/3rds: Folk Roots New Routes, Purple Haze, Youth of America. What I like even better, though, is figuring out when artists use patterns. The best example of course is Metallica.