News in Review: Les Paul, Jim Dickinson, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan

First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2009, Volume 16, #9

Written by John Metzger

Tue September 8, 2009, 06:30 AM CDT

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Les Paul Lets His Last Chord Ring

Chet Atkins / Les Paul - Chester & Lester

On August 13, Les Paul passed away at a hospital in White Plains, New York. The 94-year-old inventor and guitarist had been battling pneumonia. A jazz musician who worked in Chicago during the 1930s, Paul not only developed one of the first solid-body electric guitars, but he also played an instrumental role in spurring the usage of multi-track recording techniques. Working his garage in 1948, he overlaid eight different guitar solos to create Lover (When Youíre Near Me). Itís safe to say that he had a profound influence on the music business, specifically the birth of rock ínĎ roll. In recent years, Paulís suffered from severe arthritis, which had a detrimental effect on his ability to play guitar. Even so, he routinely performed in the New York City area, and often he was accompanied by an array of special guests. Jimmy Page and Bruce Springsteen were among those who joined him on stage during these intimate performances.

Jim Dickinson - Dinosaurs Run in Circles

Jim Dickinsonís Final Fade-Out

In late summer, Jim Dickinson underwent triple bypass surgery, but it proved to be too little, too late to save his life. On August 15, at the age of 67, he passed away at Memphisí Methodist University Hospital, where he was being treated for an array of heart and intestinal ailments. Dickinson was an iconic figure who cut a wide swath through the music business. He played the role of an outsider. Yet, he also managed to touch the works of an array of artists, from the Rolling Stones to Aretha Franklin, from Bob Dylan to The Replacements, and from Ry Cooder to Big Star. He is survived by his wife Mary Lindsay Dickinson as well as his sons Luther and Cody Dickinson from the North Mississippi Allstars.

The Beatles - Abbey Road

Revisiting The Beatlesí Catalogue with a Twist

In the 1980s, once the CD era took hold, Capitol Records understandably made The Beatlesí entire catalogue available in the new format. Although it since has compiled an assortment of outtakes collections and other sundry boxed sets aimed at collectors, the label has resisted the urge to create digitally re-mastered versions of the efforts. Part of the reason may be that this is a rather daunting task to undertake, one which will face very close scrutiny from fans and critics alike. Two decades later, the initial slate of CDs containing The Beatlesí output still sound quite good, especially in comparison to the transfers of other artistsí endeavors that were made at the time. The million-dollar question, then, is whether or not the new versions of the outings, which will hit store shelves on September 9, will improve upon the products they are designed to replace. It bodes well that a team of engineers spent four years working on the project, meticulously trying to retain the ambience that The Beatles intended to create. Even so, a bit of revisionist history also is taking place: Please Please Me, With The Beatles, A Hard Dayís Night, and Beatles for Sale will be available as standalone entities only in stereo, meaning anyone who wants to hear them in mono ó the way everyone else did in the early 1960s ó will have to plunk down a considerable amount of money for an expansive boxed set.

Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland

Legacy Dusts off Hendrix Catalogue

Jimi Hendrixís entire catalogue is about to be relaunched. Working with Experience Hendrix L.L.C, Legacy Recordings is planning to issue expanded, deluxe editions of Hendrixís classic recordings Are You Experienced, Axis: Bold as Love, Electric Ladyland, and Band of Gypsies. In addition, Legacy is also taking steps to revisit the many compilations that were issued after Hendrixís death in 1970. In the process, his efforts will be made available digitally, and an assortment of previously unreleased archival recordings and concert films also will be unveiled.

Nirvana - Nevermind

Legendary Nirvana Concert Gets Official Release

On August 30, 1992, Nirvana performed at the longstanding Reading Festival in the U.K. Its blistering appearance quickly became one of the most widely discussed moments in the bandís history. Not only did Nirvana run through almost all of its then-new album Nevermind, but it also offered a glimpse at several tracks that later would find their way onto In Utero. The entirety of Nirvanaís set will be issued on November 3 as a CD/DVD deluxe collection as well as in standalone CD and DVD packages. A two-LP vinyl edition of Nirvana: Live at Reading will be released on November 17.

Michael Jackson Redux

Michael Jackson - Thriller

Itís official: On August 25, the coroner who examined the body of Michael Jackson made a preliminary ruling that the fallen pop idolís death was caused by medication he was taking to fight insomnia. Several weeks earlier, reports surfaced that indicated that Jackson had chosen to hire Dr. Conrad Murray because the physician was willing to provide him with powerful sedatives. The announcement by the Los Angeles coroner opens the door for the notion that Jacksonís personal physician could be charged with homicide. Although several memorial services were held in the past few weeks, Jackson wasnít buried until September 3. A private ceremony was held at Glendale Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

Meanwhile, plans for a three-city tour of Jackson-oriented memorabilia have been delayed indefinitely. Katherine Jackson, the singerís mother, questioned the legitimacy of the deal that was made between AEG Live and the Jackson estate.

Bob Dylan - Christmas in the Heart

Bob Dylan to Spread Christmas Joy

On October 13, Bob Dylan will issue Christmas in the Heart. Not only does the album follow closely on the heels of Together through Life, but it also is the 47th effort of his career. Recorded in Dylanís customarily rapid pace, the collection contains new renditions of classic holiday songs, such as Winter Wonderland, Here Comes Santa Claus, and Little Drummer Boy. It also likely will renew the vigorous debate among those who seem to care about Dylanís religious leanings. In a remarkably generous gesture, Dylan is planning to donate all of his U.S. royalties from the sale of the album to Feeding America, a not-for-profit organization that provides impoverished individuals and families with much-needed sustenance.

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