Kaplan's Korner

March 29, 2019

Zappa, Willapa and Christmas In April


AHMET ZAPPA’S SPEARheading of The Bizarre World of Frank Zappa hologram tour is the most important thing to happen in the Zappaverse in the last 25 years. I saw a preview of this journey. Holy Shit! It’s a full frontal assault. There will be new, and unheard Zappa compositions.

Our Harvey Kubernik cover story on Zappa Live In New York further details this historic multi-media expedition. As deejays said decades ago on the Los Angeles radio stations KFWB and KRLA about attending Doo-Wop, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll concerts at The legendary El Monte Legion Stadium, one of Zappa’s haunts, “Be there or be square.” So let us jointly celebrate. “We are the other people” as Zappa once proudly proclaimed.

CHARLIE CHRISTMAS AKA CHUCK Crisafulli is a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and author of eight books who in December 2018 made available his debut collection of recordings Weird Old Man.Song titles like “Secret Service Pig,” “Gone So Long” and “Put It Away (Sexual Misconduct Song)” are laced with humor, irony and a unique melodic sense. The musical influence of Frank Zappa is apparent. File under “Pleasantly Unsettling Sounds For Slightly Odd Listeners.”

It’s called the music business, so I encourage you to check out avid record collector, attorney and author Ben McLane’s just published Music Business in 10 Easy Lessons. It’s available for purchase on Amazon.

doors_kAND SPEAKING OF BOOKS, OUR native Angelino and Laurel Canyon music scholar Harvey Kubernik’s The Doors: Summer’s Gone has been nominated for the 2019 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research.

THE BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON trio Willapa has recently issued their debut album Willapa on Cave Hollywood Records produced by band member and bassist David Kessel. Well respected music scribe Lee Zimmerman in print just
praised them.

“Makes a sternly aggressive approach that mixes equal parts grunge with a determined hardcore imprint. It’s a somewhat intimidating sound, typical of the North western environs from which they hail. Sounding somewhat similar to Pearl Jam in particular, the band features singer Chad DeRoux affecting a grumble and growl that would likely lead Eddie Vedder to consider him a brother in arms. Turgid in its tone and assertive in execution, Willapa make a strong and solid initial impression, one sure to delight those who appreciate heavier grooves and solid set-ups. Melody and mayhem are interchangeable here, giving this self-titled effort the heft and gravitas clearly intended throughout. Look for them to be filling stadiums soon.”

Willapa’s David Kessel is the son of the legendary guitarist and jazz icon, Barney Kessel. Verve and Impulse Records, together with UMe, launched their series Vital Vinyl, reissues of essential jazz LP’s from the label’s influential catalogues. One title, Billie Holiday – Songs For Distingué Lovers from producer Norman Granz brings together Barney Kessel on guitar, Ben Webster on tenor sax and Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison on trumpet to back up Billie on this 1956 classic.

I’M ALSO SAD TO REPORT WE LOST some musicians in February and March of 2019. Drummer and Wrecking Crew member Hal Blaine, guitarist Dick Dale and photographer Guy Webster.

Hal_Blaine_in_2008Blaine was the backbeat on dozens of hit records over the last 60 years. Dale is the pioneering surf guitarist who had a musical and equipment influence on Seattle-based teenager James Marshall Hendrix, while Guy Webster snapped 210 album covers. Visit and have your mind blown by his LP covers and epic photo sessions.

I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO GET a review sample of the new Hana M Series MC Low Output cartridge. It has a nude microline stylus for smooth grooveriding, threaded headshell fittings which makes futsing with the cartridge much easier, and a bit more mass which makes headshell selection easier too. Oh, and it sounds great. Listening to the M Series it compares with the Ortofon Cadenza Blue. Not quite as complete sounding as the Ortofion, but in the same neighbourhood. Set up was easy. At first there wasn’t much of a sound stage but after a number of hours and quite suddenly it was there. I checked the azimuth of the stylus and out of the box it was too close to adjust. Again, super easy set-up, great sound, and real improvements. I can’t wait for the mono version!

AS THE ROLLING STONES EMBARK for a US tour in April and May, Keith Richards’ Talk Is Cheap 30th anniversary edition is out via BMG. This reissue also includes 6 bonus tracks, four of which feature pianist Johnnie Johnson including Eddie Taylor’s “Big Town Playboy,” “Blues Jam,” “Slim” and the kinetic Jimmy Reed cover “My Babe.”

honkIn mid-April Polydor/Interscope in North America will release a brand-new Rolling Stones Best of compilation album, Honk. The collection contains classic cuts from every Rolling Stones studio album from 1971-2016.

Like the Rolling Stones, we’re busy and preparing the next RCN issue due in May. Harvey Kubernik has penned two groovy stories on Queen and Al Green.


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