Eric Clapton & Friends – The Breeze (An Appreciation of JJ Cale)

Eric Clapton has often stated that JJ Cale is one of the single most important figures in rock history, a sentiment echoed by many of his fellow musicians. JJ Cale’s influence on Clapton and many of today’s artists cannot be understated. To honor JJ ‘s legacy, a year after his passing, Clapton gathered a group of like-minded friends and musicians for Eric Clapton & Friends – The Breeze (An Appreciation of JJ Cale). With performances by Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, John Mayer, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty, Derek Trucks and Don White, the album features 16 beloved JJ Cale songs and is named for the 1972 single “Call Me The Breeze.”

The Breeze, An Appreciation of JJ Cale is currently available for pre-order at Amazon.

1. Call Me The Breeze (Eric Clapton)
2. Rock And Roll Records (Eric Clapton & Tom Petty)
3. Someday (Mark Knopfler)
4. Lies (John Mayer & Eric Clapton)
5. Sensitive Kind (Don White)
6. Cajun Moon (Eric Clapton)
7. Magnolia (John Mayer)
8. I Got The Same Old Blues (Tom Petty & Eric Clapton)
9. Songbird (Willie Nelson & Eric Clapton)
10. Since You Said Goodbye (Eric Clapton)
11. I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me) (Don White & Eric Clapton)
12. The Old Man And Me (Tom Petty)
13. Train To Nowhere (Mark Knopfler, Don White & Eric Clapton)
14. Starbound (Willie Nelson)
15. Don’t Wait (Eric Clapton & John Mayer)
16. Crying Eyes (Eric Clapton & Christine Lakeland)

You may also pre-order and listen for Free for a limited time to the entire album on iTunes right here!

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2014, My Year for Digital Content

The number one reason I wanted an Apple iPad Air was for the ability to read my favorite music magazine, Uncut on the day of publication.

I am excited to report that I have achieved that New Years resolution starting with the Uncut Magazine February 2014 issue. Today, January 3rd, 2014 is the electronic publication date for the magazine. I am happily paging through my downloaded edition as I write this blog post. The digital magazine cost me $3.99. It only took a few seconds of transfer time via my Ethernet cable network/802.11ac wireless router for it to appear in the Apple Newsstand shelf.

What I really love is that I am snowbound here today with Winter Storm Hercules.

I didn’t have to get dressed, drive on the snowy streets or spend the gas to not find the new magazine.

The problem I previously encountered with Uncut Magazine were several. The delay lag between England and the magazine reaching the Barnes & Noble’s USA retail newsstand was significant. I typically had to wait anywhere from four to six weeks (or more) for the hard copy magazine. The delivery schedule was unpredictable with the print publication so there were times I went to Barnes & Noble and came back “empty-handed”.

The next issue was price. Uncut Magazine is an import publication so the newsstand price translated to $9.99 (versus $3.99 for digital) Granted you get a music CD each month with the hard copy edition but at least now I don’t have to “unglue” it from the cover 😉  I gave thought to ordering the digital magazine through Barnes & Noble online but they charge $5.99 an issue and force you to use the nook iPad application. (I am testing the applicability of iPad Reader Apps such as the nook, Readmill, amazon Kindle, Adobe Reader and Zinio for a future blog post…)

As a music enthusiast I depend upon Uncut Magazine as a resource for music information. Trust me Uncut Magazine delivers effectively with well written, researched, and coordinated articles. Today’s digital content medium ushers me into the year of digital content I have looked forward to embracing. I am an advocate of digital publishing and giving serious thought to redesigning how I will publish in 2014 and beyond.

Talk About, X-Box Music

I was acknowledged by Hypebot, one of several music news services I follow that X-Box Music and GraceNote have entered into a strategic alliance. GraceNote and The Echo Nest represent two of the biggest metadata solutions for cloud music.

It stands to reason that since Apple iTunes has at its core a GraceNote database, that Microsoft would follow suit with X-Box Music since it closely mimics iTunes for Windows users. X-Box Music also differentiates itself from iTunes in several distinct ways.

For example, X-Box Music is now available as a distributed cross-platform application. X-Box Music became available today for Apple iOS and Google Android. X-Box Music is also available as a Web application and as a Windows 8.1 Panel App. X-Box Music is highlighted on the X-Box One where you can take advantage of X-Box Smart Glass and the full-range Dolby® Digital N1 SurroundBar for maximum high performance audio.

You can free stream X-Box Music on the Web and Windows 8 for six months. I will resort to that option after I trial X-Box Music on my Apple iPhone 4s with the 30 day trial. This device option requires an X-Box Music Pass which translates into having to give Microsoft X-Box Music a charge card to hold your account reservation for the first 30 days. I will cancel on day 30 because I want to experience X-Box Music as a digital music service via AT&T 4G, but I’m not convinced to pay $9.99 a month.

pass

Initial X-Box Music testing has been fun and immediate. It’s not cumbersome and distant like I found the Google Play interface and navigation experience. I was a Zune Music user for three years before I switched to Spotify North America, on Day 1, July 14, 2011. Quite frankly I would have stayed with Zune Music if they didn’t have such a disruptive and unfriendly (rude) non-transition strategy. I was never offered a transition from Zune to X-Box Music. I was orphaned by Microsoft as a Zune Music customer. I resent their lack of acknowledgement and appreciation of my customer loyalty.

I have enjoyed Spotify these past three and a half years. I realize as a technology professional that no technology is permanent. Spotify faces competitive challenges from Google Play and X-Box Music. I don’t see iTunes Radio as a competitive challenge for Spotify nor do I see Pandora, Rdio, Amazon Player or any of the other cloud music also rans as much of a joint threat for Spotify.

I do however see significant challenges for Spotify from next years cloud music solutions Beats Music and Neil Young’s PONO. To be quite honest with you I am leaning heavily towards PONO due to its promise of 100% high-resolution audio. I suspect that X-Box Music is MP3 320kbs just like Spotify but keep in mind Beats Music is sight and audio unseen for me. I am not one of the exclusive few who is testing Beats Music.

I appreciate the Beats Audio music chassis and how intelligent curation will expand and shape my listening experience. I have a great deal of respect for Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre and Trent Reznor. I have yet to experience what the rest of the Beats Music team will bring us from the cloud.

Spotify is readying a December 11th New York City product and strategy announcement (supposedly it has something to do with a new feature that will allow users to pick specific tracks and listen to them on mobile devices for free?) I am eager to see if the 12/11 Spotify press conference will become a pre-emptive strike on Beats Music and You Tube Music (rumored but not formalized (announced) as of this writing) etc. Google Play should be integrated with YouTube Music if Google is smart, which they are 😉

So I continue to test X-Box Music with my ecosystem (iPhone, MacBook Pro (Web) and Windows 8.1 in VMware Fusion). I’d love to experience X-Box Music on X-Box One so I understand how that works and benefits listeners.

It will be an exciting time ahead for cloud music filled with new solutions, increased functionality and dimension from existing players and the anticipated fall-out in a crowded, competitive arena.

To the victors go the spoils!

I suspect that Beats Music will partner with GraceNote too. I’d love to be pleasantly surprised to see a Beats Music and The Echo Nest partnership. Beats Music open music architecture could make it real interesting cloud music battle.

 

“New” from Paul McCartney

I received an early morning e-mail communication from Top Spin Media (Top Spin Platform Direct to Fan Business) for Paul McCartney about his next album, New. I am constantly impressed with how Sir Paul leverages the latest technology with the power of the InterWeb to effectively communicate his music directly to his fans.

It is very reminiscent of the marketing campaign that David Bowie used to communicate and tell fans at a very early hour and radiate the news as the day progresses. David Bowie awakened the world to his new album in this way and it was a very effective means to build interest, listening and sales.

The Top Spin e-mail highlights in one fell swoop universal accessibility to Facebook, Google+,  Instagram, Soundcloud, Spotify, Twitter, and YouTube.

The link for Spotify does not yet feature the “New” single I imagine this may be due to the understanding with iTunes first, Spotify to follow (my guess here…)

You can pre-order New on iTunes here

Paul’s New album will include 12 new songs, which he worked on with new collaborators. I am hoping this recording will feature a couple more songs he has performed with Nirvana mates, David Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear. I am very interested to learn who else he collaborated with on New.

Photo: Mary McCartney

iTunes Festival 2013

The iTunes Festival 2013 will take place in London. It will also be a global Webcast live event every evening in the month of September via Apple streaming services.

The festival demonstrates the major bargaining power Apple has with artists, labels and venue.

In September, stream the shows—live or after the performances—for free with the official app on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, on your computer with iTunes, or on your big screen with Apple TV.

More information available here: http://www.itunes.com/festival

Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt

You had to understand once Pearl Jam announced their fall tour that a new studio album was imminent. Many times tours are designed to promote and support new album releases.

Starting today you can pre-order Pearl Jam’s Lightning Bolt at either Pearl Jam’s Web site (see link in image below) or at iTunes. The album will be fully released on October 15, 2013.

Pre-order the “Lighting Bolt” and get instant digital access to “Mind Your Manners” in your http://www.pearljam.com account.

Google Play Music All Access Is Version 1.0

Google announced and demonstrated Google Play Music All Access at the Google I/O Conference today. A logical phase in the evolution of the Google Cloud Music strategy.

I signed up for a 30 day “free” trial. If I decide to pay for a monthly subscription it will cost me $7.99 a month ($9.99 if I decide to buy later).

Google positions Google Play as a Version 1.0 cloud music store. Google Music released in May 2011 translates Google Play into two-year beta. The question you may be asking is what did Google do in two years with Google Play? My direct response is “parity” with the rest of the cloud music players Pandora, Rdio, iTunes and Amazon Cloud Player. I respect “parity” can be an enormous undertaking but this makes Google Play a follower not a leader in the crowded cloud music marketplace.

She’s Not There

Three “natural” technology competitive advantages Google failed to capitalize on with Google Play 1.0.

1) YouTube integration (limited to Share YouTube Video now). This is a trump card for Google, especially since Google announced a YouTube subscription model just recently.

2) Google+ integration. Social networking with Google Play should be a slam dunk. Google Play Hangouts as a listening party makes perfect sense.

3) Voice activated Google Play is missing. “Okay Google. Play me Three Dog Night’s Celebrate.”

Google Play as the “Spotify” killer greatly exaggerates the situation.

High on my list is to hear Google Play on an HTC Beats Audio so I can better discern Google Play’s sound on a smart phone.

That’s my first take on Google Play.

Jac Holzman,The Doors Digital Conceptualist

An enthusiastic music of our heartfelt thanks to Jac Holzman, Robin Hurely, Brandwidth U.K., and Warner Music Group for delivering to us music technology fans an intelligently designed, highly accessible multimedia app, The Doors Official App for the Apple iPad. Smartly priced at $4.99 it is half the price of a vinyl EP ($10) but a tremendous value as a content reservoir to immerse ourselves inside.

The Doors – The Doors App (Official Trailer)

Jac Holzman is the consummate music visionary who continues to shape our entertainment taste by effectively wielding technology for highest interpretation value. I love that he is excited about the fiber optic connection he has to Warner Music Group and the InterWeb. I continue to be influenced by Jac Holzman as he asserts himself as subject matter authority in digital music content usability.

It stands to reason that the first person to review the app on iTunes would be Bruce Botnick, The Doors audio engineer and record producer. He is the definitive source along with Jac Holzman to the band’s creative historic output. What better seal of approval existent (next to Ray, Robbie and John) is there to confirm the digital archive than Bruce’s role and responsibilities with The Doors.

The Definitive Doors – Five Stars

Beautifully laid out with great depth and sensitivity to the true history, the band and their music. It works extremely well on my iPad 1 with no crashes or gotcha’s. I highly recommend it to all present and future Doors fans.

Rod Stewart – Time

Rod Stewart was the first British Rock lead vocalist I ever saw in concert. I saw Rod Stewart as lead vocalist for The Jeff Beck Group on July 3, 1969. I remember he was quite the dandy. He was tall and strutted across the Fillmore East stage wearing a long white scarf. His voice was very commanding to match his stage presence.

So here we are later in time and I am writing about Rod Stewart’s soon to be released new album, Time (May 7th).

It’s interesting how much has changed in 44 years. I discovered Rod Stewart by accident actually as my goal that night at The Fillmore East was to see my favorite band at the time, Jethro Tull. I didn’t own a lick of Jeff Beck or Rod Stewart’s music before the show. I purchased Beck-Ola on the way to the Subway at The Gramophone.

Today I receive an e-mail from the Rod Stewart mailing list that informs me of the forthcoming album. I navigate with my Web browser to the Rod Stewart Official Website and I become informed about Time and its contents there. I also see that YouTube serves as the video preview point globally for Rod Stewart’s Time. Last but not least I don’t have to leave my easy chair to buy the recording because I can pre-order it  on iTunes or Amazon. Rod Stewart in Internet Time indeed.

 

Big Big Train – English Electric (Part Two)

The MusicOf Our Heart blog continues to beat with progressive rock music coursing through its veins 😉 Yesterday I featured Steven Wilson and today I have a new band (to my ears at least) to share with readers.

My friend and Santana brother Uwe Metze has been raving about Big Big Train.  They are an English progressive rock band I had never heard anything about until yesterday. I then saw the full page advertisement on the back cover of PROG Magazine (UK) for their new album that was released that same day in Europe, English Electric (Part Two).

The album is available on iTunes for purchase.

English Electric Part Two album cover