Eminem Overtakes George Straight As No. 2 Best Selling Male Artist Of All-Time

“Life is true to form; Records are made to be broken – Mark Spitz”

Eminem just passed George Strait as the No. 2 best selling male music artist of all-time. It took Eminem 18 years to achieve that feat. His total sales across all albums now sits at 44.91 million, overtaking country musician George Strait‘s 44.89 million to become the second-best-selling male artist. However, it is important to note that Strait’s career predates the inception of SoundScan data.

Garth Brooks is the top selling male artist having sold 69.52 million to date.

It’s fascinating to see a hip hop and rapper artist surpass a country legend. I wonder how long it will take Eminem to pass Garth Brooks and become No. 1.

Eminem is certain to add to the 44.91 million units sold as he is scheduled to appear on a Monster Tour with Rhianna for three stadium dates in Detroit, MI (Comerica Park), Pasadena, CA (Rose Bowl) and East Rutherford, NJ (MetLife Stadium) this August.

 

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Black Sabbath + Rick Rubin = 13 on June 11th!

The release date for the first Black Sabbath studio album with Ozzy Osbourne in 35 years is known. The album, titled 13 drops on June 11th, 2013. We are 90 days away from striking historic pay dirt. I love how true this feels within the music of our heart.

Witness Rick Rubin’s commitment as he talks about the goals of the recording.

“I’ve been a fan of Black Sabbath my whole life, and getting to come in to work everyday and hearing Black Sabbath play, it stimulates something in me just like when I was 14 years old,” Rubin says in the clip. “They just want what’s best, and we’re all sort of working together to find whatever works best for them.”

Neil Young Says Pono is Hawaiian for “Righteous”

I have loved Neil Young‘s book, Waging Heavy Peace where he writes extensively about what was then called “Puretone” his solution to save audio,  “Puretone”, has now become Pono, pronounced “Pohknow”, which is Hawaiian for “Righteous”. Neil Young has a home in Hawaii where much of Waging Heavy Peace was authored. Last night on David Letterman he showed a prototype of the Pono cloud music device. Imagine holding and hearing studio quality sound finally. I must have one!!!

When I finish Neil Young’s audio book I will offer a more extensive write-up on Neil Young’s “Righteous” solution. I was psyched to learn that Neil Young was working with the Sony Bob Dylan master tapes of Highway 61 Revisited and Freewheelin (with Bob Dylan’s full blessing) to make them Pono based. This is how Pono will succeed as the music artists want 100% high-resolution audio representation of their music heard not the 5% sound we get scrunched and distributed to us by MP3.

The most comprehensive article I have read yet about Pono from an industry analysis point of view was published yesterday by Rolling Stone Magazine. I urge you to read and process Patrick Flanary’s column entitled “Neil Young Expands Pono Digital-to-Analog Music Service”. Mr. Flanary wrote a thorough study of how much Neil Young and his Pono team are positively influencing RHCP‘s Flea/Anthony Kiedis, producer Rick Rubin, along with the Big Three record labels, Warner Music, Sony and Universal Music Group.

Neil Young is getting a lot of traction with Pono, deservedly so. I don’t agree with the perception that it is an Apple iTunes “Killer” as naive members of the press are reporting. That’s being written to get you to read content. After all Neil Young met and corresponded with Steve Jobs to discuss Pono and the audio music dilemma. I see a future partnership in the offering with Pono and Apple very much along the lines of cooperation Pono is achieving with the major labels. Can you say industry standard, I knew that you could 😉

It is pure speculation on my part coupled with intelligent guessing that Pono and Apple come together at some future music technology juncture. If I look at the throw down Apple needs to leap-frog or better HTC, HP and Beats by Dr. Dre, Pono could be that secret sauce for Apple. I found the one technology advancement that was missing from the iPhone 5, iTunes announcement was an improved music audio experience to match or better HTC/HP/Beats. Pono needs a device manufacturer, Apple distributes via iTunes the music of the industry. As Pono becomes the definitive, next level standard for music data files Apple must follow suit with a Pono story as will HTC for that matter. We could see iPono in the next generation iPhone/iPod, say it ain’t so Ed, hehehe (sorry Neil and Apple) couldn’t resist…

Now that’s what I call waging heavy peace alright ; Neil this note and more’s for you!

ZZ Top – La Futura

I’m getting that buzz that tells me there is real excitement a brew for ZZ Top rock music fans everywhere.

ZZ Top, that little ‘ol band from Texas, is releasing their next album, La Futura, on September 11, 2012. This will be their first new studio recording in nine years. The secret sauce of La Futura is the collaboration synergy with Rick Rubin and Billy Gibbons producing. Rick Rubin has such a midas touch in the studio.

I first heard ZZ Top as a college FM disk jockey at WNHU-FM 88.7 in West Haven, Ct. I was minoring in music at the University of New Haven in 1973. The radio station had a playlist and ZZ Top Tres Hombres was on heavy rotation that summer. “La Grange” was the track I played to death on my afternoon show as well as the song “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers“.

I sense that same level of enthusiasm escalating for La Futura. I listened to Texicali the prelude EP to La Futura today. I love the alliance between Rick Rubin and ZZ Top. I was hoping Rick Rubin would help ZZ Top unearth some extra sonic techniques. Rick Rubin has an incredible ear for musical risk and innovation. My ears were rewarded by some great stuff on that EP. Rick Rubin gets musicians to think outside the box, to further reinvent themselves.  The guitar technique on  “I Gotsta Get Paid,”  with that flipped completely around tremolo effect rocks you intently.

A lot of producers would have the drummer come in on Monday, then they’d call the bass player in on Tuesday, the guitar player would show up on Wednesday and maybe the singer on Thursday,” says ZZ Top guitar king Billy Gibbons. “When we got together with Rick Rubin, he said, ‘My idea of ZZ Top is three guys playing together at the same time with the red light turned on.’ That sounded just right to us.”

Howlin Rain – The Russian Wilds, Available on Valentine’s Day

I am always looking on the radar screen for new music that generates more than a blip on the screen. The radius of the signal strength emanating from Howlin Rain‘s third album, The Russians Wild is commanding my attention.

Part of this has rapt attention has to do with the midas touch of Rick Rubin. The Russians Wild will be released on Rubin’s American Recordings label. Rick Rubin is the producer of The Russians Wild.

I’ve been listening to The Russians Wild player on the Howlin Rain’s Facebook page. I especially like the sonics I am hearing. The sound is fresh, vibrant and exciting to the senses. The track  that garners my interest the most is the first single, “Phantom In The Valley”.  It is seasoned with intricate changes and segues that support your interest throughout. Check out the salsa coda on the end 😉

Their tour is coming close by my door, they are playing Cafe Nine in New Haven, Ct. on February 11th. Strongly considering this show 😉

Collaborative Genius, Crossing Musical Divides with Rick Rubin and Johnny Cash and others

Collaborate, (intransitive verb), to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor – Source: Merriam Webster.com

Rick Rubin stands out as a definitive collaborative force in the music industry. Take a look at his production discography listed by decade on wikipedia. You will be blown away by the sheer depth of his creative contributions. He has acquired seven Grammy Awards.

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One of my favorite collaborations Rick Rubin produced was the song “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C. in 1986. How he heard in his head the combination of Aerosmith’s licks with Run-D.M.C’s hip-hop, I’ll never know. I am thankful he pushed for that collaboration. The mix is total genius and never fails to move me when I hear it. The song is often credited as helping rap crossover into mainstream pop music. It was the first rap song to hit the Top 5 in Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

Switching gears and music genres, my thoughts turn next to the library of work by Johnny Cash. It seemed only fitting that an intersection of collaboration took place between Rick Rubin and Johnny Cash with the American Recordings series.

I first saw the results of Johnny Cash’s music collaborative prowess with Bob Dylan.

It was Johnny Cash who stood up for Bob Dylan when he was under attack by music critics and the public by introducing electric music at the Newport Folk Festival. Their collaboration took on momentum when they were recording at studios next to each other in Nashville, Tennessee.

This resulted in the Cash/Dylan duet “Girl From The North Country” that opens Dylan’s Nashville Skyline. 

File:NashvilleSkyline.jpg When Johnny Cash was given a TV variety show on ABC Television, he asked Bob Dylan to be his first musical guest on the show. The first Johnny Cash Show on June 17, 1969 turned out as a phenomenal promotional platform for Nashville Skyline as Dylan did “I Threw It All Away” and together they performed “Girl From the North Country”. The magnetic camaraderie between Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash came across that television screen with universal appeal.

© JIM MARSHALL PHOTOGRAPHY LLC, 1969

When Cash died on September 12, 2003, Rolling Stone magazine asked Dylan for a statement. In an essay called “Cash Is King,” Dylan wrote, “In plain terms, Johnny was and is the North Star; you could guide your ship by him—the greatest of the greats then and now… Truly he is what the land and country is all about, the heart and soul of it personified and what it means to be here; and he said it all in plain English. I think we can have recollections of him, but we can’t define him any more than we can define a fountain of truth, light and beauty.”

Before Johnny Cash left this life he did a series of collaborations with Rick Rubin. The recordings stand up distinctly. They further point out the insightful visionary zen that Rick Rubin has going for him. Johnny Cash took risks that delivered significant rewards on these recordings.

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