Saturday, December 26, 2009

Heart's Magazine: The SPARTY 1024 LP

It was spring, 1977, I was just 18, and I was walking down 7th Avenue to Penn Station. It had been a rough week. Magazine, the long player that Mushroom Records had released without the cooperation of the group Heart, had been pulled off the shelves. No doubt, despite being their biggest fan, I wouldn't be seeing a copy of that LP any time soon.

As had been my wont when traversing this stretch of 7th Avenue, I stopped into a small record store I knew on the way to the train depot. (It might have been a J&R Music Annex on the west side maybe at 36th Street.) While nonchalantly browsing through the rock bin I happened upon the Heart divider, looked inside and was taken aback. There was a copy of Heart's Magazine.

But the cardboard used for the album jacket felt thin? And there was a little white sticker on the jacket back that was blank? And the jacket itself was unwrapped but placed in a plastic sleeve? After a moment of consternation, I realized it was different from what I was accustomed to in the United States - plus the jacket back mentioned something about London. I've since found out that 50,000 copies of Mushroom's original release of Magazine had been pressed for North America. Some of these were sold in stores, mostly in Los Angeles and Hollywood, Florida. But the album was also briefly released in Europe through Arista Records (under catalog identifier SPARTY 1024). What I had found was an imported copy of this European release - my first store-bought import. I refer to this LP as Magazine (The SPARTY 1024 LP) when it comes up in casual conversation.

Heart had a contract with Mushroom Records for two albums. Magazine was originally intended to follow-up their 1976 Mushroom debut Dreamboat Annie. The group began recording 5 songs that would have been part of this second album. Then, Shelly Siegel took out an ad in Rolling Stone to congratulate the respective successes of the group and his company. The ad showed a picture of Heart group members (and sisters) Ann and Nancy Wilson bare-shouldered with the suggestive caption, It was only our first time.

According to legend, after one live appearance when a reporter suggested that the sisters were sexual partners, Ann returned to her hotel room and wrote the lyrics to Barracuda to relieve her frustration. Thanks to Retrospace for the infamous ad. I searched this here internet for hours looking for a scan before coming across the blog.

None to pleased with this advertisement, Heart also felt that they had now proven themselves as hit-makers and expected Mushroom to act accordingly and raise their contracted royalty rate. To the surprise of the group and their producer, Mike Flicker, the label refused to pay more and decided not to release a second Heart album. Flicker ended his relationship with the label and Heart followed, believing they had no obligation to stay without their producer. They accepted a more lucrative offer from CBS Records (now Sony BMG) subsidiary, Portrait Records and began preparing Little Queen - seemingly breaching the contract with Mushroom.

Shelly Siegel though believed Mushroom had the legal right to release a second Heart album so he compiled the rough mixes of the 5 studio recordings (Devil Delight, the single Heartless, the Badfinger chestnut Without You, Magazine and Just the Wine), B-side Here Song and three live songs recorded in 1975 at the Aquarius Tavern and released the collection as Magazine. The back cover of the LP carries a disclaimer.

Mushroom Records regrets that a contractual dispute has made it necessary to complete this record without the cooperation or endorsement of the group Heart, who have expressly disclaimed artistic involvement in completing this record. We did not feel that a contractual dispute should prevent the public from hearing and enjoying these incredible tunes and recordings.

Unhappy with the demo-like-quality of the release, Heart took Mushroom to court to stop the sale of the album. The Seattle court ruled that Mushroom had to recall the album and unsold copies were reportedly destroyed. When the dust settled, the judge found in Mushroom's favor and required that Heart honor their contract and provide a second album. Heart chose to fulfill this obligation by working with the original Magazine tapes: remixing the songs, adding new lead vocals and editing. Reportedly, Mushroom employed a security guard to make sure that the group didn't try to erase the multitrack master tapes while in the studio.

The official revised version of the album was released with a different track sequence (and no disclaimer) in April 1978. Heart was never particularly happy with the album's sound but nevertheless it peaked at number 17 on the Billboard album chart and sold over a million copies. Heartless was a Top 40 hit. In the early 1980s Mushroom Records went out of business, and Heart's two albums for the label were purchased and re-issued by Capitol Records.

Which brings us back to the spring of 1977 and me holding the now rare long player Magazine, the SPARTY 1024 LP with disclaimer. I ran to the cash register, ran out of the store, ran to Penn Station, and ran up and down the aisles of the train as it chugged along past Merrick, Bellmore, Wantagh, Seaford and Massapequa to stop at Massapequa Park. I finally made it home and dropped the platter on the turntable. Those very tunes I heard that day are the very same ones I've now posted as Heart_Magazine_SPARTY_1024_Vinyl. Email me for the link to download this LP.

Track listing - 1977 Release

"Heartless" (Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson) – 5:00
"Without You" (Peter Ham, Tom Evans) – 4:44
"Just The Wine" (A. Wilson, N. Wilson) – 4:30
"Magazine" (A. Wilson, N. Wilson) – 6:55
"Here Song" (A. Wilson) – 1:35
"Devil Delight" (A. Wilson, N. Wilson) – 4:58
"Blues Medley" – 7:11 
(Mother Earth) (You Shook Me Babe)
(Peter Chapman, Lewis Simkin, Willie Dixon)
"I've Got The Music In Me" (Bias Boshell) – 6:01

Track listing - 1978 Release

"Heartless" (A. Wilson, N. Wilson) – 5:02
"Devil Delight" (A. Wilson, N. Wilson) – 5:00
"Just The Wine" (A. Wilson, N. Wilson) – 4:16
"Without You" (Ham, Evans) – 4:42
"Magazine" (A. Wilson, N. Wilson) – 6:22
"Here Song" (A. Wilson) – 1:34
"Mother Earth Blues" (Chapman, Simkin, Dixon)
– 5:59
"I've Got The Music In Me" (Boshell) – 6:18


Ann Wilson: vocals, guitar, keyboards, 
violin, flute
Nancy Wilson: vocals, guitar, piano
Michael DeRosier: drums
Roger Fisher: guitar, steel guitar
Steve Fossen: bass guitar, percussion
Howard Leese: guitar, keyboards, 
synthesizer, vocals

These files are uploaded for historical purposes only as part of the multimediacal musings of A Man And A Mouse. Please don't hurt me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

It Was the Wrong Item

I bought a USB 2.0 to IDE/SATA adapter cable the other day at MicroCenter, Santa Clara, CA. I took it home, opened my 13 years Mac G3 with its handy dandy side handle and plugged the cable into the internal hard drive - hoping to create access to the unknown but probably brilliant artifacts that might lie with on it.

I plugged in the power cord. I plugged in the 3.5" optical drive plug. The hard drive starts into whirring. But nothing miraculous appeared on my desktop. It was supposed to be so easy. Through further inspection there seemed to be a missing pin on the male side of the drive plug. Was that the reason the hard drive was not appearing? I don't know but whatever the reason, it was obviously not working.

So I brought the cable back to MicroCenter, pristinely repackaged in like new condition to avoid a 15% restocking fee (which would've pissed me off to no end). The customer service rep (as it stated on Kelsey's name tag) asked me what the matter was with the item.

Well, it was actually missing a pin from what my hard drive had so it didn't work for my purposes. It wasn't the right item for me.

Kelsey checked off Customer didn't want. I noticed another option, Wrong item, that seemed more in line with my situation.

Uh, Kelsey, I said it was not the right item. I would love this cable if it were, in fact, the right item for my purposes. But it is not. It is the wrong item.


Well, Customer didn't want makes it seem like I'm being belligerent or something. But I'm not. I just bought the wrong item.

Do you want it?


Here's your receipt. We've credited 17.46 back to your American Express.

Thank you.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Starbucks Green Tea Latte or an Onion Smoothie?

In Starbucks they have a Tea Latte listed on the menu. Flavors include black, green, and earl gray. What a great idea! Those are strong tasting teas worthy of some milk and foam with which to temper the dirty tasting properties. So I asked the Starbucks barista what was in a Green Tea Latte?

It turns out that my idea of a Green Tea Latte is quite different from Howard Schultz, director of research and development at Starbucks.

It's a green tea mix that we add syrup to.

Matcha (or 抹茶 as some parts of the world know it) is the mix Starbucks uses. It is REAL green tea in powder form. The Japanese tea ceremony centers on the preparation, serving, and drinking of matcha. Matcha is now also used to flavour and dye foods such as green tea ice cream and a variety of wagashi (Japanese candy). Unfortunately, Starbucks mixes the matcha it whips up in a small Japanese tea ceremony with sugar. And in the mix that is sent to its over 15,000 stores worldwide, there is more sugar than matcha. Then to further assault the senses (and the waistline), the barista adds melon syrup to the newly anointed Tazo Green Tea Latte. Now that's an ill-matched matcha.

I'll take a cappucino, thank you.

But from each experience we learn; so I will try something new and exciting in my morning cup of green tea. Maybe I'll add some rice milk (which I find sinfully refreshing). How about some orange juice - which I've heard is good for the over 50 male kidney. (Do you know what I mean?) Maybe I'll whip it, whip it first. Do da da da dah.

You shouldn't have to force down a drink that tastes like dirt just because it is good for you. And I shouldn't have to add a pound of sugar to my diet to get something refreshing. I have done worse though - imagine an onion smoothie. Onions are low in calories, fat and sodium, and a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium. I thought the blueberries I added would overpower the onions.

So try the matcha - just don't buy it at Starbucks.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Kitchen

I spent all day cleaning the house and the kitchen: doing the laundry, washing the dishes, wiping the counter, putting things away, cleaning the stove top, throwing out the garbage, recycling the recyclables - generally being green. Then I took this picture.

Man was I impressed.

I put the soda can down to take the picture. And the cycle begins again.