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Dennis Brown – Crown Prince of Reggae: Singles 1972-1985

As with most of us who are avid music listeners we tend to gravitate towards listening to different genre’s and styles at random and with no particular reason.  Perhaps we are working on a project in our garage, creating some artwork, washing the dishes, or simply looking for some auditory inspiration for cooking a great dish, music tends to help us create that zen for which we thirst.  I’ve got a rather large personal music collection on compact disc, vinyl, and digital media, so at times I randomly choose to re-listen to an artist of genre and find myself addicted for a few weeks on nothing more than just that artist or genre.

Reggae has been my recent lust, and it’s been a month long rekindling of my rediscovering just how much fun this genre is and how vast the assortment of artists can be.  I’ve been working on linoleum prints and illustrating a childrens book for the past year, Reggae has been a constant companion on keeping my motivated and creative.  Of course Bob Marley is a fun artist to listen to and is always a reliable Reggae sound, but other artists such as Horace Andy, Marcia Griffiths, King Tubby, and Dennis Brown have been far more interesting lately.

I’ve always held Dennis Brown as a special Reggae artist and always remembered listening to him in Boston when I was a college student at Boston University.  Emerson College had a radio show called “Rockers” which would play a culmination of well known and obscure Reggae artists; Dennis Brown was always on regular rotation.  Although Dennis Brown may not be a household name for the beginner or novice Reggae listener, he was a heavy hitter in the world of Reggae music recording an astounding 75 albums during his lifetime and career!

A friend recently hooked me up with the 40 song collection of singles he released from 1975 – 1985 called “Crown Prince of Reggae”; it’s a gem for any reggae fan.  Compared to the 3-disc set  released last year entitled “Reggae Royalty” which is more grainy and earthy in its production and sound quality. “Crown Prince of Reggae” is a collection with a more refined sound and a better variety of Brown’s songs.

Reggae is a fun genre to explore, rarely do you find albums you do not like.  For example, I was in a coffee shop in Chelsea (NYC) and heard the Barrington Levy song “Here I Come”, basically his most famous, but I decided to download the album and have not regretted the purchase.  Although reggae has not evolved much in it’s root beats and rhythms, and it really doesn’t have to,  it continues to survive in its own unique style and  genre appealing to new listeners generation after generation.

Dennis Brown is a cornerstone in reggae and should be a required part of any true reggae fans collection, almost every song he put out is amazing and timeless.  Do yourself a favor and pick this one up, or ANY collection of Dennis Brown’s!


Beware of Mr. Baker – Fucking Amazing!

beware-mr-bakerGinger Baker, you learn, craves privacy and his personality has morphed from being a crazy rock star, to just a mean old man who wants to be left alone to die. Living on his compound in South Africa, he appears to have intentionally wanted complete anonymity; yet allows this young reporter to live with him and ask revealing and personal questions, over and over, and over. The tension at times is incredibly palpable yet like the details of a violent crime, you are compelled to be curious and learn as much as you can, taking in every detail of this once legendary drummer.

The details of his life is a rollercoaster of excess and insanity, drug addiction, poor business decisions, and ruined relationships. Baker wants nothing to do with the music business, his past, or really his future. Ironically he has a drum set in his house that just sits idol, perhaps reminding him of a different time and life he once had control over, yet he rarely is able to play due to health issues that persist.

I like how the movie narrates his life with various animations that depict stages of his life (negative and positive) where major outside influences made significant impacts with regard to why he played, and how he played. You begin to develop a real sense of how influential Baker was in the music world.

As the movie progresses you learn he is suffering from serious health conditions, but he continues to be a heavy smoker despite the consequences. Baker seems content to just smoke cigarettes and be left alone waiting to die.

The movie is good and incredibly eye opening, but at the end of it all, you can’t get over how much of a grouch this guy really is and how he has lead his life to be so self-destructive..


PHISH – Live Bait Vol. 13 FREE!

lb13-cover-artYes, whether you like something or not, “Free” is always good right?  Once again Phish has released another free download of live performance goodies, and this one does not disappoint…again!  So far the band has released 12 prior volumes in the Live Bait series for the masses which is incredibly generous, however, free for a limited time.

This release is called “Baker’s Dozen Edition” due to the 13 night run they will be starting on July 21 at Madison Square Garden in NYC.  Usually before a summer tour the band has released a Live Bait in order to tempt the masses, and warmly received by us all who enjoy the band.

If you are unfamiliar with Phish and want to know what all the buzz is and why this band has survived for the past 25 years, these downloads are a great introduction to how talented these guys are and how much fun 3-hours of your life can actually be.  Don’t slight yourself and download this NOW!

You can access this download and the plethora of tons of past concerts (for a nominal fee) by going to



Elvis Costello Print – Dan Stiles

elvis_lgIf you’ve been following this blog you know that the halls of Hi-Fi Central are covered with limited edition music prints for the artist we most admire.  One of our favorite artists is this cat named Dan Stiles; his work is smart and hip.  His prints often sell out fast and are printed in a very limited run.

Dan recently released a print for an Elvis Costello show at The Paramount in Seattle, WA; this is a very righteous print and one that we really like.  It’s an edition run of 130 and only $30, WOW!

Check out this print and others just as cool by clicking here, and tell us what you think of his prints.


The Who 50th Anniversary British Tour Print – Release today 2/4/15

sperry-The-Who-50th-Anniversary-British-TourJust a quick post about a very cool print being released today at random by artist Chuck Sperry.  The print is a silkscreen, signed and numbered to an edition size of 260.  I suppose the price is available during the release.  You can learn more by clicking this link –


Bob Dylan and The Band – Basement Tapes Complete

Dylan_BasementThe 7 Modern Wonders of the World are as follows: Itaipu Dam, The Golden Gate Bridge, The Empire State Building, CN Tower, Panama Canal, Channel “Chunnel” Tunnel, and the Netherlands North Sea Protection Works, however, I feel there is now an 8th, the release of Bob Dylan and The Band’s Complete Basement Tapes, finally in their entirety!

I have been a die hard Dylan fan for years, and the legends and myths surrounding the legendary basement sessions is well known  among Dylan fans worldwide.  Although Dylan and The Band (his backing band during his initial going “electric” and the primary musicians on the Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde albums were known as “The Hawks”) released a snippet of these recordings in 1975 as an actual album, the 24-songs released were a mere “crumb” of the actual 130+ songs  recorded between 1967 and 1968, now available in the 6-cd set just released this past November.

I’ve only delved into 3 of the 6-disc set and so far it’s been very impressive; you hear a mature Dylan jamming with a group of musicians, often free form, making up lyrics on the fly, and sometimes just re-working some of his own songs, and those of others, such as Johnny Cash (Big River and Folsom Prison Blues) in a relaxed atmosphere of artistic freedom and exploration.  Absent are the artistic pressures of multiple takes in order to “get it right”, instead the mood is melancholy and silly at times, as heard in “See You Later Allen Ginsberg”. The majority of the recordings were made in the basement of Big Pink, a house in West Saugerties, NY that was rented by members of the band, thus the recordings allow the listener a raw and unadulterated room full of musicians doing what they love.  The music allows you, even briefly, into the world of Dylan’s writing and creative spirit, and also the talents of his peers who roll with the every changing tempo and mood that Dylan wanted at a moments notice.

Although it may sound outlandish to say, I really love every track on what I have heard thus far; it would not be an exaggeration to say so.  The Basement Tapes are a fun collection of music that allows the listener just another glimpse into the mystery of Dylan as an artist.  There has always been a shroud of mystery with Dylan; it is well known that he is a recluse, often avoiding the limelight and media a majority of his career; although it is gems like this whereas one feels that Bob is toying with his fans; giving them just one more taste of what they crave, more mystery, more unheard of tracks lying around in a moldy box awaiting to be discovered 40 years later.   And that is what the Bootleg Series has been about, about: Dylan not allowing the fan to truly know who he is, not willing to open up entirely, but yet giving hints here and there and keeping the fans enthralled.  Dylan is not quoted in any of the liner notes, and from what I believe, has not provided any interviews regarding the release of the official bootleg series; so on one hand he is exposing the essence of his inspiration and creative genius, and on the other hand hiding behind the curtain that he always has.  The release of The Basement Tapes Complete is the 11th volume of the Bootleg Series that Columbia Records has made available thus far; so who knows how much more is out there?

I recall many years ago while visiting a long forgotten record shop in Saratoga Springs, NY, right down from Café Lena (a folk mecca where a young Dylan spent a great deal of time), I came across “Great White Wonder”, a well known and well sought out bootleg album that circulated for years; this album contained a few of the songs found on the Basement Tapes, an other rarities, many bootlegs have surfaced since then as well.  Each bootleg, of which there are many, contained odds and ends of other songs from the Saugerties basement sessions, so the myth for so long has been that there clearly were more, but where, and who had them?  Often waived off by members of The Band and perhaps Dylan himself, that additional tracks existed, clearly they did.  It is my understanding that last year someone was able to obtain the collection of the remaining basement tapes (100+ songs) and put out a bootleg for the masses; upon learning about this Columbia Records (in partnership with both Dylan and remaining members of The Band) decided it was true and that the majority of unreleased tracks had been made available decided to make an official release (with even more tracks!) available finally.  My question  is why had they waited so long, and perhaps worse, allow time for someone to release the additional tracks?  These guys had 40+ years to get this stuff out there!

The fun things about this box set is that all is revealed “warts and all” of what actually happened in that basement in West Saugerties; with most bootleg recordings one would normally expect grainy poor quality but these recordings have a haunting quality of clarity. If you are a Dylan fan this is a must listen without question. If not, and are then curious about Dylan, although an exhaustive collection for the first-time Dylan listener, this is a great introduction to the dynamic range of style Dylan was capable of, and introduces one to the persona of Dylan himself.


Johanan Vigoda – Who knew?

Johanan_VigodaFirst of all I must apologize for this blog coming to an abrupt halt a few years ago; we here at Hi-Fi Central just became pre-occupied in our lives and finding time to write for the blog, well…ok, that’s a bunch of bullshit.  We just didn’t take the time to keep it going, myself included, so now that that’s been said, let’s get back into writing about all things related to music in some form or another, shall we?

Recently I was thinking back about being a kid growing up in the suburbs of Schenectady, New York and all the hippie type characters my parents would run into during the mid-1970’s.  One unique individual was this guy named Johanan Vigoda.  I don’t remember Johanan very well, but from what I do recall he was a very kind man, who was incredibly soft spoken and ate frozen peas from a satchel bag.  My father father always remembered the frozen peas when recalling his initial meeting with Johanan.  I only met  him once when I was about 7 or 8; my father was selling either a BMW RT75 or RT100, it was metallic cherry red, many fond memories of my father taking me out for night rides when I was young.

My father had put the motorcycle up for sale, but after a few weeks had taken the bike out of the listings since he didn’t have any bites of interest, and then one day at random this guy and woman come riding down the driveway on a motorcycle interested in the bike.  My father came down and chatted for a bit; somewhere during the conversation it was discovered that Johanan was an entertainment attorney living downstate; he didn’t really elaborate, nor did my parent pry.  It was just a cool feeling out process, and clearly my parents and Johanan felt comfortable with one another.  After a bit of chatting Johanan asked if he could take the bike out for a test ride to see if it was what he wanted, my father obliged and off Johanan went down the road.  A short while later, Johanan returned with what appeared to be some minor scratches and damage to the bike.  The fairing was cracked and the left mirror and turn signals were gone;  apparently due to some slick conditions on bridge up the road he dropped the bike but was luckily Johanan unhurt.

My mother recalls that Johanan was incredibly apologetic and offered my father to pay all expenses incurred from the damage, and that he would purchase the bike once repaired, just give him the bill.  The bike was fixed a week later and Johanan asked if my father could bring the bike down to his house in Woodstock, New York, my father was more than willing to deliver the bike no problem.  As Johanan promised he asked my father what the final damages were with the repair and the purchase of the motorcycle, and without hesitation or discussion paid my father what he asked.  That was the last time we saw Johanan Vigoda.

A few months later my mother was watching the Grammy’s and as they focused the camera down the aisle who was sitting there, Johanan!  My mother never forgot seeing him and recalling what a kind soul he was and clearly, not that she doubted what he said, was a legit music attorney.

It’s been years since I remembered that story and recently Google’d “Johanan Vigoda” just to see what I could find out about him.  Sadly the first thing I came across was an obituary from 2011, apparently he died after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer; although sad to see, there was some humor in his obituary since it mentioned that he was known for his “exotic diets” and eccentric behavior.

Johanan was responsible for negotiating The Beatles first record deal in the United States with Vee-Jay Records, and was Stevie Wonders lifelong attorney.  He apparently lived months at a time at the Continental Hyatt Hotel on Sunset Boulevard, a hotel made famous by the antics of Led Zeppelin in the 1970’s.  I was amazed to discover this much about him, and just adds to the “cool factor” of crossing paths with him unbeknownst to parents and myself on who he really was in the music world.


Dan Stiles – New updated concert posters for sale!

As many of our HiFi readers have known, we are huge collectors of music poster art here at HiFi Central.  One of our favorite artists is the one and only Dan Stiles out of the Pacific Northwest, Dan’s posters are creative, vibrant, and original in their design and concept.  The best thing about his posters too are that they are all hand-pulled silkscreens in a limited edition and signed…oh, and also run around $25!

One of my favorites is the poster he did for a Midlake show in 2007; it’s limited to only 90 and still available on his website for a mere $24!!!!

If you want to learn more about Dan Stiles work and perhaps purchase one of his very cool prints for a super deal, check out his website at

Tell us if you grab one!


Live Bait Vol. 7 – Free Phish Download!

Yes, it’s a been a while since Phish has provided the masses with any continuations of the amazing Live Bait series of free concert samples, however, just when we here at HiFi Central were about to give up hope….viola!  Live Bait Vol.7 was released about two weeks ago (sorry for the very late notice), and is available for free download for those who sign up or have an existing account. 

There is no sales ploy or gimmick, it’s on the up and up for being totally free; all you need to do is just sign up on their website and you are eligible for the download.  It is important that you if you do intend on downloading this that you don’t lolly-gag since the Live Bait releases are for a limited time and then taken down.

You can find the prior six volumes on their website, but at this time they are no longer free, sorry.  Regardless if they charge you or not, they are gems and worth grabbing if you can.  Check out the website and free download at and enjoy!


Fergies Pub – A gem in the heart of Philly!

Ok, so before you think Hi-Fi has “jumped the shark” and become a blog about pubs and beer read on and give us a chance.  Last month I was in my hometown of Philadelphia, PA to catch the Flyers versus Canadians game; a that allowed them to clinch a playoff spot for this current season!  I make the pilgramage to “The City of Brotherly Love” every year for my birthday, and beforehand I always plan my weekend out hour by hour, so that I make the best of my time.  One of the key things in my life is food and beer (aside of hockey and music) so with a vast array of incredible places to eat in Philly, you really need to plan ahead.

After putting in a hard day of blogging at Hi-Fi Central, I decided to explore recommended pubs in Philly – always worthwhile and a deserving reward after trekking any major city is a good microbrew…or two.  During my search I came upon a blog that recommended a place called Fergie’s Pub; Fergie’s seemed to offer a fine array of ever revolving microbrews, and also the added treat of live music!  I planned to visit it pre-Flyers game, eat some dinner, and get a good buzz on prior to my trek to the Wells Fargo Center. 

Part of the appeal of visiting Fergies Pub is that it was also located on Sansom Street, a street that my ancestors once resided on in 1870, so to walk the very street seemed very sentimental, and again, a good excuse to perhaps have a (ahem) third beer in honor of their memory.

I had been staying at the Sofitel on 17th and Sansom, so the location seemed right, but prior to departing I decided to ask the concierge what they thought of Fergies.  Instantly their eyes lit up and the looked at each other with disbelief, apparently few of the clientele of a Sofitel ask for a good seedy Irish pub when in Philly.  All three suggested that I go and said that timing (3:00 on a Saturday) was perfect since at 4:00 “The Sessions” begin; “sessions” I asked, what is that?

I was informed that at 4:00 this group of regulars comes in, parks it at a table with their pints and plays a few hours of free form Irish music; but space becomes limited very quickly.  So, I rushed down and found Fergies Pub, entered and was instantly welcomed by the waitress asking us how many and before we sat down what we would like to drink.  The beer menu offered about 15 beers on tap, and the food was excellent.  After we got settled we drank a pint and sure enough the waitresses started moving the tables around to make room for a group of people, about 4 in all, to sit down and prepare to play.  The group consisted of a guitarist, two fiddles, and an accordian player, it didn’t take long for them to get started and the music was excellent.  Much of the music was impromptu jamming and at times they would just fade out and drink their beers and then start up again by sheer impulse, clearly they knew each other rather well and their timing was spot on.   At one point a mother walked in with her daugther (I think about 9) and the little girl got out her fiddle and jumped right in not missing a cue; it was excellent!

Philadelphia, if you’ve either never been there or have visited only a few times is truly a fun city.  Last year I blogged about visiting a church on 20th and Christian streets called St. Charles Boromeo where my great-grandparents were married in 1907, just to find out the church and the mass had converted into an amalgum of both Catholic and Gospel influences, just something completely unexpected. 

Check out Fergies Pub on a saturday afternoon if you are every visiting Philly, the beer, food, and service are excellent, but the music just adds a special twist.

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