Rick Rubin Revisits the Origins of Def Jam Records & the NYU Dorm Room Where It All Began

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There may have been no more influential a label in the late 1980s than Def Jam Records. Founded by Rick Rubin, Def Jam launched the careers of The Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, and dozens more hip-hop pioneers. But its beginnings were humble. The earliest Def Jam releases list the mailing address “5 University Pl. #712.

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The Groundbreaking Art of Alex Steinweiss, Father of Record Cover Design

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Given the visual perfection and ubiquity of album covers by designers like Storm Thorgerson and Peter Saville—given the popularity of blogs featuring monumentally bad album covers—it’s hard to feature a time when records came wrapped in plain brown paper like cheap booze or covered in nondescript bindings like business ledgers.

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Hear The Flaming Lips Cover All of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s: Streaming Free for a Limited Time

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In 2012, Rolling Stone issued a revised list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, at the very top of which sits The Beatles’ 1967 record, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Justifying making the album its number one pick, Rolling Stone wrote:
Sgt.

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Professor Michael Stipe: R.E.M.’s Frontman Now Teaching Art Classes at NYU

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Admirers of Michael Stipe will know that he before he became a famous rock star with R.E.M., he was an art student at the University of Georgia.

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Night on Bald Mountain: An Eery, Avant-Garde Pinscreen Animation Based on Mussorgsky’s Masterpiece (1933)

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If you read Open Culture regularly, I imagine I can safely call Alexander Alexeieff and Claire Parker your favorite France-based, Russian-American husband-wife pinscreen animation team.

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Prof. Iggy Pop Delivers the BBC’s 2014 John Peel Lecture on “Free Music in a Capitalist Society”

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What Alan Freed did for rock ‘n ‘ roll in the ‘50s, DJ John Peel did for punk and new wave in the 70s and 80s, playing groundbreaking artists like Joy Division on his show and curating essential in-studio performances in his Peel Sessions.

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Animated Sheet Music of 3 Charlie Parker Jazz Classics: “Confirmation,” “Au Privave” & “Bloomdido”

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We’ve shown you two exceedingly rare pieces of footage that capture jazz saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker in action: one featuring him playing with Dizzy Gillespie, his fellow “founding father of bebop,” in 1952; and another, from two years before, where he plays with the likes of Coleman Hawkins, Buddy Rich, Lester

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The Cry of Jazz: 1958’s Highly Controversial Film on Jazz & Race in America (With Music by Sun Ra)

≡ Category: Film, Music |1 Comment

“Jazz is dead.” You can imagine how that statement, potentially inflammatory even today, shook things up when filmmaker Edward Bland dared to say it in 1958.

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The Distortion of Sound: A Short Film on How We’ve Created “a McDonald’s Generation of Music Consumers”

≡ Category: Music |8 Comments

It’s an old joke at this point—the hipster’s retro-obsession with vinyl is an affectation as bogus as louvered sunglasses and high-waisted acid washed jeans, right? Well, there are plenty of people who buy records and listen to them, too.

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Watch the Rare Reunions of Pink Floyd: Concerts from 2005, 2010 & 2011

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How many reunions will it take before we’ve finally seen the end of Pink Floyd? I’m not complaining, mind you, but marveling at how durable an outfit the band has been for their fifty-year, on again, off again history.

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