Saturday, October 7, 2017

Wicked Cool Minute #8: Which is Better; Mono or Stereo?

Jerry Hammack, Author of
The Beatles Recording Reference Manuals
We are quickly becoming a generation that does not know what "Mono" means.
Do you?

I asked author/expert Jerry Hammack to weigh in on the topic. As an American producer and engineer, Jerry knows quite a lot on the topic of the wonder of sound and he definitely has an opinion. In my effort to give you wicked cool data in just a couple of minutes, I challenge you to make note of Hammack's composition and use it in your next water cooler conversation. Leave your comments below as well, as we'd love to know your opinion on this very important matter!

From Author Jerry Hammack:

If you're in the audiophile community, you'll hear discussions of vintage recordings that tend to go something like this...

"I love the new vinyl re-release of Blah and the Blahs!"

"Oh, it's okay, but you haven't really heard them until you've heard them in mono!"

Heard them in mono...It's the equivalent of saying you haven't really 
read the Bible if you haven't read it in Hebrew. And in many cases, it's a true statement. But what is the difference between stereo, the way most of us experience our music today, and this mysterious thing called "mono"?

You can trace the origins of mono recordings back to the earliest Edison 
wax cylinders, played back though a single "horn" or speaker. Mono, or Monaural, means  "of, relating to, affecting, or designed for use with one ear." The easiest way to think of it is as a single point of focus in a recording, or even easier, a recording meant to be heard through a single speaker.

Many of the earliest pop recordings were meant to be heard this way, as 
home (or later, car) audio systems commonly only had a single speaker. The engineers of the era worked to insure that everything they wanted you to hear came through loud and clear through just a single point of output.

Famously, the majority of The Beatles best work was focused on mono 
output. In the UK during their era, mono was king - unlike the US where stereo (or stereophonic, "of, relating to, or constituting sound reproduction involving the use of separated microphones and two transmission channels to achieve the sound separation of a live hearing") had made early inroads commercially with home systems. Knowing 
this, they focused their work to insure the mono versions of their recordings were everything they envisioned. They actually spent very little time on the stereo versions of the same songs until late in their career.

Image result for album in monoWhich is better mono or stereo? Neither, really. Purists would say you should experience music the way it was intended to be heard: Bach on ancient instruments; jazz, live in a club: The Beatles in mono, and so on.
While that's desirable in many ways, finding those ancient instruments or even a real mono system is problematic and costly. Many mono recordings have now been recreated in a "summed" output, meaning you can play them on a stereo system, but they are still from one "single point of focus."

The interesting thing is - once you are some distance from your stereo (far enough to not be able to distinguish the left from the right channel), you are listening in mono anyway!

So enjoy your stereo or enjoy your mono, but mostly, just enjoy your music.
Jerry Hammack lives in Canada and is a frequent guest at The Fest for Beatles Fans. Read more and purchase his book at:

The Beatles Get Back to Mono:

Wishing you PEACE,
Lanea Stagg
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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Wicked Cool Minute #7 - Let's Spend the Bite Together

While chatting with two of my favorite people this past spring, I mentioned that a Rolling Stones cookbook was floating around in my very chaotic mind. It turned out that those two young women, Annie Jones (the niece of my late friend Maggie McHugh), and my daughter, Abby, expressed that they would LOVE to write a Rolling Stones cookbook with me. 
But with a couple of caveats: the book cover and title must be updated, color photos of the foods were necessary, and the book had to be cool.

It is a pleasure to announce that The Rolling Scones - Let's Spend the Bite Together, by Lanea Stagg, Annie Jones and Abby Ritterling is now available at my website:
or at

The fourth book in the Recipe Records cookbook series is chock full of Rolling Stones trivia, stories, recipes and even a Rolling Stones playlist from an online music cloud. 
Recipe titles include: "Feast of Burden," "Tumbling Rice," "You Can't Always Get What You Croissant" and more. 

The book also includes "guest appearances" by authors such as John Lennon expert, Jude Southerland Kessler, Beatles Music Scholar, Aaron Krerowicz and co-host of The Pepper Mindset radio show, Sean Gaillard. One of the featured stories in the book is by my nephew, Mick Joest, a writer for several online publications. His story titled "Why The Stones Are Timeless, From a Millennial Named Mick" explains his mutually enjoyed name. Once again, my graphic designer Julie Reynolds is an award-winning participant in this book; she worked incredibly hard to allow us to change things for this book.

The book kicks off with a jammin' Foreword by Susan Masino, author of The Story of AC/DC-Let There Be Rock. Her narrative sets the tone for the book: let's celebrate the 50+ years of music by this amazing band and let's do it in the kitchen with our friends and family.

ORDER YOUR COPY NOW! or   If you are local, purchase a copy at Outside the Gift Box, 327 Main Street, Evansville, IN 47708.

Read more about the project with this press release by 910 Public Relations:

It's Only Rock and Roll, But I Like It!

Lanea Stagg

Shine a Light on those Rolling Stones players who left too soon


Beatles at the Ridge
Walnut Ridge, Arkansas
September 15-16

Octopus's Garden
The only All Beatles shoppe in America!
2033 Frankfort Ave, Louisville, KY 40206

I will be debating with Jude Southerland Kessler about who is better...The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones

Mark your calendar to join us Tuesday, September 19, at 7:00 p.m. EST - at this lovely shoppe!

John A. Logan College - Carterville, Illinois
The John A. Logan College Continuing Education Department will host two leading rock and roll/Beatles experts on campus Wednesday, September 20, for a presentation titled "The British Invasion (a debate on The Beatles vs The Rolling Stones)” in the Crisp Room from 11 am until noon at the college.  The event is free and open to the public.

COMING UP:  The next "Wicked Cool Minute" Blogpost will be titled "Mono vs. Stereo" - don't miss it!

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Twitter:    @LaneaStagg
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Friday, March 31, 2017

Wicked Cool Minute #6 - A Pirate's "Life" for Keef

"Life" by Keith Richards
Oh how I wish that John Lennon had written a memoir like this.
Keith Richards (aka "Keef"), completely exposes himself in his autobiography, "Life," which was published in 2010. In typical Richards fashion, he entertains you with his crass, abrupt, non-PC, fall on the floor funny stories which were probably more entertaining than seeing a Stones show. Written like a true swamp rat, Richards displays his intelligence (which may surprise readers,) unpredictable sensitivity and wicked sense of humor. My husband gave me the book for Christmas and he expressed that perhaps I'd like to read about another band.... I wasn't really too sure about that until I began reading "Keef's" pirate stories and I was "hooked."

The Rolling Stones
The very obvious theme throughout the book is that Keith Richards plays by his own rules. Rock and Roll, Baby. The very intricate details he recalls during the days of his worst chemical addiction conjured the image of a warped James Bond movie. I pictured Keith Richards (as himself,) setting up specific plans to get drugs and intricate escape routes from coppers all over the world. The events developed into vivid and rollicking stories.  Richards, admits he grew up "across the tracks" in meager environs, eventually residing in mansions and castles, but still feels like he's living "across the tracks." I chuckled over the fact that he named his massive home in Connecticut:  Camelot Costalot. He has a complete story to tell: co-founding the Rolling Stones and band the X-Pensive Winos, jamming with his idols, marrying a supermodel, having children and losing friends. He reflects upon these memories quite poignantly.
Chuck Berry and Keith Richards
I often read quizzes which question which band was better, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. Well, you can't compare the two. In an honest musical manner that is.  Yes, they are both from England and most of the musicians were from meager backgrounds, and both bands launched the British Invasion. But the apples and oranges comparison can not be debated because both bands created different styles of rock and roll, which were trailblazing. In short, The Stones were a raw, dirty blues band and The Beatles were clean and innovative.
Edgy and direct, Keith Richards extends a wavering middle finger as he shares his stories of "Life."  He stated that he always gets asked why he doesn't retire and he responds by saying that he doesn't do it for anyone or for the money. He is doing it for Keith. I was a little sad when the tale was finished, and I highly recommend the story to you all.
*It is my suggestion that only very mature audiences take in the nearly 600-page book. While I found the shock value highly entertaining, I believe that the rock and roll images should be read by mature folks. He will disclaim many times throughout the book that he in no way condones the behavior...and he also falls back on the "that's rock and roll" bit quite often.
I enjoyed the hours hanging out with Mr. Richards. I found his honesty to be the tragic formation of the man he is today. Richards IS the ultimate storytelling pirate. Of all time.


1) Keith was a Boy Scout. He states that one of the best things that happened to him as a youth, was being a member of the Seventh Dartford Scouts, Beaver Patrol (imagine that);

2) Keith was bullied in school, which explains his raucous behavior later in life (See also item #7);

3)  In 1955 he performed at St. Margaret's Church in Westminster Abbey, in front of the queen. His school choir was winning national level competitions and Keith was one of the three sopranos, they were "the stars." He thrived in that role, but when the boys experienced the adolescent Peter Brady voice change, they were kicked to the curb (which made him quite bitter, See also item #7);

4) As a young boy, he had two pets:  a cat and a mouse. Gladys, the little white mouse, would go to school in his trouser pocket; he would talk to her and feed her throughout the day; shake out the droppings in the evening;

Marlon, Keith, Angela & Keith's mum, Doris
5) He had three children with his first partner Anita Pallenberg:  Marlon (named after Marlon Brando); Dandelion (Dandy)  - named at Anita's request, but the Catholic hospital insisted on giving the baby a "proper" name, so they named her "Angela" -  and Tara, a son that died of crib death at 2 months. He also has two daughters with his wife Patti Hansen;   

6) He was addicted to music after hearing "Heartbreak Hotel" -- "I could kick smack; I couldn't kick music." He holds great respect for blues and early rock and roll musicians;

7) Engages in his big rules of knife fighting: (a) do not try it at home; (b) never, ever use the blade. The blade is only to distract the opponent and while he stares at the blade, you kick him to kingdom come;

8) When he was at an all-time low, he would buy doctor and nurse play sets from FAO Schwarz and utilize the objects for his drug habit;   

9) Keith was found guilty on drug charges in Canada and instead of incarceration, the judge ordered firstly, treatment, and secondly, the band must perform a concert for the blind. Apparently, a fan who was blind had followed the Stones everywhere on the road and Keith called her his blind angel and made sure that she was fed and safely transported. She testified on his behalf in Canada, therefore, creating the option for the punishment; 

Keith and Gram
10)  He considered two men to have been the most pure musicians he ever knew:  Gram Parsons and John Lennon.
John and Keith

Check out Keith's band, which I think is pretty rockin':


Because I know you want to read more about the Fabs, I highly recommend this book by Gene Flanagan, " The Beatles, God and Caroline," which is a touching story told by a life-long Beatles fan. After a chance encounter with former U.S. Manager of the Beatles Apple Records, Ken Mansfield, Flanagan experienced a change of heart. The book is an "upbeat," inspiring story that will leave you smiling.


I will be giving a program titled "Heartbreak Hotel" on Sunday, April 30, at the Ohio Township Public Library (Newburgh, IN) - here's more info:

Peace and Love,
Lanea Stagg
Recipe Records Cookbook
Evansville, Indiana
Radio Show:     Recipe Records
Twitter:  @RecipeRecords and @LaneaStagg

*Food for Thought*Food for the Soul*Food for the Love of Rock & Roll*