McLuhan on 45

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July 3, 2011 by admin

Jon Savage in an April 2009 record roundup from his blog:

Published the same month (March 1967) that The Velvet Underground and Nico was released, Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium Is The Message [sic] became an instant bestseller and has become a key text. Columbia Records quickly rushed out an LP of McLuhan and his colleagues Fiore and Jerome Agel reading selections from the book, which is a very high sixties product with people talking at and over each other, added found noises and distortion — which should be reissued (for more, see Johnny Trunk’s eloquent article in Mojo May 2009). The whole point was simultaneity. There was also a promo 45, which culled selected five and ten second spots for DJ’s with locked grooves (just like the Velvet Underground flexi in Aspen’s POP issue, “Loop”) with visionary/critical slogans: “everything we do is music.”

You can listen to The Medium is the Massage album in its entirety on YouTube. It was produced by John (not the critic) Simon, a producer best (and most deservedly) known for his work with the Band. (Apparently, McLuhan himself was said to dislike the recording, though I’ve never seen documentation of such. He comes across pretty stiff and professorial-like, truth be told, though the surrounding collage is kind of fascinating. Sonically, it brings to mind a few other artifacts from the period, i.e., We’re Only In It For the Money, Firesign Theatre’s Don’t Crush That Dwarf, et al.)

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