For decades, I made several failed attempts to gain the rights back to my 1st album. It was both frustrating and at times debilitating, but something I refused to give up on. All along, the record company refused to re-release it, but at the same time, they wouldn’t sell it back to me so I could put it out, either. So, the album just sat there in limbo since the early 1980’s….
However, as many of you now know, I was finally able to gain all legal rights back to my first album. I achieved this through a US government law that allows me (and every other artist) to legally terminate the rights of the record company 35 years after the original date of publication. The termination process for the first Skafish album has been successfully completed and is properly filed and documented by the US government. On August 2, 2015, I let everyone know that I now had complete legal ownership of the album.
I am currently in the process of trying to create a project timeline to be able to re-release the record. However, I can’t finalize the time frame until the re-mastering is finished. Until I see what needs to be done, I don’t know how long the entire project will take.
There have been a tremendous amount of expenses and legal bills that I have already paid just to get the rights back. So many people have asked if there was anything they could do to help with the re-release of the first album. So I decided to extend an open invitation to everyone to be able to support the re-mastering project if they wanted to.
Since I first opened that door on March 5, 2016, I have been so grateful for the support I’ve received. The cost to re-master the album and get it ready for a vinyl, CD and digital release is approximately $1000.00. As of today, I have received $400.00 toward that goal. We are 40% of the way there and I am confident that this can get done.
If you’ve already contributed to supporting the project, you have been a Godsend. Your generosity has really touched my heart, deeply. If you’re someone who is considering supporting the re-mastering project, your help would be greatly appreciated. And, anything at all helps to move it forward.
Just so everyone knows, all the money donated will be used solely to re-master the album. I will keep you posted.
Today is the birthday of the Skafish album What’s This? 1976-1979! Eight years ago on April 1, 2008, it became the first release on my label, 829 Records. Featuring recordings from August 1976 through November 1979, this record, in part, documents the early period of the Skafish band, featuring many subterranean gems that have never been released.
The album captures a snapshot of a revolutionary, transformational and turbulent time. This fact is clearly documented in the liner notes written by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legends Cheap Trick.
Some of the tracks are the early versions of the songs that made it to my first album, and some people were upset about that. They wanted the first album, which I didn’t have the legal rights to re-release at the time.
Still, I am very proud of What’s This? as an objective historical document. When it comes to What’s This? 1976-1979, this record stands on its own and is truly like no other.
Someone recently asked me what they could do to help get the first Skafish album re-mastered if they couldn’t donate money? It was a fantastic question, so I decided to talk about it a bit here in a post. Of course, financial support will get this project completed faster than anything, but there are still many things that you can do to help bring awareness to the project and help to move it forward.
HERE ARE SOME IDEAS: Leave a great review: If you bought one of my albums, or listen to my music, please leave a positive review. People need to know why and how you have connected to my work and what it’s all about. It really helps to spread the awareness about the music and what I’m doing, which then helps to build the interest and the momentum needed to move the 1st Skafish album project along.
Spotify: We all know how essential Spotify is, because it’s a place where people can stream and listen to music for free.
It’s really important tofollow me on Spotify. That’s because Spotify won’t give me control of my artist page until I have more than 250 followers. Having control of my artist page means I can directly communicate with fans there and let them know about the 1st album project.
Create and add my songs to a playlist. This helps to raise awareness of me as an artist and exposes the music to more listeners. Keep in mind that any increased awareness of me helps to promote the first album project overall.
If you can, share your Spotify listens of my songs on Twitter and social media as you’re listening. It’s a great conversation starter.
Spread the word and follow me on social media:
Follow me on social media, connect with me and tell a friend. The bigger my following, the more people I can get the word out to and the more chance there’ll be of getting the necessary support and funding for the re-mastering and re-release of the album.
It is important for people to know who I am, especially in relation to Chicago music history. If you were there back in the day, let people know how influential my band and I have been. Speak out about the context for the first album historically and how groundbreaking it was considered.
Let people know that I finally own the first album: Spread the word that I now own all legal rights to the album. A lot of people never realized that since I didn’t own it, I couldn’t put it out. I’ve got it back now and I want it out there – people need to know that. If the money is there, the plan is to re-release this as soon as possible.
Encourage others to help: Let everyone know that I’m trying to raise the necessary funds to re-master the record. If that can be done, then I can pursue the next steps to re-release it on vinyl, CD, and digitally.
Share the link on the re-mastering project: Please share the link on why I’m re-mastering the album so people can learn the back-story and find out what’s currently going on with the project. That post also lets people know how they can help.
I am really thrilled about the project and I want to see it happen. So many people have told me that they’re excited, too. Share your excitement – it’s contagious!
To everyone who is sharing and supporting this project, thank you so much for your continued involvement. — Skafish
In my original post, “First Album News,” I talked about how I need to re-master the first Skafish album. One of my fans who loves the record didn’t understand why I needed to do this. He commented that he thought the record sounded just great as it is, so why in the heck would I re-master it. So, let me take a minute to clarify the re-mastering process and why it absolutely needs to be done.
First, here are the things I am NOT planning on doing in the re-mastering process:
1-I am not going to remix the album. Sometimes, people remix a record in an attempt to make it sound better, or different. I won’t do that. You’ll still be able to hear everything as you always have. The synthesizers won’t disappear and the drums won’t be louder, etc. I know in my heart that it is better to leave well enough alone.
2-I am not trying to change the sound of the original recordings. The album was recorded in 1979 and what recording technologies were at the time are just fine – and they will remain. I won’t add any fancy bells and whistles. There won’t be any pitch correction on the vocals, lol.
3-I am not trying to modernize the record. Since this record was quite different for its time and is still unique by today’s standards, it will be left as it is. It has never been nor will it ever be a trendy record.
This album stands on its own, as it was then and will always be. It is what it is – plain and simple. The fans who bought the record back then loved it for being outside the norm and that is one of the reasons why this album remains special decades later. It is an individual piece of art that should not be tampered with – and now that I own it, you can trust that I won’t let that happen. Now, here are the reasons why re-mastering is absolutely necessary:
Ideally, I want to ultimately re-release the first Skafish album on vinyl, CD, and in digital formats. To release the album in today’s technologies (which have obviously changed from before), re-mastering is essential. And, I actually need two masters: one to reproduce vinyl records, and one for CD and digital release. Done correctly, the actual mastering techniques and sound needed for each format are somewhat different.
To manufacture new vinyl records, there has to be a new master to reproduce from. Any old masters are now obsolete. And, the process is quite complex. Even though I am not going to attempt to tinker with and alter the sound, there are technical specifications that are vital to making vinyl records correctly. One example of this is that the treble and bass levels need to be absolutely correct, so as not to cause distortion or skipping.
For CD and digital release, a master was never done. As you may already know, that’s because the record company who used to own the first Skafish album never bothered to release it on CD or digitally. So, there needs to be a master, even to just be able to reproduce the album on CD and digitally, as well as getting those formats to sound as authentic as possible.
When it comes to the sources to master from, I have some options: I have two unopened copies of the album that have never been played. Many mastering experts feel that mastering from never-before-played vinyl can actually be notably better than doing so from tape. In fact, I learned that a Rolling Stones re-release was re-mastered from vinyl, versus tape, because the vinyl actually sounded better.
I also have reel-to-reel tape copies from the studio that were done as dubs back in 1979. Those tapes have already been digitized and might be a source to master from.
The reasons these sources are important is because I do not have the original master tapes to the album. That’s because the record company won’t give them to me. As some of you may know, legally fighting to get the rights back took decades and was extremely expensive to get done. However, acquiring those rights does not force the record company to turn over the master tapes. I could sue them, but it would be tremendously costly and at this time, the money isn’t there to launch such a costly lawsuit that could take years to resolve in court. That would also mean it would take that much longer until I could get the first album out there. Since it was originally released 36 years ago, I think we’ve all had to wait long enough. That’s why I am choosing to focus on getting it out there sooner.
I am sure that between the never-before-played vinyl and the tape copies I have, a state of the art master can certainly be made.
As the producer of the original recording and the person in charge of the re-mastering project, it is my commitment to honor the original art and intention of this album and give the fans what they want. Those who have this record often tell me just how much they love and cherish it. I frequently hear from fans how they still have their original vinyl copy and listen to it often.
At this point, I am trying to raise the necessary funds to do the re-mastering project. Some of you have already donated and that means the world to me. If I can indeed raise the money needed, I can complete this part of the project. If you’d like to support the project, you can use the link below to buy me a cup of coffee! (Account name is La Befana Records.)
Thank you from the bottom of my heart and spirit!
I wanted to let you know first that we are now offering the WHAT’S THIS FREAKIN’ $%&!? T-Shirt for sale exclusively through our Bandcamp store. This limited edition item, specifically designed to promote the What’s This? 1976-1979 album, has only been used for promotional purposes before. We have LIMITED QUANTITY AND LIMITED SIZES available.
T-shirt lettering says: WHAT’S THIS FREAKIN’ $%&!?
We only had 300 made, and after they’re gone, that’s it. No more will ever be manufactured.Currently, we have 200 T-Shirts left to sell. Normally, we would sell this T-Shirt for $25, but we are happy to offer this item to you at the introductory price of $20.
The T-Shirt is:
Black T-Shirt with white, distressed lettering
Machine washable and tumble dry
In a sealed plastic bag with air holes for freshness
Over the years, people have asked me repeatedly why the first Skafish album wasn’t available. It has even gone to the point that I have received negative online reviews for other records I’ve released, simply because those records were NOT the first Skafish album. Some even took it as far as claiming that I was blocking the re-release of my debut LP, and accused me of being ashamed of it. Of course, those assertions are beyond ludicrous, to say the least. I love the first Skafish album and all that it stands for!
I’ve never tried to dodge the issue about the first album, but I refused to be specific — and that was solely because of ongoing legal issues I couldn’t discuss at the time.
However, I now have some news to report. Things are settled enough for me to let you know that I have finally gained complete legal ownership of my first album. Trust me when I tell you that my efforts to get this done have not only been painstakingly difficult for decades, but quite expensive as well.
From the questions and comments I frequently receive, it seems that many of you would be highly interested in this album being re-released. So, I will start working on it. My intention is to see what I can do to get this wonderful record out there for all the fans who have loved it for 35 years. I still get emails from people who have just discovered the album. That also leads me to believe that the music will connect with people hearing it for the first time today. As soon as I have more to share, you will be hearing from me!
If you’d like to support the project, you can use the link below to buy me a cup of coffee! (Account name is La Befana Records.)
I am excited to announce the opening of my Bandcamp online store. You can now buy digital downloads, CDs, collectible and autographed items directly from me. And this is only the start – I will be adding more items soon, including additional collectibles!
There are several reasons I chose to open my online store with Bandcamp. Not only are they artist friendly, it’s one of the few sites that make it easy for you to pay the artist directly. They also allow fans to choose to pay more to support the artist they love.
Lossless formats are available and you can get unlimited streaming access via the free Bandcamp app for Android, iOS and Sonos, as well as an optional high-quality download.
#TBT: In July, 1977, I needed to have emergency knee surgery due to a dancing accident that caused a bone chip in my knee. Around 4 weeks later, I was back on stage performing my 21st birthday party concert. Check out the video that talks about the insanity of that time.