Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Atlantic Records: The House that Ahmet Built

This was an installment of American Masters that I caught on PBS a month or so ago, and which has stuck with me ever since.  I missed the beginning, but I caught the last hour and fifteen minutes or so, just by chance as I was flipping past and finally saw something on television that was actually about music.  I need to re-watch it from the beginning.  I don't have much love for major record labels these days, but I respect that you needed them to make things happen back in the day.  Without proper recording and distribution, not to mention the networking and marketing that labels provided back in the day, we wouldn't have the music that we have today.  Just for up-and-coming artists to be exposed to other artists - it served an important role that the internet has now come to replace in spades.  Anyway, this was an absolutely excellent documentary about Ahmet Ertegun, the co-founder of Atlantic Records in 1947.  He was one of the rare breed, then as much as now I'm sad to say, that was really and truly into it for the music.  Because of that, he drew so much real and amazing talent to that label, at such an important time in music history.  He was personally responsible for getting Eric Clapton into the studio with Aretha Franklin.  He negotiated the deal that brought the Stones indie label into contract with Atlantic, even though it paid them less dough than what they could've had with some other labels - because everyone involved cared more about the music than the cash.  He "discovered" Led Zeppelin.  He wrote Mess Around for Ray Charles.  I mean, the man is responsible for SO MANY amazing things that have happened in music history, and this documentary about him and Atlantic Records was really, really well done and really interesting.  If you're looking to watch something engaging, about some really pivotal moments in music recording history, or just interested in learning some more about a genuine, great guy who truly cared about the music and about making some amazing music happen, definitely check this out.

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