Tuesday, December 27, 2005

On my turntable: Hudson Brothers - Totally Out Of Control

Totally Out of Control (1974)
Why weren't the Hudson Brothers HUGE? With records like 1974's Totally Out of Control and Ba-Fa (1975) they certainly deserved to be enormous (at least with record buyers outside of the 16 magazine demographic). Perhaps the only thing the Hudsons did wrong was to be so funny on television. Anyone remember the Hudson Brothers' Razzle Dazzle Show?

Produced by the legendary Bernie Taupin, Totally Out Of Control is arguably the Hudsons' own Abbey Road. The album even closes with a medley of songs, including a short track called "One And The Same" that plays at the very end, a la "Her Majesty". The bulk of The Hudson Brothers' sound was comprised of the trio of Mark on drums, Bill on guitar, and Brett on bass. Later albums that tampered with this formula, albums like The Truth About Us (1978) and Damn Those Kids (1980) seemed to lack the punch of the earlier records, most likely due to Mark's absence on the drums.

For those interested in exploring the great music of the Hudson Brothers, I suggest starting with Totally Out of Control, Ba-Fa, and Hudson (1972). To the best of my knowledge, none of these are on CD, although there is an (out of print) 1995 CD compilation, So You Are A Star: The Best Of The Hudson Brothers, which also featured some new tracks. To learn more about the Hudsons, visit Kathryn Hansen's great website.

On my turntable (finally): Big Star - In Space

In Space (2005)
So, according to Tower.com, the new Big Star vinyl has a street date of 1/10/06, yet I found it today at Aardvark records. Needless to say I purchased the LP and canceled my Tower order.

What a handsome record this is! The artwork is big and bright and colorful, covering a nice gatefold sleeve with credits on the inside. The sound is gorgeous and the songs so far (I'm only a few songs into side one) are mighty nice and very much Big Star.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

On my turntable: Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique

Paul's Boutique (1989)
Paul's Boutique (1989) is my favorite Beasties LP. When this album was released it was unlike anything I'd heard before. There are so many samples on here: The Beatles, Van Halen, Eagles, Jackson 5, The Sweet, Chic, to name just a few. The album definitely set the tone for what was to be a very diverse and impressive career by the band, which continues to this day. In my opinion, this album is the premier hip-hop psychedelic rock masterpiece.

Paul's Boutique was originally released in a multi-panelled (I think there were eight) sleeve, which was also featured, although less effectively, on the cassette and CD versions. The LP that I have is the import gatefold single LP version. With all the music that is packed onto 2 sides, I'm impressed with how full this record sounds. The bass is booming!

the Anderson Guzman Bunch

Some of the friends got this CD today for Christmas. I had fun with the artwork:

1. "I've Got A Life" - Eurythmics
2. "Give The Jew Girl Toys" - Sarah Silverman
3. "Fine Line" - Paul McCartney
4. "Choose Love" - Ringo Starr
5. "Rough Justice" - Rolling Stones
6. "Portland, Oregon" - Loretta Lynn
7. "Who Are These People?" - Burt Bacharach w/Elvis Costello
8. "Together (Havin' A Ball") - Partridge Family
9. "Bubba-Da" - Salteens
10. "V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N" - Puffy AmiYumi
11. "Feel Good Inc" - Gorillaz
12. "Bentley Corniche" - Death By Chocolate
13. "I'll Bet" - TLC w/ O'so Krispie
14. "Bitches Aint Shit" - Ben Folds
15. "Lime Green Fitted Blouse" - Death By Chocolate
16. "Are You Ready For It" - Holograms
17. "E-Pro" - Beck
18. "Beverly Hills" - Weezer
19. "What You Don't Know About The Girl" - Roger Joseph Manning Jr.
20. "Cinammon Grahams" - Death By Chocolate
21. "S.S.T." - Prince
22. "Mr. Brightside" - Killers
23. "Spit It Out" - Brendan Benson
24. "For The Love Of Your Lips" - Free Design
25. "What I Really Want For Christmas" - Brian Wilson
26. "A Very English Summer" - Future Loop Foundation

Friday, December 23, 2005

On my turntable: Jackie Gleason - Merry Christmas

This album should have been called "Christmas Music to Kill Oneself By". Jeeezus, that Gleason was a moody SOB. Even the typically perky numbers like "Jingle Bells" have a sad drone to them. The album's liner notes read:

"The mood is soft with the glow of Christmas lights seen through a snowfall, and gay with the stir of a tree-trimming party."

Right. All I can say is that if I were at this tree-trimming party I'd suggest that the host hide the sharp objects tout de suite.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

UK begins Civil Partnerships!

As of yesterday, gay couples in the UK can now apply for "Civil Partnerships", which allow them the same rights as married couples. And the world is still standing! According to an article at CNN.com:

"A new law allowing same-sex civil partnerships will give homosexual couples the same property and inheritance rights as married heterosexual couples and entitles them to the same pension, immigration and tax benefits."

The United States are seriously out of step in regards to equal treatment of all its citizens.

Harpo's Hot Licks

I found this picture today at the MN Historical Society. What a flashback. Harpo's Hot Licks was a record store on Block E in downtown Minneapolis. This photo was taken around 1980, which is about the time that I started shopping there. I bought a lot of records at Hot Licks, which later became Northern Lights for a short time, before moving into the old Music City space on Hennepin. 

Hot Licks was a good store for imports and bootlegs (at some point in the early 80's the store got busted for selling bootleg records). I bought my first Go-Go's record there, a pink vinyl 45 of "Our Lips Are Sealed"; I still have a lot of records from Hot Licks in my collection. I remember when The Replacements' Stink EP was released, the store featured a huge window display for the record. It was probably the best store for new music in the Twin Cities for a while.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

On my turntable: Jackson 5 - ABC

ABC (1970), the 2nd album by the Jackson 5ive, features some killer songs: the gigantic hits "The Love You Save" and "ABC", the mesmerizing "I Don't Know Why I Love You", and "I'll Bet You", which the Beastie Boys would later sample on 1989's Paul's Boutique.

My first J5 record, "Goin' Back To Indiana", was a 45 that was cut out from the back of a Super Sugar Crisp cereal box. I used to watch the Jacksons in cartoon form every Saturday morning, which aired back to back with the Osmonds. I didn't actually start buying Jackson 5ive records until college, after my good friend and dormmate Karen lent me some of her albums, including
ABC. I am still a big fan of the Jacksons, and hope that a full reunion happens someday.

Saturday chore music

This morning Leo put the lights on the tree, I cleaned the kitchen, and the turntable played the following:

Vince Guaraldi Trio - A Charlie Brown Xmas
Carpenters - An Old Fashioned Christmas
Dressy Bessy - Electrified
R.E.M. - Eponymous
Cheap Trick - Special One
The Partridge Family
- At Home With Their Greatest Hits

Friday, December 16, 2005

On my turntable: The Partridge Family At Home With Their Greatest Hits

Prior to this afternoon I only owned this album on 8-track, but thanks to the wonders of eBay I now have a brand new copy of At Home With Their Greatest Hits (1972) for a mere 99 cents (plus shipping & handling). The record, previously unplayed, sounds fantastic. Seriously, the sound of LPs is unparalleled, especially on a decent turntable equipped with a good cartridge.

At Home is a bit of an odd collection, released halfway through the Partridges' musical career. Granted, most are bonafide hits, but there are a few that seem misplaced on a Greatest Hits collection, such as "Brown Eyes" and "She'd Rather Have The Rain". Overall, this is truly some of the most sophisticated bubblegum music ever made.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christmas at Apache Plaza

Hey there Santa. For Christmas this year I'd like for my childhood mall, Apache Plaza, not to be torn down and replaced by a goddamn Walmart. Can you give me that, Santa? Can you bring my Apache Plaza back?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Different World - Season One DVD uses cut episodes! BOO!

According to a review at sitcomsonline.com:

"Unfortunately... the episodes are not uncut and the blame can fall on Carsey-Warner, who distributes the episodes. They, as well as UrbanWorks, have promised Season 2 and up will contain the original episodes."

This really stinks, but if they're going to use the shorter, syndicated versions of any of the seasons, Season One would be the one to use. In my opinion, "A Different World" didn't really start becoming a great show until Debbie Allen took over with Season 2. Anyway, aside from the use of the butchered episodes, it sounds like this is a good set.

Super cool website of the week: goodasyou.org

Good As You

Best of 2005: Quarter 4

I'm a music geek. Fanatic, if you will. For the past few years I've been doing a "best of" CD every Trimester (4 months for you math geniuses), but this year I switched to Quarters. Last night I finalized the Best of Quarter 4 (October-December), published here for your enjoyment:

"I've Got A Life" - Eurythmics
"Hung Up (radio version)" - Madonna
"Te Amo Corazon" - Prince
"English Tea" - Paul McCartney
"English Country Garden" - The Darkness
"Delirious Love (live on the Tonight Show)" - Neil Diamond w/Brian Wilson
"Girls Just Want To Have Fun (2005)" - Cyndi Lauper w/Puffy AmiYumi
"What I Meant To Say (radio edit)" - Donny Osmond
"Who Are These People?" - Burt Bacharach w/Elvis Costello
"Hurt Myself" - Rusty Anderson
"Bloody Seventies Love" - The Jessica Fletchers
"Do You Want To" - Franz Ferdinand
"Mind On The Road" - Reverend Run
"7 Days" - Acid House Kings
"Turn My Back On The Sun" - Big Star
"Come Tomorrow" - Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb
"Mother Veronica" - Checkpoint Charley
"Piece of the Action" - Bay City Rollers (1983)
"What I Really Want For Christmas" - Brian Wilson
"Give The Jew Girl Toys" - Sarah Silverman
"Christmas Time" - Donny Osmond
"I'm Looking Through You" - Ted Leo
"Hotel California" - John Press
"Do They Know It's Hallowe'en" - North American Halloween Prevention Initiative

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

On my turntable: The Carpenters - Singles 1974-1978

The second in a pair of singles collections from the 70's, Singles 1974-1978 represents what I consider to be some of the best Carpenters music ("Sweet Sweet Smile", which opens side 1, was one of those records that I went bonkers over as a kid). Although some of the hits are less recognizable than those on 1969-1973, they are no less delicious: "Jambalaya", "Only Yesterday", "Happy", and the terrifically bizarre "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" are standouts. The album is packaged in a shiny embossed gold foil cover. I'm not sure if it's been released in America on CD, but frankly who cares? Go out and find the LP!

Friday, December 09, 2005

"Merry Christmas" versus "Happy Holidays"

OK here's the deal. We have people dying needlessly because of wars, poverty, hunger, disease. There are children in this country who don't have homes or shoes, people who don't know where their next meal is coming from. Our educational and healthcare systems stink, gas and heat cost a fortune, and racism and greed are thriving problems. Surely there are more important things to bitch about than whether the clerk at Walmart wishes you "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas". Why is respect for diversity suddenly such a bad thing? Seriously, some of these whiners act like political correctness has robbed them of an essential American right. The bottom line: Not everybody celebrates Christmas or even believes in Christ, and you know what? In America, IT'S ALLOWED.

So HAPPY HOLIDAYS everybody.
May JesusAllahBuddhaKrishna bless you on whatever holiday(s) you choose to celebrate. Personally, I plan on having a very lovely Christmas :). Thanks for reading.

On my turntable: Bay City Rollers - "Piece of the Action"/"Seen This Movie"

My latest eBay acquisition (which arrived in today's mail) is a 1983 reunion of the Bay City Rollers, featuring seven Rollers: Derek, Alan, Woody, Eric, Les, Ian AND Pat. I didn't even know this single existed, although I think it was only released in Japan. It's actually a damn catchy single. The only unfortunate thing about the record is the 80's hair and fashions on the sleeve. Nice Pat Benatar headband there, Woody.

On my turntable: Susanna Hoffs - When You're a Boy

The Bangles are probably one of my top 10 favorite groups. When they "took a break" from each other in 1989 I kept hoping for a reunion (which eventually happened in the late 90's). In '91 Susanna released When You're A Boy, her first solo outing. It's a nice album. It's not the Bangles, but many of the songs would have fit nicely on a Bangles record.

When Susanna was doing her promotion for the album I was fortunate enough to meet her at the corporate office of the company I worked for at the time. I was so terrified to talk with her, but she was such a normal person, and very much a music fan. Shown here is a pic of my friend Jim and myself with Ms. Hoffs (Susanna's the gorgeous one). In 2003 The Bangles released the fantastic Doll Revolution CD, and they continue to tour today.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

On my turntable: John Lennon & Yoko Ono - Double Fantasy

"Top 10 Reasons Not To Eat Pigs"

From GoVeg.org (a great and really informative website). Just click on the pig:

New Prince video! "Te Amo Corazon"

According to a statement from the NPG Music club:

"U can view Te Amo Corazon in it's entirety on NPGMC on Tuesday, December 13th at 11 p.m. eastern time. Watch VH-1 thruout the week 4 special news reports featuring Prince, Salma and Mia in xclusive interviews."

"Te Amo Corazon" is the first video (no single release is planned) from Prince's forthcoming album, 3121, which will be released on Universal/Motown next year.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

On my turntable: Bay City Rollers - Greatest Hits

One of the shoddiest Greatest Hits packages ever. It's got just 10 songs on it, and some of them not even hits. It is obvious that Arista was trying to cash in on a fad that they considered over, which is too bad because some of their best work was still forthcoming. Still, this album is fun to listen to, with songs like "Money Honey", "Yesterday's Hero", "Saturday Night", and the excellent rollerdisco song, "I Only Want to Be With You."

I loved the Rollers as a kid, and got picked on for wearing my Bay City Rollers t-shirt in the 5th grade (OK, in retrospect, I can see how it may have made me a bit of a target). I remember kids saying things like "You like the Gay City Blowers?". Fifth graders can be so witty & clever sometimes. In 1999 my love of the Rollers paid off when my band landed our version of "Yesterday's Hero" on the Rollers tribute CD, Men In Plaid. A newly remastered & repackaged version of the CD was released by Bullseye Records of Canada in 2004. I gotta say we kicked ass on that CD. I still dig the Rollers and consider them sadly underrated.

Jeff's Top 5 favorite Christmas LPs

Vince Guaraldi Trio - A Charlie Brown Christmas (stdk)
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass - Christmas Album
Barry Manilow - Because It's Christmas
A Partridge Family Christmas Card
The Osmonds Christmas Album

Honorable mentions that didn't make the cut:

Brian Wilson - What I Really Want For Christmas
Beach Boys Christmas Album
Ringo Starr -
I Wanna Be Santa Claus
Andy Williams Christmas Album
Carpenters - Christmas Portrait

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Hare Krishna Mantra

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare

Monday, December 05, 2005

On my turntable: Vince Guaraldi Trio - A Charlie Brown Christmas Sdtk

A Charlie Brown Christmas is without a doubt one of my top 5 favorite Christmas LPs (do I smell an official "Jeff's Christmas Top 5" list brewing?). I'm sure I speak for many, especially those of us born 1960 or later, when I say that this music is synonymous with Christmas. From the very first notes of "O Tannenbaum" I get all Christmasey. The LP version I have is the 1988 re-master, which sounds stunning. Of all music styles, I tend to think that jazz sounds its best on the vinyl format. This LP has become somewhat common in record shops over the past few years, so if you see it I suggest you nab it.

When I was working in music retail, this was one album that I could listen to over and over, as opposed to fucking Mannheim Steamroller or any of that new age shit. Seriously, there is so much insanely bad Christmas music that gets released each year (record companies know it's a huge market), but there's only a few classics like Charlie Brown that have defied time so well.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Tonite's spins

Records we listened to tonight during dishes, litter boxes, etc. :

Ramones - Too Tough To Die (1984)
Blondie - Parallel Lines (1978)
Donna Summer - Bad Girls (1979)
The Killers - "Somebody Told Me" 12" (2004)
Donna Summer - "Dream-A-Lot's Theme" 12" (2004)

The Knack
- ...but the little girls understand (1980)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

On my turntable: The Osmonds - Crazy Horses

Wow does this album rock. I'm currently of the opinion that Crazy Horses (1972) is the best Osmonds album. As the back cover almost self-consciously states, this album was "Written, Sung, and Played by THE OSMONDS". So why didn't Crazy Horses make the Osmonds rock&roll contenders? Some believe that it was Donny's status as a pre-teen idol that tarnished the band's image (Donny himself addressed this in his book "Life Is Just What You Make It"). While the band was cranking out increasingly heavy rock albums, peaking with the very heavy Mormon Rock Opus The Plan (1973), Donny was hitting the singles charts with "Puppy Love", "Young Love", and "Go Away Little Girl". By the time the Donny & Marie Show debuted in 1975, The Osmonds' rock career seemed sadly over.

In addition to the scorching title track, Crazy Horses features some fantastic songs: "Hey Mr. Taxi", the Beatlesque "Girl", the Zeppelin-inspired "Hold Her Tight", and the gorgeous "And You Love Me". I first purchased this album from the bargain bin at the Apache Plaza Montgomery Wards in the late 70's. At the time I think I was too young to appreciate just how good this album is. Last year I snagged a pristine copy while in Japan, which renewed my interest & helped me to fully understand the greatness that is Crazy Horses.

New Walls & Bridges cover art

I just learned that a newly remixed & remastered version of John Lennon's Walls & Bridges was released last month, with a new cover. I liked the original cover, and gotta say it bothers me when changes like this are made to vintage albums. It's great that it got a re-issue though, as it's a great album.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Wednesday night dinner music

Tonight as Leo & I prepared dinner & cleaned dishes we listened to sides from the following LPs:

Tears For Fears - "Call Me Mellow" 12"
Iffy - "Can O Cope" 12"
Junior Senior - "Move Your Feet" 12"
Beastie Boys - To The 5 Boroughs
Prince - The Rainbow Children
The Beatles
- 1

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

MY letter to the StarTribune

This morning I read a letter to the editor that just set me off. The original letter:

"Have those who criticized the Vatican's recent document on priestly formation actually read it?

The document focuses on evaluating future priests' emotional, spiritual and sexual maturity, as well as their understanding of the gifts of celibacy and human sexuality.

The goal is to provide the Catholic Church with priests of strong moral fiber who are unlikely to prey on those in their care."

I immediately sent my response to her letter to the StarTribune, and they published it! They edited out some of my finer bits, but at least I got my two cents in:


No link to pedophilia

A Nov. 29 letter writer argues that the Vatican's goal in banning gay priests is "to provide the Catholic Church with priests of strong moral fiber who are unlikely to prey on those in their care."

It is hateful rhetoric like this that continues to support the lie that gay people are pedophiles. Gay men are no more prone to preying on children than straight men. In fact, it has been well documented that the majority of pedophiles are straight men.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Iraq: "That'll show 'em"

Lately I've been reading the Opinion section of the StarTribune just so I can know that there are citizens out there who think rationally. This guy totally nails it in his letter regarding Iraq:

"That'll show 'em

Let's see if I understand what we're doing. We lost more than 3,000 Americans in the 9/11 attacks. To get even, we go to war with a country that had nothing to do with the attack. We kill thousands of innocent people at a cost of billions of dollars, and over 2,000 more Americans.

Yes sir, that ought to teach those terrorists.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

2005 records

I purchased very few CDs this past year, getting the majority of my music on LP, 7", or digital download. Here's a list of the 2005 records I bought this year. Note that this only includes new releases that were actually released in 2005:

Outrageous Cherry - Our Love Will Change The World
Burt Bacharach - At This Time
Free Design - Redesigned vol 3
Dressy Bessy - Electrified
Brendan Benson - The Alternative To Love
Beck - Guero
The Muffs - Really Really Happy

Rolling Stones - A Bigger Bang
Paul McCartney - Twin Freaks
Brian Wilson
- What I Really Want For Christmas
Paul McCartney
- Chaos & Creation In The Backyard

Tears For Fears - Call Me Mellow/Everybody Loves A Happy Ending 12"
Fischerspooner - Just Let Go 12"
Brian Wilson - Our Prayer 10"
Paul McCartney - Fine Line/Growing Up Falling Down
Fiery Furnaces - Norwegian Wood/Ted Leo - I'm Looking Through You
Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc/68 State
Weezer - Beverly Hills/Butterfly - live
Oasis - Lyla/Won't Let You Down
Paul McCartney - Jenny Wren/Summer of 59
Franz Ferdinand - Do You Want To/Get Away
Ben Folds - Landed/Bitches Aint Shit
Gito Gito Hustler -Wonderful!/Romantic!

Friday, November 25, 2005

New Big Star on LP!

I was browsing over at Tower.com and learned that In Space, the great new Big Star album is being released on vinyl! Just two days ago I ordered the CD figuring there would be no forthcoming vinyl version (guess I'll be returning the CD!). The vinyl In Space has a street date of 12/13/05.

Update: The release of this LP, according to Towerrecords.com, has been pushed to 1/10/2006.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

My LPs

A portion of my record collection:

On my turntable: Rick Springfield - Comic Book Heroes

I remember looking at this album at the Apache Plaza Musicland in the 70's, intrigued with the cover but not enough to buy it. Comic Book Heroes (1973) was released around the time that Springfield was starring in his own Saturday morning cartoon show, "Mission: Magic" (a spin-off from the "Brady Kids" show). Comic Book Heroes is a glossy pseudo-concept rock album, more Elton than Archies, and definitely worthy of more attention than it has garnered over the years. Another Saturday morning act of the 70's, The Hudson Brothers, made equally fantastic records that stiffed, perhaps proof that pretty-boy good looks can move teen magazines, but won't necessarily sell records.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Pre-TDay cleaning music

While tackling the task of cleaning the kitchen tonight I listened to sides from the various groovy LPs:

Cheap Trick - Found All The Parts 10"
The Vines - Winning Days
The Rutles - Shangri-La 10"
Various Artists - Greenpeace
The Osmonds - Greatest Hits

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Musings from a campus coffee joint

I'm writing from my favorite campus coffee shop, Espresso 22, taking a break from reading student papers. As much as I've enjoyed teaching this semester, I will be glad to focus on some other things this Spring. One of the perks of teaching college students is that it reminds me of what life at 18 was like, and how grateful I am that I'm no longer in that age group. I think that the further away you get from the undergraduate experience, the more tempting it becomes to glamorize those years. When I look back on being an undergrad I remember what a great time of self-discovery it was, and all of the fun and exciting things I did. What I tend to forget is how awkward it was at times, and how much hard work college can be. I wouldn't want to be 20 again. It's insane how much value our culture places on youth - perhaps it's because young people have fewer fiscal responsibilities, thus more spending cash, and fewer budgeting skills.

Monday, November 21, 2005

On my turntable: Wendy & Lisa - Eroica

Eroica (1990) has been sadly out of print for several years, and is particularly hard to find on vinyl. Like their self-titled album from '87, this album is bold evidence of the talents that Wendy & Lisa brought to Prince's Revolution days. Standout tracks include "Rainbow Lake", "Why Wait For Heaven", "Valley Vista", and the insanely catchy single, "Strung Out". Of the four full-length W&L albums, Eroica is my favorite.


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Saturday nite cleaning music

After a necessary late afternoon nap, I had a lite dinner and slowly started cleaning. Whilst folding laundry and cleaning the bunny litter boxes I listened to sides from the following LPs:

The Knack - Round Trip promo e.p.
Great Nation - "Beat The Wall" 12"
Fischerspooner - "Just Let Go" 12"
Brian Wilson presents SMiLE
Everly Brothers - EB84
Donny & Marie - New Season
Various Artists - I'll Be Home For Christmas
The Andy Williams Christmas Album

Everyone Poops...but I poop a lot sometimes

Have you ever pooped so much that you can't imagine where it's all coming from? That's where I am right now. It's true that I am not shy about bowel movements; I don't know how one can live with Crohns or Colitis and not have a sense of humor about crapping. Today my bowels are a wee bit more explosive than usual. I have what you might call a "butt faucet", which is dispensing buckets of brown water. My dear friend Tracy is getting married to her longtime partner in NE Minneapolis as I type this, and I've choosen not to go. I feel pretty bad to have missed the occasion, but I know I'd be uncomfortable right now in such a social setting, feeling as run down as I do. Oh well, back to my throne...

Friday, November 18, 2005

Captain & Tennille on DVD? Could life be sweeter?

And the 70's variety show hits just keep on comin'! First Donny and Marie and now the Captain & Tennille? Am I dreaming?? Consider this added to my Christmas wish list.

Release date: November 22, 2005

December 8, 1980

It's hard to believe that it has been almost 25 years since John Lennon was killed. The picture shown here was taken by Annie Liebowitz on December 8, 1980, just hours before John's murder. After the photo shoot John & Yoko went to the studio to finish Yoko's masterpiece, "Walking On Thin Ice". It was upon their return from the session that John was killed in front of his home.

In 1980 I was a Beatles-obsessed, 14 year-old high school freshman. Before going to bed on the night of December 8th I listened to John & Yoko's new LP
Double Fantasy, which had just recently been released. The next morning I learned the news that John was dead. I stayed home from school that day. Some of the asshole kids at school ridiculed me for it (I didn't have much of a support system in those days). Of course now I understand that John Lennon was just a person, not some super-human mystical being, but it's hard to dispute his astronomical lasting impact on popular culture.

John Gallos, TV's Clancy

Just learned that Clancy the Cop died on Tuesday. My brother and I used to watch the Clancy and Willie show and Carmen the Nurse on WCCO every morning before school. The early 70's were a great time to be a kid if you watched a lot of television.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

On my turntable: Disco Noel

OK here's the deal. I bought this album as a joke, thinking it would be mildly entertaining. The truth is, it's wildly entertaining, and quite good. I love Disco Noel's blatant cheesiness. This album was quickly tossed together in 1979 to cash in on the last gasp of the disco craze, but its formulaic approach to these songs is part of what makes it so great. I imagine all these stuffy leisure-suit-clad business men sitting around the Pickwick Records board room: "What we need is disco Christmas record, see, 'cause that's what all the kids are into, see? Who doesn't love disco? We'll sell millions of 'em!" In the twelve months after this album's release the 'Disco Sucks' movement would effectively kill the disco era.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"The New Cars"

Excerpts from a letter on bassist Kasim Sulton's website (Utopia, The Blackhearts). Pretty big news:

November 14, 2005

I've accepted a position as the Bassist for a new incarnation of an old band ... The Cars! Currently being billed as "The New Cars". I know most of you are aware that Todd Rundgren has also signed on as the lead singer. Pretty cool huh?
We've already recorded some new songs and are scheduled to be touring all next year (2006).
The line up is as follows, Todd, myself, Elliot Easton, Greg Hawks and Prairie Prince. We're planning to record a live CD/DVD sometime after the new year and a possible TV appearance before Christmas.
...I'm really excited to be involved in this new project with a great bunch of guys. I'm sure we'll be doing shows near you and this is one show you really don't want to miss. As soon as the publicity shots from the photo session we did are approved, I'll be putting them up here (www.KasimSulton.com).

Monday, November 14, 2005


From today's "letters" section in the StarTribune. Very nicely stated.

Pastors and gay marriage

Break down walls

Like most of the pastors and ministers in town, I did not attend the so-called "Pastors' Summit" in Eden Prairie (Star Tribune, Nov. 11).

I read that there was a workshop on "the truth of the homosexual lifestyle," led by state Sen. Michele Bachmann's husband.

Maybe I could have helped him out, as my congregation has many members who are lesbian and gay. I know a lot about "the truth" of their lives: about the families they care for, the children they love, the challenges they face in jobs, the mortgages to pay, and, yes, the sin to confess and faith to struggle with -- just like the rest of us.

While my denomination endorses same-gender marriage ("Equal Marriage Rights for All" was passed by the General Synod of the United Church of Christ in July 2005), we're willing to be religiously tolerant and get along with those who believe marriage is male/female only.

But what I -- and my congregation -- are really worried about is that this Minnesota for Marriage seeks not only to ban same-gender marriage but also to dismantle shared insurance benefits and interfere with adoptions. This agenda is plain brutish and mean.

Christianity is about love and "breaking down dividing walls of hostility" (Ephesians 2), not about putting them up.

It's about caring for children and helping the vulnerable. Let's all get with the program.


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Mix Tape: Winter vol. 1

Just before I started typing this I spilled half a can of Fruit Juicy Red Hawaiian Punch onto my keyboard, so I anticipate the possibility of sticky problems...
With the first Minnesota snowstorm of the season on the horizon, I thought it was a good time to make a CD of songs that remind me of Winter. In some cases the songs were released or being played on the radio during the winter months, or it may just be that I was listening to them at a time when there was snow on the ground. Seasons can really evoke particular songs for me, and vice versa. Anyway, here's the tracklist:

"I Believe/All I Need To Know" - Duran Duran
"Just A Chance" - Badfinger
"Miss Sarajevo" - George Michael
"When Time Stood Still" - ELO
"December" - Puffy AmiYumi
"Things Are Better In The East" - Jefferson Airplane
"Teddy Boy" - Paul McCartney
"What I Meant To Say" - Bangles
"God's Mistake" - Tears For Fears
"Orange Crate Art" - Brian Wilson & Van Dyke Parks
"Body Movin' (Fat Boy Slim remix)" - Beastie Boys
"Lime Green Sweater" - The Negro Problem
"Cold" - Julian Lennon
"The Christmas Dance" - Ringo Starr
"Simply Shady" - George Harrison
"Kathleen McArthur" - Tommy James & The Shondells
"Surf City" - Ramones
"Worrying Kind" - Aluminum Group
"Remember Love" - Yoko Ono
"Do They Know It's Christmas (Trevor Horn mix)" - Band Aid

Saturday, November 12, 2005

On my turntable: Franz Ferdinand - "Do You Want To"/"Get Away"

Franz Ferdinand is a band that I've not yet committed myself to. Tonight I bought the new 7" of "Do You Want To", partly because it's such a kickass song, but also because I just love the 7" format. I believe the b-side, "Get Away", is a non-LP track (if anyone knows otherwise please correct me!).

Mix Tape: Jeff's Sunshine 70's, Vol. 3

Ah, the joys of self-indulgence. This morning I threw together my 3rd CD of records that I loved as a kid of the 70's. I wore some of these 45s out so much that the surface hiss from the records was louder than the music. I'm sure at least 50% of them were purchased at Apache Plaza.

"Brand New Me" - Partridge Family
"Apple of My Eye" - Badfinger
"Kiss In The Dark" - Pink Lady
"Bye Bye Baby" - Bay City Rollers
"(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" - Dionne Warwick
"Had Me A Real Good Time" - The Faces
"Fool On The Hill" - Beatles
"Popcorn" - Hot Butter
"The Preamble" - Schoolhouse Rock
"Muskrat Love" - Captain & Tennille
"I'm On My Way Back Home" - Partridge Family
"The Girl I Knew Somewhere" - Monkees
"Gitarzan" - Ray Stevens
"Lovely To See You" - Bay City Rollers
"It's One Of Those Nights (yes love)" - Partridge Family
"Choo Choo Train" - Box Tops
"Tired Of Midnight Blue" - George Harrison
"Roller" - April Wine
"Mechanical Boy" - H.R. Pufnstuf
"Cheese & Onions" - Rutles
"D.W. Washburn" - Monkees
"Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" - Chipmunks

Friday, November 11, 2005

To V or not to V?

I'm thinking of trying the vegan thing again.


On my turntable: Burt Bacharach - At This Time

Leo and I listened to this album several times yesterday. It's hard to believe that it's been over 25 years since Bacharach has released an all-new full-length project (his last was in 1979, I think). Released just this month, At This Time is a tremendous musical return to form for Bacharach. Lyrically the album boldly adresses the sorry state of affairs in our country and abroad. A definite standout is "Who Are These People" featuring Elvis Costello, which has particularly striking lyrics:

This stupid mess we're in just keeps getting worse
So many people dying needlessly
Looks like the liars may inherit the earth
Even pretending to pray
And getting away with it

Bacharach's use of horns and strings is so smooth, like mayonaise on Wonder bread. Only a handful of artists have an original sound that is so unmistakingly theirs, artists like The Beatles, The Ramones, Manilow, and Burt Bacharach. All of the classic sonic elements are on this album, plus a few new ones, such as beats from Dr. Dre which are used on a handful of tracks. Overall, this is a very classy and poignant album from the king of the swingers. The LP version features a different cover than the CD, plus an inner picture sleeve and custom labels.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hate and Bigotry in Minnesota

I'm still too angry to comment rationally on todays "marriage summit" in Minnesota, so I will quote the following reader letters in today's StarTrib:

Act on true immorality

I urge the Minnesota for Marriage group to spend its energy and money on the important issues: for instance, the thousands of soldiers (including their families) and Iraqis whose lives have been lost and/or affected by our occupation.

Or the lack of morals in the current administration, i.e. Lewis Libby's pornographic book, the indictments and the investigations. Or the budget proposals of our government that will cut programs for our children.


Focus on divorce, right?

I have to admit that I was very excited to learn that church leaders would be meeting to discuss the issue of marriage ("Redrawing the lines on same-sex marriage," Nov. 10).

I was hoping for a serious discussion about the skyrocketing divorce rate in this country and its serious social and economic consequences for millions of Americans. I couldn't wait to see what programs and initiatives the esteemed leaders of these churches would develop to support and nurture our families.

I listened further and discovered they weren't worried about divorce. They were worried about gay people getting married!

I guess I'm not surprised -- banning gay marriage is easy. Fixing the problems really plaguing American families is hard and not nearly as fun to talk about.


Website of the week: Soulforce.org


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

On my turntable: Scissor Sisters

Scissor Sisters (2004) is one of the best LPs of the past decade, in my opinion. "Take Your Mama", sounding so much like vintage Elton, was such a fantastic single. Their cover of "Comfortably Numb" (yes the Pink Floyd song) won the Grammy for best dance record earlier this year. The band milked at least four strong singles from this album and toured relentlessly to support it. Check 'em out and buy their LP on lovely full-length vinyl.


And Texas makes 19 hateful states

Yesterday Texans overwhelmingly voted for an amendment to their state constitution, making gay marriage (and any equivalent) illegal. I wonder how long it will take for people to realize how hateful this is. Personally, I feel like the gay community is going to just snap soon (or is it just me?). It is seriously ridiculous to deny any American equal rights. Regardless of what you may think God feels about gays, this country is supposed to have separation of church and state. Yet, these yahoos are using their religious beliefs to flat-out discriminate against a large percentage of citizens. This issue should not even be put to vote. If Americans of the 1960's had been allowed to vote against inter-racial marriage, they would have illegalized that too. Has America lost its ability to think?? Speaking for myself, I've had enough. Gays, lesbians, and their allies need to unite and refuse to sit at the back of the bus.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"'Partridge' Sticks Up For Turkeys"

Shirley Jones is speaking out against factory turkey farming! Now I have yet another reason to love this woman. The following is from peta.org:

"I have a special fondness for birds—and not just partridges, by the way—and all birds feel pain and fear," begins Jones, who recommends trying a Tofurky or UnTurkey vegetarian roast instead of a real bird. "Turkeys—gentle animals who are every bit as interesting and worthy of our concern as dogs and cats—are treated especially badly," she says, going on to explain how many of the birds have their throats slit and are scalded to death in defeathering tanks while they're still conscious.

Shirley Jones rocks. I eat Tofurky every year at Thanksgiving, and find it insanely delicious. I am salivating now just thinking about it. I've not yet tried the UnTurkey - if anyone out there has, please let me know what you think!


Sunday, November 06, 2005

On my turntable: REO Speedwagon - Hi Infidelity

I don't want to give the impression that I am an REO fan, or even a classic rock fan for that matter, but I found a sealed copy of this record today for two bucks and couldn't resist. The shrinkwrap still has the original sticker on it, along with the little price stickers that Musicland used at the time (see scan).

In my early high school years, everyone seemed to have Hi Infidelity (1980), along with Journey's Escape and Foreigner 4. Listening to this album now I still like it a lot, which is interesting considering that the first years of high school were pretty awful. Go figure.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Oh, Mary.

Leo & I found this interesting Mary sculpture quietly tucked away behind plexiglass at one of the apple orchards we visited last week. The orchard owners said that the sculpture had been rescued from a church that no longer stands. It's kinda spooky & cool at the same time.

On my turntable: Prince

Today I finally picked up the tasty Prince (1979) and Dirty Mind (1980) LPs, two albums that were sorely missing from my Prince collection. Of the pre-Purple Rain albums I'm still missing 1999 and Controversy. I never bothered to purchase these albums because I had them on tape for so many years. They sound great on vinyl - definitely the intended and preferred format.

My first exposure to Prince was rollerskating to "I Wanna Be Your Lover" at Apache Plaza's Disco Skate. I remember looking at the Prince album at the nearby Mr. Bojangles record store, and reading a great review of Dirty Mind in Rolling Stone. At the time I knew Prince was from Minneapolis, but didn't really have a great interest in him until Purple Rain (1984). Since then I've seen Prince in concert many times, in large venues and smaller joints like First Avenue, Glam Slam, and Paisley Park. Last year my brother and I were fortunate enough to secure front row seats to Prince and The Time at Xcel Energy Center, which was a total gas.

Friday, November 04, 2005

On my turntable: Paul McCartney - Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

I received this in today's mail, and am listening to side 2 now for the second time. Chaos and Creation in the Backyard is not the McCartney album I wanted it to be, as I had hoped for an LP full of upbeat tunes like "Fine Line", the fantastic first single. Yet, despite its consistent mellowness I am not at all displeased with this album. Producer Nigel Godrich has done a good job at challenging McCartney to work outside of his comfort zone, to make a thoughtful and assumedly personal record. Chaos has been compared to 1970's McCartney, but outside of the fact that Paul played most of the instruments I don't see any similarities. In contrast to the homemade McCartney's rough-edges, Chaos is a very polished, mature, piano-based album.

I'm sure I'll grow to love this album with time; I intend to listen to it a lot over the next week. After initial listens there are some obvious gems: "Fine Line" is one of Paul's greatest singles ever. A charming highlight of last week's St. Paul concert, "English Tea" sounds almost like the Rutles or even Julian Lennon. The album's last upbeat song is "Promise To You Girl", which hints of Wings in its harmonies and guitar. I really like this song! "Jenny Wren", the newest single from the album, was not one of my favorites at first, but I've decided it's quite lovely.

The LP itself is wonderfully packaged in a gatefold sleeve, including several prints of line drawings by artist Brian Clarke. The front cover features a vintage 1962 photo by Mike McCartney, titled
Our Kid Through Mum's Net Curtains. In my opinion, this new album (along with Flaming Pie (1997), Driving Rain (2001), and Flowers In the Dirt (1989)) offers some of Paul's most interesting and enjoyable work of the past 20 years.

The Electric Company

I saw this today at Amazon.com and nearly crapped myself. True story. I am SO EXCITED that The Electric Company is coming out on DVD. I watched this program so much as a kid, and also quite a bit as a freshman in college (it's a good show!). Rita Moreno is hilarious.

Friends and family please note that this DVD comes out in February 2006, in time for my birthday. Thank you.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

On my turntable: A Partridge Family Christmas Card

Yeah, sue me. I am choosing to play Christmas music a little earlier this year. Can't help myself.

A Partridge Family Christmas Card (1971) is one of my favorite holiday records. The review at cmongethappy.com
says it all, so I won't write much more about the album, except that it has the distinction of being the only Partridge record to feature lead vocals by Shirley Jones, who sings on "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and "The Christmas Song".

This is one of just a few Partridge Family records that I didn't own as a kid. I didn't actually hear the album until it was released on CD in the 90's (I've since obtained the LP). Original pressings of the lp came with an actual Christmas card affixed to the front cover. Groovy, no?