Tuesday, February 28, 2006

On my turntable: Ringo Starr - Blast From Your Past

Tonight I had a hankerin' for some music from a simpler time, and chose this gem. Aside from Ringo's post-rehab albums (which I'll get to in a second), Blast From Your Past (1975) is probably the most essential Ringo LP. At the time of this album's release, Ringo was a legitimate hitmaker, second only to Paul McCartney for post-Beatles hits. It's true. This album has one hit after another: "It Don't Come Easy", "Back Off Boogaloo", "Photograph", and "I'm The Greatest", which John Lennon wrote for 1973's Ringo LP.

Ringo's greatest albums, in my opinion, are the ones that he's put out in more recent, sober years.
Vertical Man (1998), Ringo Rama (2003), Time Takes Time (1992) and last year's Choose Love are all very solid albums worth checking out.

On my CD player: Bee Gees - Love Songs

You may be asking, "why is this collection not on Jeff's turntable"? Well, that's a good question! The simplest answer is that Love Songs (2005) has not been released on vinyl. My guess is that Polydor put this out in order to cash in on Walmart shoppers looking for Valentines Day gifts.

Love Songs is a nice collection, although not what I would personally assemble as the Bee Gees' best smoochy tunes. Over half of the songs come from the group's post-disco output, which is good, considering that this era is so sorely overlooked. I've read criticisms that Robin Gibb produced this collection without brother Barry's input, which would explain the odd inclusion of Robin's solo track "Juliet", the most disposable song on the disc. There's some lovelies here though: "Words", "First Of May", "How Deep Is Your Love", "Secret Love" and "For Whom The Bell Tolls" are personal favorites. Overall, this is not an essential collection. If you buy just one Bee Gees disc, 2004's Number Ones CD is better, in my opinion.

Monday, February 27, 2006

"Do not limit rights of people who are different"

From the StarTribune, one of the best Letters I've seen yet, regarding the proposed Amendment to the MN Constitution:

Do not limit rights of people who are different

The banning of same-sex unions via a constitutional amendment is being raised again in our state. I am very much opposed to such an amendment. I see this as a question of equal rights and justice. The amendment would abridge the rights of people who happen to be gay or lesbian. I do not feel that my marriage of 46 years is endangered in any way by the existence of same-sex couples. I do feel endangered by people who would seek that abridgement of rights.

Our U.S. and state constitutions are frameworks that spell out the powers and limits of our government. They are in place to ensure rights of citizens -- not deny them. Amendments have been added to reinforce these rights, but none that limit or eliminate them.

Setting up religious beliefs as the basis for this amendment also violates the provision in the U.S. Constitution dealing with the freedom of religion. A separation of the entities of church and state was very intentional, in part because of the history of religious intolerance that was instrumental in the settling of our country.

It concerns me that people who consider themselves religious feel they have the moral right to insert into our Constitution a provision that would adversely affect people who, through no fault of their own, are "different." To remove civil rights because of these differences is an injustice and only adds hurt and insult to their lives.

Milk is a lie

Cow's milk, created by nature for baby calves, is not good for humans. There I said it. I can say what I want 'cause it's my blog. As Americans, we are misled to believe that dairy is the only way to get enough calcium in our diets. There has been an increasing amount of research on this topic over the past decade, including this article from the University of Evansville that I just read this morning :

READ

While I'm not personally a vegan at the moment, the dairy that I do consume is basically limited to what's included in some baked goods, and the occasional pizza. At home I always use soy milk, which is both delicious AND nutritious. I hear lots of people get very worked up over this topic, saying that there's no way they could live without cheese & ice cream. I say this is fine, just don't live under the illusion that dairy is a health food.

Here's another article I just found, which is a bit more interesting to read:

MORE READING

Saturday, February 25, 2006

On my turntable: Bee Gees - Mr. Natural

Mr. Natural (1974) marked the beginning of the 2nd life of the Bee Gees. With this album the band left behind their Beatlesque sound, working with famed producer Arif Mardin to create a new, more adult sounding record. It wasn't a huge hit for them, but the follow-up, Main Course (1975), was.

This is a sorely overlooked classic album by one of the most important groups in pop history. A few weeks ago I scored a sealed copy on eBay, and it sounds o'so nice. Fave tracks: "Charade", "Throw A Penny", "Down The Road", "Dogs", and the title track.

1978 Kinneys Commercial

Wow.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Super cool website of the week: Malls Of America

My Apache Plaza website is listed as a link! I'm honored, because this really is a great site:

Malls of America

Top 10 Fave bands of all time

Ah the joys of self indulgence. For those of you who may give a shit, here are my favorite bands of all time, as of 9:21 this morning. Note that solo artists are not included on this list.

10. Ramones
9. Bangles
8. Bay City Rollers
7. Go-Go's
6. Redd Kross
5. Bee Gees
4. Prince & The Revolution
3. The Monkees
2. The Beach Boys
1. The Beatles

Proposed MN constitutional amendment

Here's the deal. This proposed gay marriage amendment is nothing but a political ploy. That's all it is. The amendment is masked as a "moral issue", but it's deeply rooted in fear, ignorance, and hate, designed to get people to the polls. Minnesota already prohibits gay marriage, so all this amendment would do is outlaw existing domestic partnerships, thus endangering health benefits for thousands of hard working Minnesota families. How is this a good thing? How is this "Christian" or moral? It is destructive and hateful, and it is keeping us away from focusing on real issues that matter, such as the war, homelessness, education, poverty, the environment. Not one straight marriage will EVER be saved by an amendment such as this; it can only serve to discriminate and strip thousands of citizens of their basic rights, which is horribly wrong.

Monday, February 20, 2006

On my turntable: George Harrison - All Things Must Pass (2001)

Originally released in 1970, All Things Must Pass is one of the most important albums in pop music history, in my opinion. The sound on this 2001 remastered & repackaged 30th Anniversary LP box is very true to the original release, but better. The artwork has been revamped as well, with unique sleeves for each record, plus a nice 8-page booklet featuring credits & new notes from George. If I could only keep 10 records from my collection, I think I'd have to include this.

Billy Cowsill

My brother just sent me the sad news that Billy Cowsill, the oldest of the Cowsill brothers, died on Friday. He lived with emphysema, osteoporosis, Cushing syndrome and other stuff, so he was not without his health problems, but it still sucks. The Cowsill family is still recovering from the loss of their brother Barry, who died as a result of hurricane Katrina. Bill will be sorely missed.

Cowsill.com

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Awwwwww.

My partner Leo with our rabbit Simon, back in December.
How friggin cute is this? Such a snuggle bunny.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Today's listening pleasures

LPs on my turntable:
Blondie - Plastic Letters
The Elected - Sun, Sun, Sun
Prince - Musicology
Cheap Trick - All Shook Up
Wings - Wild Life
B-52's - Cosmic Thing
ELO - Discovery
Duran Duran - Astronaut
Miles Davis - In A Silent Way
Beatles - Yellow Submarine Songtrack

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Top 10 Fave Partridge Family LPs

10. Cherish - David Cassidy (1972)
9. Crossword Puzzle (1973)
8. Notebook (1972)
7. Home is Where The Heart Is - David Cassidy (1976)
6. Bulletin Board (1973)
5. Dreams Are Nuthin More Than Wishes... - David Cassidy (1973)
4. Shopping Bag (1972)
3. Up To Date (1971)
2. Partridge Family Album (1970)
1. Sound Magazine (1971)

PRINCE & WENDY

Back on stage together at yesterday's Brit Awards performance! Sheila E . was there too, and if you look closely you'll see someone in the back that looks like it could be Lisa!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Top 10 Fave LPs by Duran Duran

10. Liberty (1990)
9. Medazzaland (1997) (CD only?)
8. Thank You (1995)
7. Duran Duran (1981)
6. Pop Trash (2000) (CD only)
5. Rio (1982)
4. Notorious (1986)
3. Big Thing (1988)
2. Astronaut (2004)

1. Wedding Album (1993)

Monday, February 13, 2006

Top 10 Fave LPs by REM

10. Green (1988)
9. Up (1998)
8. Monster (1994)
7. Around The Sun (2004)
6. Reckoning (1984)
5. Life's Rich Pageant (1986)
4. Automatic For The People (1992)
3. Document (1987)
2. Eponymous (1988)

1. Out Of Time (1991)

Top 10 Fave Kids' Cereals

10. Cookie Crisp
9. Cap'n Crunch w/Crunch Berries
8. Froot Loops
7. Sugar Pops
6. Apple Jacks
5. Freakies
(defunct)
4. Super Sugar Crisp
3. King Vitaman
2. Kaboom
(defunct?)
1. Quisp

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Manilow is #1!!

It's true, Barry Manilow has the number one album in the country. This is Barry's first number one since 1977's Manilow Live. Here's the official statement from www.Manilow.com:

"It’s Official!
Thanks to your support during the first week, Barry’s new album, THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE FIFTIES, has debuted in the TOP SPOT on the Billboard Top 200 chart!!!"

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Today's Long Players

Death By Chocolate - Zap The World (2002)
Elvis Costello - All This Useless Beauty (1996)
Incredible String Band - 5000 Spirits (1967)
Neil Diamond - 12 Songs (2005)
Kiss - Killers (1982)
Donovan - Barabajagal (1968)
Bee Gees - One (1989)

Friday, February 10, 2006

On my turntable: The Beatles - Past Masters Volumes One & Two

When this album was first released back in 1988, I (like most consumers) chose the CD format over vinyl. I knew at the time that CDs sounded different than records, but I mistook that for sounding better. What I know now is that a good turntable equipped with a great cartridge is going to produce better sound than most CDs.

I first started collecting the Beatles in the 5th grade, when I received Meet The Beatles, Let It Be, and the import Beatles Greatest for my 11th birthday. I stopped buying new Beatles vinyl for a short period in the late 80's & early 90's, but resumed with the excellent Anthology
LPs. Today I only purchase new music on CD if I know there is not a vinyl version, which last year equated to just 3 or 4 CDs.

So in today's mail I finally recieved a vinyl copy of the original U.S. pressing of
Past Masters Vol 1&2. It boasts an impressive 33 tracks, in a sleek black & white gatefold sleeve. The album has the first-known true stereo versions of "This Boy", "The Inner Light" , "She's A Woman" and "Yes It Is" on American vinyl.

Top 10 Fave LPs by Cheap Trick

10. Lap Of Luxury (1988)
9. Silver (2000) - CD only
8. One On One (1982)
7. Cheap Trick (1997) - CD only
6. Dream Police (1979)
5. Cheap Trick (1977)
4. Special One (2003)
3. Heaven Tonight (1978)
2. All Shook Up (1980)

1. In Color (1977)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Just Because...

On my turntable: The Beatles - 1

If I were ever to do a "Top 10 Fave vinyl LPs" list, The Beatles' 1 (2000) would be in the Top 3 for sure. Although not the ultimate Beatles collection (the combination of the Red & Blue albums are the ultimate, in my opinion), it wins hands down for best sound and best packaging. The LP is packaged in a heavyweight gatefold sleeve, and includes a large poster of various 45 picture sleeves, plus four individual color portraits by Richard Avedon.

Aside from what sounds like tape deterioration on "She Loves You", the sound on 1 is superb. I've read reports from others that say the vinyl of this album sounds better than the CD, and I'd have to agree (although I tend to prefer the sound of vinyl in most cases). If you buy just one Beatles record, this is the one to get.

Top 10 Fave TV shows of all time

10. Laugh-In
9. MTV's The Real World
8. H.R. Pufnstuf
7. The Electric Company
6. Will & Grace
5. All My Children
4. Brady Bunch
3. Partridge Family
2. The Monkees
1. A Different World

Electric Company DVD!!!


Click here (Quicktime) or here (WMV) to watch a preview of the new Electric Company 4-DVD set!

Life is sweet.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

On my turntable: Neil Diamond - 12 Songs

This is the first Neil Diamond album that I've ever bought. Although I've never been a fan, I have always understood that he's a great songwriter. I think my distaste for the Diamond was solidified when I was an employee at a TicketMaster calling center, where the female callers would be frantic during sales of Neil's shows. "I must have front row!!" Well, ma'am, let's see what we have. Looks like the best available seats are obstructed view. Suck it up.

Genius producer Rick Rubin was at the helm for
12 songs (2005), which was just released on double vinyl by Sony. The album's sparse arrangements allow the focus to be on the songs, which are quite good. After just a few listens my favorites are "Man Of God,", "We", "I'm On To You", and bonus track "Delirious Love" with Brian Wilson.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

My first kiss...

Last night as I was giving our rabbit Simon a little extra hay I bent down to give him a smooch on the nose and he licked my face! I ended up with several little bunny kisses right on the nose. For rabbit owners, the lick is the ultimate expression of acceptance, that you've won their trust and they are happy with you. Simon is one sweet little rabbit.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Top 5 Fave LPs of 2006 (so far)

Of the new records I've purchased so far this year ("new" being defined as new to my collection):

5. London Calling - The Clash (1980)
4.
Sun, Sun, Sun - The Elected (2006)
3.
One Way Ticket to Hell - The Darkness (2005)
2.
Totally Out Of Control - Hudson Bros. (1974)
1. In Space - Big Star (2005)

Saturday, February 04, 2006

On my turntable: The Elected - Sun, Sun, Sun

I bought this album yesterday (it was just released this past week), and have listened to it a couple of times. I don't know much about The Elected, but I believe this is their 2nd album. The music on Sun, Sun, Sun is very rich and melodic, with nice vocals that sound quite a bit like The Thrills. So far my favorite songs are "Fireflies in a Steel Mill", "Not Going Home" and the title track. There's currently an mp3 of "Not Going Home" available for download at the SubPop records website.

The cover art for the LP version of Sun, Sun, Sun is completely different from the CD version, which is pretty cool. The art even features fake ringwear to make it look vintage. The LP itself sounds lovely, and comes with an enclosed lyric sheet. Nifty stuff.

Official Elected website

Thursday, February 02, 2006

On my turntable: David Cassidy - Dreams Are Nuthin' More Than Wishes...

This album was a missing link in my collection for years. When I was a kid I borrowed Dreams Are Nuthin' More Than Wishes...(1973) from the Northeast Public Library, and loved it. I remember sitting on the driveway by the garage listening to it on my crappy little portable cassette player. I've been looking for the album ever since. Of course I've seen it regularly on eBay, but I'm thrifty, er, cheap, so I refused to bid very much for it. I'm glad I stuck to my guns because last week I purchased a copy for 10 cents. Ten pennies, folks (plus shipping & handling).

Dreams has a recurring dream theme in each of its songs, which makes this a bit of a concept album. I've always thought it was one of David Cassidy's best records. It just has a nice, reflective, summer feel to it. Highlights: Nilsson's "The Puppy Song", "Daydreamer", "Summer Days" (originally recorded with The Partridge Family), and "Can't Go Home Again".

Top 15 Fave new artists of the past 15 years

To clarify, by "new artist" I mean artists whose debut was in the past fifteen years. Obviously most of these bands could not even be considered "new" at this point. If I were to look at this again next week it might be a completely different list, and chances are I'm forgetting a band or two. This was harder than I expected it to be! I gave more weight to bands if I owned more than one of their albums (hence why Nirvana didn't make the cut), unless they've only released one (froSTed, for example). Told ya I was a music geek. Anyway, here goes:

15. Ben Folds Five
14. The Killers
13. The Negro Problem
12. Puffy AmiYumi
11. froSTed
10. Weezer
9. The Vines
8. High Llamas
7. Sean Lennon
6. Scissor Sisters
5. Beck
4. Cree Summer
3. tie: Jupiter Affect/Permanent Green Light
2. The Muffs

1. Wondermints

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

On my turntable: Bee Gees - 2 Years On

It's been my opinion that the Bee Gees' best albums were those released between 1969-1974. 2 Years On was the group's 1971 "reunion" album, having split up after the LP and television special, Cucumber Castle (1970). In many ways this album sounds like Bee Gees records from the late 60's, but you can hear them trying to move away from the psychedelic stuff that most bands were abandoning at the time. My personal picks: "Back Home", "Tell Me Why", Maurice's "Lay It On Me", "Every Second, Every Minute", and the Beatlesque hit, "Lonely Days".

I was lucky enough to see the Bee Gees perform live just once, on the 1989 "One" tour. My full-blown obsession with the band began in 1992 when I started buying their older CDs, most of which I believe are still in print.

Top 5 fave sodas

First of all, allow me to say that I know soda is bad. Having said that, I must admit that I drink a lot of it. Here for your inquiring minds, are my favorite sodie pops, in ranked order:

5. Diet Pepsi
4. Josta (defunct)
3. Tab
2. OK (defunct)
1. Diet Dr. Pepper

New vinyl releases

New records I'll be checking out (release dates may be subject to change):
1/24

The Elected - Sun, Sun, Sun
The Darkness - One Way Ticket To Hell...and Back
1/31
Neil Diamond - 12 songs (with bonus tracks)
2/21
Gito Gito Hustler - Gito Gito Galore (10")
Prince - Black Sweat (12" single)

Super cool website of the week: Milk Gone Wild

Milk Gone Wild