Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Monkees on Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour

This is a mighty rare clip of The Monkees on Glen Campbell's show in 1969, their final year as a trio (until the 1986 reunion).

Monday, May 29, 2006

On my turntable: Brian Wilson presents SMiLE


The best record ever made.

I wrote a review of the vinyl SMiLE last year for Ear Candy Magazine, which you can read HERE.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

On my turntable: Linda Ronstadt - Canciones de Mi Padre

In honor of my partner's birthday. This morning he got some special birthday hashbrowns, 'cause nothing says "Las Mañanitas" like a big ol' plate of tasty crispy hashybrowns.

Happy Birthday, puddin'!

On my turntable: Prince - 3121

I don't yet know if there is a full-fledged retail release of this LP. The copy I'm listening to (which arrived today), is a special promo-only 2LP pressing, much like the promo of Musicology that was released 2 years ago. The cover is a simple black sleeve with a sticker of the album art (pictured here) in the top right corner. Kinda cheap looking, considering the hefty price ($34.99).

So far I love 3121. Between the album's first three singles and some mp3s my brother sent me, I'd heard most of the record already. The songs really kick on vinyl, particularly the title track and "Black Sweat". I think I've warmed up to 3121 faster than any Prince album since The Gold Experience (1995). 2004's Musicology was great, but it took me a little while to love some of the songs. 3121 is very accessible, with enough differing musical styles to keep things interesting. At this point, the album's only dud, in my opinion, is "Beautiful, Loved & Blessed". Just nothing too special if you ask me. The rest of the album is special enough to make up for it though.

Monday, May 22, 2006

On my turntable: Paul McCartney - Run Devil Run

I've never much warmed up to this album, and I don't imagine that I will. Listening to it right now is certainly pleasant, and no doubt this is a good album, but there's just nothing incredibly special about it. I understand that McCartney recorded Run Devil Run (1999) soon after the passing of his wife Linda, and that this album was a bit of therapy. He assembled some musician friends and hammered this out quickly, just like he did with The Beatles' Please Please Me (1963) and Wings' Wild Life (1971).

Perhaps it's the 1950's feel of the album that I don't like, as I'm not much a fan of fifties music. I'm also not much a fan of cover albums, even though there are a few decent originals on this record. I do really like the originals "Run Devil Run" and "What It Is", and Paul's version of "I Got Stung". The best track for me is a cover of Larry Williams' "She Said Yeah", which is great.

Run Devil Run sounds unquestionably better on vinyl than it does on CD. The packaging is nice, with vintage-style Parlophone Records labels. There's also a version of the album packaged as a series of 45s in a special carrying case. Overall, it's an album that's certainly worth owning if you're a McCartney fan. For me, Run Devil Run probably ranks in the lower top 5 of his catalog. My faves? Well, since you asked...
Top Five Fave McCartney LPs, not in order:
Band On The Run (1973)
Flowers In The Dirt (1989)
Chaos and Creation In The Backyard (2005)
Ram (1971)
Tug Of War (1982)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Joe Smith, Regular Guy

Saw this online and it made me chuckle (click on image for a larger view):

Saturday, May 20, 2006

On my turntable: Bee Gees - Odessa

Wow. After listening to this album for years on CD, I'm finally listening to Odessa (1969) on vinyl for the first time. I picked up an original copy yesterday at a store called Record Collector in Iowa City. Legend has it that Odessa was the album that broke up the Bee Gees, when Robin quit after Barry's "First of May" was released as a single rather than one of his own songs. It's a very ambitious double album, with incredible songs and a lot of musical diversity, much like the White Album (although perhaps a bit more stylistically unified).

During the first few seconds of the
Odessa LP I could notice an improvement over the thin & tinny sound of the CD. The strings are much fuller, and there's a nice rich presence to the acoustic guitars. The original pressing of Odessa came in a gatefold sleeve covered in red velvet, with simply "Bee Gees Odessa" printed on the front in gold letters. It's not easy to find a copy in nice shape, which is why I had to snatch this one up.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Iowa City or bust

Tomorrow I'm piling into a van with five of my work colleagues and heading to Iowa City for a regional Academic Advising conference. It should be fun -- I've not attended a professional conference for a couple of years, so I feel like I'm due. I'm mostly excited to see the city and visit some of the record shops, particularly Record Collector, which is walking distance from my hotel.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

On my turntable: GitoGito Hustler - Love & Roll

I really like this record. I learned about GitoGito Hustler in 2004 when I impulsively purchased their "Wonderful!" 7". They just looked so punky and perky that I figured I'd love them, and I do! Their new LP Love & Roll (2006) is a perfect mix of the Ramones & the Go-Go's, sung in Japanese (except for a brilliant cover of Grand Funk/Little Eva's "Locomotion"). As of my second listen, my favorite songs are "Spherical Mass", "Maybe Love", "Locomotion" and the title track. The LP is pressed on gorgeous light blue vinyl by Gearhead Records. I hope to see these gals play live someday, perhaps in Japan!

www.GitoGito.org

Monday, May 15, 2006

A few words about the FMA

From HRC.org:

The Federal Marriage Amendment is discriminatory.
It is wrong to single out a group of Americans for second-class status.

The Federal Marriage Amendment undermines the Constitution.
The Constitution should expand freedoms for Americans, not limit them.

The Federal Marriage Amendment is not what Congress should be focusing on.
Between the war in Iraq, rising health care costs and the continuing threat of terrorism, Congress has much more important things that it should be dealing with other than a constitutional amendment banning marriage between same-sex couples.

What I'm drinking


As I type this I'm enjoying my first bottle of Coca-Cola Blāk. It's interesting, and somewhat tasty, although I must say that upon my first sip I went "What the..?". You can definitely taste the mix of Coke and coffee, and it comes in a delightful old-fashioned glass 8 oz coke bottle, which is cool. I definitely like Blāk more than that silly Tab Energy drink. I'm just sayin'.

Blāk

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Tonight's 45's

I had a good time tonight dusting off and spinning some old 7 inch records. I'm sure it's been over 20 years since I've heard some of these.

Michael Jackson - "You Can't Win (Pt 1)"
Roger Daltrey
- "Without Your Love"
Rod Stewart - "Leave Virginia Alone"
Chilliwack
- "My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)"
Elton John - "Little Jeannie"
The Babys - "Midnight Rendezvous"
The Osmonds - "Keep On My Side"
Get Wet - "Just So Lonely"
Journey - "Good Morning Girl/Stay Awhile"
Olivia Newton-John - "You Made Me Love You"
Barry Manilow - "I Don't Want To Walk Without You"
Earth, Wind & Fire - "After The Love Has Gone"
Neil and Dara Sedaka
- "Should've Never Let You Go"
Olivia Newton-John
- "A Little More Love"

On my turntable: Wings - Venus and Mars

I've always thought this album dounded dull, sonically. It's muddy and could benefit from a new mix. Venus and Mars (1975) has many good songs, although it's not hard to imagine the McCartneys smoking a lot of pot at the time.

Shortcomings aside, Venus and Mars is a good time. Recorded in New Orleans, this record was definitely made to be played in arenas. It's a strong band album, featuring lead vocals from Paul, Denny Laine, and lead guitarist Jimmy McCulloch, who sings the self-penned "Medicine Jar". Highlights: "Spirits of Ancient Egypt", the huge hit "Listen To What the Man Said", and the kickass "Rock Show".

One of V&M's greatest strengths is its packaging, beginning with Linda McCartney's striking cover photo. The gatefold LP cover came packed with all sorts of goodies, including two full-sized posters and a handful of stickers.

Bookended with Band On the Run (1973) and Speed Of Sound (1976), Venus and Mars is part of a strong trilogy of albums that represents one of the best bands of the 70's. Paul defintely deserves props for creating such a successful band from scratch, considering that he'd just stepped away from the biggest group in music history.

Friday, May 12, 2006

I wouldn't cross the street to see them

When my brother and I were younger, whenever we begged our parents to let us go to a concert my mom's response would often be "I wouldn't cross the street to see them." This morning I heard the song "Going Up The Country" by Canned Heat, and determined that I would indeed not cross the street to see this band. Which brings me to my latest Top 10 list:

Top 10 bands I wouldn't cross the street to see:

10. Jimmy Buffett
9. Steely Dan
8. Canned Heat
7. Hot Tuna
6. King Crimson
5. Coldplay
4. Phish
3. Rush
2. Bruce Hornsby & The Range
1. G. B. Leighton (no offense, GB fans)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

On my turntable: Quasi - When The Going Gets Dark

When the Going Gets Dark (2006) is certainly an appropriate title for the new Quasi album. With its moments of craziness and intense, fleeting psychedelia, the darker tone of this record renders it less instantly accessible than previous Quasi records. It makes 1999's Field Studies sound like the friggin' Brady Kids.

After half a dozen listens to
Dark I think I'm starting to warm up to it. "Peace and Love", "The Rhino", and "Poverty Sucks" are probably my favorites ("Alice the Goon" gets honorable mention for the lyric "I'm Popeye the Sailor man, I live in a garbage can"). The instrumentation for this album is basically the same as any Quasi record: drums, bass, guitar, percussion, keys, and the ever-moody mellotron.

Thanks to my dear friend Amy Dietz who turned me on to Quasi a few years back. I hope I've returned the favor at some point!

Monday, May 08, 2006

FMA print ad

Click on ad to view full-sized version:

What I'm reading: KISS - Behind the Mask

Unless I'm reading for academics, I generally don't like books that require a big commitment. Music biography books like KISS - Behind the Mask are my favorites because you can pick them up at any time and just start reading from any page.

KISS- Behind the Mask interviews virtually all of the key players in "kisstory", from producers to promoters to hangers-on, to everyone that has played with the band. The most interesting bits are those where band members contradict one another in their recollections of a particular incident or song/album. It's a very entertaining read that provides a lot of insight into the inner workings of Kiss.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

On my turntable: The Beach Boys - Surf's Up

Surf's Up (1971) is one of my top spring LPs. During my freshman year at UMD I was obsessed with the Beach Boys, learning everything I could about the band and snatching up their records left and right. I purchased Surf's Up at Chester's, a used book store in downtown Duluth (pic above), which we just called the "dirty book store". Listening to this album reminds me of living in Griggs Hall, which overlooked the lovely Lake Superior. It was a pretty special place.

I think part of what makes Surf's Up such an interesting record is that it sounds like a band that is splintering. Brian Wilson's personal problems were causing him to withdraw from the band, still he managed to contribute one of his most amazing songs, "Till I Die". In Brian's absence Carl Wilson really shines, with the superb "Feel Flows" and "Long Promised Road". "Disney Girls (1957)", remains one of Bruce Johnston's best songs. Of course there's also the album's title track, culled from the 1966/67 Smile sessions. To me the song sounds like a bit of a hatchet job, assembled without Brian's input. Overall, Surf's Up stands out as one of the stronger Beach Boys albums from the 1970-1974 period, a highly creative time for the band.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Today's records

Stew - Guest Host
Beck - Guero
The Clash - London Calling
Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother
Nasa - Insha-Allah!
Journey - Infinity
Wendy & Lisa - Erioca
The Who - Live At Leeds
Ramones - Road to Ruin
The Muffs - Really Really Happy
Hudson Bros - Totally Out of Control
Electric Light Orchestra - Out of the Blue


I purchased Stew's Guest Host LP (pictured above) through his website, and he autographed it: "Hey Jeff - The gov't keeps a list of everyone who still listens to vinyl. You have been warned! Love Stew." Click on the album cover for a closeup!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Super cool blog of the week: Dump Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann is so obsessed with the gays that it's a wonder she gets any work done. The blog DumpMicheleBachmann does a great job detailing just how wacko this woman is.

Dump Michele Bachmann

Thursday, May 04, 2006

"A Week in Northeast"

As someone who was born and raised in Northeast Minneapolis, I consider Nordeast to be "the motherland". It's both gratifying and just a little sad to see Northeast become this hip & happenin' place, no longer the secret cool part of town. Yet despite all the physical changes Northeast has seen over the past few years, the good news is that the culture feels largely unchanged.

This week's A&E section of the Minnesota Daily has a feature on Northeast that is a good read, for those of you who might be interested (just click on the link below):

A Week in Northeast

Federal Marriage Ammendment

It's mind boggling to me that this is a Federal issue, with all the shit that is happening in this country at the moment. There are still people suffering from hurricane Katrina. American soldiers dying in Iraq. And yet, congress finds it more important to focus on writing discrimination and hate into the constitution. Tell your senators to do the right thing:

VOTE NO

Super cool website of the week: VaultKicks.org

This unofficial fansite is a wee bit obsessive for a soda that's still relatively new, but I give them props for their energy (which they probably got from, well, drinking Vault soda). Vault Zero is my current soda of choice.

www.vaultkicks.org

Official Vault website: www.DrinkVault.com

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

On my turntable: The Flaming Lips - "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song"/"Why Does It End?"

I've never considered myself a fan of this band, but dammit this song is irresistible. I picked up the new 45 tonight at one of the local shops and am listening to it now for the third time. Very catchy, upbeat, quirky pop. As an added bonus, the b-side is a non-LP track. And it's a very cool & colorful picture disc! You don't get any of this stuff with an mp3!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

"Harumph"

Austin seems largely unimpressed with his surroundings in this picture. If he could speak he might be saying "Entertain me, dammit."

Austin's a funny little guy.