Saturday, June 30, 2007

What I'm reading: 16 Magazine

I went to Hymie's monthly basement sale this afternoon and picked up some vintage 16 magazines for a buck each. They're all from 1967-68, and are filled with fluffy stories about The Monkees, Beatles, Rascals, Cowsills, etc.. They're a lot of fun to read.

When I was a pre-teen in the 70's I used to ride my bike or skateboard to our neighborhood 7-11, where I would buy the latest 16 mag and probably a slurpee. I had no idea 16 was a magazine for teenage girls - I just knew my favorite bands were always featured in it. You would think that articles such as "Win a dream date with Andy Gibb" and "Leif Garret - what he loves most in a girl" would have tipped me off, but I was clueless. So when a neighborhood boy made fun of me for carrying 16 out of the store I was mortified. I felt shame over an innocent little magazine. I should have thrown my slurpee in the kid's fat face. It was just as well - I was ready to move on to legitimate music magazines like Rolling Stone and Creem anyway. I don't think I bought 16 ever again. Until today, that is!

11:05 a.m.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Keith Ellison works for America

From Associated Press:

Freshman U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota, has added his name to an uphill effort to remove Vice President Dick Cheney from office through impeachment, a spokesman confirmed Friday.

I voted for Keith Ellison, and so far he has repeatedly proven himself dedicated to the best interests and needs of the American people. Thank you, Keith.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

On my turntable: David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust

I held off on liking Bowie for as long as I could. I always thought his fans were a bit pretentious, perhaps obnoxious (in a pretentious sort of way), and I didn't want to be lumped in with them as a "fan". In the summer of 1995 Mojo Magazine published "The 100 Greatest Albums Ever Made", which inspired me to take a risk on some cheap used LPs I'd never heard. Number 25 on the list was Bowie's Hunky Dory (1971), which really grew on me. I loved it. Soon I broke down and bought Station to Station (1976), and eventually, secretly, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (1972).

I still think there are a lot of poser Bowie fans out there (same thing goes for Iggy), but I now have more understanding for the sincere fans of the world. Bowie has released some really good records, including Ziggy Stardust. It is original and sincere, and very 1972 Glam. Played back to back with T.Rex's Electric Warrior (1971) you would have a super-duper glamtastic glam fest. I can see why this is considered to be an important rock album.

5:15 p.m.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

stack 'O' records

Tonight I filed back LPs I've listened to in the past week. I enjoy filing my records, admiring them, showing them love. It has taken me about 30 years to build such a kickass collection. I feel sorry for young people who have never owned records; digital music collections have no life in them, no character or history. My albums have lived with me through numerous homes and a half dozen different turntables. It's a special relationship.

din-hare time

Guilty pleasure

Beatles family reunion

Did anyone else catch Larry King last night? I thought Larry was a bit of a boob but otherwise it was nice. I love Olivia Harrison - she seems like a very sweet woman.

Monday, June 25, 2007

New Bee Gees vinyl box

This week Rhino records released a limited edition (5,000) 6-LP box set of the first three Bee Gees LPs along with three LPs worth of extras. I'm not making this shit up. The 6-CD version was released last fall, and I guess it must have sold well enough to warrant a vinyl version. Most retailers I've seen are selling it for around $120. Here's what's inside:

- Each reissue features the original album in stereo, plus a second disc of rare and unreleased tracks pulled for the first time every from the Bee Gees' tape vaults.

- In-depth liner notes featuring brand new interviews from Barry and Robin Gibb.

- 36-page booklet featuring rare and previously unseen photos.

- Deluxe packaging featuring three gatefold jackets.

- 180-gram HQ vinyl pressed at RTI.

- Mastered by Kevin Gray at AcousTech Mastering.


After learning that I'm getting a sizable tax refund this year (and I thought I was going to owe money) I ordered my own copy. I could not resist. The late-60's are my favorite period for the Bee Gees, and Rhino always does such an excellent job with vinyl. I'll be sure to post once I've given the LPs a spin, so stay tuned!

On my television: The Monkees

On my turntable: Prince - Graffiti Bridge

In the summer of 1990 I received a rough mix of the forthcoming Prince album from a friend of mine who was on the crew for the film of the same name, Graffiti Bridge. During late-nite jaunts to our local burger joint this friend would share stories about the making of the movie as it was happening. As a Prince fan I found them very entertaining, but also a little disheartening, since they painted a picture of a Prince that was no longer on top of his game. Sure enough, after a few delays, Graffiti Bridge opened in theaters and it was brutally awful. I wanted so badly to like this movie, but I found it to be dark and horribly dull. And dreadful. And bad. WOW was it a stinker.

On the other hand, the accompanying soundtrack was packed with exciting new music from Prince and associates. To this day it remains one of my favorite Prince records. The album has a few low points (especially the schmaltzy title track, which sounds like it's from a third-rate Disney cartoon), but overall it's a highly charged and very interesting collection. Even better was Pandemonium (1990), the album from the reunited Time, who were also in the film. The album preceeded Graffiti Bridge by a few weeks, and wound up being one of the best rock/funk albums of all time, in my opinion.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

radishes

I picked these up at the co-op this afternoon. I wish I had one of those Ronco contraptions that transforms radishes into roses. That would be extra fancy.

Back to life

Yesterday was nice. Leo and I went to the Pride festival for a couple of hours and then went to 5:00 mass. It was great being able to walk just a block from the park to our church. The park was crowded but manageable and the weather was almost perfect. It's always nice to see all the families that come to the festival, especially those that bring their dogs! You couldn't swing a dead cat yesterday without hitting a puppy dawg, most of which were having the time of their lives sniffing everything, getting tons of attention, checking out the other pups. I think the dogs were the happiest ones there.

The parade is happening in a couple of hours and I'll probably stay away on account of the heat. Leo's out of town today and I don't think I'd have much fun at the parade without him anyway. I figure there are a couple of record stores that I've neglected as of late. There's also that mountain of dirty laundry that's staring me down.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

10:28 p.m.

PRIDE


I used to be one of those folks who said "I don't know why the gays need to make such a big deal about this "pride" business, with their big parades and all that hoo-ha." Seven years after my first parade I totally get it. It's a celebration of our history, our triumphs, our challenges. It's about community, families, love, friendship, hope. It's an opportunity to truly belong, in a country where we're so often told we don't belong. I look forward to Pride weekend each year and the opportunity to be at the park with my partner and our peeps, gay and straight. Good times.

Happy TC Pride everyone!

On my turntable: Scissor Sisters

Scissor Sisters (2004) is one of the strongest debut albums I've ever heard. It seemed like it took a while for this album to gain momentum, but the band worked hard by touring, promoting, and slowly building their fan-base. The Scissor Sisters are probably the first openly gay band to break into the mass consciousness. I have mucho respect for this band. I also like their records a great deal.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tonite's 45's


It's been a while since I just hung out and listened to my 45's. I had a good time spinning these records tonight:

The Hives - "Hate To Say I Told You So"
Journey - "Good Morning Girl/Stay Awhile"
Gorillaz - "Feel Good Inc"
The Babys - "Midnight Rendezvous"
Rod Stewart - "Passion"
Georgie Fame - "Yeh, Yeh"
The 5th Dimension - "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In"
Cyndi Lauper - "Maybe He'll Know"
Barry Manilow - "One Voice"

On my turntable: Aluminum Group - Happyness

Back in '99 my dear friend Amy mailed me a little package that included a couple of CDs by The Aluminum Group. Attached was a little note that said "This sounds like something you might like". Amy knows my tastes pretty well, so it was no huge surprise when The Aluminum Group's Plano (1998) became one of my favorite CDs of that year.

Happyness (2002) is a great mix of lounge, pop, jazz, and dance. It was the first of a trilogy of "happy" albums. The second, More Happyness (2004) wasn't as good (in my opinion), and the third, Little Happyness, remains unreleased. I've read that the group plans to release the final album and then break up.

Best of 2007 Quarter II

This quarter I found quite a bit of new music by surfing other peoples' blogs. There's so much new music out there that sometimes I wonder what I am missing! This batch features a handful of tried & true artists (McCartney, Who, Brian Wilson, Duran Duran), and some newer bands I'd never heard before (Sunshine Underground, Electric Soft Parade, Peter Bjorn & John). To my knowledge at least half of these are available on either LP or 7" vinyl.

1. "Call Me What You Like (if you like rock-n-roll)" - Puffy Amiyumi
2. "Ever Present Past" - Paul McCartney
3. "Makes Me Wonder" - Maroon 5
4. "Young Folks" - Peter, Bjorn & John
5. "Get Up and Go" - Polyphonic Spree
6. "What Love Can Do" - Brian Wilson
7. "Birds and the Bees" - The Bird and the Bee
8. "Tears for Affairs" - Camera Obscura
9. "Instant Karma" - Duran Duran
10. "Big Boys" - Jackdaw4
11. "Put You In Your Place" - The Sunshine Underground
12. "If That's The Case, Then I Don't Know" - The Electric Soft Parade
13. "Black Widow's Eyes" - The Who
14. "The Old Spring Town" - High Llamas
15. "Hands Held High" - Linkin Park
16. "New York, New York" - Moby w/Debbie Harry
17. "Shoes" - Kelly
18. "Thou Shalt Always Kill" - Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip
19. "How Long" - Donny Osmond
20. "The Candy Cave" - The Letter Y
21. "Guitar (Planet Earth version)" - Prince

Thursday, June 21, 2007

On my turntable: Donna Summer - Four Seasons of Love

Queen of disco. For a while it was a title that probably didn't help Donna Summer's career. I hope that by now it's something she embraces. She deserves the title.

Early Donna albums like Four Seasons of Love (1976) were highly innovative dance records filled with lengthy, continuous music. This whole album only consists of four tracks, one for each season (four songs = four seasons. OK maybe that was self explanatory). The opening track, "Spring Affair", is an optimistic little bouncy number that turns our living room into Studio 54 every time (except without all the coke or Bianca on a horse).

By 1977's "I Feel Love" Donna was releasing a major hit every couple of months. The peak came with the awesome Bad Girls (1979) and the greatest hits On the Radio (1979), both double LPs. She continued to have hits after leaving Casablanca for Geffen records in 1980, but not on the same level, probably because of the disco stigma. What a lot of people don't know is that she wrote her own stuff. She was nothing like the half-assed manufactured pop star diva wanna-be's we have now. She was legit.

So next time you see this album at the record store bring it home and get ready to lace up your boogity-boogity shoes. If you don't like it, let me know and I'll send you your money back. OK, not really.

On my turntable: Madonna - Like a Prayer

I don't identify as a Madonna fan. Sue me. I have however always liked this record. I like how "organic" it sounds compared to her previous albums. It might be the use of real rather than electronic drums. The songwriting and the variety of material also make this a strong album. Oh, and it smells great too.

Like A Prayer (1989) might have been the first scented album ever released. I remember the original Billboard magazine ad for the album had the same smell: Patchouli. I was working at the record store the day the first shipment of Like A Prayer CDs arrived from Warner Bros. When we cut open the box this barrage of patchouli smell wafted out of it. Since I love patchouli I thought that was one of the coolest ideas ever. When I finally bought this LP a couple of years ago I pulled out the inner sleeve and the smell was still there. Big smile. Like her or not, Madonna is original.

On my turntable: Deborah Harry - Def Dumb & Blonde

I've always thought that Def Dumb & Blonde (1989) would have been a better Blondie album than a Debbie solo album. With most of the songs written by Debbie with Chris Stein, and a bulk of the production handled by Blondie producer Mike Chapman, this album sounds like Blondie. The vinyl LP, sadly, features four fewer songs than the CD, but it's still worth owning.

Def Dumb & Blonde is one of probably 15-20 albums that vividly reminds me of being an undergraduate at the U of M in the late 80's/early 90's. I particularly remember waiting in line for financial aid one fall listening to "End of the Run" on my walkman. Very much a fall record for me.

Cher - "Take Me Home"

I've stumbled on what is either a video or a television performance of "Take Me Home". It's basically a glitzy, sequined Cher dancing with a bunch of gay guys. What a surprise. I'm working on a gay pride theme this week - can you tell?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

7:10 p.m.

On my turntable: Black Rose (Cher)

more gay turntable fun for Pride week...

Black Rose
(1980) is but a small blip in Cher's long career. I would bet that there are "fans" who don't know this record exists, which is too bad, because I think it is a good album. The songs are written by some of the greats: Bernie Taupin, Vini Poncia, Carol Bayer-Sager to name a few. At times it sounds not unlike a Pat Benatar album (which is a good thing, yes?).

So why did this project tank? Perhaps one reason is that it is a sincere rock-oriented album, released not long after Cher's successful disco hit "Take Me Home". Record buyers were probably confused. Pick a format, Cher. Also, Black Rose was a band whose lead singer happened to be Cher. Unless you took time to examine the band photo on the back cover you wouldn't even know Cher was on this record. Hence why this one slipped right past even die-hard Cher fans (remember this was before the internet).

The first time I saw this record was at Apache Plaza, where as a kid I spent a lot of time in Musicland combing through the new releases. I remember looking at this album, turning it over and thinking "hey - that looks like Cher." I didn't actually buy the album until a couple of years ago. Of the Cher records I own this is probably my favorite (not counting the gems she recorded with Sonny).

The drama!

I can't stop watching this. I just find it so friggin hilarious.

"...a few words about Christians."

Rock on, Miss Cho.

GOD IS LOVE

Help Fight Hate Crimes

Great new video from HRC:

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

In my belly: Delicious salad

On my turntable: Cyndi Lauper - True Colors

In honor of Twin Cities Pride week I've decided to "gay things up a bit" with the turntable selections. Exhibit A: Cyndi Lauper. "True Colors". In my opinion this song deserves to be the gay theme song far more than that worn out "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". OK, seriously I think I took my life into my own hands by typing that just now. No disrespect, Judy fans. Please...p-please don't kill me. If you've ever seen Cyndi in concert you know that there's nary a dry eye in the house when she breaks out the rainbow flag and sings "True Colors". It's very touching.

I was lucky enough to meet Cyndi once and get her autograph (thanks again to my friend Jim!). She was touring with Cher at the time, promoting her Shine CD with Best Buy. I asked her if she had plans to do some solo shows once the Cher tour was over, and she looked up at me with these sweet, tired eyes and said with her New York accent, "I don't know what I'm doin'". For the record, Cyndi is gorgeous in person. Her skin is flawless.

Props to Cyndi for the tireless work she does on behalf of the LGBT community. Case in point: this summer's True Colors tour.



TrueColorsTour.com

Monday, June 18, 2007

Way to go, Coral!

Coral Smith, the fiesty Miss Sassy Pants from The Real World: Back to New York has officially come out.

Rock on, Coral.

On my turntable: Prince - 3121

Usually before a new Prince album gets released I'll start playing the older stuff. 3121 (2006) is a very good album, probably in my top 10 Prince albums for sure. It's pretty similar to Musicology (2004), which I also liked.

More 3121:
On my turntable: Prince 3121 (May 26, 2006)

Prince - Planet Earth track list

I've seen this posted on a couple of sites, so it may be legit:

1. Planet Earth
2. Guitar
3. Somewhere Here On Earth
4. The One U Wanna See
5. Future Baby Mama
6. Mr. Goodnight
7. All The Midnights In The World
8. Chelsea Rodgers
9. Lion Of Judah
10. Revelation

The album is being released by Columbia, the same label that did Musicology (2004). According to Columbia, Wendy and Lisa are among the musicians on the album. No word yet on whether there is a vinyl version. CD release date in the U.S. is 7/24.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

I don't know if my Dad reads my blog, but I figured I'd give him his props on father's day. Like any family we've had our highs and lows, but we're still tight. We love and support each other. I've frequently said that one of the rewards of my adult life was getting to know my dad on a personal level. I've learned a lot from him. Anyway, I know I speak for the whole family when I say happy father's day, Dad. We love you very much.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

On my turntable: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society

I bought the CD of this album the same day I bought The Byrds' Younger Than Yesterday. Both albums were listed in Mojo magazine's Top 100 albums of all time (I discovered a lot of great albums through that list!). Last year I upgraded to this mono LP of Village Green (1968), issued on 180 gram vinyl by Earmark records. It's a nice heavy weight LP in a shiny gatefold sleeve, along with an inner sleeve featuring pics and liner notes.

Village Green is hands down my favorite Kinks LP. It's a very 60's record, although not quite as 'flower power' as a lot of the music from the time. Standout tracks: "Picture Book", "Phenomenal Cat", "Sitting By The Riverside", "Animal Farm", and the title track.

Mister Smiley Boy

We received this great photo in the mail this week. It was taken last month at Leo's graduation from St. Kates. Look at those pretty white teeth -- just like Patti Labelle.

It's official



On my turntable: Haircut 100 - Pelican West

VH-1 is having a mini "Bands Reunited" marathon today and I just finished watching the Haircut 100 episode, which I really liked. Although "Love Plus One" is a total high school song for me, I never owned this album until recently.

Haircut 100's story is a bit tragic when you consider what a great debut their first album was. Pelican West (1982) is a very strong record with interesting, well written songs. I remember at the time how this band seemed to just be part of a whole wave of MTV bands that were happening, bands like Naked Eyes, Talk Talk, Duran Duran, The Fixx. The summer of '82 was a great time to listen to the radio because it was one new band after another with these great singles.

Friday, June 15, 2007

On my turntable: The Cars - Panorama

Compared to the rest of the Cars catalog, Panorama (1980) was a bit of a flop. It had one hit single, "Touch and Go", but sank pretty fast on the charts. Hit or no hit I think this is a great album. The Cars were one of those bands whose records I never bought because my brother and my friends had all of them. I owned a few of the singles but never felt the need to buy the albums.

I picked up this near perfect copy of Panorama earlier today at Down in the Valley for $2. Here we see a picture of me getting down to the rock music. I couldn't help it - this album rocks. Two smackers well spent.

Panorama videos:
"Touch and Go"
"Panorama"

"Does Your Mother? No."

I've uploaded a new track to my Pet Rock artist page. It's a remix of ABBA's "Does Your Mother Know." Have a listen if you're so inclined:

Crohn's is a funny thing.

Not funny ha-ha, but funny peculiar.

When I’m sick from Crohn's I’m reminded of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which basically says that you need health and safety in order to experience other things such as fulfillment, self-confidence, and achievement. The past two months have been a bit of a struggle with the health, as I’ve had a couple of infections, some rounds with meds and a few x-rays. One of the worst things about Crohn's is how unpredictable it is. When I’m in remission life is pretty nice, but a flare-up can suddenly put everything on the back burner. It’s like I feel knocked down a few pegs and I have to start over.

I’m typing this from my infusion chair, where I sit every seven weeks hooked up to an IV. I used to dread infusions, but now I view them as an opportunity to sit still for a few hours and recharge (even though the infusion tends to make me very sleepy). My task for this afternoon is to simply sit here, relax, and think positive thoughts about the next seven weeks. I feel very blessed to have good health coverage and access to drugs that help to keep me on track, because I know there are crohnies out there who are not so fortunate.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

On my turntable: Bangles - Everything

This post is in honor of the recent announcement of The Bangles' upcoming First Avenue show on August 23rd.

I was talking to a friend today about the upcoming Bangles show, telling him how excited I am to finally see them live. The last time they played here was the 1986 MN State Fair, which I missed. As I'm talking to him I realize that he might not even know who the friggin Bangles are, since he was born in 1985. Sure enough, he had no idea. I proceeded to tell him that they are an all-girl band that writes and plays their own songs, after which I paused and thought "what was wrong with that sentence?". First of all, they are women not girls, and secondly, why is it that in 2007 there still aren't many female bands?? It doesn't make sense to me.

Everything
(1988) is my 2nd favorite Bangles album, behind 2003's Doll Revolution, which has sadly not been released on vinyl. For years I used to have this album in my all-time top ten. The band split up soon after Everything's release, but reunited ten years later for the excellent "Get the Girl" on the soundtrack for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. They have remained together ever since, and I heart them.

Everything videos:
"In Your Room"
"Eternal Flame"
"Be With You"

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Top 10 fave LPs of 2007 (so far)

Not all of these records were released in 2007 (although most were). In some cases the CD version was released last year, but the vinyl did not hit shelves until '07. I obtained each of these records in the past six or so months. Drum roll....

10. New York Dolls - One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This (2006)
9. Chris Bell - I Am The Cosmos (2006)
8. Ono with Peaches - "Kiss Kiss Kiss" 12" (2007)
7. Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country (2006)
6. The Who - Endless Wire (2006)
5. The High Llamas - Can Cladders (2007)
4. The Vines - Vision Valley (2006)
3. Sean Lennon - Friendly Fire (2006)
2. The Bird and the Bee - self titled (2007)
1. The Beatles - LOVE (2007)

Oi with the heat.

It’s been in the 90’s in Minneapolis this week, and it’s feeling a bit steamy. Our central air conditioning needed servicing, which made the past two days a bit uncomfortable at home, especially for the bunny rabbits. At work I spend half of my day in a fourth floor non-air conditioned office, which has left me just a little cranky and lethargic. The good news is that we got our air serviced this morning and the house is now a cozy 70 degrees. The rabbits seem pleased. Here we see Austin in his air-conditioned office after being rudely awakened from his afternoon nappies for a quick photo op.

MN State Fair on a stick

Even though I think it's a little sad that the Minnesota State Fair has become all about food, this is a pretty entertaining video. About two minutes into it I just started shaking my head.


Previous State Fair entries:
So Long Penny Arcade
Jeff meets The Beach Boys

Super cool website of the week: FrankTalk

If you enjoy 30 Rock like I do you will probably laugh at Frank's blog. I found some of this stuff to be pretty friggin' hilarious:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

On my turntable: The Bird and The Bee

I was so excited to see this arrive in today's mail! I first heard The Bird and The Bee back in March when I saw the video for their captivating "Again and Again" on Logo. After downloading a couple of songs I emailed their record company to ask about a vinyl release. Sure enough, a vinyl version was released just last week. The Bird and The Bee (2007) is a mighty groovy record, with bits of pop, lounge, and jazz. Very smooth and hip stuff.

Video:
"Again and Again"

Desert Island LPs

This list was assembled without much thought, because too much thought would make the task larger than necessary. If I did this list next week it would probably have a different line-up. The point is to see which albums I'd take with me right now if I had to. Anyway, here it is, imperfect as it may be and in no particular order, my Top 10 Desert Island LPs:

Zombies - Odessey and Oracle
Love - Forever Changes
Brian Wilson presents SMiLE
The Beatles - 1962-1966
The Beatles - 1967-1970
The Monkees - Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones ltd.
Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
Talk Talk - Spirit of Eden
Burt Bacharach - At This Time
Bay City Rollers - It's A Game

So QUICK - without putting too much thought behind it, what are YOUR ten desert island LPs/CDs?

Monday, June 11, 2007

On my turntable: High Llamas - Can Cladders

I first learned of the High Llamas back in 1999 when I read an online review of their Hawaii (1997) album, which was described as an homage to Smile-era Beach Boys. Since then I've remained a fan, especially of their newest LP Can Cladders (2007). Of the Llamas records I've heard, this is definitely the perkiest. Along with the standard arrangements that make up the High Llamas soundscape, Can Cladders adds a groovy bit of Bacharach and bossa nova to the mix. It's a very organic sound that includes big strings, banjo, tamborine, organ, and female harmonies. The more I listen to this album the more I love it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Eddie wears sober well

Here's a recent post-rehab pic of Eddie Van Halen found at GuitarWorld.com. (click on the pic for larger image). It's a pretty amazing transformation, considering how Eddie was looking before rehab: