Sunday, August 31, 2008

As luck would have it, turns out that she's a dirty, rotten, filthy, stinking LIAR.

For the record, I hate whenever the press takes a scandal and sticks "gate" at the end of it, but I admit I find it humorous that hours after the world learned about Sarah Palin there's already a buzz surrounding what we now know as....TROOPERGATE.

Oh yes, it's a sunshine day:
You have to wonder whether McCain even took the time to inquire about any skeletons in this gal's closet, since all he'd have to do is open the damn closet door to find this one glaring right at him. Seriously. Talk about lack of judgment.

Here's how I imagine the selection process going down:
McCain: "Palin...Palin...nope - not ringing a bell."
McCain's people: "You met her just once at a function last February."
McCain: "Oh wait - was she the feisty one? Easy on the eyes?"
McCain's people: "Um, yes that might have been her."
McCain: "Yes, yes, I think it's coming back to me. Hockey Mom?"
McCain's people: "Yes, sir."
McCain: "Governs that oil state?"
McCain's people: "Yes, sir."
McCain: "Married to that oil guy?"
McCain's people: "Yes, sir."
McCain: "I see. But does she have any economic background? Foreign policy experience?"
McCain's people: "Well, sir, she doesn't have any foreign policy experience, but she is a mother of five who manages the family finances."
McCain: "Well why didn't you say so? This lady sounds like one smart cookie! My friends, I think we've found our running mate!!"
McCain's people: "But sir, perhaps -"
McCain: "But nothing! She's perfect. This woman, what's her name again?"
McCain's people: "Palin, sir. Sarah Palin."
McCain: "Right. I'll tell you what - once America gets to know Sarah Palin as I have, they're going to love her!!"

Saturday Morning tv: The Groovie Goolies

"Everybody shout! C'mon now, sing out! It's time for the Goolies' get-together..."
The Groovie Goolies was a spinoff from The Archies that featured Sabrina the Teenage Witch and her zany pals. The show was partially inspired by Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, incorporating musical bits, comedy, and even the famous "joke wall". All of the action took place in and around Horrible Hall, the old haunted house on the hill. The show was one of the true classics of Saturday morning.

One of the most memorable music segments from the series was The Rolling Headstones' rendition of Daddy Dewdrop's "Chick-a-Boom":

Saturday morning cartoons

When we were kids, Saturday morning was a ritual. Dad would be outside cutting the grass, Mom appreciated having a few rare hours to herself, and my brother and I would be parked on opposite ends of the couch watching cartoons until Soul Train came on. With the start of the new school year came the promise of a new Saturday Morning line-up, and the networks would sometimes make an event of it by airing a Friday night launch special introducing the year's new shows. It was very exciting!

So to help commemorate the start of school this week I thought I'd pay tribute to some of the Saturday morning programming that we watched religiously in the 70's.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Gita on Freedom

One thing that I'm learning to appreciate about The Bhagavad Gita is how it reads like poetry. I continue to notice, also, how often the words of the Gita tend to parallel Christian scripture. This particular passage struck a chord with me tonight:

(Bhagvan
(God), speaking to Arjun):
"The person who is free
does not care what happens to her body...

Whoever likes stone as much as gold is wise.
Whoever treats friends and enemies the same way,
and does her duty,
not caring if she is praised or scolded, is free...

She who always worships God faithfully
crosses past the world,
and becomes a part of God.

I am God...

I am everlasting and unchanging.
I am unending goodness
and unending joy."

- Exerpted from The Gita: A New Translation of
Hindu Sacred Scripture,
translated by Irina N Gajjar, 2007

Getting to know Sarah Palin

From MoveOn.org:

Who is Sarah Palin? Here's some basic background:

  • She was elected Alaska's governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage. She has no foreign policy experience.
  • Palin is strongly anti-choice, opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest.
  • She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000.
  • Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.
  • She's doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change.
  • She's solidly in line with John McCain's "Big Oil first" energy policy. She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won't be ready for years. She also sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species—she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.
  • How closely did John McCain vet this choice? He met Sarah Palin once at a meeting. They spoke a second time, last Sunday, when he called her about being vice-president. Then he offered her the position.

Bun on the Run

I tried to get some pics of Austin this morning but he was way too busy to stop for the paparazzi:

On my turntable: Colin Blunstone - Ennismore

I almost labeled this post as "back to school edition", because I expect that this album will remind me of fall semester 2008. I bought it yesterday and I just keep playing it. Ennismore (1972) was produced by Blunstone's Zombies mates Chris White and Rod Argent, who also play and sing on the record. Tracks like "I Don't Believe In Miracles" and "Andorra" (written by White/Argent) could have easily been released as Zombies singles. Blunstone's voice, as it remains today, is incredible.

Here's a live clip of "Andorra" from sometime in the 70's:


Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin: "What is it exactly that the VP does?"

Ohmygoodness. Here's the Veepstakes winner herself in a somewhat recent CNBC interview:

and things just got a little more interesting...

Really??

Of course there is speculation that McCain is going after the Hillary supporters, which is totally insulting. People who loved Hillary did not love her just because she is a woman. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that there's oil in them there Alaska. Oh - and her husband just happens to work for oil company BP.

Key point to consider: This candidate is literally one heartbeat away from the presidency.

"The Big Zero"

Many voters (this blogger included) have mistakenly viewed John McCain as somewhat LGBT friendly, but his voting record reveals a different story. This video is useful viewing for anyone who supports equality in this country.

(found over at Eleventh Avenue South)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

On my turntable (back to school edition): Partridge Family - UpTo Date

My story for Up To Date (1971), the 2nd Partridge Family album, is basically the same as the 1st PF album. I borrowed both of them from the same library at the same time, and played them repeatedly. Both albums were also released during the first season of the tv series (before the Partridge's drummer mysteriously changed from Jeremy Gelbwaks to the much more likable Brian Forster).

To add to Up To Date's back-to-schoolness, the album included a free PF bookcover (right), which no doubt blanketed thousands of grade school textbooks in the fall of 1971.

Up To Date video clips:
"I'll Meet You Halfway"
"Doesn't Somebody Want To Be Wanted"
"You Are Always On My Mind"
"Umbrella Man"
"I'll Leave Myself A Little Time"
"That'll Be The Day"

9:25 pm

President.
You heard me.

On my turntable (back to school edition): Big Star - Radio City

In the Fall of 1994 (the year I started at Mankato State) there were two CDs that rocked my world more than any others. One was the aforementioned Monster by R.E.M., and the other was #1 Record/Radio City (1992) by Big Star. I remember ordering the Big Star CD with my introductory batch of discs from BMG Direct music service, figuring it was a pretty risk-free way to find out what all the fuss about over this band called Big Star. So I found out why Big Star is such a big deal.

Both Radio City (1974) and #1 Record (1972) are long overdue for a proper vinyl reissue. My guess is that it's a legal thing that's being worked out. In the meantime, a revamped & reborn Big Star has done a pretty good job of living up to its legacy through the occasional tour and a tasty comeback called In Space (2005) which is still available on vinyl.

grow up, move on

This is such a tired topic, but since I've not yet put in my two cents on the Hillary supporters here goes...

I like Hillary, and I think she would make a great president. However, we are now four days into the national Democratic convention, and Hillary herself has asked that we all move forward and get behind Obama. WHY THEN, I ask, WHY are these hardcore Hillary supporters still fighting for Hillary, and worse yet, WHY, dear God in heaven, are they insisting on backing McCain? These people are acting with the maturity of first graders. "If I don't get my Hillary I'm going to hold my breath 'till my face turns blue, and I might just go vote for McCain!" If they truly cared about the country and all of the ideals that Hillary stands for, then the obvious choice is OBAMA. But no, they care more about proving their point about how they think Hillary was mistreated. And here's the deal - I don't doubt that Hillary may have been given a raw deal, but we've got two short months to change the direction of this country. Grow up, deal with it, and get on board. Sheesh already.

Oh, and these P.U.M.A. types really seem like they could use some professional help. I'm particularly impressed with ideals exhibited by the gal in the 2nd video who says that she needs to be "courted" before she votes for political candidate (methinks she has unresolved daddy issues):

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

8:38 pm

With an oh-so-subtle smirk, John Kerry delivered the best line of the night (so far) when contrasting "Candidate McCain" with "Senator McCain":
"Before he ever debates Barack Obama,
John McCain should finish the debate with himself."

5:50 pm

Hillary is a champ.

Endless Summer reissue

With Brian's new stellar album, the 3-LP re-release of Dennis' Pacific Ocean Blue, and this month's Pet Sounds reissue, 2008 is turning out to be a sweet year for Beach Boys fans. This morning I learned that the ultimate early Beach Boys collection Endless Summer (1974) is being reissued in October on double 180 gram vinyl. I did not see this one coming.

You can pre-order Endless Summer now at InSound.

Monday, August 25, 2008

On my turntable: Bee Gees - To Whom It May Concern

To Whom It May Concern (1972) is one of my favorite Bee Gees discs. Tonight was the first time I heard the album on vinyl, and frankly, the experience left me feeling a bit moist. It sounds so much smoother and rich than the 1992 CD reissue.

One thing about this album that I've never cared for is its homely outer sleeve, but the inner gatefold saves the day by featuring a cartoon 3D pop-up of the Gibbs (pictured, right).

Video:
"Run To Me"
"Alive"
bonus: "Hits Medley" - live on Midnight Special, 1973

9:37 pm

First Lady.
You heard me.

1:37 pm

Back on campus, trying to get mentally prepped for Fall semester.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

On my turntable (back to school edition): R.E.M. - Monster

Album:
Monster (September, 1994).

School:
Minnesota State University (MSU) - Mankato





Trivia: From 1975-1998 "MSU" stood for Mankato State University (as seen in this postcard from the early 90's).



Photo: Back on campus and jumping for joy, July 2005.



Official Videos:
"What's The Frequency, Kenneth?"
"Crush With Eyeliner"
"Bang and Blame"
"Tongue"
"Strange Currencies"
"Star 69"

Golden ticket

On my turntable: Debbie Harry - Rockbird

I was working at Don Leary's record store in November, 1986 when this album was released. As a huge Blondie fan, you'd think I would have used my employee discount to buy Rockbird on the day of its release, but I was so disappointed by the dreadful first single ("French Kissin'", the only song on the LP not written by Debbie) that I decided to wait. Fast forward 22 years later...

I finally bought Rockbird (1986) yesterday. Overall it's not an unpleasant album, showing some signs of the excellence of Def, Dumb & Blonde (1989).

This seems like a good time to assemble my combined Top Ten fave LPs by Blondie/Debbie Harry:

1. Eat To The Beat (1979)
2. Def, Dumb & Blonde (1989)
3. Parallel Lines (1978)
4. The Curse of Blondie (2003)
5. Plastic Letters (1977)
6. Autoamerican (1980)
7. Blondie (1977)
8. The Hunter (1982)
9. No Exit (1998)
10. tie: KooKoo (1981)/Rockbird (1986)

Official Videos:
"French Kissin' (in the USA)"
"In Love With Love"
"Free To Fall"

Friday, August 22, 2008

hot plate! hot plate!



Latest thrift store acquisition:
Vintage trivets, 80 cents each.

Super cool website of the week: ShameOnBigOil.org

For those Americans who intend to vote for McCain because they believe off-shore drilling is going to affect anything more than soaring oil company profits: You are being duped. Wake up.

Shame On Big Oil

On my turntable (back to school edition): Jellyfish - Bellybutton

There are a number of artists in history that can now be seen as having helped develop the blueprint for a genre of music known as POWER-POP. Such artists include: The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Raspberries, The Sweet, Big Star, Badfinger, Bay City Rollers, Cheap Trick, The Knack, and Rick Springfield (especially Working Class Dog (1980)). Bellybutton (1990) is an album that helped to propel power-pop to new levels of awesomeness with dense, perfect harmonies and incredible musicianship/writing/arranging. All of the classic elements of power-pop were there, but Jellyfish put a glossy shine on it that made it sparkle in ways we hadn't seen before. Although the band only lasted for two albums, their influence can still be heard through their current work as producers, writers, and musicians, as well is in the music of young bands that continue to discover this great music.

I first got my hands on Bellybutton in August 1990, as I was preparing for my senior year of college. Jellyfish played their first Minneapolis show that month opening for World Party at First Avenue, and I was lucky enough to see the show. Their 1993 return to 1st Ave featured surprise guest Joey Molland (Badfinger), who joined the band onstage for Badfinger's "No Matter What". You could tell that Jellyfish was in complete awe of Molland, and fans were fully aware that we were witnessing a rare moment in power-pop history.

On a related note: Fans of power-pop should check out my brother's internet radio station, popbang!, which is pretty widely regarded as one of the net's premier spots for new power-pop.
Video:
"The King Is Half Undressed"
"Baby's Coming Back"
"That Is Why"
"I Wanna Stay Home" (live)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

On my turntable: Boyce & Hart - It's All Happening On the Inside

This LP is the best surprise of the week. I always knew that Boyce & Hart were fantastic songwriters (they were responsible for several dozen Monkees songs), but I've never owned any of their original studio albums. When I saw this yesterday for $2 I figured it was worth the risk.

The songs on It's All Happening On the Inside (1969) are all strung together, almost making it sound like a "concept album" (which it isn't, as far as I can tell). The LP's first two songs, both under 1:30, set the listener up for what feels like a gospel-influenced album at first, but eventually leading into a colorful collection of pure pop, rock, r&b, psychedelia, an even a little vaudeville. As one would expect from B&H, the songs are all masterfully crafted, even including surprisingly unique interpretations of Holland-Dozier-Holland's "Standing in the Shadows of Love" and the Stones' "Jumping Jack Flash". The album closes with the hit "Alice Long", a great pop tune that could have been a hit for The Monkees, had the Monkees brand actually been worth anything by 1969 (by 1970 Dolenz & Jones, the only two remaining Monkees, split up).

Tee of the day

Another band that I saw at the Minnesota State Fair (1987).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

10 years

The Minnesota State Fair kicks off tomorrow, and Leo and I are pumped. The fair is almost as much of an obligation as it is a yearly tradition. I realized yesterday that it's been ten years since I was one of the happy minions actually working at the fair.

In August, 1998 I submitted an application for the fair (I was between jobs at the time), and ended up working the apple information booth in the fair's agriculture building. Being employed at the fair was fun, but it wasn't without its annoyances. For starters, my booth was situated right next to the year's ribbon-winning fruit, which attracts swarms of fruit flies. By the fifth day I was also significantly annoyed with people asking me questions about apples. To be fair, it was my job to answer their questions, but I didn't know the first thing about apples! In retrospect, and judging from this picture I found (above, left), I did sort of have "ask the apple dork" written on my face.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

CBS news: "How Vinyl Got Its Groove Back"

There was a story about vinyl's comeback on tonight's evening news broadcast (thanks again to Chuck for the heads-up!). You can read the text version of the story at CBSnews.com:

"Nations don't invade other nations"

Thank you Jack Cafferty for having the courage to step up and call out McCain for this:

10:27 am

God as a weapon

I'm tired of hearing about last Saturday's faith forum, but I guess it's all the news folks have right now until the "veepstakes" are over (have I mentioned how I hate that term? hate. hate.). But, since everyone's still talking about the forum I feel compelled to add my two cents...

It certainly appears, from what we see in the media at least, that the conservative Christianists are most concerned with 1) abortion, 2) preventing gay rights (marriage), and 3) "winning" the war in Iraq. One of the questions asked of Obama & McCain on Saturday was when they believed human rights begin. McCain's answer was a firm and swift "At conception", which was met with thunderous applause. Hmm. OK. SOOOO rights begin at conception, but stop once you tell the world that you're gay or you enter battle in Bushie's war? 'Cause according to Christianist rules, gays should definitely not have access to equal human rights, and the "sanctity of life" only applies to the unborn, not the currently living. Methinks they need to start using asterisks. For example:
"Choose Life!*...*until the child is born, then we don't care anymore."
"Strengthen American familes!*...*except for the gay ones."
I heard an interesting discussion yesterday on my new wacko liberal radio station (thanks, Jan) about how Republicans believe in "The Divine Lie". They are so convinced that the ends justify the means that they actually believe that their lies are good. God is on their side, right?

I think the correct word for this is "evil".

"Why albums used to matter"

Thanks to Kyle for hipping me to this guy:

Monday, August 18, 2008

On my turntable: The Beach Boys Today!

I'm sure I've written previously about how the end of summer always reminds me of The Beach Boys. Sure enough, tonight as I'm looking for some music for washing dishes I gravitated towards this album.

As a producer, Brian Wilson is a master of creating "feeling" through sound. Sides 1 & 2 of Today! (1965) were programmed to evoke a party mood on one side and a more romantic, melancholy mood on the other. It's the five songs on side two that are so outstanding. Beautiful tracks like "Please Let Me Wonder", "Kiss Me Baby", "She Knows Me Too Well" are far ahead of what other pop groups were doing in 1965 (except for maybe the fabs or Spector).

I hope that Capitol, having re-entered the vinyl market, reissues more Beach Boys vinyl than just Pet Sounds (which is getting a 180 gram reissue this month). I would love to see albums like Today!, All Summer Long, and Summer Days (and summer nights!!) reissued in their original mono form (would anyone want Duophonic?). If someone out there could start a petition or letter writing campaign that would be swell. Thanks.

today's annoying headline

Over at CNN.com:
Experts:
U.S. at risk for cyberattacks

While the story itself may be true, this headline is designed to shock. My knee jerk reaction to seeing this next to the images of Hitler recalled the months after 9/11 when we were all supposed to be on high alert 24/7, stocking up on duct tape and food supplies. After reading the article the images had more context, but come on - most Americans are conditioned to reading headlines and (maybe) skimming articles before drawing our own conclusions. This is one reason why the Culture of Fear works.

(image from CNN.com)

Look through my window

8:45 am, the view from our "breakfast nook", aka the rabbits' lair.
As I was taking this picture I got a firm nudge on my ankle
from Simon, which is his way of saying "you will pet me now".

Sunday, August 17, 2008

On my turntable: Brian Wilson - That Lucky Old Sun

"At 25 I turned out the light
Cause I couldn't handle the glare in my tired eyes
But now I'm back, drawing shades of kind blue skies."
(from "Going Home" by Brian Wilson & Scott Bennett)

Warning
: Geeky fan post ahead.

So after I drop Leo off at work this afternoon I head over to the record store ('cause that's how I roll, bitches). I'm flipping through the new arrivals and suddenly I'm face to face with That Lucky Old Sun (2008), Brian Wilson's brand new LP (note in my previous entry that I said this record gets released on Tuesday -- Either the release date got changed or this particular store put it out early. Either way it's win/win and I ain't complainin').

I'm only halfway through side one as I type this, so I'll just do some highlights via bullet points:
  • This record is awesome.
  • The packaging is gorgeous, with a bright gatefold sleeve. The inner sleeve features lyrics and credits, and the record itself is on 180 gram vinyl with custom labels.
  • The runoff wax has the familiar old "MASTERED BY CAPITOL" stamp, something I don't think we've ever seen on a Brian Wilson solo record.
  • Most of the songs were written by Brian and BW Band member Scott Bennett.
  • The album includes several "narratives" written by Van Dyke Parks and spoken by Brian.
  • Brian has never sounded so confident as a solo artist. Once the opening track kicks in and BW starts singing there's no question that this is an artist who means business. I will probably change my mind on what I'm about to say, but I hope Brian never goes back to working with The Beach Boys again.
  • Side two features a short segment of "Can't Wait Too Long", a post-Smile Beach Boys song that remained unreleased until the 90's two-fer CDs. Brian's band sounds great, and the snippet fits perfectly with the rest of the tracks.
  • "Midnight's Another Day" is yet another reminder that Wilson is one of the pop era's greatest composers. This stuff is like modern Bacharach, if that even makes sense.
  • Did I mention that this record is awesome?
Next day update: After 4 or 5 listens I've established my favorites on this album: "Morning Beat", "Good Kind of Love", "Live Let Live", "California Role", "Oxygen to the Brain", "Going Home", and "Southern California". My least favorite is "Forever She'll Be My Surfer Girl", which is classic latter-day Wilson, but just not as good as the rest of the album, IMO.

As a conceptual work, That Lucky Old Sun is a thoughtful ode to California. Many of the songs are strung together, with occasional spoken narratives adding nicely to the story and musical landscape. The album almost seems created for the vinyl format; Side one ends with a reprise of the album's musical theme, "That Lucky Old Sun", while side two picks up with "Between Pictures", the last of the LP's four narratives.

This week: That Lucky Old Sun


Brian Wilson's new opus, That Lucky Old Sun, gets released on VINYL this Tuesday.

CD buyers will need to wait 2 more weeks. Ha ha - vinyl wins!

wake-up song: "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing"

7:30 am, eyes wide open, Donny & Marie stuck in my head:

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"Ten Eternal Questions"

Yoko Ono posted her answers to the following questions on her MySpace page. Here are my answers to the same questions...

TEN ETERNAL QUESTIONS:


1. What is your concept of God?
God is universal, and much bigger than religion. It upsets me that some self-proclaimed religious types choose to not even consider the possibility that their conception of God is not the only Truth. God is infinite, which is why Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, etc. are all valid, in my opinion.

2. Do you think this life is all there is, or do you believe in an afterlife?
I believe that the soul never dies. When our bodies expire, our souls move on to the next round.

3. Do you accept the concept of karma in the sense of cause and effect?
YES. For every action there is a reaction. The same goes for inaction, which is actually a form of action, if you think about it, because if you are choosing to do nothing, that choice is an action.

4. What is your moral code in relation to right and wrong?
Always strive to do the right thing and cause the least amount of harm.

5. Do you believe you have a destiny, and do you see yourself as here to fulfill it?
Hmmm. I'm not sure. I believe that we are all on a journey, the path of which is dictated by our life choices.

6. What has life taught you so far?
"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need."

7. What advice or words of wisdom would you like to pass on to those close to you?
Laugh more.

8. Do you believe our survival on planet Earth is being threatened?
In terms of how we are treating the planet, and the repercussions of our actions, yes. Again, action>>>reaction, and the environment is reacting.

9. Who do you most admire in this world, historical or living?
I admire different people for different reasons. It's a big list.

10. How do you find peace within yourself?
By living my truth, I suppose. And knowing that I'm trying to do what I can, as much as possible, to be a part of the solution rather than the problem.

THE END

The Money Quote

John McCain at today's "Faith Forum":


"No one, no one should be allowed to take American, innocent American lives."


I wonder if this means he would bring Bush & Cheney to justice for the killing of more than 4,000 innocent Americans in Iraq.

Top 10 Classic albums of the summer


I've had a lot of time this summer to rummage through my local record shops, and as a result I've discovered a lot of "new" classics that are now favorites. Among the stack of records, here are my Top 10 of the summer:


10. Mass in F minor (1968) - The Electric Prunes
9. Rock & Roll Survivors (1974) - Fanny
8. Imperial Bedroom (1982) - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
7. Imagination (1973) - Gladys Knight & The Pips
6. Aerial Pandemonium Ballet (1971) - Nilsson
5. Special Beat Service (1982) - The English Beat
4. Wheels (1970) - The Hardy Boys
3. God Bless Tiny Tim (1968)
2. New Ragtime Follies (1973) - Dawn featuring Tony Orlando
1. Turtle Wax: The Best of The Turtles Volume 2 (1988)

Note: This list does not include what I call "swinger LPs" of the 60's & 70's (Herb Alpert, Sergio Mendes, Sinatra, Dean Martin, etc), since these records could make a top 10 of their own.

Lorraine

Mo Collins is one of the funniest women on the planet. She's from the Midwest (born in Minneapolis, I think), and a lot of her characters are so Minnesotan that it's pretty easy to imagine some of them living down the street from my mom. Now that I think of it, Lorraine sort of resembles my mom:

"Mass in F Minor"


I've become really intrigued with this album after seeing it at the record store last week. It's actually a Catholic mass of sorts, sung in Latin, and played by the Electric Prunes. So I did a little research and learned a few things: It was the Prunes' third album, and recording a psychedelic Mass album was not their idea. The project was unpleasant enough that the band fell apart during the recording sessions, and as a result side one of the LP features the Electric Prunes, while side two is played primarily by a band called The Collectors, which would later become Chilliwack. Mass in F Minor (1968) was reissued on 180g vinyl about five years ago, and I think I want to buy it. Has anyone out there in bloggerland heard it?

Friday, August 15, 2008

On my turntable (back to school edition): Prince - Batman

Prince's Batman album (1989) sold like hotcakes, due largely to the fact that in 1989 anything with the Batman logo on it sold like hotcakes. In contrast with 1988's Lovesexy cover that featured Prince in the full monty, Batman features one small (yet tasteful) headshot of Prince on the inner sleeve. The good news is that Batman is a decent album, far more enjoyable than I remember. The album includes "Batdance" Prince's first number one single since 1986's "Kiss", and one of the biggest hits of the year.

Although the album was released alongside the film in the summer of 1989, it remained in the number one spot on Billboard until early September, which is probably why I consider this a Fall album.

Videos:
"Batdance"
"Partyman"

short-term memory

Remember when the United States used to lead by example? Apparently now the rule is "Do as we say, not as we do." This week's comments from prominent Republicans are so blatantly hypocritical that I wonder how they even said them with a straight face:
Condoleezza Rice: "This isn't 1968 when Russia can invade a country, occupy a capital, overthrow a government and get away with it"

John McCain: "In the 21st century, nations don't invade other nations."

George W. Bush:
"Russia has invaded a sovereign neighboring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people. Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century."
*Wow*.

On my turntable (back to school edition): The Partridge Family Album

My Partridge memories go pretty far back -- I was four when the series started on ABC in the fall of 1970. The Partridge Family Album (1970) reminds me of the Northeast Public Library, where I got my first listen to some of these awesome songs that became a part of the grade school soundtrack.

It's tempting to dismiss The Partridge Family as bubblegum fluff. While I would argue that while The Partridges definitely meet certain criteria of manufactured teeny bopper music, the music defies the label in some ways. Following in the steps of the first two Monkees lps, The Partridge Family had access to top songwriters and session musicians (many of whom played on Monkees records). The records were hits because they were irresistable songs, impeccably produced for AM radio. It didn't hurt that they were featured on a weekly tv series with the biggest teen idol on the planet singing them.

Here's one of my fave tracks from the album, from the awesome episode where the Partridge Family encounter a skunk on their tour bus, and are forced to borrow clothes from strangers in order to perform at a children's hospital:


More videos:
"I Think I Love You"
"I Can Feel Your Heartbeat"
"Bandala"
"Somebody Wants To Love You"

On my turntable (back to school edition): Paul McCartney - Press to Play

Press To Play was released on September 1, 1986, just as I was beginning my first quarter at the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus. Hence why it's a big "back to school" record for me.

Paul had a lot riding on this album, following 1984's disastrous Give My Regards to Broad Street film. Unfortunately it's not a great album, although it has its high points (Paul would not return to greatness until 1989's Flowers in the Dirt). The LP's first single, "Press", is a very catchy number, but hardly a McCartney classic. By the time of the album's third single release people had simply lost interest, which is sad because "Stranglehold" is one of McCartney's best singles ever, in my opinion.

Videos:
"Press"
"Only Love Remains"
"Stranglehold"
"Pretty Little Head"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

On my turntable (back to school edition): The Dukes of Stratosphear - Psonic Psunspot

According to my receipt, I bought this album at the St. Paul Cheapos on 8/20/87, which explains why it spent so much time in my walkman during Fall Quarter '87. (side note: I just realized that this album is older than most of the students I'll be teaching this fall semester. Very nice.)

The Dukes were actually XTC posing as a classic 60's sounding psychedelic band. Psonic Psunspot (1987) was a bit more accessible than its predecessor, 1985's 25 O'Clock. I was actually a Dukes fan before I was an XTC fan, but by the time XTC released the very Dukes-sounding Oranges and Lemons (1989), I was on board.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Life among the squirrels, '08

My good friend Randy just sent me this pic from last month's camping trip (Thanks, Randall). In the early days when we started camping I would take several rolls of pictures every year, but now we're lucky if someone even thinks to bring a camera. I'll be the first to admit that I'm getting lazier as I age, and I'm totally fine with that. As long as I've got my friends and a twelve pack of TAB, things are just dandy.

On my turntable (back to school edition): The Jacksons - Triumph

It happens every year around this time -- "back to school" is in the air and I start grabbing for records that remind me of that excitement of a new school year. Over the next two to three weeks I'll likely be blogging about some of these albums that trigger some of my warm & fuzzy school memories.

The Jacksons' Triumph (1980) is definitely in the top 3 of my "back to school" albums. The following is taken from my 9/13/07 entry about this record:
It was the last week of August, 1984 and I was a new freshman at the U of M, Duluth, moving into my dorm room in Griggs Hall. After all the boxes and crates had been transfered from my parents' car, the first order of business was setting up the stereo and turntable. The first record to be played: The Jackson's Triumph (1980)...I purchased it the previous week at the Musicland store on Hennepin Avenue in downtown Minneapolis and set it aside, unplayed, with the intent of making it the first record I heard in my new home. A ceremonial sort of thing. Twenty-three years later this record always brings vivid memories of my first months in Duluth.
Do you have any records that remind you of returning to school, or of fall in general? If so, as always, feel free to share them here. Thanks for reading!

The "emerging cultural consensus"

Andrew Sullivan is a Catholic, conservative author, and columnist for The Atlantic. He also happens to be gay. Over the past year I've gained a lot of admiration and respect for Mr. Sullivan, as his writings have challenged me to look at my own positions as a self-proclaimed "liberal". Turns out that these labels of Liberal and Conservative can be awfully restricting. A good example of this can be seen in hard-core unwavering Conservatives who may find themselves curious over all this ruckus concerning "gay marriage". I think that this is becoming more and more evident, especially among teens and 20-somethings who have grown up with comfortably out gay people in their lives. What's the big deal? The more we see that "gay marriages" are nothing but "marriages", the less frightening they become (which is exactly what the religious right is afraid of).

Sullivan, who officially married his partner in Massachusetts last year, has written a terrific article on the culture of marriage, infusing his own experience as a married gay man. It's one of the best that I've read on the topic, and I highly recommend: