Thursday, December 31, 2009

11:21 AM

12.31.2009, originally uploaded by jeff's fancy blog.

Simon got new fancy green carpeting from IKEA yesterday. This is his favorite spot for soaking up some early afternoon sun.

Prince's Lotusflower/Mplsound on 2LP!

I just learned that Prince's most recent albums, Lotusflower + Mplsound, have been released as a double vinyl LP package on Paisley Park records. Both MusicDirect and SoundStageDirect are selling the LP, of which only 2,000 copies were reportedly pressed. SoundStage is also selling a single LP version of Mplsound, without Lotusflower.

Pretty sweet news.

Correction: This LP is released by "NPG Records under license to Because Music", not Paisley Park as listed on the SoundStage website. Thanks to Chuck for this info.

1:12 AM

Austin, looking unimpressed as usual.

What time is it? (xmas booty edition)

Pictured: Kickass K-tel clock that my bro gave me for Christmas.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

On my turntable: The Return of the Zombies (alt. title: A Very Zombies Xmas)

This afternoon I ventured outside for a sale at one of my fave local record shops, and found something that made time stop for a second. As a collector, this is one of those moments that I dream about (literally), and it rarely happens in real life.

I was looking through the "new arrivals" bin and came upon an LP called The Return of The Zombies (1990). Some back story: A few years ago I was surprised to learn that there was a 1990 Zombies reunion (minus Rod Argent) that resulted in an album called New World. I purchased the CD on eBay and found it to be relatively pleasant, never expecting that there was a vinyl release of the project. Turns out I was half right -- New World never got released on vinyl, but an almost identical version of the album was released on LP (in Germany only) under the less imaginative title, The Return of the Zombies.

My least favorite track on the New World CD was a completely unnecessary remake of "Time of the Season", which was basically a cover version of the original song by the same band. Totally useless. The Return of the Zombies, on the other hand, features a completely different recording of the song, which starts with just Colin's vocals, building up to an 'unplugged'-style rendition that really puts the focus on the vocals (those Zombies harmonies are dead on). It is the highlight of the album, in my opinion.

Needless to say, the last two days have overflowed with Zombie goodness, and the crate digger in me is on cloud 9. Tonight I go to bed a happy and very satisfied collector. :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

On my turntable (xmas booty edition): The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle

When I first bought this album, back when it was issued on CD in 1988, I had little idea what I was in for. I knew that "Time of the Season" was on it, and that the cover art was stunning. The more I learned about the album's history the more interesting it became, but it was the music that had hooked me the most* .

Tonight, armed with a gift certificate from Leo, I went to the record store and purchased my first-ever new copy of this legendary record. I had previously owned the album as part of the double Time of the Zombies LP, but as I type this I'm hearing the music on a pristine vinyl copy for the first time. Naysayers of the warmth contained in vinyl's grooves can step aside, because this record is warming me a-plenty.

There have been a variety of pressings of Odessey and Oracle (1968) in the decades since it's original release, and I expect it's time again for a fancy new pressing for a classic such as this. This version is a "30th Anniversary" pressing from 1997 on Big Beat records. It makes a great Christmas gift if you are thinking of buying yourself a little something special for the holidays :).

*A quick history: The Zombies financed, wrote, produced, arranged, and packaged the whole album themselves during the "summer of love" period in the 60's, with the understanding that it would be their final album together. A year after the LP was released, "Time of the Season" became an unexpected smash, and offers flooded in for The Zombies to tour, but by this time the band had already broken up.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, originally uploaded by jeff's fancy blog.

12:03 AM

12.25.2009, originally uploaded by jeff's fancy blog.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The 20 fanciest songs of 2009

20. "BBQ Party" - Shonen Knife
19. "Sing the Changes" - The Fireman
18. "Carol Brown" - Flight of the Conchords
17. "Williams Blood" - Grace Jones
16. "Fatalist Palmistry" - Why?
15. "In One Ear" - Cage the Elephant
14. "We Are Golden" - Mika
13. "Salt & Cherries (MC5)" - Wendy & Lisa
12. "Know Your Enemy" - Green Day
11. "Dimmer" - Bishop Allen
10. "Shining Light" - Annie Lennox
9. "Cause I Sez So" - New York Dolls
8. "The Sun is Down" - Yoko Ono & Plastic Ono Band
7. "You Never Know" - Wilco
6. "Get Rid of That Girl" - The Donnas
5. "December Song (I dreamed of Christmas)" - George Michael
4. "Love Letter to Japan" - The Bird and The Bee
3. "French Navy" - Camera Obscura
2. "Day of the Sunflowers (we march on)" - Basement Jaxx w/Yoko Ono
1. "(if you're wondering if I want you to) I Want You to" - Weezer

5:12 PM

12.24.2009, originally uploaded by jeff's fancy blog.

The calm before the blizzard.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Best new LPs of 2009

I must say this has been a pretty sweet year for new vinyl (and vinyl reissues!). Note of technicality: A couple of these releases (Bird & The Bee, The Fireman) were released in digital formats in '08, but not on vinyl until early this year. The rest of these LPs all have a "2009" release date proudly printed on their sleeves.
20. Sean Lennon - Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Undead
19. Cage the Elephant (self-titled)
18. Bishop Allen
- Grrr...
17. Bob Mould - Life and Times
16. Elvis Costello - Secret, Profane & Sugarcane
15. Brendan Benson - My Old, Familiar Friend
14. Rosanne Cash - The List
13. Michael Jackson - The Remix Suite
12. New York Dolls - 'Cause I Sez So
11. Q-tip - Kamaal the Abstract
10. The Fireman - Electric Arguments
9. Green Day - 21st Century Breakdown
8. Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band - Between My Head and the Sky
7. Flight of the Conchords - I Told You I Was Freaky
6. The Bird & The Bee - Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future
5. Cheap Trick - The Latest
4. Lemonheads - Varshons
3. Weezer - Raditude
2. The Donnas - Greatest Hits Vol 16
1. Wendy & Lisa - White Flags of Winter Chimneys

One tiny rabbit, one big obsession

Austin is prone to becoming fixated on something and obsessing over it. Most of the time it's a part of the house that we don't want him to be in. He finds absolute victory in sneaking or forcibly busting into some area that he knows is off-limits.

His latest obsession has been the Christmas tree. We ended up putting a fence around it so that he wouldn't have access to the lights (he likes to chew through chords). Over the last few days he's focused his obsession onto one particular U of M gopher football helmet ornament. Last night he wouldn't stop batting it around, so I finally had to move it out of his reach. Before I moved the ornament I was able to snap this shot:

On my turntable: Foreigner - Head Games

Tonight I was half-heartedly working on some schoolwork when I found myself singing "Head Games". I like to think of this as a sign that I should be listening to the actual record, since it sounds so much better on the turntable than it does in my head.

I'll go ahead and say it. I am guilty of pushing Foreigner to the side, ignoring what a presence they were from 1978-1986 (give or take a year). Personally I stopped caring after Foreigner 4, before the radio ballads took over, but those first four albums were mostly solid stuff. Of the first four LPs I tend to overlook Head Games (1979) the most, which is unfortunate because it's a damn decent album. The LP had at least two significant rock radio hits (the title track and "Dirty White Boy"), alongside tracks that are indicative of the burgeoning new-wave thing that was happening in 1979.

Record collector geek note: The label on side 2 of this particular copy of Head Games is missing song titles (pictured, right), which makes it extra fancy.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yesterday's booty

I'm a sucker for late 80's "best-of" compilations on vinyl. From 87-91 it seemed like every artist was releasing a compilation CD prior to the issue of their back catalog on disc. Few people bought the vinyl versions of these collections, so when I find these on vinyl I tend to snatch them up. I've never considered myself a Human League or Berlin fan, but these albums are pretty sweet. A nice flashback, and only $1.98 each. Can't beat dat.

11:23 AM

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Safety first!

True story: So earlier this week I got my H1N1 vaccination. Felt pretty good about myself afterward too, for having managed to escape the flu, what with my crap immune system. If you've ever had a flu shot (and hopefully you have!) you know that they tend to make your arm a bit sore for a few days. A day or so after getting my shot I was walking up the stairs in our house, carrying some laundry, and I slipped. I landed squarely on my left side, connecting with our wooden stairs on my left ear and my right arm, precisely where I received the flu shot.

Needless to say, some tears were shed, some whimpering was made. It hurt like a sonofabitch. I did however get this lovely bruise out of the deal (pictured, right).

2009: Best of Qtr IV

A few observations about this quarter's list...
  • A few of the songs are more than a year old. One of them (#19) is a bona-fide oldie.
  • #17 made the list because of the vinyl release. I had a digital copy over the summer, but the LP is spectacular.
  • The #1 song is possibly the best track of the year, and probably the most inspired performance of Ono's career.
  • This may be the first time a band (#3) made the list along with one if its former band members (#9).
  • #10 is the b-side of a song from quarter 1's list ("Drama Queen" by Switches)
  • At least half of the artists on this list had already been making records 20 years ago.
So here's my fave 20 songs of the past 4 months:
*20. "Joy Ride" - The Killers
*19. "Last Night I Had a Dream" - Fanny
18. "Up On the Housetop" - The Donnas
*17. "Alive" - Cheap Trick
16. "The Love You Save (the knocks remix)" - The Jackson 5ive
*15. "Back Stabbin' Betty" - Cage the Elephant
*14. "Sea of Heartbreak" - Rosanne Cash & Bruce Springsteen
13. "Princessa" - Jason Falkner
12. "December Song (I Dreamed of Christmas)" - George Michael
11. "Take It Upon Yourself" - Sloan
*10. "Stephanie" - Switches
*9. "Fox On the Run" - Ace Frehley
*8. "Barely in Love" - Q-Tip
7. "Super Group" - Shonen Knife
*6. "I'm Your Daddy" - Weezer
*5. "Carol Brown" - Flight of the Conchords
*4. "This is It" - Michael Jackson
3. "Modern Day Delilah" - Kiss
2. "We Belong"- Bangles
*1. "Day of the Sunflowers (we march on)" - Basement Jaxx feat. Yoko Ono
*Available on vinyl.

(note: list revised on 12/16/09)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Ringo vinyl!

Street date: 1/12/10

Amazon is currently taking pre-orders for both the CD and vinyl versions.

Happy day.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Class Project: Chuck Panozzo

I have a presentation to give tomorrow in my GLBT Leadership class. Our assignment was to choose a leader/activist whom we consider influential, important, etc.. When I first learned of the assignment I immediately thought of Chuck Panozzo.

Some of you will know that Chuck is an original co-founder and bass player for Styx. Panozzo wrote about his experiences as a closeted rock star in The Grand Illusion: Love, Lies, and my life with STYX (2007), which I strongly recommend. From reading his book and staying somewhat up to date via his websites, I've developed a great admiration and respect for the man, who is now out there every day fighting the fight with the rest of us, albeit in a somewhat more visible fashion (you know, with him being a rock legend and all that).

For my class presentation I chose to assemble a video rather than a PowerPoint, seeing as I typically loathe PowerPoint. Hopefully this video will be slightly more engaging than some of the other class presentations. :)


STYX Songs (in order featured):
  • "Mr. Roboto" (DeYoung)
  • "Come Sail Away" (DeYoung)
  • "I'm O.K." (DeYoung, Young)
  • "Lady" (DeYoung)
  • "Too Much Time on My Hands" (Shaw)
  • "Put Me On" (DeYoung, Shaw, Young)
  • "Just Be" (Shaw)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Jackson 5ive re-issues!

Oh yeah. Motown has scheduled a 1/5/10 re-release date for the following classics by the Jackson 5ive on VINYL:
Get it Together
Third Album
Looking Through the Windows
Goin' Back to Indiana
Maybe Tomorrow
Get it Together, in particular, is one funky album. Very exciting news!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happiness is...IKEA

Leo and I typically avoid venturing into retail spaces on Black Friday, but IKEA had two pieces of furniture that we were pretty sweet on this year. I'm particularly pleased with this one and here's why:
When I was younger I used to listen to records on the floor, with my turntable/record player at eye level. I would do this for hours. After assembling this new IKEA unit I sat on the floor, put on an LP, and instantly thought "oh yeah, this is the right set up."

(at left: my view from the floor.)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

On my turntable: The Ethel Merman Disco Album

I don't know where to start with this one.

Well, the year was 1979. Disco had already reached Fever pitch; jumped the shark if you will. Virtually every artist had been throwing their hat into the disco ring, including rockers such as Wings, Rod Stewart, The Stones, The Beach Boys, and KISS. So why not Ethel Merman?

The part that I've been trying to wrap my head around is whether the producers of this record knew at the time that they were making a campy, iconic, hyper-gay classic, or if they were actually trying to make a serious artistic statement. The production is top-notch; By '79 the disco formula was pretty well cemented, and this record follows that formula to a T. I almost think that A&M believed they were striking gold with this project. You know - that ever elusive golden ticket to finally put the ol' girl back on the map. Perhaps Merman herself was trying to build a legion of fans with the Studio 54 crowd through this record? The songs are pure Merman: "There's No Business Like Show Business", "Everything's Coming Up Roses", "I Got Rhythm". No way she could lose, right?

So many unanswered questions, and just like Bigfoot and Nessie, perhaps we'll never truly know the answers. What I do know, as clearly as the nose on my face, is that this is one of the GAYEST records ever made. Seriously. It should have been called Gay & M Records presents The Gay Ethel Gay Merman Gay Disco Album (Super Gay Deluxe Issue). Whatever the title, this album deserves every bit of the underground camp classic status it has earned over the past 30 years.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

6:00 pm

Two days until the holiday vinyl hits the turntable....
11.24.2009, originally uploaded by jeff's fancy blog

Monday, November 23, 2009

2009: the year of the single?

This year saw some pretty sweet 45 releases, many of them domestic, thanks in part to the success of Record Store Day's Vinyl Saturdays. As is often the case with 7" vinyl, many of these records include b-sides unavailable elsewhere.
Pictured above (from upper left):

*Black Gold: "Breakdown"/"Breakdown (version DSMR IV)"
Camera Obscura: "French Navy"/"The World is Full of Strangers"
Elvis Costello: "Complicated Shadows"/"Dirty Rotten Shame"
Big Star: "Feel (alternate mix)"/"Mod Lang (unissued single mix)"
Wilco: "You Never Know"/"Unlikely Japan"
Franz Ferdinand: "Ulysses"/"You Never Go Out Anymore"
Green Day: "Know Your Enemy"/"Hearts Collide"
MIKA: "We Are Golden"/"We Are Golden (Jokers of the Scene are Not Who You Think They Are Remix)"
New York Dolls: "Trash"/"Trash (live 2009)"

(not pictured - Weezer: "(If you're wondering if I want you to) I Want You To"/"I Woke Up In Love This Morning")
*Thanks to my pal Chuck, who sent me this groovy 45 earlier this year.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Top 40 of the 00's

It took a few drafts, and I might still need to make some changes, but here's what I've determined to be the best 40 songs of the past decade. I must say that looking at this list is exciting for a few reasons. For one, it's great to know that great pop is still being made by real artists in the era of American Idol assembly line product. Perhaps more exciting for me is that a majority of this music was pressed on vinyl (I've identified such tracks with an asterisk*).
  1. Don't Listen To The Radio - The Vines*
  2. Again & Again - The Bird and the Bee*
  3. Not Tonight - The New Cars
  4. Feel Good, Inc - Gorillaz w/De La Soul*
  5. Druscilla I Dig Your Scene - Jupiter Affect
  6. Tear Off Your Own Head (It's a doll revolution) - Bangles
  7. Funplex - B-52's*
  8. This is Where I Came In - Bee Gees*
  9. Young Folks - Peter Bjorn & John*
  10. California - Lenny Kravitz*
  11. Unforgiven - G0-Go's
  12. Lying Through Your Teeth - Automatica*
  13. (if you're wondering if I want you to) I Want You To - Weezer*
  14. A Little Less Conversation - Elvis vs JXL*
  15. Who Are These People? - Burt Bacharach w/Elvis Costello*
  16. The One U Wanna C - Prince*
  17. Fine Line - Paul McCartney*
  18. Love Letter to Japan - The Bird and the Bee*
  19. Day of the Sunflowers - Basement Jaxx w/Yoko Ono*
  20. Put You in Your Place - The Sunshine Underground*
  21. O Divina - Terence Trent D'Arby
  22. Undone - Blondie
  23. Choose Love - Ringo Starr
  24. Call Me Mellow - Tears For Fears*
  25. Lollipop - MIKA
  26. Girl Talk - TLC*
  27. Spit It Out - Brendan Benson*
  28. What Happens Tomorrow - Duran Duran*
  29. Soak Up The Sun - Sheryl Crow*
  30. That's Not My Name - Ting Tings*
  31. Thou Shalt Always Kill - Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip*
  32. All Possibilities - Badly Drawn Boy*
  33. Waiting for our Time - Styx
  34. I Don't Feel Like Dancing - Scissor Sisters*
  35. Cellophane - Wondermints
  36. I Want To Fly - Zombies
  37. Universally Speaking - Red Hot Chili Peppers*
  38. Don't Stop Now - Crowded House*
  39. V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N - Puffy AmiYumi
  40. Wind it Up - Gwen Stefani*
Thoughts? Opinions? Rants? Feel free to post your comments!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

gas face

So I'm in Nebraska attending a national conference for Graduate & Professional students. Overall it's a good conference and I've picked up a few ideas for things I can do on our campus. The sucky part is that I've been dealing with what seems to be a crohn's episode, which tends to throw a wrench into professional activities like conferences. Crohn's can suck all of the energy right out of you, and for me that means I need extra down time, which is the exact opposite of what conferences provide. It doesn't help much that I am not always comfortable communicating how I'm feeling when it's crohn's-related, because I've learned most people don't know how to respond. So instead I often retreat from everyone, which can cause problems for those who are wondering where the hell I am.

I'm choosing to find a positive in this situation - a lesson to be learned. I'm interested in finding out what resources exist for students who find themselves in similar situations. One thing I've learned about folks who live with chronic illness is that we tend to be shy about asking for help, since it puts the attention on the condition rather than the individual. So we play the "I'm OK don't worry about me" game, which is total bullshit, because it only downplays the severity of the disease, implying that we're not worthy of whatever we need to take proper care of ourselves. It's not a fun game to play. I'd much rather play Rock'em Sock'em robots or Monopoly. But not Operation.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

2:23 pm

Leo and Mom brought this picture of Dad to our church yesterday, where other pictures of loved ones passed have been placed on an altar. This afternoon Leo and I brought a stand for Dad's picture. It's comforting to have his photo there. I think it has something to do with community, since each of the photos on the altar have their own story and history. To have all these pictures on display symbolizes the communal loss that we all feel, which somehow ties us all together.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

10:41 AM

11.7.2009, originally uploaded by jeff's fancy blog.

Nirvana: Nevermind.
Can this album really be 20 years old already??

update: Thanks to my friend Jim, who kindly pointed out that Nevermind was released in '91, and as such is merely 18 years old. Good eye, Jim. Good eye.

Friday, November 06, 2009

6:38 pm

GAPSA Family Bowling night. I am totally hopped up
on all-the-soda-you-can-drink in this picture.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

12:35 pm

Weezer: "(If you're wondering if I want you to) I Want You To"

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

3:12 pm

I brought a turntable with me today to teach my students about the glories of vinyl. About six students had questions for me after class, and they seemed quite excited about this "new" format. "So what's the best place to buy vinyl"? "How much does a turntable cost?" I feel as though my work is done, and it's very satisfying. So now I'm in my office listening to some records; I'm thinking of keeping the turntable here for a while, since work is a lot more fun if you can spin some records at the same time. :)

quote for the day

"Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." - MLK
Hang in there, Maine.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Thirty 45's pt. IV

Click on the image to see a larger version

Pictured, left:

  • "Lonely Boy" - Andrew Gold (1976)
  • "On the Shelf" - Donny & Marie (1978)
  • "I'm Alive" - E.L.O. (1980)
  • Friday, October 30, 2009

    On my turntable: The Beach Boys Today! ('09 reissue)

    OH BOY. It is a rare treat to be a fan of a band for decades and to suddenly hear one of their greatest works restored to its purest original format.

    Capitol Records has re-issued Beach Boys Today! (1965) on 180 gram vinyl, in glorious MONO. The label has gone to great lengths to re-create Today's original release, incorporating sharp, beautiful duplication of the album's artwork and labels - even the original gold-colored inner sleeve that hypes other exciting Capitol LP's, now in "improved Full Dimensional Stereo."

    For me, the unexpected highlight of the album has been the opening track, "Do You Wanna Dance", which I have heard on several LPs in muddy Duophonic fake stereo. This afternoon, for the first time, I heard the track barreling into its chorus with gusto and a far more proper balance of highs and lows. Real Shindig! stuff. The rest of the album lives up to expectations - "Help Me Ronda", "Dance Dance Dance", and all of side two -- perfect.
    Additional reading:

    On my turntable: The Beach Boys Today! (August 18, 2008)

    10:50 am

    Anderson Hall, University of MN

    Saturday, October 24, 2009

    An open letter to fake "christians" everywhere

    A little word of advice to those of you who doesn't already know:
    Refering to gay people as "pedophiles" doesn't make you look like a better Christian. It only exposes you for what you are: an ignorant bigot.
    So for any of you fake "christians" who think The Matthew Shepard bill was designed to silence your "churches": it's not about YOU. It's about protecting a minority group from being physically harmed BY you. Also, granting such protections to a minority is not "special rights" - it's designed to provide legal protection from HATE CRIMES.

    Some of you seem to have a hard time understanding what a hate crime actually is. For starters, it has nothing to do with what you and your friends discuss in your fear mongering "churches". Also, when a white dude beats the shit out of another white dude, that is not a hate crime. For all we know it's just two drunken inbred hillbillies doing what they usually do on a Tuesday night. Hence, no need for legislation. But when someone savagely injures a GLBT person because they are GLBT, that sends a message to ALL GLBT people that they are not safe, because of who they are.

    That is a hate crime. And now, thanks to a system that seems to be working for the first time in over eight years, we have federal laws to protect Americans regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

    It may be long overdue, but it's still progress.

    Thirty 45's pt. III

    <Click on the image to see a larger version

    Pictured, left:

    • "Skin Trade" - Duran Duran (1987)
    • "Money Honey" - Bay City Rollers (1976)
    • "My Sharona" - The Knack (1979)

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Thirty 45's pt. II

    <Click on the image to see a larger version

    Pictured, left:

    • "Baby Come Back" - Player (1977)
    • "Our Lips Are Sealed" - Go-Go's (1981)
    • "Sweet Cherry Wine" - Tommy James & The Shondells (1969)