Saturday, January 31, 2009

On my turntable: Keats

I bought this album a couple of years ago when I learned that Colin Blunstone was the singer. I thought it was a pleasant record, but a little too 80's-sounding. Yesterday I snagged a near-mint audiophile pressing for .50, and revisiting the album now I like it quite a bit. The album is SO 1984, but I suppose that's part of its greatness. What's equally great is the official video for "Turn Your Heart Around", complete with some unforgettable early 80's video effects, and a seemingly naked woman being assaulted by a wind machine:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Another reason why I love Minneapolis

On my way home this afternoon I stopped by a few of my record stores. At the last store I quickly noticed a guy leaning up against the LPs who I thought I recognized. I said to myself "That's Husker Du's Grant Hart". Turned out I was right. At one point I was thumbing through the used LPs and as I came across a few Husker Du LP's I realized that the voice I was hearing from ten feet away was the drummer for that band. Surreal. Grant and the shop owner were listening to a copy of Grant's new yet to be released album, which Hart plans to shop to the labels at this year's SXSW.

On my turntable: Head Automatica - Popaganda

Daryl Palumbo, the lead singer for Head Automatica, has crohn's disease (as do I). I discovered this band through reading about Palumbo's other band Glassjaw, whose album Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence (2000) featured multiple references to life with crohn's.

After sampling a couple of tracks from Head Automatica's Popaganda (2006) I quickly tracked down the LP on eBay, sealed for $10. The LP arrived just today and I've not yet opened it - I plan to dig into its contents tonight. My favorite track so far, the very Elvis Costello-esque "Lying Through Your Teeth", is easily one of my favorites of the past few weeks.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

27 things

Since it's been a while, and because Cyn said so:

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? RELAXING ON THE COUCH WITH LEO WHILE A RABBIT JUMPS AROUND THE LIVING ROOM.
2. What is your greatest fear? NUCLEAR WAR
3. Which living person do you most admire? THERE ARE MANY. LATELY I'VE GOT A BOATLOAD OF ADMIRATION FOR RACHEL MADDOW.
4. What is your greatest extravagance? KISS MY FACE PEACEFUL PATCHOULI SHOWER GEL (IT'S A LITTLE PRICEY BUT ONE BOTTLE LASTS ABOUT 6-8 MONTHS).
5. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? STEADFASTNESS.
6. On what occasion do you lie? SOMETIMES I'LL SHAVE THE .99 OFF OF THE PRICE OF A RECORD WHEN LEO ASKS ME HOW MUCH I SPENT ON IT (EXAMPLE: $10.99 BECOMES 'ONLY TEN BUCKS')
7. What do you dislike most about your appearance? LATELY I'M DISPLEASED WITH THE GAP BETWEEN MY FRONT TEETH.
8. Which living person do you most despise? JAMES DOBSON, MIKE HUCKABEE...YOU KNOW THOSE PEOPLE.
9. What is the quality you most like in a man? COMPASSION
10. What is the quality you most like in a woman? HUMOR
11. Which words or phrases do you overuse? "AWESOME"
12. What or who is the greatest love of your life? MY PUDDIN', LEO
13. When and where were you the happiest? HMMM. THIS ONE IS TOO HARD. MANY HAPPY TIMES.
14. What talent would you most like to have? THE ABILITY TO FLY.
15. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I WOULD LIKE MORE CONFIDENCE AROUND STRANGERS.
16. What do you consider your greatest achievement? WORLD PEACE. OK NOT REALLY.
17.What is your most treasured possession? BOOK AUTOGRAPHED BY GEORGE HARRISON.
18. What do you most value in your friends? THEY MAKE ME LAUGH.
19. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? HATE.
20. What is your favorite occupation? I'D LOVE TO WORK AT AN ANIMAL SANCTUARY.
21. What is your most marked characteristic? DUNNO.
22. Who are your favorite writers? DON'T HAVE ANY
23. Who is your favorite hero if fiction? BUGS BUNNY
24. Which historical figure do you most identify with? NOT SURE
25. Who are your heroes in real life? LINDA MCCARTNEY, KEITH ELLISON, DAVY JONES, BARACK OBAMA
26. What is your greatest regret? REGRETS, I'VE HAD A FEW; BUT THEN AGAIN TOO FEW TO MENTION.
27. What is your motto? ALWAYS STRIVE TO CAUSE THE LEAST HARM.

4:39 am

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On my turntable: Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty

It's been around 10 years since I last heard this album. I never bothered to buy it (until this afternoon), although I borrowed it (from my friend Jim, I thinks) and I had a few favorites.

On a ridiculously cold morning drive to work in the winter of 98/99 I heard the Fat Boy Slim remix of "Body Movin" on Radio K, and I darn near soiled myself. The song remains one of my faves of all time, although the original mix on this LP is dull by comparison.

Hello Nasty's (1998) lost gem for me is the psychedelic "Song For the Man", which I remember including on a mixtape at some point. This was a song that I would never have recognized by title alone, but the second I heard it I went "OOOOOH yeah." Hello Nasty is a dazzling mix of colors and musical styles, in the same way that Paul's Boutique (1989) was, although not quite as crazed or sample heavy. I'm glad that this record & I crossed paths today.

Official Videos:
"Intergalactic"
"Body Movin' (fat boy slim remix)"
"Three MCs and One DJ"

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ray on vinyl...finally?

According to major retailers like Amazon and BestBuy, the vinyl release of The Lemonheads' sublime classic It's A Shame About Ray (1992) finally comes out tomorrow. To the best of my knowledge there has never been a full 12" vinyl release of this album, only an abridged 10" version. With the rebirth of vinyl I expect that we might start seeing a lot more 90's albums issued in this format for the first time. Who'da thunk it?

9:55 pm

You can tell from that look in his eyes
that it's Austin's fun bun run time.

7:05 pm

Schoolhouse Rocky was right: Knowledge is power.

On my turntable: Wham! U.K. - Fantastic

One thing that I never take for granted about my "alternative lifestyle" (that of a record collector) is how I can find myself with a song in my head one minute and the next minute I'm digging out the LP for some early morning disco dancing. I was strolling through the kitchen this morning when Wham!'s "A Ray of Sunshine" popped into my head, and voila! She is now rotating on the turntable.

My first exposure to this album was in my brother's car. He was a freshman at Augsburg at the time, working at the college radio station. Wham! U.K. was a new duo with an interesting R&B/funk/electronic mix that sounded pretty fresh at the time. So Jay had the tape in his car and was trying to convince me that Wham! U.K. was good, and I was thinking "yeah they're OK I guess". The next year when I was a college freshman Make it Big! was released, and it was huge. Wham! broke up in '86 after the release of their third album, Music From the Edge of Heaven.

Official videos:
"Bad Boys"
"Young Guns"
"Wham! Rap"
"Club Tropicana"

Sunday, January 25, 2009

7:11 pm


The tower of books I've been reading could probably be trimmed down a bit.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hate.

******************************
Update: Make sure you read the comments to this post left by Rev. Donald Spitz. Feel free to leave your own comments, and if you're so inclined, say a prayer for him. This is exactly the type of hate that I'm talking about.
******************************
So apparently it's gay day on Lifetime. I just finished watching most of The Matthew Shepard Story, and I'm filled with of a mess of different emotions. I did some research into the Matthew Shepard Act, a hate crimes bill designed to prevent hate crimes against LGBT folks. The bill was vetoed by G.W. Bush.

Religious groups such as Focus on the Family protested the bill, stating that it would serve to silence those who "dare to express their moral and biblical concerns about homosexuality", in other words, those who choose to harm gay people in the name of God. As I am to understand it, the name of their God is HATE.

I pray to my God that our country's new leadership will do the right thing in protecting all of its citizens. I know I've said this a lot lately, but I will continue to say it. I REFUSE TO BE ANYTHING BUT WHAT I AM: EQUAL.

Video: "Poster Child (for Matthew Shepard)" by a balladeer

Thursday, January 22, 2009

On my turntable: KISS - Ace Frehley

Next to Destroyer (1975), Ace Frehley (1978) might be the best KISS album. It's not perfect, and it's no rock masterpiece, but it rocks. It represents Ace at his absolute peak, not long before he crashed, burned, and faded out of the band. It was also the only one of the KISS solo albums to generate a recognizable hit single, the instantly catchy "New York Groove".

The KISS solo albums were a legendary mass marketing campaign that shipped out platinum to record stores and swiftly moved to the cutout bins. The concept was a 7th grader's wet dream -- not just one new KISS album, but FOUR, all at once. The dissapointment was that Paul & Gene's albums weren't very good for the most part, and in the case of Peter's album, oi what a stinker. But you still had to buy all four if you were a true fan, because each album included one piece of the KISS poster puzzle. My childhood friend Nicky Osteen was the only KISS fan I remember having all four posters, that is until a couple of days ago when I, yours truly, completed my collection with the Ace Frehley poster.
(image of solo posters from flaming-youth.com)

Video: "New York Groove" live in New Jersey, 1996

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Quote of the week: Rev. Al Sharpton

"We know you're not preaching the Bible, because if you were preaching the Bible we would have heard from you. We would have heard from you when people were starving in California–when they deregulated the economy and crashed Wall Street you had nothing to say. When Madoff made off with the money, you had nothing to say. When Bush took us to war chasing weapons of mass destruction that weren't there you had nothing to say.

But all of a sudden, when Proposition 8 came out, you had so much to say...


...There is something immoral and sick about using all of that power to not end brutality and poverty, but to break into people's bedrooms and claim that God sent you. It amazes me when I looked at California and saw churches that had nothing to say about police brutality, nothing to say when a young black boy was shot while he was wearing police handcuffs, nothing to say when they overturned affirmative action, nothing to say when people were being [relegated] into poverty, yet they were organizing and mobilizing to stop consenting adults from choosing their life partners."

-Rev. Al Sharpton, speaking to the Alliance of Affirming Faith-Based Organizations last week.

(props to PageOneQ)

6:47 pm

If anything good came out of being sick for
the past three weeks it's these super groovy kleenex packs.

On my turntable: Tears for Fears - Songs From the Big Chair

I had another good day at the record store yesterday. I've not been in a big hurry to buy Songs from The Big Chair (1985), but when I saw this absolutely near mint copy for 50 cents something told me it was time...

It's been 24 years since these songs dominated radio and MTV, and I think I needed just about that much distance to appreciate them again. They sound great. The whole album is a brilliantly polished burst of genius, and unlike a lot of the music from this era, it doesn't suffer from too much overt 80's-ness (if that makes sense).

Official Videos:
"Shout"
"Everybody Wants To Rule The World"
"Mothers Talk"
"Head Over Heels"
"I Believe"

Saturday, January 17, 2009

2:11 am

Leo always lights candles before he goes to bed.
Tonight I thought they looked particularly peaceful.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

On my turntable: Bee Gees - Odessa

I've heard Odessa (1969) used in the same sentence with "opus", and I suppose that's accurate. Odessa was the only full-length original studio LP by the Bee Gees to be released as a double album, filled with songs that are rich and diverse and sometimes breathtaking. This week Rhino released a deluxe boxed CD set of this classic, with a bonus CD of demos and alternate mixes, housed in a red-velvet case resembling the original LP. Judging by Rhino's impeccable treatment of the first three Gibb albums, I expect that this release is going to be close to flawless. No word yet on a vinyl set.

additional fancy blogging: 5/20/2006 entry on Odessa

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Obamafied

Like a ton of bricks.

I'm not a medical professional,
but I'm going to guess that this is some type of flu.
Whatever it is, it hit me quickly and it's unpleasant as all get out.

9:01 am

I've read somewhere that people with Crohn's are
supposed to avoid Ibuprofen, but I can't remember why.
Right now my whole body aches, and I'm a bit desperate,
so Ibuprofen it is
!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

On my turntable: The Velvet Underground & Nico

Here we have another album that I bought on CD some 10 years ago, after it placed at #13 on Mojo Magazine's top 100 albums of all time. While I thought the tunes were pleasant enough at the time, I was in the process of losing interest in the cold plastic-ness of CDs, so I put the disc aside knowing that eventually I would buy the LP, which I finally did a couple of weeks ago.

In the past decade I've not seen any album receive as many different re-issues as The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967). I've encountered audiophile pressings, colored vinyl, a mono version, and a version with deluxe repackaging that features a repro of the original peel-off banana sticker. The copy pictured above is a standard vinyl re-issue, priced to sell at around $10.99 (new).

In my opinion, albums such as this belong on standard vinyl. The dirty garage band sound of The Velvet Underground & Nico simply does not need any gloss from high-end audiophile or digital re-mastering. It is what it is -- early punk played on occasionally out-of-tune guitars, and sometimes oddly interpreted by Nico's German accent (I never tire of hearing her sing "What a clown" in "Femme Fatale"). To top it off, the record is packaged in one of the most iconic album covers in rock history, which, like the music, is enjoyed best in LP format.

Wikipedia: The Velvet Underground & Nico

Video: Velvet Underground w/Nico: "Femme Fatale":

Look through my window

Current temperature in Minneapolis: -18° .

Monday, January 12, 2009

What I'm reading: Got A Revolution!

The full title is Got a Revolution!: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane. Talk about an interesting story. In what I've read so far, the book discusses the band's role in the famed Summer of Love, on through the American nightmare that was 1968. It's a compelling read, with anecdotes from the band themselves.

I first started exploring the Airplane in earnest around 1989 when I first bought Surrealistic Pillow and Volunteers on CD. Songs like "Good Shepherd", "Wooden Ships", "Comin' Back To Me", "Today", "D.C.B.A.-25", and "My Best Friend" got heavy rotation on my walkman as I shuffled around campus that year. I still associate a lot of the 60's Airplane music with an intense personal period of discovery and pseudo-cosmic consciousness. A lot of the 60's music that I listened to at that time fed my interest in student activism, which continues to influence my educational and vocational choices. In many ways it encouraged me to find my own voice, which I'm still trying to refine (and amplify). The "Embryonic Journey" continues.

2:40 pm

Simon *loves* record store bags.
I gave him one earlier this afternoon and he made a fort out of it.
I expect that later tonight, in a mad bun frenzy, he'll shred it.

7 things

I've seen this on other blogs but never took a stab at it myself. Here's 7 random things you may not know about me...

1. I like jalapenos on my PB&J sandwiches.

2. I used to be an active musician. One of my most memorable experiences was getting my band's version of "Yesterday's Hero" released on a Bay City Rollers tribute CD, which was officially approved by The Rollers (or so I was told).

3. The four bands/artists I've seen live the most times:
  1. Cheap Trick
  2. The Beach Boys
  3. Prince
  4. The Monkees
4. For about the first half of my life I was embarrassed about my red hair.

5. My fave color is orange.

6. I am very proud of my mixed heritage: Swedish, Norwegian, Swiss, German, Irish. I consider my cultural background to be Northeast Minneapolis.

7. I am skilled at repairing 8-track tapes. I am also skilled at destroying 8-track tapes in my efforts to repair them.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

On my turntable: Various - Choice Cuts

The interweb is a fantastic little invention. Through the world of blogging and other networking sites I've met some groovy people over the past few years. Example: my e-pal & fellow blogger Chuck, who recently sent me a couple of sealed sampler LPs from 2008 Record Store Day (thx again Chuck - you rock).

Choice Cuts (2008) was made by Universal expressly as a promotional item for stores to use on Record Store Day. Growing up in the golden age of K-tel Records, I enjoy these types of Various Artist collections on vinyl. There's usually a nice amount of variety, and it can be a good way to find a new artist or two that you can look into further. I figure if you find one new band that you like from a record like this then it's worth it.

After a couple of spins I'm really digging "Drama Queen" by Switches, a band that I'd not heard of before. I can tell you that they have an album on Interscope called Lay Down the Law (2008), although I don't know if there's a full-length vinyl release.

Video: "Drama Queen" by Switches

12:34 pm

The Partridge Family, Season 3

Friday, January 09, 2009

On my turntable: Cheap Trick - Heaven Tonight

I've blogged about this album before. (click here to read my previous post).

Tonight when I selected this LP I noticed "January" scrawled on the inner sleeve in my 8th grade handwriting. This made me think of a few things:
  • I bought this album in January 1980, which is almost thirty years ago.
  • I started buying records at a pretty young age.
  • I've done a good job of hanging on to my records.
  • Even at age 12 I was uptight about documenting things like dates.
  • I'm getting old!
This album is so so so so good. With the scheduled re-release of Live At Budokan (1978) on LP it would be nice to see the early Cheap Trick LPs like In Color, Heaven Tonight, and Dream Police get proper reissue as well.

Who's with me?
Edit: Check out this 1978 commercial for Heaven Tonight!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

On my turntable: The Fireman - Electric Arguments

The digital and CD versions of Electric Arguments (2008), The Fireman's 3rd LP, were released later last year, but the vinyl came out just this week. Considering how rare the first two Fireman albums have become, I bought this one on the spot. It's not cheap ($30), but you get a good amount for the money: 2-200 gram LPs in a nice gatefold sleeve, a booklet, custom labels and inner sleeves, plus a CD of the full LP.

In case you don't know, The Fireman is Paul McCartney with Youth (Paul plays most of the instruments, and Youth co-produces & collaborates). The thirteen songs on Electric Arguments were each written and recorded in one day (thus the album was basically done in 13 days). This isn't the first time Paul has worked this way (Wings' first album, Wild Life (1971) was recorded in something like a week), but this album doesn't sound like a rushed affair. It's actually an interestingly eclectic album with some very good songs. On first listen my favorite is definitely "Sun is Shining" which sounds so much like a Wings track that I could swear Denny Laine is singing one of the harmonies.

Here's an interview with Paul & Youth talking about the new LP:

Nice Booty

I've adopted a new philosophy with my local indie record shops, which is that I pay for the privilege to shop there. I set the cost of admission at around $10, which helps to keep them in business, and in return I get records to add to my collection. It's a win-win scenario, really.

Yesterday's trip to Roadrunner records (my second in less than a week) scored me the following booty:
45's:
"Nobody Wins" - Elton John
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" - The Police
"Hungry Like The Wolf" - Duran Duran
"Music Time" - Styx
"Different Drum" - Stone Poneys
"Rip In Heaven" - 'Til Tuesday
"Don't Want to Wait Anymore" - The Tubes

12"/LP:
You're Under Arrest - Miles Davis
Thunder - Andy Taylor
"Election Day" - Arcadia
"White Boy" - Culture Club
The Two of Us - Ramsey Lewis & Nancy Wilson

Monday, January 05, 2009

Sunday, January 04, 2009

On my turntable: Tears For Fears - The Hurting

I did not become a Tears For Fears fan until 1989, when I heard the brilliant Seeds of Love (1989) album (one of my all time favorite LPs). As I type this I am having my first listen to the band's first LP, 1983's The Hurting, which I picked up earlier today.

It seems a little odd that TFF would choose to make their first release a concept album, and a depressing one at that! The whole record appears to be about a painful childhood (assumedly Roland Orzabal's, since he wrote most of the tracks). Despite the somber theme, the album has its highlights: "Change", "Pale Shelter", and "Mad World", all of which were featured on the 1992 Tears Roll Down compilation ("Mad World" also found a whole new audience in 2001 when it was recorded by Gary Jules and featured in the Donnie Darko soundtrack). "Change" is actually a pretty kickass song with an upbeat message.

In 2004 Tears For Fears released what may be their best album, the extraordinary Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, which remains sadly unavailable on vinyl.

Official Videos:
"Mad World"
"Change"
"Pale Shelter"
"Mad World" (Gary Jules version)

Senator Al Franken!!

It's probably a bit premature considering the pending legal shenanigans from Coleman's camp, but oh well:

FIFTEEN DAYS

Only 15 days until we officially get our country back.

Friday, January 02, 2009

On my turntable: Beach Boys - Endless Summer (2008 Capitol Vaults reissue)

I was not planning on buying this reissue, since I already have a very nice original copy, and also because there's plenty of other records I could spend $25 on. Yet today when I saw this little honey in the new arrivals bin at one of my shops for $7 I didn't have to think too hard about surrendering the cash. It's a 'used' copy, but appears to be unplayed.

This reissue is very thoughtfully done. The two 180-gram LPs are even programmed like the original 1974 pressing, with sides 1 & 4 on one disc and 2 & 3 on the other (double LPs in the 70's were pressed this way to accommodate stackable record changers, which were in most homes at the time). The only obvious difference between this and the original is that the text on the labels and the cover appears to be redone, as the font looks a bit different. There also was no poster included in my copy (the original 70's pressings included a cool large fold-out poster (pictured, above right)), but that could be due to it being previously owned. Overall, a gorgeous reissue that sounds fantastic.

Thursday, January 01, 2009