Sunday, March 29, 2009

On my turntable: Sugar - File Under: Easy Listening

I found this LP a few days ago, sealed, for $5. I saw it and said "mine".

Since File Under: Easy Listening (1994) is an album that I don't have much of a history with, I'll do bullets:
  • My grad school roomie Jan owned this on CD, which is how I was exposed to these tunes.
  • The album was released in Sept '94, when Jan & I were settling into our new swank Mankato apartment ("grad school swank" means that we proudly used Old Milwaukee cases as furniture). This music is very much an audio snapshot of that time.
  • One of Jan's friends (Sean?) referred to the band as "The Sugars", and it's probably safe to say that Jan still does (yeah me too).
  • I was never a huge Bob Mould/Husker Du fan, but I liked Sugar when I heard them, and since then I've learned to appreciate Mould's solo work.
  • The album was released by Minnesota label RYKO, known for their quality reissues of the David Bowie and Yoko Ono catalogs.
  • My fave cuts right now are "Your Favorite Thing", "Believe What You're Saying" and "Panama City Motel".
Cool video: The Sugars: "Gee Angel"

Saturday, March 28, 2009

On my turntable: Lemonheads - It's a Shame About Ray

I first announced this album's release back in November, and after several delays it's finally out! As I'm sure I've mentioned, It's a Shame About Ray (1992), the album considered by many to be The Lemonheads' finest, has never seen a full vinyl release prior to now. While 17 years is a little long to wait for an album, I must say it's a damn handsome record. Unlike my original CD, this release includes Lemonheads' rockin' cover of "Mrs. Robinson".

Thursday, March 26, 2009

2009: Best of Quarter I

Here she is, my Top 20 favorite songs of the past 3 months (songs marked with a * are not available in vinyl format, as far as I know):
20."I Love You Equinox" - Vigil
19. "Drivin' Around" - Raspberries
*18. "Ol' Skool Company" - Prince (live on Leno, 3/25/09)
17. "A Ray Of Hope" - The Rascals
16. "Too Many" - Sloan
15. "Ulysses" - Franz Ferdinand
*14. "Living In End Times" - Roger Joseph Manning, Jr
13. "Sing The Changes" - The Fireman
*12. "Lovers" - Kelly Jones
11. "Robin" - Soy Un Caballo
10. "The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room"
- Flight of the Conchords
9. "Sun Is Shining" - The Fireman
8. "LUV" - Janet Jackson
7. "Fatalist Palmistry" - Why?
6. "Dimmer" - Bishop Allen
5. "Get On Your Boots" - U2
4. "Drama Queen" - Switches
3. "Shining Light" - Annie Lennox
2. "Love Letter To Japan" - The Bird and the Bee
1. "Lying Through Your Teeth"
- Head Automatica

9:48 pm

A courageous Peter Tork was on Inside Edition
tonight talking about his recent cancer surgery.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

12:00 am

Simon's been following us around like a puppy tonight. Once I got on the floor with him he got in real close and started nudging me with his nose, which means "pet me, dammit" in bossy bunny language.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More vinyl From the Capitol Vaults

I got the tinglies this morning when I learned that the next batch of vinyl reissues in the Capitol Vaults series includes two legendary Beach Boys LPs: Sunflower (1970), and Surf's Up (1971).

You heard me.

Past release dates have proven to be subject to change (whatever happened to those two Ringo reissues?), but here's the June 16 line-up as it currently stands:
The Beach Boys - Sunflower
The Beach Boys - Surf's Up
Plastic Ono Band - Live Peace In Toronto 1969
Megadeth - So Far, So Good... So What!
Merle Haggard - Mama Tried
Roxy Music -Stranded
Roxy Music - Country Life
The Specials - The Specials
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Freaky Styley
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Mother's Milk
Red Hot Chili Peppers - The Uplift Mofo Party Plan

Thursday, March 19, 2009

12:47 am

I assembled this fancy new IKEA shelving for my LPs tonight and
then stood and admired my work with profound satisfaction.

Monday, March 16, 2009

On my turntable: The Tourists - Should Have Been Greatest Hits

I don't know how this band stayed out of my peripheral vision for 30 years! I learned of The Tourists last week after seeing one of their albums in a book of New Wave album covers that Leo gave me for my b-day. I saw the pic and said "Hey - that's Annie Lennox". Turns out both Lennox and Dave Stewart were in The Tourists before splitting off to form Eurythmics.

I found a used copy this album today and *I love it*. Should Have Been Greatest Hits (1984) is a compilation of the best of The Tourists' output; It's very 1979/80, in the same company as Boomtown Rats, Altered Images, and Split Enz. The band's biggest hit in the U.S. was a remake of "I Only Want To Be With You", the video of which I present here for your enjoyment:

Ron Silver 1946-2009

Ron Silver died yesterday from esophageal cancer. Great dramatic actor, but he was also skilled at comedy (evidenced in his early role as Gary on Rhoda).

link: CNN article

Saturday, March 14, 2009

On my turntable: Bishop Allen - GRRR...

I bought this album earlier today for five reasons:
  1. I've been hungry for some brand new 2009 music.
  2. I liked the cover art.
  3. It was only $11.99.
  4. It came with a free download coupon.
  5. I always like to support my local indie record stores.
I've never actually heard Bishop Allen before, so this was a bit of a risk purchase, but so far I think it's a pretty tasty record. I'm particularly pleased with the album's opening track, the devilishly catchy "Dimmer":
Bishop Allen is scheduled to play an all-ages show at the Triple Rock in Minneapolis on March 30th.

Friday, March 13, 2009

On my turntable (b-day booty edition): Pearl Jam - Ten

I bought this tonight with a gifty certificate Leo gave me for turning old for my birthday. The record store had several new copies of Pearl Jam's Ten in stock, which has been on my list for a while. As I was inspecting them for the nicest one I noticed that one copy had some subtle differences, the most obvious being that it wasn't as thick as the others. Turned out I was holding an original 1991 copy, as opposed to the more recent, heavier-weight reissue.

So tonight I heard Ten on vinyl for the first time. Previously I would have heard this album on CD, either at the record store where I worked, or on a boombox or car cassette deck. Trust me when I say that this 1991 vinyl pressing sounds significantly different than the 1991 CD. I know it's an often overused description of vinyl's sound, but Ten really does sound warmer on LP when compared with the original CD.

In anticipation of Pearl Jam's 20th anniversary, an expanded 2LP reissue of Ten (pictured, right), has been announced, with an expected street date of 3/24/09.

Monday, March 09, 2009

On my turntable (b-day booty edition): Ramones - Leave Home

There was a period in my early 20's when my life was lived according the the scripture written by The Ramones. At a time when I was starting to buy most of my music on CD, The Ramones catalog was still analog-only, so I bought all of their albums on LP. Leave Home (1977) was one of those albums, although in a slightly different form than this copy my brother gave me for my birthday.

When Leave Home was first released, the song "Carbona Not Glue" was considered too controversial, so it was replaced on subsequent pressings by the single version of "Sheena is a Punk Rocker". This reissue of Leave Home restores the original track listing of the album, and on 180 gram vinyl to boot.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Peter Tork recovering

Peter Tork is recovering from successful cancer surgery tonight. According to a statement posted on Tuesday to his official website:
Peter Tork, former member of the hugely popular 60's pop group The Monkees and current bandleader of blues-rock band Shoe Suede Blues announced Tuesday that he has recently been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. This uncommon and generally slow-growing form of head and neck cancer is most frequently found in the salivary glands but in his case was discovered on the lower region of the tongue.

"It's a bad news, good news situation," explains Tork, "It's so rare a combination(on the tongue) that there isn't a lot of experience among the medical community about this particular combination. On the other hand, the type of cancer it is, never mind the location, is somewhat well known, and the prognosis, I'm told, is good."

Tork, 67, will undergo extensive surgery Weds. March 4th in New York and doctors will follow with a round of radiation treatment. Preliminary findings from a biopsy show that the cancer has not spread beyond the initial site.

Here's wishing Peter a very speedy recovery!

On my turntable (b-day booty edition): Yes - Going for the One

Monday is my birthday, which makes this my super fancy b-day weekend. This afternoon my familia got together for lunch at my Mom's, and I got a sweet stack of records from my brother and his girlfriend. Some of the records had a theme, which was "these are some of Jay's favorite records". Fair enough.

Remember in the 70's when there were some records you could get for dirt cheap as "cutouts"? For those who don't remember, cutouts were LPs that were either discontinued by the record label or over-pressed, resulting in overstock that needed to be moved cheaply. Some of the records that I remember seeing often in Musicland's cutout bins: Elton John Friends, the first two Cheap Trick LPs, Badfinger Magic Christian Music, the early McCartney catalog, and Yes Going For the One.

Going For the One (1977) is a record that I remember my brother buying from those bins when we were kids. The bombastic title track has become one of my favorite Yes songs, and the 15 minute "Awaken" was by far one of the highlights of the bands' 1991 Union tour. Over the past few years I've picked up a couple of cheap copies of this record, but today's copy plays and sounds best, so it's a keeper.
Video: Yes - "Wonderous Stories"

in search of serenity

If you've been paying attention to the Prop 8 fiasco, you may have heard that things appear to be leaning towards keeping the amendment intact, restricting rights from the minority. It's heartbreaking, but it's also scary. Seriously -- if this is allowed to happen, there is nothing stopping "the will of the people" from taking away rights from any group on Californians for any reason. Pointy-eared people, left-handed people, green-eyed people -- let's vote on stripping their rights, and if the majority rules, then it becomes law. The people have spoken.

I say this often, but today I'm feeling the need to retreat from sources of news. Of course, as I type this I've got CNN on (although I just put John McCain on MUTE). I'm reminded that there are some things I can change, and others that I cannot realistically expect to change. That does not mean that I am powerless or that I accept defeat, it just means that I shouldn't expect to change the ignorance and hate of strangers overnight, regardless of how loudly I scream.

So, for today, I'm choosing to not let the assholes win. I'm going to have a sweet, kickass day, dammit. You heard me.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

On my turntable: New England

I first purchased this record many many years ago, used, from a short-lived indie shop called Bojangles, in Columbia Heights, MN. A few days ago I scored this sexy new copy, unopened, for $.50. Never sounded better, at least to my ears.

You can read more about this LP at my previous post: New England (7/2/2007)

*ALERT!* I just found these awesome promo videos from New England (1978), which are definitely worth a look:

Monday, March 02, 2009

"We as Christians"

Matt at The Tuning Fork posted this, and I think it deserves to be plastered everywhere. Baylor University professor Robert Baird wrote today in the Waco Trib:

There is, however, a prior and deeper debate — the debate over the attitude we as Christians should have toward homosexuality and gays and lesbians, many of whom, by the way, are included in the class of “we as Christians.”

Sexuality is such a fundamental dimension of who we are, and it is a given. I do not remember choosing to be heterosexual. Surely the same applies to homosexuals.

I know that some sexual proclivities are immoral — desires that, if expressed, violate the other; rape, for example.

But the noted Christian philosopher Robert Adams in his work Finite and Infinite Goods expresses his belief that “homosexual practice is not essentially violative of persons.”

The fundamental question we should ask of any human activity is this — does it violate the dignity of the other?

My daughter and her husband are involved in California in the pursuit of justice for gays and lesbians. In that context, I had a conversation with two women who are building a life together. Far from violating one another, they are lovingly committed to one another, helping one another pursue successful professional careers and successful lives.

The Baptist minister and author Will Campbell, in a presentation at Baylor years ago, said that there would come a time when we Baptists would apologize for how we treated homosexuals as we now apologize for how we once treated blacks. Surely that is so.

As a Christian, I fully agree with Baird. When I went through the 9 month process of becoming Catholic a few years ago, I heard someone within the church say something similar, that someday we're going to feel significant remorse over the way we, as Christians, have actively contributed to the mistreatment, marginalization, even murder, of gay Americans.

I'll take my apology now if it means we can move forward from all of this bullshit.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The satisfying world of record collecting.

I scored some major booty at my record stores over the past few days, including a couple of LPs I never thought I'd come face to face with, and others that were a cool $.50 a pop (marked below by *):
Electric Light Orchestra - On the Third Day *
Electric Light Orchestra - Face the Music *
The Turtles - Turtle Soup
Wings - Wings Over America (rare Columbia Records pressing)
Original Soundtrack - Otley (on Colgems records)
Chicago - IX (greatest hits) *
Hall & Oates - Rock & Soul Pt. I *
Linda McCartney - Seaside Woman (rare 1986 12") *
XTC - Black Sea