Friday, December 31, 2010

Should Auld Acquaintance blah de blah...

It's the last day of the year, the day when all bloggers across the continents take a look back at the past 365 days.  I guess that includes me too.

I gotta say 2010 was a pretty f'n fancy year. First and foremost, I got legally married to my partner of 10 years.  The social significance of this event still makes me shake my head.  In retrospect, the Leadership Institute trip I took in May - June as part of my research (which concluded with our wedding at the Lincoln Memorial) lit a pretty big fire under my butt. I feel more overtly comfortable wearing the label of "activist" going into 2011.

Academically, 2010 brought me 14 credits closer to completing my PhD. I also took my written prelim exams this year, a pretty sizable milestone.  There was one question on the exam that I need to re-write, which I will do in January. Once that is done I plan to get my third tattoo (more on that later).

Late summer 2010 will be remembered for the media's coverage of a tragic series of gay teen suicides. Of course this phenomenon is not new; What is new is the public's attention to the matter.  At some point during all the hubbub my own history as a bullied teen rose to the surface, finally reaching what I considered to be the breaking point. In November I sought professional assistance (therapy) to try and stop the god-awful nightmares that I'd been experiencing consistently for the past ten years.  Thru the miracle of modern medicine the nightmares have ceased for the time being, and I couldn't be happier with the gift of a full-night's sleep.

2010 was the best year in decades for me as a record collector.  I bought lots of records in lots of stores in multiple parts of the country.  Just thinking about the sum of experiences makes me feel warm and tingly all through and around my insides.  I bought a lot of new 45s this year, something which I attribute largely to events related to Record Store Day, events that resulted in more bands and labels pressing 7" records in special limited batches.  Nine of the songs in my "Top 40 Fanciest Songs of 2010", for example, are on 45. That's pretty sweet.

Looking forward at 2011:
  • I want to put more effort into my physical and mental health. After three weeks of walking around Chicago, New York, and DC last summer I was in possibly the best shape of my life. I want to get that back.
  • I plan to learn more about applying for research grant/scholarship/fellowship funding. If I ever want to finish my dissertation I am going to need funding. The task feels intimidating from where I currently am in the process, but I know I can't let fear hold me back. 
  • Finally, I aim to learn new and/or more effective methods of cultivating and maintaining peace in my life. I hit some strides with meditation this year that I feel pretty good about, so hopefully I can continue on that path.
Much love to my hubby for participating in this ongoing journey with me.  Thanks to my family & extended family for your support.  Thanks to my colleagues and classmates for your inspirational work and encouragement.  Thanks to the team of medical pros for all of your expertise and compassion in 2010; Without your help I might have been physically incapable of doing half of the things that got me up and moving each day. And of course big thanks, virtual hugs & best New Year's wishes to the growing circle of friends that I've made through this world of blogging.  I can't express enough how much you all rock!

PEACE in '11!!

12:31 PM

Guacamole.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

On my turntable: The Who - Tommy

I'm currently reading the compact paperback version of The Complete Chronicle of The Who 1958-1978: Anyway Anyhow Anywhere (which I recently picked up for $2). Whilst reading I realized I've not listened to Tommy (1969) in ages. 

While I like and truly appreciate Tommy,  I am not one of its many devotees. I recognize that the album is cohesive and highly ambitious, and I am sure that the mere idea of a "rock opera" was considered ground-breaking back when this was first released. I think the movie adaptation of Tommy is visually brilliant, although musically I prefer the original recording on this LP. Still, I'm more of a Who Sell-Out fan. LOVE Sell Out

On vinyl, Tommy has been pressed and re-pressed and repackaged numerous times over the years. It was originally released through Decca, which folded into MCA in the 70's. My copy is a bare-bones 80's pressing on the MCA rainbow label, with stripped-down artwork and a single sheet insert. The album is currently available on super high-grade heavy vinyl (probably also with a super high-grade price tag).  I'm sure it sounds very fancy. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top Ten Fave Duran Duran songs

So I've been a bit hooked on Duran Duran for the past two weeks, with the release of the 9-track iTunes version of their new album All You Need Is Now (the full album comes out on CD and LP in February, 2011). Tonight at Half Price Books I got the band's 2DVD "Greatest", and watching it is reminding me of how deep and wonderful this band's catalog really is.

Without too much thought or actually digging the records out, here's my Top 10 favorite Duran songs:

10. "Electric Barbarella"(1998)
"Too Much Information" (1993)
9. "Hungry Like the Wolf"(1982)
8. "The Reflex"(1983)
7. "Planet Earth" (1981)
6. "Ordinary World" (1993)
5. "I Believe/All I Need to Know" (b-side to "All She Wants Is" single, 1988)
4. "Serious"(1990)
3. "Skin Trade" (1987)
2. "All You Need Is Now" (2010)
1. "Too Much Information" (1993)

Monday, December 27, 2010

"@home 12.27.2010"

A video I assembled earlier today.  The sun was shining so brightly that I felt compelled to capture some of it.  I was listening to Paul McCartney's Chaos & Creation in the Back Yard LP, as seen in the video.



Music: "English Tea" by Paul McCartney

The Monkees promote HEAD, 1968

Talk about rare. Here's an video interview I never knew existed, from 1968:

Look Through My Window

"On a clear day you can see...downtown Minneapolis."
A still from a little vid I made this afternoon. 
I'll try to get the whole thing uploaded later today.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

On my turntable: Badly Drawn Boy - It's What I'm Thinking (part one: photographing snowflakes)

Prior to this LP's release on Black Friday, I owned one Badly Drawn Boy record, the awesome "All Possibilities" 45 (2002). After seeing this new release at the record store I sampled some tracks online and was smitten enough to go back to the store & buy the record.

Photographing Snowflakes (2010) is part one of a planned trilogy.  The music is incredibly lush, introspective, and thoughtfully moody (as opposed to broodingly moody, if that makes sense).

This is one of those rare records that made me go "wow - this is really good" the first time I heard it. I don't know enough about BDB to make any comparisons, but I can say with confidence that I love this album, and it's likely that these songs will always remind me of late fall/early winter, due to the amount of play the album has received in our home over the past few weeks.  Really beautiful stuff.

Merry Christmas!


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

12.25.2010


12.25.2010, originally uploaded by jeff's fancy blog.

Merry Christmas friends!

I took this picture about 15 minutes ago. In the background you can see my latest vinyl acquisition, the Simply Vinyl pressing of The Beach Boys' Smiley Smile (2000), which is the best sounding version I've heard yet.

Hope you're all having stress-and-challenge free holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Next round...

Wow.

Tonight I submitted my last project & final for the semester.  I wrote all day, from 9:30 am to 10:30 pm with minimal breaks.  By the time it was all finished I had written about 40 pages.  I am keeping all of my fingers crossed for A's, since a GPA boost would definitely help to make up for the intensity of the past 4 months.

Some of you will recall that I started this semester with several trips to urgent care (kidney stones).  While my courses as a student were great, my increased teaching load took the occasional toll on my physical & mental health. I've never graded so many tests and papers in my life!! While I avoided a full crohn's relapse, I had my bad days for sure. Live and learn, and then re-learn.

So now I've got a somewhat reasonable pile of student papers left to work through before Wednesday when I hope to get grades submitted, and then I get a godamned well deserved break!!

That's all for now - I was feeling like it was time to check in. Hope y'all are happy & healthy & well.

PEACE!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Friday Music re-issues Yes masterpiece DRAMA on 180g vinyl

The latest in Friday Music's series of 180-gram vinyl Yes reissues is the powerful and sorely disregarded Drama (1980). Trust me when I say this is super awesome news.

Following the mixed public reaction to 1978's Tormato, Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman decided they'd had enough of Yes. The band forged ahead without them by filling the new vacancies with Buggles Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes. The recorded result was a harder, yet more pop-focused album filled with hooks and the technical craftsmanship for which the band had been so rightfully recognized. Although the Drama line-up hit the road for a successful tour, they chose to call it quits in '81 (they would resurrect in '83 with another augmented line-up that included Anderson).

Despite the refusal of some Yes fans to accept Drama as a true Yes record upon its original release, both time and history have been very kind to the album.  While I've not yet heard the Friday Music reissue, I am strongly considering adding it to my collection. If any readers have heard this new "audiophile" pressing I'd love to know your opinion!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Top 40 Fanciest Songs of 2010

Here she is, the Big Kahuna of lists, 
The 40 Fanciest Songs of 2010:
40. "Master Cleanse (California)" - Josiah Wolf
39. "Walk With You" - Ringo Starr w/Paul McCartney
38. "Gold" - Emmylou Harris
37. "Feel Good, Feel Better, Feel Wonderful" - Prince
36. "The Glitter Prize" - The Posies
35. "And Suddenly" - The School
34. "Where's My Sex?" - Weezer
33. "Walk Tall" - Ziggy Marley w/Paul Simon
32. "Saturday Sun" - Crowded House
31. "Mother" - Blondie
30. "Don't Bring Me Down" - Micky Dolenz
29. "Ramones Forever (English version)" - Shonen Knife
Heart's "WTF" single (2010)
28. "Did Trouble Me" - Tom Jones
27. "The Like In I Love You" - Brian Wilson
26. "WTF" - Heart
25. "Free Energy" - Free Energy
24. "Heard It On The Radio" - The Bird and the Bee
23. "Best Friend" - The Drums
22. "Peter Pan R.I.P." - Kula Shaker
21. "California Beach Boy" - The Dollyrots
20. "Honest Face" - Liam Finn + Eliza Jane
19. "Jardin du Luxembourge" - The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger
18. "Fresh" - DEVO
17. "Pick Up the Pace (run)" - De La Soul
16. "Lucy" - Julian Lennon w/James Scott Cook
15. "Relator" - Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson
14. "The Sweetest Thing" - Camera Obscura
13. "Come and Get It!" - Eli "Paperboy" Reed
12. "Wishing He Was Dead" - The Like
11. "Too Many Miracles" - Badly Drawn Boy
10. "Record Collection" - Mark Ronson w/Simon LeBon
9. "Between the Lines" - Stone Temple Pilots
8. "Don't Fight the Sea" - Al Jardine featuring The Beach Boys
7. "Hey Manhattan!" - Prefab Sprout
Kula Shaker - Pilgrim's Progress (2010)
6. "She's Coming Down Again!" - The Posies
5. "I Have You to Thank" - Donny Osmond
4. "Skinny Little Bitch" - Hole
3. "Nothing But Love" - Brian Wilson
2. "All You Need Is Now" - Duran Duran
1. "Ruby" - Kula Shaker

"All Things Must Pass" looking great at 40

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Top 25 Fanciest LPs of 2010

25. Margaret Cho - Cho Dependent
24. Fistful of Mercy - As I Call You Down
23. The Clean - Mister Pop
22. The Drums
21. The Bird & The Bee - Interpreting the Masters, Vol 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates
20. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - Greatest Hits
19. Shonen Knife - Fun Fun Fun (English Version)
18. Josiah Wolf - Jet Lag
17. Free Energy - Stuck on Nothing
16. Hole - Nobody's Daughter
15. Tom Jones - Praise and Blame
14. The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger - Acoustic Sessions
13. Jason Falkner - I'm OK, You're OK
12. Stone Temple Pilots
11. Weezer - Hurley
2010's Fanciest: Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin
10. Eli "Paperboy" Reed - Come and Get It
9. Ringo Starr - Y Not
8. The Like - Release Me
7. Crowded House - Intriguer
6. Mark Ronson & The Business Intl. - Record Collection
5. Badly Drawn Boy - It's What I'm Thinking: Photographing Snowflakes
4. DEVO - Something for Everybody
3. The Posies - Blood/Candy
2. Kula Shaker - Pilgrim's Progress
1. Brian Wison Reimagines Gershwin

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

2010: Best of Qtr IV

In keeping with tradition, my "best of Qtr IV" for the year is a little early in the quarter. Most of December is focused on holiday stuff, which includes working through our heap of Christmas records. Luckily the past 9 or so weeks have been jam-packed with amazing music.
20. "Lord Help" - Tom Jones
19. "Father's Son" - Fistful of Mercy
18. "Take Me Over" - Cut Copy
17.  "Walk Tall" - Ziggy Marley & Paul Simon#
16. "Contact" - Jason Falkner 
15. "Angel" - James McCartney#
14. "Let There Be Music" - Prefab Sprout#
13. "Where's My Sex?" - Weezer
12. "Setback" - The Constellations
11. "Hands" - The Ting Tings 
10. "Honest Face" - Liam Finn + Eliza Jane#
9. "The Glitter Prize" - The Posies
8. "Ramones Forever" - Shonen Knife
7. "Don't Bring Me Down" - Micky Dolenz#
6. "She's Coming Down Again!" - The Posies
5. "Mother" - Blondie#
4. "Record Collection" - Mark Ronson w/Simon LeBon
3. "Too Many Miracles" - Badly Drawn Boy
"Jardin du Luxembourg" 7" single
2. "All You Need Is Now" - Duran Duran
1. "Jardin du Luxembourg" - The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger
A few notable things about this quarter's list:
  • It is my first 'best-of' to ever feature songs from three Beatle offspring (Sean Lennon (#1), Dhani Harrison (#18), and James McCartney (#16))
  • The Posies achieve the rare feat of landing two songs in the top 10, both from their incredible 2010 album Blood/Candy
  • Only six songs on the list are currently unavailable on vinyl (marked by #'s), although when I met drummer Clem Burke earlier this year he told me that he does expect Blondie's forthcoming Panic of Girls (which includes the song "Mother") to be released on LP
  • The #1 song, "Jardin du Luxembourg" (by Sean Lennon and girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl) exists in two different versions: a 7" single (the version on this list), and an acoustic version on the duo's Acoustic Sessions (2010) album
  • Thanks to my friend and fellow vinyl geek Chuck for #12, the 7" of The Constellations' "Setback"!
  • **12/8 Update**: With the early release of the debut single from Duran Duran's upcoming  album, "All You Need Is Now", I gave a song the boot ("Twerk" by Basement Jaxx") in order to squeeze in this great new DD single.  According to Duran's website, the new album is being released on vinyl. 
  • **12/17 Update**: Switched a few songs around after deciding on a more accurate track order.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Spin's 125 best albums of the past 25 yrs

Spin magazine has compiled what they consider to be the 125 best albums released since 1985.  Whenever I come across these lists I immediately scan to see how many are in my collection.  It was a little surprising to me that I only own one of the list's LPs from the past decade (American Idiot); Overall I own a total of 16 (on vinyl).  I must say these are sixteen downright dandy records:
119. Green Day - American Idiot (2004)
102. Queen Latifah - All Hail The Queen (1990)
94. Jane's Addiction - Ritual De Lo Habitual (1990)
70. Pearl Jam - Ten (1991)
69. The Stone Roses (1989)
63. R.E.M. - Fables of the Reconstruction (1985)
44. Beastie Boys - License to Ill (1986)
35. R.E.M. - Automatic for the People (1992)
34. Beck - Odelay (1996)
30. A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory (1991)
27. Nirvana - In Utero (1993)
17. De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
14. Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique (1989)
5. Radiohead - OK Computer (1997)
4. Nirvana - Nevermind (1991)
2. Prince - Sign O' The Times (1987)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

11:19 AM

11.30.2010, originally uploaded by jeff's fancy blog.
Two weeks remaining in the semester and I'm drifting into my autopilot defense mode. I believe I've got everything in its place, but I'm not sure how well I would manage any surprises at this point.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

On my turntable: Prefab Sprout - Jordan: The Comeback

In recent history it seems that I've been discovering/rediscovering one vintage band per year that I'll fall in love with, and then venture out on a quest to acquire their complete catalog. This year that band was Prefab Sprout. In July I found a handful of dirt cheap and lovely 12" singles by the band, and since that time I've bought most of their vinyl LPs (I still need From Langley Park to Memphis (1988)). Yesterday my heart was all a-flutter when I found Jordan: The Comeback (1990) in pure near-mint condition for $5.

There are so many gushingly positive things that I could say about this album, and I haven't even spun side 2 yet.  I love that this is the same sound of the band that created one of my favorite albums, Two Wheels Good (1985). I love that it was produced by Thomas Dolby (the "fifth Sprout").  I also love that the album has so much music on it, arranged into four apparent "movements".  I would argue that such a mass of songs should have been released as a four-sider, with one side per movement. Although 19 songs is a lot of music to cram onto one LP, the album doesn't appear to suffer, as the dynamic range of the album is actually quite nice.

Prefab Sprout released a brand new album, Let's Change The World With Music last year (North America got an indie CD release of the album just last month). To my knowledge there's no vinyl version yet but let's hope I'm wrong. If anyone reading this has heard the album I'd be interested to know your thoughts!

Friday, November 19, 2010

All Things Must Pass turns 40

image from GeorgeHarrison.com
One week from today, 11/26 ("Black Friday"), is the official re-release date for George Harrison's groundbreaking triple LP masterwork All Things Must Pass (1970). The LP has been restored to its original packaging, with fliptop box, sleeves with lyrics, and a large poster of George in his Friar Park home.

image from GeorgeHarrison.com
The numbered, limited edition reissue is being sold exclusively through indie stores as part of the magnificent Record Store Day campaign. However, obsessive must-have-everything fans may pre-order the set now directly from GeorgeHarrison.com. After the added cost of shipping the set is most likely more pricey online, but it may be worth the $$$ to receive the ultra cool, collectible, and limited ATMP felt turntable slipmat (pictured, left) which is being thrown in with all pre-orders (while supplies last).

When I first purchased All Things Must Pass (some 28 years ago now!) I had just begun the terror experience known as junior high school. At home my family was struggling through its own tough times, leaving me with very few spaces where I could feel physically and emotionally safe. Looking back, there were two places
My first copy of All Things Must Pass, circa 1978
where I felt most at ease: my bedroom and the record store.  Dramatic as it might sound, All Things Must Pass was one of those rare albums that practically changed my life upon first spin. I've never been much of a lyrics person, but the messages of hope etched into these grooves provided healing at a time when I was in great need. Listening to this record still feels like a warm blanket, and to see it get such a thoughtful reissue makes me very happy indeed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

GLBTA Leadership Year Video

Over the weekend I sat on a panel at the annual MN OUT! conference. The workshop was a reflection on the GLBTA Leadership Year (which I participated in), with discussion about how other schools could perhaps implement similar programming. It was great to see people from last summer's trip again. These were the people that I lived with for three weeks last summer, and the group that attended our wedding in DC.  I loved putting the following video together for the presentation because it gave me the opportunity to relive a truly life-changing experience.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Desmond Tutu's plea for a stop to hate

Today I pray for people in Africa and throughout the world who long for freedom because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. It grieves me to be retiring at this crucial moment in history, so I write to you in this open letter, to invite you to pick up the work that remains to be done. More than 70 countries still imprison or execute gay and transgender people, and bullying and murders are all too common. This must change.

Each of you is called to respond to God's urgency for love and life. So whether you are in South Africa, the United States or anywhere else, humanity needs to accept its own diversity as a gift from our Creator. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are part of our family of God.

photo from Essence.com
I have always striven for a life of love in action. Many told me to stop. They called me a communist or they told me that I might be killed. Now, I have lived long, and one choice that comes with age is how to deal with our own mortality. Should we be more careful or be more bold? Should we rest on our laurels or respond to the urgency of justice?

Boldly, I urge all faith leaders and politicians to stop persecuting people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Every day people live in fear because of who they love. We are talking about our family members, our flesh and blood, our humanity. LGBT people are in our villages, towns, cities, countries -- and our whole world.

In South African churches we have sung, "Oh freedom! Freedom is coming, oh yes, I know." We sang this chorus at the lowest points of our journey toward freedom against the racist and colonialist system of apartheid, and we still sing it to this day. Freedom is coming -- and those of us who have freedom must speak out for those whose freedom is under attack. We can and must make a difference.
~Desmund Tutu, open letter published in Essence Magazine, 10.25.2010

Friday, November 05, 2010

Monkee bonus

Monkee fans and collectors who pre-ordered the new deluxe re-issue of HEAD received this little piece of sweetness inside their boxsets.  To be honest I initially viewed this bonus 45 as Rhino attempting whatever it could to create "new" Monkee product. To the contrary, this little collectible is a rare opportunity worth experiencing, whatever space your head is in.

If any Monkees track deserves to be heard as an instrumental, it's "Porpoise Song".  In its original form with vocals by Monkee Dolenz and Monkee Jones, the song is one of the most stunning psychedelic gems ever created (no small feat when you consider that studio technology in 1968 had only recently advanced to 8-track magnetic tape machines). This previously unissued instrumental mix provides listeners with a new glimpse into the creation of this far-too-overlooked masterpiece.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Battle for the best 20 LPs of 2010

2010 was another banner year for new vinyl. Personally I bought more new releases on vinyl this year than any year since the 80's. To accommodate, this year's fancy "best of" will be expanded from 10 to 20 LP's. In terms of eligibility, I have already eliminated 2009 releases that I purchased this year, as well as reissues (although there is one "greatest hits" LP in the batch). CD and/or digital-only releases are also disqualified.

It is likely that one or two albums may still be added to this list (the new Elvis Costello, for example), but here's the basic stack-o-records that is vying for inclusion in this year's Fancy Top 20 Best LP's list.  Watch for the finalized list to be posted sometime in mid-late December:

2010 LP's in alphabetical order:
  • The Bird and the Bee: Interpreting the Masters Vol 1: A tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates
  • Margaret Cho: Cho Dependent
  • The Clean: Mister Pop
  • Crowded House: Intriguer
  • DEVO: Something for Everybody
  • The Drums (self-titled)
  • Jason Falkner: I'm OK, You're OK
  • Fistful of Mercy: As I Call You Down
  • Free Energy: Stuck on Nothing
  • Hole: Nobody's Daughter
  • Joan Jett and the Blackhearts: Greatest Hits
  • Tom Jones: Praise & Blame
  • Kula Shaker: Pilgrim's Progress
  • Sean Lennon & Charlotte Kemp Muhl: The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (acoustic sessions)
  • The Like: Release Me
  • The Posies: Blood/Candy
  • Eli Paperboy Reed: Come and Get It!
  • Mark Ronson & The Business Int'l: Record Collection
  • Ringo Starr: Y Not
  • Stone Temple Pilots (self-titled)
  • Weezer: Hurley
  • Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin
  • Josia Wolf: Jetlag

I grow impatient....

Rhino Handmade's Deluxe box of The Monkees' HEAD was released last week, and some fans are beginning to post in the forums about the arrival of their sets in the mail. I am uber-excited and can't keep from watching the door for my copy!

The image shown above, I assume, is from the back of the boxset. The front of the box replicates the LP's original mylar cover, designed to reflect your own head when you're looking at the album.  Now I don't buy me many CDs (no surprise to regular readers), but Rhino Handmade has done amazing work in the past with their Monkee reissues (most of the credit, I think, goes to fan, archivist, and reissue producer Andrew Sandoval).  I am eager to dig into this box and enjoy its contents!!  

Monday, November 01, 2010

Halloween detox

I ate a whole lot of non-food yesterday, from orange frosted cookies to handfuls of all the leftover candy in our house. My body appears to be in a sugar shock today.  Goes with the territory I reckon.  As I'm sure I've mentioned, I'm not a Halloween person. I don't like to hand out candy, and I don't like costumes. I've been told this makes me a bad gay, but oh well.  Despite my own disdain of 10/31, I hope that those of you who enjoy the holiday had a marvelous time!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Not sure whether Simon digs his fancy new hat or not. 
My guess is not so much.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

On my turntable (special Apple Records edition): Badfinger and John Tavener

Although No Dice (1970) is Badfinger's second album (third if you count their first LP from when they were known as The Iveys), it is with this album that they hit their stride. No Dice and it's follow-up, Straight Up (1971) are likely the best of what the band would produce for Apple.

John Tavener's The Whale (1970) is an interesting piece of work. If I had to label it I would call it classical avant-garde. While it's not something that I would listen to every day, it is very ambitious and daring music, which makes it an appropriate release for the Beatles' equally daring record label.

Friday, October 29, 2010

4:37 PM

On my turntable (special Apple Records edition): Billy Preston and Badfinger

Here are two of the higher profile releases in the Apple catalog, mostly because each managed to get some radio exposure. That's The Way God Planned It (1969) was the first of two albums Preston released on Apple. The title track reached #62 in America; Billy's first legitimate hit wouldn't come until 1972's "Outa'Space", by which point he had moved on to A&M.

Magic Christian Music (1970) may be the most iconic non-Beatles album Apple ever released. I remember seeing stacks of this album in cutout bins in the 70's, which is how it ended up in my own collection. It was one of the very first Apple LPs I ever owned (if not the first). The album included songs that were featured in the film Magic Christian, starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr. The single "Come and Get It", written by Paul McCartney, was a Top 10 worldwide hit.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

On my turntable (special Apple Records edition): Modern Jazz Quartet and Jackie Lomax

The Modern Jazz Quartet recorded two albums for Apple, both released in 1969: Under the Jasmin Tree and Space (the latter of which remains missing from my collection). Both MJQ albums were re-released this week as part of a twofer CD.

Also reissued this week was Jackie Lomax's sole Apple LP, Is This What You Want? (1968). The album generated one minor hit, "Sour Milk Sea", written and produced by George Harrison. Perhaps more importantly, the LP is notable for being one of very few non-Beatles albums in history to feature instrumental backing from 3/4 of the group (Paul, George and Ringo).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On my turntable (special Apple Records edition): James Taylor & Mary Hopkin

In honor of this week's remastered & restored Apple CD releases I'm dedicating this post (and perhaps a few more) to the almighty Apple.

The last time these albums saw the light of day was in the early-to-mid '90's, when Apple's catalog was first issued on CD. Each album was also given a very limited gatefold, double LP release (each 2nd LP containing bonus tracks) with liner notes and the whole shebang. I have made it my life's new mission to track down as many of these LPs as possible, since I sadly missed out on them when they were first released (I was "on hiatus" from vinyl at the time, a period which I like to call my "lost weekend").

One CD that I will likely buy (and you won't hear me utter those words often!) is the new compilation Come and Get It: The Best of Apple Records, which is packed with rare goodies that many fans have never heard (including this fan).

Come and Get It track listing:
  1. "Those Were the Days" - Mary Hopkin
  2. "Carolina In My Mind" - James Taylor
  3. "Maybe Tomorrow" - The Iveys (aka Badfinger)
  4. "Thingumybob" - John Foster & Sons Ltd. Black Dyke Mills Band
  5. "King of Fuh" - Brute Force
  6. "Sour Milk Sea" - Jackie Lomax
  7. "Goodbye" - Mary Hopkin
  8. "That's the Way God Planned It" - Billy Preston
  9. "New Day" - Jackie Lomax
  10. "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight" - trash
  11. "Give Peace a Chance" - Hot Chocolate Band
  12. "Come and Get It" - Badfinger
  13. "Ain't That Cute" - Doris Troy
  14. "My Sweet Lord" - Billy Preston
  15. "Try Some, Buy Some" - Ronnie Spector
  16. "Govinda" - The Radha Krsna Temple
  17. "We're On Our Way" - Chris Hodge
  18. "Saturday Nite Special" - The Sundown Playboys
  19. "God Save Us" - Bill Elliot and the Elastic Oz Band
  20. "Sweet Music" - Lon and Derred Van Eaton
  21. "Day After Day" - Badfinger

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

On my turntable: Michael Penn - Resigned

Before purchasing it today I never knew this album existed. Resigned (1997) sounds like you would expect Michael Penn to sound, although at times it rocks more like Girlfriend-era Matthew Sweet. Right now I am on my first listen and I already like it better than March (1989).

One reason I jumped at buying this record is that I love coming across 90's vinyl, since it's not so common. After leaving the store I noticed that the LP was a promo, which makes me think that vinyl copies of this album were probably promo-only.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

On my turntable: Cheap Trick - Dream Police

This time of year always finds me reaching for Dream Police (1979), which is a total fall LP for me. I searched my blog archives and found a post on this album from August, 2007.  It says pretty much covers everything that I think needs to be said:

>>On my turntable: Cheap Trick - Dream Police (August 28, 2007)

original inner sleeve for Dream Police (1979)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Can vinyl save recorded music for all of us?

I was walking across campus yesterday listening to my iPod. As I was enjoying a "Best of 2004" playlist I began to notice that I was struggling to remember the artist for songs that I did not own on vinyl. While this disturbed me, it makes some sense.Vinyl records are so much more than just a piece of wax, they are physical artifacts that represent the music that can play such an important role in our lives.

Back in the day when vinyl was king, we music geeks had a relationship of sorts with our brick and mortar record stores. These were the places where we found new music by thumbing through stacks of new releases, or by working from A to Z in our favorite section(s) of the store. End caps would often hip us to new releases that we hadn't seen yet, and there would always be new music playing that could catch our interest as well. The trek home was filled with anticipation of enjoying our latest acquisition(s), which would likely remain in our collections for the rest of our lives, barring some natural disaster (of if you were one of many sad souls who got rid of all of their vinyl when CDs came into favor).

I purchased more new vinyl in 2010 than any year in the past decade, and when I listen to my 2010 playlists I have no trouble identifying the artist, artwork, label, and other physical aspects of the records. My hope for the future is that more artists find ways to get vinyl into the hands of music lovers like myself and so many other vinyl heads out there (you know who you are!).

Davy Jones confirms talks of a Monkee reunion!

The last time Dolenz, Jones & Tork hit the road together was in the summer of 2001. Since then they've all remained active in their own careers. Tork has often spoken of his desire to perform again with his old group. Dolenz has been busy on Broadway with shows such as Hairspray and Aida, but never ruling out the possibility of a reunion (in fact, Tork and Dolenz have made several public appearances together in recent months). Jones has been the most vocal about not wanting to reunite, stating he is much happier doing intimate gigs as a solo act and focusing more on his family life and his horses.

In an interview last week with Paul Freeman of the Daily News, Jones said:
"We talked to Micky and Peter the other day and they're talking about maybe doing a tour next year, going to Australia and Japan and England, pick up some cash and just hang out for the summer. Everybody's doing it. I mean, The Eagles are traveling on separate planes, because they don't like each other. It all depends what kind of thing it's going to be. But, come on. If you were 21, you would jump at it.
 I look forward to getting together with Micky and Peter next year. It could be something that will enhance our personal careers. It also gives people another chance to have the memory."
This is great news for fans. The Monkees film HEAD is getting reissued on bluray this fall, and Rhino Handmade is issuing a deluxe expanded version of the film's soundtrack. Hopefully the Monkees (or Monke3s as some fans call the trio incarnation) can cash in on any attention gained from these reissues. Regardless, it would be great to see the group do another tour. I for one have my fingers crossed. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

New Wings 45 reissue

Wings' legendary hit single "Band on the Run" was reissued this week on Starbuck's Hear Music label. Makes me wonder if Starbucks stores will stock these next to the mints and chocolate covered espresso beans.

Aside from artwork on the front of the sleeve, this is not a replica of the original release, but the audio quality is quite lovely, as is the reasonable price tag.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Got that feelin' again

I am incredibly lucky. Despite all of the stress, the frustrations, and the Crohn's / kidney / gallbladder setbacks, I love doing what I do.

With my various leadership activities from the past two years it became easy to forget that my primary purpose right now is to be a student. This should be my last year of coursework, and I plan to make time to enjoy the journey. Tonight after teaching my second class of the day I was walking across campus and felt a rush of gratitude for being able to live out my academic dream.

I was passing Northrop Auditorium just as all this sentiment was happening, so I took this lo-fi picture with my phone.  Some day I'll attend my graduation ceremony in this building (fingers crossed).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On my turntable: The Posies - Blood/Candy

I was in college and working in a record store when Dear 23 (1990) was released. My friends and I were interested because the band was from Seattle, which was the hot spot for new music at the time. We learned that this was not the standard grunge; Dear 23 was a glorious power pop concoction, produced by  psychedelic king John Leckie.
I saw the band perform in support of the album at First Avenue, and then they sort of drifted off of my radar following 1993's Frosting on the Beater.
 
Posies Jon & Ken re-entered my musicsphere in the late 90's, performing as part of the reformed Big Star (again at First Avenue). Since then The Posies have held a firm place on my musical roster. I saw J & K perform an acoustic show at the 400 Club, and later flipped over their contributions to Big Star's return to vinyl, 2005's In Space.

On September 28th The Posies released what is (in my mind) their best work in 20 years, the magnificently majestic  Blood/Candy. The record landed on my doorstep yesterday afternoon (I was napping on the couch when it arrived, signaled by four loud bangs on the door by the UPS man). It was the last thing I listened to
before bed and the first record spun with my morning coffee. As I type this I am on my third listen of side 1, and I'm totally hooked. The Posies have gained pop master status with this record, which has already cemented its place in my Top 5ive best albums of the year.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

On my turntable: The Monkees (Japan)

I am what is known as a "2nd generation" Monkees fan, the age group that watched the show in reruns on Saturday mornings in the late 60's and early 70's. Like many 2nd generation fans my first Monkees records were hand-me-downs. By the time I was old enough to earn allowance money to spend at the record store the Monkees catalog was out of print.

In the early 1980s Japan experienced a big wave of Monkeemania and most of the Monkees original catalog was available again via high quality Japanese pressings. I remember when I discovered these LPs in a downtown Minneapolis record store called Harpo's Hot Licks. It was a childhood dream come true for me to upgrade my scratchy second-hand LPs with pristine new ones. Through these imports I was also able to experience the albums Head and Instant Replay for the first time ever. A few years later (in 1986) America was hit by its own wave of Monkeemania; MTV was airing the series daily, Rhino Records re-issued the group's entire catalog, and a reunited Monkees had the highest grossing concert tour of the year.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

"Cool pts I & II"

This is not a 45 that I stumble across often, even in Minneapolis, and especially for 50 cents in near mint condition.

C-O-O-L (what's that spell?).

Friday, October 01, 2010

Homophobia killed these youth

The recent suicides of these young men has been burrowing deeper under my skin over the past few days.

GLBTQ youth are at a higher risk of suicide than non-GLBTQ youth. Each of the lives pictured above could have been saved. We live in a culture that continues to allow the bullying of kids that are deemed as 'different'. For queer kids it can be relentless and come from all directions: home, school, church. The feeling that can develop over time is one of helplessness, anxiety, and constant fear. Where are the grown-ups that were supposed to protect these young people?  How many suicides is going to be enough?

I don't often share my own experiences as bullied kid because it makes people uncomfortable, and also because I like to think that I've moved beyond those painful times. But then another bullied gay kid kills himself and I find that the wounds are still there. They have healed some, but not fully.

When I was a teenager (pictured, right)  I didn't understand what gay was. I did not identify as gay, even though some of my classmates enjoyed labeling me as such. I never got beaten up at school, but I frequently received threats, punches, teasing, taunting. I remember once in middle school a kid drew a target on my shirt sleeve so that another kid would know where to punch me. They thought it was hilarious and the teacher did nothing. I remember getting the back of my chair kicked a lot. I got called "fag boy", "faggot", "sissy", etc. In retrospect it's not surprising that I didn't come out to myself until my 30s; I had years of internalized homophobia to deal with.  But this is all just part of my story.

We all have an opportunity to help fix this crisis. For starters, speak up about it. If you hear friends, family, or colleagues say anti-gay things, step up and correct them. If you are closeted yourself and don't know what to do, start with your local organizations - they exist everywhere.  Make sure you are not voting for leaders who support anti-gay legislation. As long as we have laws that categorize gay people as "less than" we are going to have kids being treated as "less than". For those of you who have kids, is this what you would want for your child?   

Change takes time, but it takes even longer if we as a society are afraid to talk about it.

A big *THANK YOU* to Ellen DeGeneres for making the following video, which has been generating discussion all over the web:
 Note: Thanks to Matt at Asterisk for posting the following over at his website:
"If you’re in a bad way and you feel you might hurt yourself, please call The Trevor Project at 1-866-4-U-TREVOR."