Friday, February 26, 2010

Look through my window

2.26.2010, originally uploaded by jeff's fancy blog.

Minneapolis skyline.

On my turntable: Today's record store score

I scored all of these today, in beautiful shape, for less than $20. They are my official soundtrack for the evening while I try to get stuff done around the house.

pictured, from top left:
Styx - Equinox
Sonny Bono - Inner Views
Steve Perry - Street Talk
The Best of Kansas
Elton John -
Tumbleweed Connection
The Monkees - Greatest Hits

Thursday, February 25, 2010

On my turntable - Bee Gees - Spirits Having Flown

The radio woke me up with "Love You Inside and Out" this morning, so I felt the need to dig this one out.

My brother and I bought this LP sometime around 1987 at the Dinkytown Musicland, where my bro was working at the time. It was a era when CDs were taking over, and this particular store had recently banished LPs to the basement. It was "employee appreciation day", so we bought a few LPs at a nice discount. If I remember right, some of the other records we bought that day included The Ramones' Halfway to Sanity, Plasticland's Salon, and a Mobile Fidelity copy of Streisand's Guilty.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

11:10 AM

Rabbits tend to be pretty good at finding ways to keep themselves entertained. Example: this box filled with paper, which had contained a recent eBay purchase. I put the box on the floor knowing it wouldn't take long for one of the buns to rip all the paper out and start shredding. Pictured here is Simon, tirelessly at work.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

On my turntable: Yes - Fragile

I am a record geek and proud of it. No apologies.

There are few things in life that give me a greater thrill than finding a vintage sealed copy of a record from my childhood, especially if it's under ten bucks. I cannot resist them. Once these records get home there's a traditional pomp & circumstance that takes place; it's one of those rare times when I am able to live in the moment.

Yesterday's trip to the record store yielded this unopened copy of Fragile (1973) for a mere $7.99, complete with the original sticker listing the LP's contents. Before opening the record I took a deep cleansing breath, then found the spot where my thumbnail would most easily crack the seal in the shrinkwrap. I took a good look at the vinyl, thinking "wow that's a handsome record". I then waited until Leo came home to listen to it, since I knew he'd appreciate the experience as well (Yes is one of a handful of bands that we both happen to enjoy).

is an album that deserves to be called a masterpiece, and one of my top three faves by Yes (the others being Drama (1980) and Talk (1994)). I was introduced to Yes as a kid through my brother's obsession with the band, and have now seen them in concert three times (1991's 8-member Union tour being the most impressive). The band still tours today, although currently with a Jon Anderson impersonator, which I think is hideous.
Below: One of Fragile's opuses, "Heart of the Sunrise", from 1991's Union tour:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

10:16 PM

This one followed me home from the record store today.

10:14 PM

2.20.2010, originally uploaded by jeff's fancy blog.


On my turntable: Jimmy Destri - Heart on a Wall

For those of you who may not know, Jimmy Destri is the one-time (and perhaps future) keyboardist for Blondie. Heart on a Wall (1981), to my knowledge, is his only solo album. Although I've known about this album since its release, I never managed to own a copy until this week (at $.99 it was hard to resist).

I've always considered Destri to be the most gifted of Blondie's songwriters, especially in terms of hooks. Simply put, he knows how to craft a catchy, upbeat pop song. So far my only complaint about this LP is that Debbie Harry isn't the singer. It's not that Destri can't handle the vocals, but much like Colin Blunstone sings Argent, and Roger Daltrey sings Townsend, Debbie Harry is meant to sing Destri's tunes. Harry does sing backups on the record, however, and Blondie guitarist Chris Stein adds his bits as well. Best of all, Blondie drummer Clem Burke (one of the world's greatest, in my opinion) drums on the entire record.

Although he no longer tours with his former band, Destri was a full contributor to their last album, The Curse of Blondie (2004). Whether or not he decides to tour with Blondie in the future, I do hope that he provides them with a handful of tunes if they choose to record another album. The last I heard about Jimmy (via his MySpace page) was that he is enjoying life as a sober person and that he continues to write new material.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On my turntable: Emmylou Harris - The Ballad of Sally Rose

Emmylou Harris is an artist whose work I have gradually grown to appreciate over the years - first as a part of Trio (with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt, 1990), then as a contributor to Elvis Costello's Delivery Man LP (2004), and her own award-winning performance of "A Love That Will Never Grow Old" from Brokeback Mountain (2005). Earlier this year I finally got my hands on Grievous Angel, her acclaimed 1974 collaboration with Gram Parsons.

I bought this perfect copy of The Ballad of Sally Rose (1985) recently for $2. The liner notes looked interesting, and I was impressed to see that Harris wrote or co-wrote the full LP herself. On my first listen I knew this album was special. It is a "country opera" of sorts, a song cycle that tells a story seemingly based upon the short time Harris spent with Parsons. Harris is now the survivor, carrying on the Parsons bluegrass/country tradition. The flawless harmonies of Parton and Ronstadt are all over this record, practically making Sally Rose the first Trio album.

Purchasing this LP was one of those rare risks that turned out to be highly rewarding. After doing a quick Amazon search I've learned that Sally Rose is not even in print in America, although it is available as an import CD.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Doug Fieger 1952-2010

Dammit. Doug Fieger had been fighting cancer for a while, so his passing is not a complete shock, but the feeling of loss is still terribly profound.

I was a Knack fan from the first time I heard "My Sharona" on the radio in the summer of 1979. Over the years I saw them perform live three times, and I managed to get Doug's autograph at shows 1 & 3. Doug shook my hand the last time I saw them (at Harriet Island in St Paul), and he was as cool as you'd ever want one of your childhood heroes to be.

Back in 1991 when I was a record store employee I submitted an essay for a contest sponsored by Charisma, The Knack's record company at the time. The only rule of the contest was that the essays needed to include all of the song titles from the band's current album, the fantastic Serious Fun. The Knack selected the winning essays themselves, and mine was among the top three (my prize was a Polaroid camera). While winning a prize was cool, it was far cooler knowing that The Knack actually read something that I wrote.

In the summer of '98 I saw The Knack at The Cabooze in Minneapolis. It was one of the absolute best rock shows I've ever seen (and I've seen a lot of shows). While I'm sad that I'll never see the band perform again, I'm grateful for the incredible output that Doug Fieger and The Knack have given us over the years.

My thoughts are with Doug's family and bandmates today; I know that my own feelings of loss and sadness cannot compare to theirs. God bless you Doug, and thanks for everything.

Detroit News
: Knack lead singer Doug Fieger dies of cancer

Friday, February 12, 2010

On my turntable: Badfinger - Straight Up

I remember a time when Straight Up (1971) was considered the holy grail of Badfinger LPs. If you found a copy it was likely in the $35-40 range, and for some reason the covers of used copies would always have an excessive amount of ring wear. Over the past few years I've been seeing this album more frequently and with lower price tags. I found this handsome copy today for $4, with far less than the standard amount of ring wear on the sleeve.

Straight Up
is often touted as Badfinger's greatest effort, and I would probably agree, although it may be tied with No Dice (1970). 1974's Wish You Were Here is also a fantastic album.

11:30 pm

2.12.2010, originally uploaded by jeff's fancy blog.

Austin's bunntocks.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Top 40 Fanciest Singles of all time

As with all lists such as this, I'm sure I'm missing a few songs. I tried to make my selections without actually looking through my 45s. If anything, I'm feeling pretty confident about the Top 10.
40."I Love Rock & Roll" - Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
39."(if you're wondering if I want you to) I Want You To" - Weezer
38."The Wanderer" - Donna Summer
37."Magic" - Pilot
36."Are You Gonna Go My Way" - Lenny Kravitz
35."Devil Woman"- Cliff Richard
34."Enjoy Yourself" - The Jacksons
33."I Got You" - Split Enz
32."I Write the Songs" - Barry Manilow
31."Kiss" - Prince & The Revolution
30."Smells Like Teen Spirit" - Nirvana
29."No Matter What" - Badfinger
28."What is Life" - George Harrison
27."Go Your Own Way" - Fleetwood Mac
26."Sugar Sugar" - The Archies
25."One Vision" - Queen
24."Heartbreaker" - Pat Benatar
23."Dance,Dance,Dance" - The Beach Boys
22."I Only Want To Be With You" - Bay City Rollers
21."Bad Blood" - Neil Sedaka
20."I'm A Believer" - The Monkees
19."Sky High" - Jigsaw
18."Heart of Glass" - Blondie
17."Turn To Stone" - E.L.O.
16."Silly Love Songs" - Wings
15."Let's Go" - The Cars
14."Too Much Information" - Duran Duran
13."Down By The Lazy River" - Osmonds
12."Saturday Night" - Bay City Rollers"
11."Rock and Roll All Nite" - KISS
10."Jessie's Girl" - Rick Springfield
9."My Sharona" - The Knack
8."Stayin' Alive" - Bee Gees
7."Our Lips Are Sealed" - Go-Go's
6."I Feel Fine" - The Beatles
5."I Think I Love You" - The Partridge Family
4."Last Train to Clarksville" - The Monkees
3."Don't Listen to the Radio" - The Vines
2."Live and Let Die" - Wings
1."Good Vibrations" - The Beach Boys

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On my turntable: Wings at the Speed of Sound

I was planning on returning to work today, but after waking up with some mild stomach pain I decided against it. So after a couple of percocet and side 2 of The Eagles' Hotel California (1976) I'm now relaxing with Wings At the Speed of Sound (1976).

I bought my first copy of this album at a drug store in Turtle Lake, WI. I remember playing the game of LIFE in the kitchen with my brother while blasting this LP from my bedroom. As I'd mentioned in a previous post about this album, Speed of Sound is the most fully realized band LP by Wings, in that every member contributes lead vocals to at least one track. In the summer of '76 Wings were one of the biggest bands on the planet, which had to be a satisfying achievement for Sir Paul, who had been so intent on stepping out from the shadow of his previous band.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Friday, February 05, 2010

Beach Boys readings

This is my prescribed take-it-easy weekend. Part of my plan is to listen to records and dig into some of my Beach Boys books (some of which are pictured). I recently got Timothy White's The Nearest Faraway Place, about which I've seen some good reviews. For every nasty tell-all, there's a quality book out there that takes great care in outlining this band's interesting and tumultuous history.

On my turntable: Neil Sedaka's Greatest Hits

When I saw this absolutely near mint copy of Neil Sedaka's Greatest Hits (1977) for $.50 I couldn't resist. There's something about a pristine LP on Rocket Records that is hard to pass up when in it's such sweet shape. Plus the LP has such an iconic 70's album cover - I remember looking at this at Apache Plaza's Musicland store when I was a pre-teen.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of these tunes. It must be noted that this is 1970's Sedaka, not the oldies (so to speak, even though they're all oldies at this point). I have no appetite for the old stuff with the multi-layered Sedaka vocals, but the 70's renaissance -while short-lived- generated some great tracks: "Bad Blood" and "Laughter in the Rain" are true AM rock classics. Three of the songs here, "Standing on the Inside", "That's When the Music Takes Me", and "Love Will Keep Us Together" (made hugely famous by Captain & Tennille) are credited to "Neil Sedaka with 10cc", who were one of the great overlooked bands of the 70s. It's odd but interesting to see them paired up with Sedaka, a pop songwriting legend in his own right.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Look through my window

The view from my hospital bed yesterday.
The sad & pained gallbladder comes out over spring break.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Ringo's Grammy Tee

So at Sunday night's Grammy Awards Beatle Ringo wore a t-shirt (shown above) from one of my local shops, The Electric Fetus. I visit the Fetus about once a week, so to learn that he wore this shirt (which he reportedly got from his nephew, a MN resident), is pretty friggin' awesome.

I now feel no choice but to get this shirt myself.

Monday, February 01, 2010

On my turntable: Beach Boys - Holland

Holland's Beach Boys were creating new and innovative music that represented the talents of each band member, both as songwriters and musicians. I tend to see this album as the last golden era for the Beach Boys, before the multi-platinum Endless Summer (1974) solidified their status as an oldies act.

I first obtained Holland (1973) in the mid-80's at a used book/record store in Duluth, MN. Aside from the more familiar tracks ("The Trader", "Sail On Sailor") I was underwhelmed with the album's contents. Around 1993/94 I revisited the album, and found that I was now in a place where I could appreciate its organic simplicity. I had recently been accepted to a graduate program in Mankato, MN and was feeling very introspective. I'm not typically a lyrics person, but lines such as "I've been searching for my happiness", and "Sometimes it's hard to find my way" (from Blondie Chaplin & Ricky Fataar's "Leaving This Town"), seemed tailored to where I was at that moment.