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."