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!!