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


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, 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...


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.


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)