Saturday, December 20, 2008

What're Y'all Still Doing Here?

I'm over HERE now...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Where The Hell Is E?

Where the hell did Uncle E go?

Why, he's right HERE!!!

Just click on the above link to see where I've gone. Not sure if it's a better format, but I'm kind of bored with this one and thought I'd try something a little different. A few of you cheeky buggers have already discovered it (Fusion 45!). I may use this new blog to delve into a more varied format including comics, general pop culture and more, but the focus will still be music. Since traffic is usually at a minimum on the weekends I'll be stuffing some of the older posts from here on there so I can keep track of some of the...erm...better ones.

I'll still keep this one open for a while (for archival purposes), but there will be no new least for a while. So please for those of you kind enough to include a link to this little site on your far superior one, can you update it?
Thanks a bunch, and head on over to the new blog to see Encle E's Top Albums Of 2008!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

I Rediscovered The Beatles Today, Oh Boy...

So I'm in my car with the iPod in it's "shuffle" mode and my musical mindset is not jivin' with what's shufflin'. I'm fast forwarding so much I almost run off the road and then "Help" by the Beatles comes on and I stop my finger twitching long enough to listen.

I mean really listen.

I enjoy it so much that I stop the random shuffle and go directly to a Beatles mix that I created when I first got my iPod a couple of years ago that, albeit very edited, lists selected tracks from this amazing group in chronological order.

I mean, MY GOD, was there ever a band that evolved so fast in so little a time frame and will there ever be another? Everyone reading this knows the answer to that question. If you don't then you're either a Menonite or a deaf mute. Just listen to Love Me Do, Paperback Writer, Tomorrow Never Knows, A Day In The Life, Helter Skelter and Hey jude all in a row sometime. It's freakin' evil that's afoot, I'm tellin' ya!

Was it the competition between McCartney and Lennon (and George and Ringo to a lesser extent), or was it something else? Was it George Martin's production? A combination of all the above coupled with excellent timing?

What did these four lads have to sign over to the devil in order to become...well...what they became?

I don't know and quite frankly I don't care, but what I do know for certain is that I don't make a point to listen to them nearly enough. That's possibly due to the fact that I am so ubber familiar with their body of work that it slips my mind. It's tough to really appreciate their influence and brilliance when you've heard it so many times, but every once in a while I can pretend that I've never heard the White Album and be absolutely blown away.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Quick Update

Sorry folks, been busy entertaining corporate visitors this week and have had no time for blogging.

I'll be back soon.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Prefab Sprout's 'Steve McQueen'

Although Prefab Sprout never made much of a splash stateside, it’s 1985 album “Steve McQueen” remains a landmark of 80’s songwriting and production prowess.
The lush production is courtesy of one Thomas Dolby who adds space and air to songwriter Paddy McAloon’s dense, sometimes obtuse pretensions.
The first 6 songs are absolute classics, and although the techniques Dolby uses are utterly of their time the songs themselves remain oddly timeless. ‘Faron’ is a rockabilly shuffler and a great way to start the album but is not quite representative of the remaining tracks which have a connection through the lyrics primarily that deal with the human conditions of loss, regret and redemption.
‘Moving The River’ is truly a wonderful song and the lyrics are some of the finest of McAloon’s career.

“You surely are a truly gifted kid
But you're only good as
The last great thing you did
And where've you been since then
Did the schedule get you down
I hear you've got a new girlfriend
How's the wife taking it ?

If it's uphill all the way you should be used to it by now

You must know me, Father it's your son
And I know that you are proud of everything I've done
But it's the wonders I perform,
Pulling rabbits out of hats
When sometimes I'd prefer
Simply to wear them

Movin' the river, money for jam, and it takes such an effort to stay where I am…”

‘Bonny’, ’When Love Breaks Down’ and especially ’Appetite’ are standouts of pure sophisticated pop music, and the remaining, while perhaps not immediately as affecting, are no less gems in their own right and grow on you like a fungus.

This album has spawned numerous fan sites and inspire a fanatical following worldwide. I myself have owned this album in it’s vinyl form, on cassette, cd (two copies!) and in MP3 format.
Paddy recently released a re-mastered edition of “Steve McQueen”, which was re-titled
“Two Wheels Good” in North America due to legal issues with the actor’s estate, with a generous helping of gorgeous acoustic editions of some of the tracks. I would definitely recommend you hunt down this edition. It’s really worth it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Best Album Covers For 2008

Even though you have to squint to see the details with cd's, album covers are still an important part of the overall experience. In my opinion it can actually add at least a quarter of a star to my rating, as weird as that may sound. It becomes the identity of an album, as linked to the artist as the music itself. Just try and think of the Velvet Underground's debut and not see that iconic Warhol banana. It's impossible.
Anyway, in lieu of my upcoming "best of 2008" list here's a link to Rolling Stone magazine's picks for best album covers of 2008.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Damn Devil iPod, Volume II

So here's a quick update on my iPod/ computer troubles.

Finally got my computer fixed and set up back in the old den, went looking for my music folder and it was nowhere to be found. After about an hour and a half of searching I found an old one which pretty much contained a good majority of the tracks and moved 'em into the new folder.

This took about 25 minutes or so.

Found my EMusic folder and started downloading certain files from that and then all of a sudden my track listing count went from a paired down 8,000 to well over 14,000! Seems a slip of the finger selected "all" so that's what I got. Problem is, a large portion were duplicates so now I had to start the long task of going through the library looking for duped songs. THIS took over 4 hours.

Now, as I write this, I am downloading individual burned cd's I have purchased through iTunes, which takes an ungodly amount of time anyway, but to add insult to injury it's not recognizing the track names or any other info from the house-burned little plastic info discs!!

Which means I have to go in and personally edit each track including the song name, the album name and the artist. Screw the genre, etc.

So that's where I'm at. If I didn't love it so much I would've abandoned this folly long ago...

Friday, December 5, 2008

(Great?) Albums Released in 1996/1997/1998/1999/2000

Ok, so at this rate I'll never reach my goal of bringing this list up to date by the end of the year,'s 5 years for the price of one for you to digest while we hear at The Nightmare are tabulating the results of our year end poll for best albums released in 2008.

I did this list in a hurry so I'm sure I've left out some great albums. Just let me know what they are in the comments and I'll update it soon thereafter.


Beck - Odelay
Manic Street Preachers - Everything Must Go
Orbital - In Sides
Super Furry Animals - Fuzzy Logic
DJ Shadow - Endtroducing
Screaming Trees - Dust
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds - Murder Ballads
Tricky - Pre-Millennium Tension
Rocket From The Crypt - Scream, Dracula, Scream!
Sparklehorse - Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot
Suede - Coming Up
Placebo - Placebo
Kula Shaker - K
The Boo Radleys - C'mon Kids
REM - New Adventures In Hi Fi
Stereolab - Emperor Tomato Ketchup
The Divine Comedy - Casanova
Aphex Twin - Richard D James
Fun Lovin' Criminals - Come Find Yourself
Tortoise - Millions Now Living Will Never Die
Underworld - Second Toughest In The Infants
The Olivia Tremor Control - Dusk At Cubist Castle
The Future Sound Of London - Dead Cities


Spiritualized – Ladies And Gentleman We Are Floating In Space
Radiohead – OK Computer
The Verve – Urban Hymns
Primal Scream – Vanishing Point
Super Furry Animals – Radiator
Cornershop – When I Was Born For The Seventh Time
Mogwai – Mogwai Young Team
Teenage Fanclub – Songs From Northern Britain
Bentley Rhythm Ace – Bentley Rhythm Ace
Supergrass – In It For The Money
Daft Punk – Homework
The Chemical Brothers – Dig Your Own Hole
Blur – Blur
The Charlatans – Tellin’ Stories
Bjork – Homogenic
Death In Vegas – Dead Elvis
Prodigy – The Fat Of The Land
Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One
Black Grape – Stupid Stupid Stupid
Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – The Boatman’s Call
Pavement – Brighten The Corners
Oasis – Be Here Now
Stereolab – Dots And Loops
Grandaddy – Under The Western Freeway
Roni Size & Reprazent – New Forms
Travis – Good Feeling
Portishead – Portishead
Eels – Beautiful Freak
Wilco – Being There
Robert Wyatt – Shleep


Mercury Rev – Deserter’s Songs
Beastie Boys – Hello Nasty
Beck – Mutations
Air – Moon Safari
Massive Attack – Mezzanine
Elliott Smith – Either/Or
Pulp – This Is Hardcore
Sparklehorse – Good Morning Spider
Belle & Sebastian – The Boy With The Arab Strap
Boards Of Canada – Music Has The Right To Children
The Afghan Whigs – 1965
Fatboy Slim – You’ve Come A Long Way Baby
Lo-Fidelity Allstars – How To Operate With A Blown Mind
Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Idlewild – Hope Is Important
Manic Street Preachers – This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours
Placebo – Without You I’m Nothing
R.E.M. – Up
Madonna – Ray Of Light
Spiritualized - Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Bob Dylan – Live 1966:The Royal Albert Hall Concert
Elliott Smith – X.O
Jeff Buckley – Sketches (For My Sweetheart The Drunk)
The Boo Radleys – Kingsize
Sonic Youth – A Thousand Leaves
Garbage – Version 2.0
Gomez – Bring It On


The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin
Super Furry Animals – Guerrilla
Death In Vegas – The Contino Sessions
Beck – Midnite Vultures
Pavement – Terror Twilight
Basement Jaxx – Remedy
Underworld – Beaucoup Fish
Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada
Eminem – The Slim Shady LP
Jim O’rourke – Eureka
Blur – 13
The Charlatans – Us And Us Only
Tindersticks – Simple Pleasure
Low – Secret Name
Leftfield – Rhythm And Stealth
Ian Brown - Golden Greats
The Chemical Bruthers – Surrender
The Beta Band – The Beta Band
Kevin Rowland – My Beauty
Travis – The Man Who
Stereolab – Cobra And Phases Group Play Voltage In The Milky Night
Sebadoh – Sebadoh
The Auteurs – How I Learned To Love The Bootboys
Rage Against The Machine – The Battle Of Los Angeles


Queens Of The Stone Age – Rated R
Primal Scream – Exterminator
PJ Harvey – Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
Badly Drawn Boy – The Hour Of Bewilderbeast
Coldplay – Parachutes
Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP
Doves – Lost Souls
Super Furry Animals – Mwng
Radiohead – Kid A
Granddaddy – The Sophtware Slump
Lambchop – Nixon
Yo La Tengo – And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out
Teenage Fanclub – Howdy!
Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas To Heaven
Elliott Smith – Figure 8
The Go-Betweens – The Friends Of Rachel Worth
Richard Ashcroft – Alone With Everybody
Belle And Sebastian – Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant
The Dandy Warhols – Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia
Johnny Cash – American III: Solitary Man
Sigur Ros – Agaetis Byrjun
Paul Weller – Heliocentric
Asian Dub Foundation – Community Music
Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker
The Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Terrible Band Names

Worst band names ever?

Find out who made the list HERE

But before you "click" consider that most band names are pretty stupid until you develop an affinity for their music. Even "The Beatles" as a name was probably kind of silly at the beginning but is now synonymous with musical excellence. Time and talent heal all, no?

That being said, there are REALLY stupid band names out there, many of whom are represented on the list I link to. What do you think? Who'd they leave out?

And maybe the question should be, "Are there any band names that, taken out of context with the music, don't sound goofy?"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Every once in a while the rock snob in me takes a sabbatical and is replaced by the 12 year old boy that was discovering his cousin’s record collection. Bear in mind I was born in 1968, so that would make the year 1980. My cousin was older than I and his collection was pretty much dominated by the classic rock of the 1970’s which is, you’re soon to find out, where the majority of my “guilty pleasures” originate. I have no real fear of any retaliation (except maybe Philbert--he knows where I work!), but just in case I think I’m going to invest in some Kevlar body armor.

So here’s some more guilty pleasures. Let the snickering begin!

The Alan Parsons Project, I Robot
I had this really hot drama teacher in public school who used to use this album as a “warm up” for our interpretive movement sessions. If I can be totally honest, the fact that she was a hottie is only part of the reason for my affinity towards the APP. Listening again with unprejudiced ears I have to say that the dude knew how to build a mood. In addition, I think I could make a pretty good case for the guy as an electronic pioneer! He would soon sink into mediocre balladry, but this…THIS…was a fantastic record for it’s time.

The Steve Miller Band, Fly Like An Eagle
So I had this really hot French teacher who…just kidding. I think Steve Miller’s stuff has stood the test of time…really. Maybe it’s that blues foundation that’s the backbone of most of his songs, but I think a primary reason is that he just knew how to write a really good hook!

Adam And The Ants, Kings Of The Wild Frontier
I’m not talking about the “Goody Two Shoes” era (although, I have to admit, a damn fine pop moment!), but the era where the Burundi drums were a real innovation in Western music. Malcolm McClaren and Bow Wow Wow would later steal that unique sound but it doesn’t take away from this wonderful early 80’s pop gem of a record.

Bobby Darin, Mack The Knife
How can I , or anyone with a soul for that matter, press the skip button when a Bobby Darin song comes on the old ipod? Mack The Knife, Dream Lover, Beyond The Sea…good stuff. It doesn’t hurt that Beyond The Sea was used to great effect in a memorable jail scene in Goodfellas, either.

AC/DC, any album with Bon Scott & Back In Black
The best damn disco-heavy metal band EVER! Tell me who out there hasn't shaken their thang to at least one AC/DC song? They were bad boy boogie with a penchant for discofied rythms, killer guitar riffs and double entendres. "Big Balls". Need I say more?

The Cars, The Cars and Candy-O
They were terrible live (reproducing their songs perfectly, no enthusiasm or energy, no crown interaction), but the first two albums are pure new-wave pop tasty goodness.

Gordon Lightfoot, Gord’s Gold
I got no excuse for this one. Except that I’m half Canadian…and Sundown contains one of my all time favorite lyrics in "Sometimes I think it's a shame/ When I get feelin' better when I'm feelin' no pain.” Poetry. Sheer Canadian, hockey luvin’, tuke wearin’ drunken poetry.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sorry Folks...

...but I've got nothin' today. Work is extremely busy, so check back in the next couple of days.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I Freakin' Knew It!

I've always said I thought AC/DC was the best disco-metal band on the planet and now my rant has been justified by the band shooting up the Billboard dance charts with a cut from their new album("Rock N Roll Train"). Not just background music for stripers anymore, AC/DC have now officially graduated to the disco mainstream.

Isn't this one of the signs of the apocalypse?

Read more HERE

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Future Of Music Formats?


Read the article, then read the comments on this wonderful blog entry by NPR's "All Songs Considered". Make sense to me, I kind of hope it comes to fruition myself.


Friday, November 28, 2008

"Shiny Headed Second Rate Rocker Throws Hissy Fit"

I hear Billy Corgan is throwing a hissy fit on the Smashing Pumpkins (or what's left of them, anyway) recent tour.

Honestly, is anyone surprised by this? The guy always was, and remains, a doofus. Sure, he made two decent albums (Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie), but that'll only carry you so far. As Pitchfork rightly point out (there's a first time for everything) he released a mediocre album and his fans want to hear the old stuff at the shows. For $150+ per seat you better damn well play your hits if you ask me. Especially if the latest dreck you've released sounds like warmed over Equinox-era STYX (no offense to Dennis DeYoung and co.). Here's the quote by Corgan that really got my goat: "Last I checked we were in an alternative band. 'Alternative' means 'different than what everyone else is doing,' including those reunion bands that go out and just play the old songs." A not so subtle reference to The Pixies, a far superior band with way more class.

Like it or not, Billy boy, you're now a nostalgia act. And a second rate Peter Gabriel wannabe one at that, you prima donna has-been. Stop berating your fans who bought you that autographed Rick Wakeman double-necked bass guitar by spending their hard earned cash on your crappy faux prog rock and start acting your age. You're a footnote in the history of rock and roll you bald headed baby.

You are Nickleback.

Just chaps my ass, man!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm taking the day off from blogging, so enjoy this disturbing picture of, well...some weirdo dressed as a turkey.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Someone needs to talk me out of purchasing Jeff Wayne's "War Of The Worlds" prog-disco double album that came out in 1977. As many of you know, I go through some pretty weird "progressive rock" stages. It's a sickness, I know I know. But this particular album is so much more: the Richard Burton narration, the story of the evil alien tri-pods, the orchestral disco flourishes, the 12 plus minute long extended "suites" goes against everything I believe in as a so-called music snob, but...but...there's something enticing there that I can't put my finger on. Moody Blues meets the Bee Gees meets ELO meets Thin Lizzy meets Rick Wakeman shouldn't appeal to me. I only played Dungeons and Dragons for a very tiny amount of time in my early teens and played bass in a Rush cover band for just a few weeks until the odd time signatures of "The Trees" forced me to abandon that particular why do I suffer these relapses?

Someone talk me down, please!?!?!

ps: Since I do these blogs in advance (usually one or two weeks worth in a two or three hour burst on the weekends) I may have already succumbed to this dreadful disease. If I did please feel free to conduct an intervention...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!


Has it really been a full year since I started this? Why yes it has and it's been a blast. I've met a ton of new friends who share my passion for music (most of which have links under "Friends who deserve your eyeballs" over there on the left rail), reconnected with some old ones (Rob, Tam, Keith and Dave) and have relieved myself of some of the stranger creative noodlings that have been haunting me for years (bogus band bio's, anyone?). I started out with the idea that I'd maybe post one or two thoughts a month, but at the end of the day it appears I've posted over 320! I didn't think I had it in me.
Out of 23,000 or so visitors some have actually returned, God knows why, but it's appreciated. The interaction and the comments have been very entertaining and more often than not quite enlightening, so please keep it up. Other than this being quite good therapy it's really the reason we all do this blogging thing, if we're totally honest.
So I think I'll keep this going, at least for a while, and in honor of UEMN'S one year anniversary here's a really creepy video of the band Cracker singing "Happy Birthday To Me"...

Monday, November 24, 2008

All Apologies

The following is a guest editorial by Mr. Frank Boothe, also known as "The Google Blogger Marshal". He is a defender of all blog visitors and without his guidance and strong arm censorship tactics the blogosphere would be a much harsher, meaner place to surf. He recently took offense to one of my "Bogus Band Bio's" and as part of my agreement with google he is entitled to one posting per quarter.

It is what it is, folks.

Really, sincere apologies to anyone who came to this blog searching for a serious biography or blog entry on any of the following: Styx, Journey or Steve Perry, Focus, Supertramp, Jeff Lynne or Kula Shaker.

Really, I mean it.

I can picture you now, all curled up in your bunny slippers and/ or prosthetic Vulcan ears, fingers raw and bleeding from too many World Of Warcraft marathons searching valiantly for a discussion board on the afore mentioned "artists".

You conducted a google search with phrases like "Steve Perry is the coolest", or "Mr. Roboto RULES", truly believing you'd find a kindred spirit or two to share your passions. Therein lies the rub with organic search results, my friends.

Alas, I'm afraid you've come here in vain only to find a bitter music snob who will do nothing more than mock and ridicule your musical icons and heroes.

But wipe away those tears with your cheese doodled fingers you lovers of all things maudlin and saccharin for you have reason to rejoice! Uncle E and his merry pranksters actually do share your passion for cheese. Oh yes, I know this is true for I have firsthand accounts of this from many reliable witnesses. I have heard tell that good old Uncle E slips on a Supertramp album from time to time. I have heard that he catalogues his beloved Queen collection and one witness has reported that they have heard him spin ELO's Out Of The Blue so many times that their ears bled.
So suffice it to say that the king wears no clothes, that he is as guilty as you are, that his ears are no more attuned to the finer sounds than anyone else visiting this so-called "better music" blog.

You are welcome here anytime my little lost lambs.

Come back as often as you'd like.

We'll be your shelter.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Are YOU A Music Snob?

Here's a great little essay that asks the question, "Are You A Music Snob?". Take a peek. Here, I'll get you started...

"I am a music snob. I know this because I have been called one, many times and to my face. Secretly I take pride in my snob status. What on earth could be wrong in taking a little pride in the music you listen to?"


Friday, November 21, 2008

A One-Hit Wonder Twofer!

The best song ever from a Dutch quartet about a California road trip, “Sausalito Summernight” on Diesel's "Watts In A Tank" LP reached #25 on the US charts in 1981. Almost unclassifiable, this song was wrongfully pegged as “New Wave” (wasn’t everything?) by the rock critic elite of the time. Lead vocalist/guitarist Rob Vunderink’s (I can hear the laughter from here, Phil/ Dave!) guitar solos echo early Mark Knoffler and the drums and bass pound away in perfect unison for the full 5:08. I know what you’re thinking. “A great rock song from the Dutch? No waaayyyyy, maaan. Not possible!”

But it’s true, I tells ya!

It’s the lyrics, I believe, that make the song truly unique. For a Dutch band they sure have the whole California road trip thing down pat.

To wit:

“We left for Frisco in your Rambler
The radiator running dry
I've never been much of a gambler
and had a preference to fly

You said "forget about the airline,
let's take the car and save the fare."
We blew a gasket on the Grapevine
and eighty dollars on repairs”

Anyone who’s ever traveled the Grapevine above Los Angeles will be able to sympathize with “blowing a gasket” on that infamous pass. I’ve traversed it many times, once in a U-Haul trailer, and I can tell you I worried about that very thing as I sputtered to the top going 15 miles an hour! It goes on:

“Hot summer night in Sausalito
Can't stand the heat another mile
Let's drop a quarter in the meter
and hit the sidewalk for a while

I'll have a burger and a root beer
You feed the heap some of the grape
A shot of premium to boot, dear
We'll get across the Golden Gate

Another mile or two to the frisco
200 gallons from LA
the engine stompin' like a disco
we ought to dump her in the bay”

And the following is extremely appropriate given today’s California gas prices:

“Cashing all my checks
Sweeping out my bank
Spend it on a Rambler
With a whirlpool in the tank
Look out over here
Watch out over there
Can't afford a blowout
'Cause we haven't got a spare…”

I don’t know, maybe it’s the ‘been there, done that’ connection, but I truly think this is one of the lost great songs of the last three decades, right up there with “I Got You” by Split Enz, “Drivers Seat” by Sniff ‘n’ The Tears and “This Beat Goes On/ Switchin’ To Glide” by The Kings. Instantly memorable, both lyrically and musically, without an ounce of pretension. It's just plain FUN. Guilty pleasure? Maybe. It never won any awards, but that's never how I've measured musical talent. As a matter of fact I usually watch the Grammy's to see who to avoid.

There’s a great line from one of the Austin Powers movies where Austin’s father says, “There are two things I hate in this world: people who are intolerant of other people’s cultures….AND THE DUTCH!”

He obviously hasn’t heard this song.

Sniff 'N' The Tears: Drivers Seat

Fellow blogger and newspaper colleague Thom G over at Surface Tension (link on the right rail) once posted a video of The Kings new wave Canadian classic “This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ To Glide”, and it got me thinking of British band Sniff 'N' The Tears and their song Drivers Seat, simply the best "one hit wonder" song of the 1970's. I personally think that this is one of the best songs of any decade, and it's a damn pity the album it came from is long out of print.

It was used to great effect in the film Boogie Nights (that P.T. Anderson knows how to pick the songs for his movies, doesn't he?), but the song and band are largely and unforgivably wasting away in the overflowing "where are they now" files.

The drummer is a metronomic maniac and the guitar never lets up it's mannered ferocity throughout the entire song. Steady bass playing and terrific keyboard/ synthesiser riffs by Alan Fealdman round out the sound.

The full album, with an unfortunately abbreviated version of Driver's Seat is now available on Amazon, iTunes, etc.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Great(?) Albums Released In 1993

This was a pretty good year. The Modfather released his triumph, Wild Wood, The Auteurs, Blur and Suede invented Britpop, Urge Overkill's major label debut was blasting through every Trans Am still on the road and Evan Dando and his Lemonheads recorded and released their classic slacker 'bum Come On Feel The Lemonheads with the classic and very funny "My Drug Buddy". Oh yes, and Underworld unleashed Dubnobasswithmyheadman, a modern electro slow-burn classic!

Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville
Urge Overkill - Saturation
Nirvana - In Utero
Blur - Modern Life Is Rubbish
PJ Harvey - Rid of Me
Dinosaur Jr. - Where You Been
Stereolab - Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements
Luscious Jackson - In Search of Manny
The Lemonheads - Come on Feel the Lemonheads
Dwight Yoakam - This Time
Paul Weller - Wild Wood
Frank Black - Frank Black
The Breeders - Last Splash
Björk - Debut
Yo La Tengo - Painful
The Boo Radleys - Giant Steps
Mercury Rev - Boces
The Flaming Lips - Transmissions from the Satellite Heart
New Order - Republic
Orbital - Orbital 2
Pet Shop Boys - Very
Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
Stereolab - The Groop Played “Space Age Bachelor Pad Music”
Suede - Suede
Verve - A Storm in Heaven
Cracker - Kerosene Hat
Melvins - Houdini
Depeche Mode - Songs of Faith and Devotion
Paul Weller - Wild Wood
Frank Zappa - The Yellow Shark
The Auteurs - New Wave
Jellyfish - Spilt Milk
U2 - Zooropa
Radiohead - Pablo Honey
Pearl Jam - Vs.
Cracker - Kerosene Hat
Luscious Jackson - In Search of Manny
Lenny Kravitz - Are You Gonna Go My Way
Morphine - Cure for Pain
Sloan - Smeared
Underworld - Dubnobasswithmyheadman
The Fall - The Infotainment Scan
Danny Elfman - Nightmare Before Christmas
Blur - Modern Life Is Rubbish

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee..."

My youngest daughter's favorite new song is "Puff The Magic Dragon".

She sings it all day and all night, and I chuckle a little to myself everytime she does. I think I'll wait until she turns 18 to tell her what it's really about...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One Of My Turns

It's that time of year again, folks, when the "Honey-Do's" switch gears from the inside of the house to the outside. Time to clean the gutters, rake the leaves, take the patio furniture down and store it for the winter. My efforts are rewarded, as they are each year, with a great big holiday bottle of Tanqueray gin.
Time to settle in and take stock of the prior years trials/successes and plan my moves for (holy crap!) 2009.
My musical tastes change as well. The bright summery sounds on my iPod take a back seat for the more introspective and moody sounds that have always soundtracked my winters for as long as I can remember. Sure the bands have changed, but the mood of the music has remained fairly consistant. Bands like Pink Floyd, The Orb, Mercury Rev, Dylan and The Band, Wilco and many more who took a powder during the blazing summer months here in Northern California make a welcome return to heavy rotation. This is also a season for giving and sharing and I make room each year on my iPod for my daughters and my wife, who don't always quite share in my love for the more eclectic sounds.
There are a few holiday playlists I need to get busy creating: a jazz one for me, some Harry Connick Jr and his "ilk" for my wife (she really has pretty good taste, but gets a little maudlin with her music this time of year) and some kids' classics for the little one's which may or may not include some Burl Ives tunes.
It's been one hell of a tough year for those of us who choose to stay in the newspaper biz as a profession, so a little holiday cheer is very much needed. But hey, I've still got my house, my family and my health, my friends, my job and my iPod. I have nothing to complain about and everything to look forward to.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Digging Through The Archives Of Eclecticism

Been in a weird musical mood lately.

No one genre seems like enough, my mind requires a varitable cornucopia of styles to satisfy it's cravings. It's restless almost to the point of obsession, folks, and I'm sure it can't be healthy. These wild musical mood swings only ever lead to me downloading massive quantities of tunes. I feel a little like an alcoholic on a binge at the moment. I'll consume as much as I can in a very small amount of time, enjoying myself thoroughly until the buzz wears off and I wake up, look at my iTunes library and wonder to myself why I spent so much money.

Actually, truth be told, I haven't spent that much. I have found some great deals on Amazon (most albums less than $5.00) which have satisfied my jonesin' ears. I ended up with the original Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack, which is still a campy glam guilty pleasure all these years later, although this time I won't have to wash mustard out of my hair. A funky double album masterpiece from Funkadelic entitled America Eats It's Young, which includes the politically correct track "Loose Booty". Jean Michel Jarre and his space odyssey OXYGENE, possibly one of the best electronic statements ever recorded. The remastered and expanded editions of Technique and Power, Corruption and Lies by New Order. They are magnificent, the former an Ibiza dance classic and the latter the sound of the band breaking clear of the shadow of their former band Joy Division. To top it off, I chose Rockpile and their one and only album Seconds Of Pleasure. A purer rock and roll album you will not find, my friends. Don't know why it took me this long to buy it. It's got 6 Nick Lowe compositions on it which should have been reason enough.

But I think I have to stop now and let my new aquisitions digest in my system for a while. Let them breathe, get their legs about them. I'd hate for one to get lost in the shuffle...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Weekend Cut 'N' Paste: Bigger Ain't Always Better

Biggest Selling Singles In The United States

*Bits and pieces of the following were stolen from Yahoo! Music*

The biggest selling single of all time in the United States has sold almost twice as many as its closest competition. In 1997, Elton John released a remake of his classic 1973 song "Candle In The Wind" with new lyrics that paid homage to Diana, Princess of Wales after her untimely death. This single sold over 11 million copies in the United States. An incredible figure.

So what are the runners up to "Candle In The Wind 1997"? Well, only two have broken the 6 million mark ("A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis Presley & "Here Without You" by 3 Doors Down"), and only 12 have cracked the 4 million mark.

All the songs in the following playlist have sold over 4 million copies as a single in America. Some will surprise you, many will not. What do you think?

Biggest Selling Singles In The United States

1. A Little Less Conversation - Elvis Presley

2. Here Without You - 3 Doors Down

3. Another One Bites The Dust - Queen

4. Apologize - Timbaland

5. (Everything I Do) I Do It For You - Bryan Adams

6. Hey Jude - The Beatles*

7. Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel - Elvis Presley

8. I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston

9. Let's Get It On - Marvin Gaye

10. Low - Flo Rida

11. Macarena - Los del Rio

12. Ridin' - Chamillionaire

13. We Are The World - USA For Africa**

14. Whoomp There It Is - Tag Team

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oasis: Dig Out Your Soul

Does anyone really care about a new Oasis record anymore? I mean, I'm curious, a little, but not so curious as to throw down $10, which is saying something. I previewed some of the tracks, read some of the reviews (mixed, but mainly positive) but aside from The Shock Of The Lightning the album seems a mile away from their joyous beginnings. I mean, Definitely Maybe was a fantastic album, and the folow up (What's The Story, Morning Glory?) was pretty great as well. Their blatant riff rips and Beatles piracy seemed like a good thing at the time, especially when combined with Liam's Johnny Rotten sneer, but it's old now. Really old.
However, they went downhill fast after the bloated mess that was Be Here Now and I lost interest and haven't really regained it. I bought Don't Believe The Truth, and enjoyed it somewhat, but it's not received regular airtime in quite a while. Nothing they've done since the mid-90's has stayed with me for more than a month or so. Damn shame, the lads had so much promise...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Some New Noises, Please!

"There are days when I can't remember what the Sixties felt felt like, but boy, yesterday sure wiped all the rust and dust off those Sixties ideals."

That quote is from Holly, she of The Song In My Head Today fame, and she's referring to the historic election we had a few days ago. That quote got me thinking, and I wonder if we're going to see a massive change in the musical winds over the next couple of years. I'm not naive enough to think that we'll see another burst of creativity like the mid to late 60's, but some truly original ideas would be nice. There have been some great albums released in the past 8 years but a ton of those have only built on the foundations of the past. I'm a little tired of playing "spot the influences" if I'm to be totally honest here. It's time to stop regurgitating and time to start creating something new. Or is that impossible? I'd like to think that it's possible myself, and with the regime change here in the States it should be a good time for it.

I can always dream...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Great (?) Albums Released In 1992

Boy I better get moving on this "Great Albums By Year" quest if I'm to reach the best of 2008 by December 31st!
So here we go with another instalment, this time 1992, a very schitzophrenic year for music...

Pavement, Slanted and Enchanted
Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Los Lobos, Kiko
Bob Dylan, Good As I Been To You
Beastie Boys, Check Your Head
Morrissey, Viva Hate!
Stereo MC's, Connected
Ministry, Psalm 69
The Black Crowes, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion
Tom Waits, Bone Machine
PJ Harvey, Dry
Pop Will Eat Itself, The Looks Or The Lifestyle
Sonic Youth, Dirty
R.E.M., Automatic For The People
Nine Inch Nails, Broken/Fixed
Morphine, Good
Stereolab, Peng!
James, Seven
Red House Painters, Down Colorful Hill
Phish, A Picture Of Nectar
Rollins Band, End Of Silence
Orb, U.F.Orb
Yo La Tengo, May I Sing With Me
Juliana Hatfield, Hey Babe
Rocket From The Crypt, Circa Now
Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet, Dim The Lights, Chill The Ham
Jon Spencer Blues Experience
Rage Against The Machine
Magnetic Fields, The Wayward Bus
Tom Verlaine, Warm and Cool
Spiritualized, Lazer Guided Melodies
Tricky, Pre-Millenium Tension
Prodigy, Experience
Nick Cave, Henry's Dream
Lemonheads, It's A Shame About Ray
Faith No More, Angel Dust
Flaming Lips: Hit To Death In The Future Head
Daniel Johnston, Artistic Vice
Uncle Tupelo, March 16-20, 1992
Melvins, Melvins
Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy, Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury
10,000 Maniacs, Our Time In Eden
Mr T Experience, Milk Milk Lemonade

...up next is 1993, and the beginning of the Britpop revolution!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fleet Foxes

Well I finally pulled the trigger and bought Fleet Foxes. The massive critical hype made me instantly nervous, as I have been burned more than once (TV On The Radio's "Return From Cookie Mountain" was touted as "the album of a generation", and I thought it overblown and pretentious) by the Pitchforians and their ilk.
But hey, I had $10 burning a hole in my pocket so I did it.
Here's what some of the critics had to say about it when it was released in June of this year:
From Delusions Of Adequacy: "With their self-titled debut, Fleet Foxes have attained this and have delivered one of the best albums of the year."
From The Guardian: "It all adds up to a landmark in American music, an instant classic."
From MOJO: "The sense of wonder in Fleet Foxes' songs is matched only by the discipline and talent that created this adventurous, evocative record. One which is already shaping up as an album of the year."
From Dot Music: "Ironically, though defined sartorially and sonically by this short window in history, the songs on their debut album are mostly timeless. Few better will be released in 2008."
From The Austin Chronicle: "A number of contemporary indie bands attempts to strip-mine mountain ballads in the service of indie pop, but none has melded the impulses as effortlessly and captivatingly as Fleet Foxes manage on "Blue Ridge Mountains" and "Oliver James." Sublime."

...and the list goes on...and on...and on. Even some of you reading this have touted the magnificance and significance of this album on your music blogs.
I've listened to it only a couple of times and I think I really dig it! A great late night album, for sure, with excellent harmonies and great musicianship. But it's the melodies that keep me interested, something that is sorely lacking with many of today's bands. Not bubblegum teeny-bopper type melodies, but strong ones that help define the song, give it heft. It's telling that the list of people they thank in the liner notes include Bob Dylan, The Band, Brian Wilson, John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Charles Mingus, Harry Nillson, Marvin Gaye, Arthur Lee and Townes Van Zandt. They are students of music, but good music, and even though their influences betray them somewhat I find solace in the fact that they coul have picked worse.
I don't have the history with this album yet to give it a song by song review; they're many great sites that do a much better job at that sort of thing than I. Is it a great album? I think so, but will it top my "best of list" this year? I don't think so. So far it's been tough to beat Nick Cave's Dig Lazarus Dig!, but you never know. Excellent albums have a way of sneaking up on you. Stay tuned...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I Gotta Get Me One Of These

Wow, a genuine bumwadipod dock! How cool is that? Now I can combine two of my "great escapes" into one.
Hmnnn, I wonder what the playlist would consist of...?

Oh, and as a side note: If you can find it, the Orb's version of Free Bird is a friggin classic!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Eclectic Video Weekend

Primal Scream's "Can't Go Back"

Nick Lowe's "What's So Funny ('Bout Peace Love And Understanding"

My Morning Jacket's "One Big Holiday"

And, from The OST To The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tim Curry camping it up with "Sweet Transvestite"

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Few Things The "Downloading Revolution" Has Destroyed

Album art and liner notes.

The smell of new music.

Spending/ investing many (wonderful) hours at independent brick and mortar music shops, simply browsing.

Rolling, ahem, cigarettes, ahem, on gatefold sleeves.

Scrounging for milk crates, most often behind convenience stores, to store your albums (LP's).

Organizing your albums alphabetically, chronologically, by genre, whatever.

Buying new albums based solely on artwork or band name and, occasionally, finding a real treasure.

The experience and excitement of searching for months (or years!), and finally finding that rare CD or LP.

Trading in old albums you no longer listen to for something new.

Bragging rights on the size and diversity of your collection.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Great (?) Albums Released In 1991

Here we are at one of my favorite years for recorded music. 1991 was the 1967 of the rave and grunge generation with albums of great creativity and originality being released almost daily. Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine and Nirvana defined new genres and U2 released the best record of their career. Teenage Fanclub and Matthew Sweet re-energized power pop. John Prine recorded and released what many would argue was his best album up to that point.
Grunge, house music and the "shoegazer" bands would eventually go the way of the dodo but for a brief moment in time it was all extremely exciting.
As always, let me know if I left anything out.

My Bloody Valentine: Loveless
John Prine: The Missing Years
Mercury Rev: Yerself Is Steam
Codeine: Frigid Stars
U2: Achtung Baby
KLF: The White Room
Massive Attack: Blue Lines
Teenage Fanclub: Bandwagonesque
Fishbone: Reality Of My Surroundings
Pop Will Eat Itself: Cure For Sanity
American Music Club: Everclear
Ozric Tentacles: Strangeitude
Nirvana: Nevermind
Primus: Sailing The Seas Of Cheese
Joni Mitchell: Night Ride Home
Talk Talk: Laughing Stock
Pixies: Trompe Le Monde
Sebadoh: III
Metallica: self-titled
Matthew Sweet: Girlfriend
Orbital: Yellow
808 State: Ex:el
Orb: Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld
Guns And Roses: Use Your Illusion
Mudhoney: Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge
Melvins: Bullhead
Red Hot Chili Peppers: Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Pearl Jam: Ten
Public Enemy: Apocalypse '91
Saint Etienne: Foxbase Alpha
Ice-T: Original Gangster
Neil Young: Arc
Steve Hillage: System 7
Sarah McLachlan: Solace
Primal Scream: Screamadelica
Rocket From The Crypt: Paint As A Fragrance
Sting: The Soul Cages
Toad The Wet Sprocket: Fear

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg

"Combat Rock was originally planned as a double album with the working title Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg, but the idea was scrapped after internal wrangling within the group. Mick Jones had produced the first cut, but the other members were dissatisfied and producing duties were handed to Glyn Johns at which point the album became a single LP. The original cut has since been obtained and subsequently bootlegged."(from wikipedia)

Ok, WTF!?!?!

I consider myself a fairly huge Clash fan and I knew zip about this. I'm embarassed but at the same time pretty excited that I found some new Clash tunes! Managed to get my hands on a copy, and it seems that the aforementioned Glyn Johns did a bit of a hatchet job on Combat Rock. Extended intros/ outros and whole songs were cut from Combat Rock, and whether or not this was a good idea will depend on who you ask. In addition to the editing of the tracks, some on here are alternate takes, and although a couple are fairly muddy the majority are of really decent sound quality! And, in some cases, these versions eclipse the released version, and in the case of Should I Stay Or Should I Go eclipse the Combat Rock version by a freakin' mile!

So, yeah, I'm fairly stoked. It's all over the web, apparantly, readily available with the blessing of Mick Jones.

Did any of you reading this know about Rat Patrol?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Please, Someone Save Me From Myself!

Everyone has made a few musical faux-pas during their lifetime. If you're me, then you've made more than a few. Bands or albums that you were infactuated with at the time that sounded groundbreaking and fresh then, after a period of a few years sounded horribly dated or just plain horrible. You ask yourself, "what the hell was I smoking?" and "I wish someone would've tipped me off how bad that was before I rolled down the windows of my Pontiac Sunfire and blasted 'Hungry Like The Wolf' at top volume!"
A friend of mine, mercurial commentor Rumproast, saved me more than once, the most memorable time was with a little band called The Soup Dragons. I was in love with the band's album Love God back in the early 90's until Rumproast informed me that the singer sang with a lisp. You remember their big hit, right? A reggae-rock-techno cover of the Stones I'm Free. I didn't believe him, if I recall, but upon close scrutiny of that particular track I came to the realization that he was spot on.

"I'm FWEEEEE, To do what I want, any old time..."

That, coupled with the fact that Rumproast sung it in a mocking way in an Elmer Fudd accent, was enough. I sold the thing immediately. He was right, of course. They were crap. We used to mock each other relentlessly, and you know what? It was the honorable thing to do, to save each other from commiting musical suicide.

And then we bought tickets and went to see Jesus Jones...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Shuckin' The Jive

The following has nothing to do with music, or comics for that matter, it's just something I read the other day that made me laugh out loud. And since that doesn't happen very often I thought I'd share. After you read it you'll probably be convinced that I'm this totally bonkers guy living in a basement like that Silence Of The Lambs dude, but I'm really quite normal. I've just got a very bizarre sense of humor.

Enjoy, and special props to whomever can name the author or the book from which this was taken.

"I was sitting at home, peeking through the blinds at my neighbor's wife, minding my own business, when my doorbell rang. "Who's there?" I shouted. "We don't know," came the reply. I immediately knew the dopes had come over. I opened the door and invited them in. I was happy to have company even if they were a bunch of dopes.

'Well, what brings you over this way?" I queried.
"Yup." they said.

"Would you like some coffee?" I asked.
"Gol," said one dope, "how long have we been here?"
"About two minutes."
"Gol, we should have left hours ago!" And they packed up some of my things and lumbered out.
"Goodbye Dopes!" I shouted.
They turned to me and shouted back, "Goodbye, you big fuckin' idiot!"

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ya Gotta Love The British Music Press

In 1976, the New Musical Express ran a story about a Clash fan who bit off her boyfriend's earlobe during a London show — behavior Jones says "wasn't unusual" at their early club performances. "I've got to be honest — it was just a piece of the lobe," he says. "Like a Mike Tyson kind of thing."

Don't blow it out of proportion, NME, for the sake of selling a few papers, eh wot?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Worthwhile Reading

Since I'm still computer challenged at this point I'm going to recommend you read the following bit of music minutae, an extremely engrossing essay on the late, great Lester Bangs. Music critic for Creem magazine and all around scuzzbag. Love him or hate him (I'm of the former camp), this is one interesting and insightful read.

Big Bangs Theory

In Almost Famous, Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the late rock critic Lester Bangs onscreen. But the only way to get Bangs right is to get Bangs on paper.

By David Pulizzi

Late one evening about two years ago I was reading about one dead man, Elvis Presley, when I encountered the work of another, Lester Bangs. I was well into the endnotes of Mystery Train, Greil Marcus' popular treatise on rock music. Following a couple dozen pages of detailed notes on Presley, Marcus arrives at what he calls "the finest, or the most final, words of obituary spoken on the occasion of Elvis Presley's death. Lester Bangs was writing in the Village Voice, August 29, 1977, in a piece titled 'How Long Will We Care?'":

If love is truly going out of fashion, which I do not believe, then along with our nurtured indifference to each other will be an even more contemptuous indifference to each other's objects of reverence. I thought it was Iggy Stooge, you thought it was Joni Mitchell or whoever else seemed to speak for your own private, entirely circumscribed situation's many pains and few ecstasies. We will continue to fragment in this manner, because solipsism holds all the cards at present; it is a king whose domain engulfs even Elvis's. But I can guarantee you one thing; we will never agree on anything as we agreed on Elvis. So I won't bother saying goodbye to his corpse. I will say goodbye to you.

Those were the first words of Bangs' I had ever encountered and they numbed my brain for a while. the rest HERE

Friday, October 31, 2008

Are You A Music Snob?

A musical snob, guilty of snobbery, is a person who adopts the world-view that some people's musical tastes are inherently inferior to others for any one of a variety of reasons including real or supposed knowledge (how long has one been listening/ collecting music), wealth (the number of albums in one's collection), education, ancestry, etc. Often, the form of snobbery reflects the offending individual's socio-musical background. For example, a common snobbery of the musically adept is the affectation that one's place in the rock snob heirarchy is either the cause or result of superior aural abilities. However, a form of snobbery can be adopted by someone not a part of that group; Pseudo-rock snob is a type of snob. Such a snob imitates the manners, adopts many of the tastes of true rock snobs and attempts to pass themselves off as a true connesseur of great music. It affects their world-view and affects the lifestyle of a social class of people to which he or she aspires, but does not yet belong, and to which he or she may never belong.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Califone's Roots And Crowns

If that weird little banjo pickin' dude from Deliverance formed a band with Kurt Cobain, Nels Cline (from Wilco) and Steven Drozd from the Flaming Lips they would've sounded a lot like Califone. This is skewed Appalachian Americana at it’s best and most haunting. The musicianship and variety of instruments played on Roots and Crowns is impressive as well. Here, take a peek at the credits:

Tim Rutili (vocals, guitars, piano, electronics, field recordings, organ, synthesiser, banjo, loops, bowed balalaika)
Ben Massarella (pistons, Zuni rattles, counting stick, bronze fork, gourd shakers, glass, oak chimes, ribbon crasher)
Jim Becker (violin, banjo, bass, xylophone, cajun accordian, mandolin)
Joe Adamik (drum kit, bass clarinet, wurlitzer, piano and organ, vibraphone, Dr. Sampler, bells, melodica and prepared metaliphone)

This is one of those "damn glad I kept it" discs because even though I couldn't quite get into it at first it eventually grew on me and now it's a favorite with weekly spin honors.
The itunes review states that Roots And Crowns "sounds like nothing so much as the perfect experimental country rock band that Wilco And Sonic Youth have yet to get together and form", and they're pretty spot on. Except this isn't like the Sky Blue Sky Wilco, more like "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" or "Ashes Of American Flags" Wilco. It's dark, organic and experimental all at the same time and I highly recommend you pick up a copy and see for yourself. If I wouldn't have been brain dead when I first picked this up in 2006 it would've probably ended up topping my year end lists.

Total Absorption

I’ve rediscovered the joys of headphones.

Lately I’ve the need to escape the day to day pressures of working for a newspaper (just google “newspaper troubles” and you’ll see why) and the best way to zone out is to connect a good pair of headphones to the old iPod, imbibe in your favorite beverage and let the music take you to another place. Other than seeing a band live, headphones are the best way to experience music. With no outside distractions you’re free to let the music take charge of your brain and decimate the days trials and tribulations. Little nuances appear that were too subtle to hear on your car stereo, the bass sounds fuller and, in the case of your more psychedelic offerings, the full power of stereophonic sound floats from ear to ear demanding your full attention. And it doesn’t have to be a “prog” album, or a “producers” album to be a good headphone album either; many of the great headphone albums I own are acoustic offerings, or bare bones albums, if you will.
Who needs a $14,000 surround sound audio system when one can purchase a good pair of $100 ‘phones? The great audio equalizer, that’s what I say!
Here are just a few of Uncle E’s favorite “headphone” albums. What’re yours?

Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd
Screamadelica, Primal Scream
John Wesley Harding, Bob Dylan
Sgt. Peppers, The Beatles (natch!)
Tommy, The Who
Moon Safari, Air
Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys
The Great Escape, Blur
Catch A Fire, Bob Marley
Avalon, Roxy Music
Califone, Roots And Crowns
Surrender, The Chemical Brothers
Deserters Songs, Mercury Rev
The Soft Bulletin & Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Flaming Lips
Low, David Bowie
Fun House, The Stooges
In The Wee Small Hours, Frank Sinatra
Grace, Jeff Buckley
Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon
Band On The Run, Paul McCartney
The KLF, The White Room
How I Quit Smoking, Lambchop
Post War, M Ward
Blue Lines, Massive Attack
Kind Of Blue, Miles Davis
Z, My Morning Jacket
CASH, Nasty Rox, Inc.
In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, Neutral Milk Hotel
U.F. Orb, The Orb
Wildwood, Paul Weller
Steve McQueen, Prefab Sprout
A Ghost Is Born, Wilco
Apple Venus, Vol 1, XTC

….and a gajillion others…

Monday, October 27, 2008

This Might Take A While...

Our main computer crashed over the weekend, and I'm having difficulty retrieving the 12,000 or so songs from the hard drive. I've got them on my iPod, but I'm not technically savvy enough to transfer them to the iTunes folder on my laptop.
So...I'm gonna have to start it all over again, downloading cd by cd. That's not such a bad thing, really, the thing was due for a thorough scrubbing anyway. I'll try to post stuff as often as possible, but perhaps they won't be as frequent as they have been, for a while anyway. Every other day most likely, maybe more. If any of you out there know how I can transfer the contents of my iPod to the laptop (other than just the "purchased through iTunes songs--I have a lot that weren't!), please tell me how in the comments section. Thanks much.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A New Blog!

Here's a fun new blog that you folks should participate in. It's called Six Of The B(L)est and it's loads of fun! Here's the author's first posting:

"Each week, I'll be picking a topic for the list, and at the end of the week I'll post the six most popular suggestions in no particular order.
If you grew up in London in the 70s, you might remember Capital Radio's Nicky Horne did a weekly show of the same name and same concept.
To kick things off, I polled some friends and colleagues for my first list, which I've put below, with a few comments, as a hands-on introduction to the kind of thing SixOfTheBest is about.

This week's introductory list is

and the playlist goes like this:

6. "Oops Upside Your Head" - The Gap Band (interesting....)
5. "Pulling Teeth" - Green Day (just a bit too obvious)
4. "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better (When You're Gone)" - The Byrds (that's more like it)
3. "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)" - Bob Dylan (oh, very good)
2. "Tusk" - Fleetwood Mac (ho-hum)
1. "Something Inside So Strong" - Labi Siffre (clearly a fellow-sufferer)"

Friday, October 24, 2008

Kurtzman & Davis/ Rankin & Bass!

Halloween is just around the corner, folks, and before Tim Burton slithered onto the screen there was...RANKIN-BASS AND THEIR MAD MONSTER PARTY HALLOWEEN SPECIAL!!
What makes this retro stop animation special that Harvey Kurtzman wrote the kitschy screenplay and Jack Davis created the artistic templates for the "monsters". If those names don't ring a bell then you need to brush up on your pop culture trivia. These are two of the most important names in all of comicdom, the former the co-creator of MAD magazine and the later a prolific artist for MAD, Madison Avenue advertising campaigns and about a zillion other high profile comic concepts.
Check out the rock band in the video below. Look familiar...?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Best Album Of 2009?

M Ward, who released my favorite album of 2006, Post War, has announced that he will finally release the follow up in February 2009. It features an all star cast of musical royalty, including (but not limited to) Lucinda Williams, Jason Lytle (of Grandaddy fame) and Zooey Deschanel.

No word yet on the release of Ward's collaboration with Jim James and Conor Oberst yet.

Here's the track listing for the new one, entitled "Hold Time":

01 For Beginners
02 Never Had Nobody Like You
03 Jailbird
04 Hold Time
05 Rave On
06 To Save Me
07 One Hundred Million Years
08 Stars of Leo
09 Fisher of Men
10 Oh Lonesome Me
11 Epistemology
12 Blake's View
13 Shangri-La
14 Outro

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Brief Rant About Sandinista!

Why the hell does Sandinista! get such a bad rap?

The 4th album by The Clash, Sandinista! has always been my favorite by “The Only Band That Mattered”. I mean, come on! 3 slabs (2 on CD) of everything that made the Clash so enjoyable; dub experimentation without compromise, political musings with a punk edge, pure pop and loads of heart and soul. What more could you ask?

Most critics point out that this would have made a fantastic single disk, but I say “what the _____?” Sure, after the all-over-the-map sonic brilliance that was London Calling, Sandinista! may have seemed like bloated pretentious meanderings. Honestly though, the meanderings and experiments are what make it a favorite, of not just myself but legions of Clash fans all over the globe. But the only place I have ever seen this album top a list was in a “Best Of” 1980 in The Village Voice.

Damn shame, but all the better for me. I’ll let the punters have their London Calling and the eponymous first release and I’ll just sit back and play “Somebody Got Murdered” and “Charlie Don’t Surf” until the cows come home.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Paul McCartney's Wax Head Left On Train

The story HERE

Great (?) Albums Released In 1990

…and God said, “Let there be Raves, and “E”, and Career Resurrections!”, and so it came to pass, and it was good…

Happy Mondays, Pills ‘N’ Thrills And Bellyaches
Neil Young, Ragged Glory
Iggy Pop, Brick By Brick
Uncle Tupelo, No Depression
Replacements, All Shook Down
Urban Dance Squad, Mental Floss For The Globe
Nick Cave, The Good Son
Ozric Tentacles, Erpland
Boo Radleys, Ichabod And I
Prefab Sprout, Jordan: The Comeback
Jellyfish, Bellybutton
Paul Simon, The Rhythm Of The Saints
They Might Be Giants, Flood
Brian Eno, Wrong Way Up
808 State, Utd. 90
Stereo MC’s, Supernatural
KLF, Chill Out
Public Enemy, Fear Of A Black Planet
Urge Overkill, Americruiser
Waterboys, Room To Roam
Black Crowes, Shake Your Money Maker
Bob Dylan, Under The Red Sky
Van Morrison, Enlightenment
Pixies, Bossanova
Teenage Fanclub, A Catholic Education
Nick Lowe, Party Of One
Pet Shop Boys, Behavior
Flaming Lips, In A Priest Driven Ambulance
Renegade Soundwave, In Dub
Lloyd Cole, Lloyd Cole
The Charlatans, Some Friendly
Inspiral Carpets, Life
Dave Edmunds, Closer To The Flame
Depeche Mode, Violator
The Lemonheads, Lovey
Edwyn Collins, Hell-bent On Compromise
The Fall, Extricate
Galaxie 500, This Is Our Music

And up next, one of my favorite years in all of modern music...1991.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Man In The Blue Mask

This sure has been a month for rediscovering old classics. OMD’s Dazzle Ships, Love’s Da Capo, Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True and now Lou Reed’s The Blue Mask.
The Blue Mask came out in 1982 and at that time it wasn’t too hip to be lovin’ Reed. He just came off a string of poorly reviewed albums (Growing Up In Public, The Bells) and was competing with bands that couldn’t hold a candle to The Velvet Underground yet, stylistically and lyrically, owed them and Reed a humongous debt.

The Blue Mask is notable in the fact that Lou was clean and sober for the first time in many years, and the songwriting is clearer and concise. That is to say there are actual songs on this record, unlike his abhorrent Metal Machine Music (I don’t give a rat’s ass if the Chemical Brothers and a host of ambient and sub-par industrial bands think it’s fantastic, it’s shit!) .

To be honest, I think it’s his best since the Velvet Underground, even one upping the magnificent glam artifact that is Transformer and two upping Coney Island Baby and Street Hassle. The fact that Reed’s playing guitar again helps as well. Just listen to the metal feedback of the title track, pure organized chaos. Robert Quine adds a healthy dose of the danger with his evil power chords and Lou’s singing is at it’s most nakedly emotional and angry.

The rest of the album, most notably the eerie The Gun and The Day John Kennedy Died, is equally great.

Just because I was in the mood I also downloaded Street Hassle, which is a mini horror opera that Pete Townsend would’ve killed to pen. It’s worth it for Bruce Springsteen’s short but extremely effective cameo in which he cribs his own lyrics from Born To Run.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I Must Share

My daughter, I think, may have sprained her ankle.

She's 8.

She has a boy "friend" named Dylan who is the most thoughtful, caring little man I think I have ever met. A few weeks ago while we were camping at Mount Lassen, my youngest daughter (aged 4) fell in a river (as she often does) and Dylan offered my shivering little angel his shirt.
Now, with my eldest hobbling around like Captain Ahab, he is coming over to our house to offer her his walking stick. What a gentleman!

It must have something to do with his mom and dad, two of the finest folks I know.

Thanks buddy!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Another Legend Passes

Levi Stubbs, Motown legend, passes away at aged 72. In honor, here's Levi Stubbs Tears as sung by Billy Bragg...

Thought I'd share a little weekend weirdness...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Blogger Comment Hall Of Fame Entry #2

Someone calling themself "Anonymous" (I wish folks would leave their name) was kind enough to leave a comment on an old post where I (tried to) reveal the lyrics of Funky Drummer. After careful scrutiny I must agree that I have, rightfully, been corrected. And thus the reason this particular respondant receives the second Nightmare Hall Of Fame entry. Read and learn:

"Quit half steppin, bro’, if you’re gonna post the Godfather’s lyrics DO IT RIGHT!

Brackets indicate lyrics only in the retake version. Retake version is what y’all see below 'xcept the last section which is only in the first version."


[One, two, how’s it go...]

Pull back the cover
Good God, it’s a raid!


Cut out the lights
An’ call the law, ha
Cut out the lights
An’ call the law
Standin’ over there, huh!
The devil's son in law

Call the law
Call the law, ha
The devil's son in law


Bring on the juice
Bring on the juice
Bring on the juice
Bring on the juice
Make me sweat!

D’ya feel good?
D’ya feel good?
D’ya feel good?
D’ya feel good?

Turn over
Turn over
I’m a soulful rover
Turn over
Turn over
Turn over!

Heavy in the change
Take me in the change
Take me in the change


Hit me now!

Good God!

Honky tonk women
Is all I need
I’m a member
Of a brand new breed

Honky tonk women
Is what I want


One more time
I wanna give the drummer
Some of this funky soul we got here

You don't have to do
No soloin’, brother
Just keep what you got
So turn it loose
‘Cause it's a mother

When I count to four
I want everybody to lay off
Let the drummer go
When I count to four
I want you to come back in


It’s in ma collar
I got to holler
I said it's in ma feet
Feels so sweet

It's in ma shirt, good God
About to work me to death
It's in ma shirt
About to work me to death
It's in ma shirt
I want to blow
I’m wanna ‘bout to blow

One, two, three, four
Git it!

Good god!


Heh hah


Ain't it funky?


Ain't it funky?
Ain't it funky?
Ain't it funky?

One, two, three, fo!

The name of this tune is THE FUNKY DRUMMER

Let’s have the funky drummer blow!

Funky drummer

The funky drummer
The funky drummer
Let’s lay out and let this funky drummer take it out
One, two, three, four, the funky drummer!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Hello Cleaveland! HELLO CLEAVELAND!!!"*

*Incorrect spelling courtesy of the fine folks at Spinal Tap, Inc.
The “Live” album is a curious thing, no? Some bands have made their reputation on them (The Grateful Dead springs to mind), others have had their career given a much needed boost by ‘em (At Budokan, anyone?), and others have become a bit of a joke (Frampton Comes Alive).
I know some people that absolutely hate the live album, but this comes from a person who cherishes studio trickery and production values over the emotional punch a live document can offer. Of course it helps if you have seen the band in concert because it will transport you back to that time almost instantly, conjuring up memories of standing shoulder to shoulder with your friends when the lights dim and the overwhelming smell of a thousand joints being lit at the same time. Magical.
For me the tracks on a live album should sound little like the studio versions or really, what’s the point? The Cars were infamous for putting on one hell of an awful show. Technically speaking they were superb, their live renditions an exact replica of the albums…boring boring boring.
A live rock show should be dangerously unpredictable, or unpredictably dangerous, depending on your point of view. I remember seeing the Clash at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto for the Combat Rock tour I believe. The RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police for all you Yanks out there) were out front in riot gear and the air was foul with the possibility danger.
Inside, about 4 or 5 songs in, the Clash started pounding out a hardcore version of London Calling and we all went wild slamming our Doc Martins into the plastic stadium seats, eventually dislodging them from their hinges and tossing them into the rows of punks below. My friend even hit a cop with his.
This is not to say that a live show must be dangerous to be enjoyable. Seeing The Kinks was a life changing experience and I never once thought that I was in any danger. It just depends.
I enjoy live albums, but I don’t listen to them as much as I should. Maybe it’s because a live album needs to be taken as a whole and I don’t have a long enough commute or the time at home to just sit…and absorb.

So what’re your views on live albums? What are some of your favorites? I’m partial to Kicking Television by Wilco, The Name Of This Band Is…by Talking Heads, OKONOKOS by My Morning Jacket, James Browns Live At The Apollo and (insert laughter here) Exit Stage Left by RUSH and LIVE KILLERS by Queen. So sue me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


From "The Quietus", a damn fine music site:

"It’s as if the whole ethos of ‘Rock & Roll’- the whole fuck-what-came-before, daringly primitive and unabashed idiocy of it all is the one thing from the past that nobody can locate: not truly anyway; that, in reality, nobody wants to find." the rest HERE

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Junk Or Junque, Part Deux.

Some albums start out as vinegar and end up the finest wines, don’t they?

Case in point: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’s Dazzle Ships. The time was 1981 and OMD had just released their career and critical high point in Architecture + Morality, an inspired blend of electronic experimentation (not unlike their musical heroes Kraftwerk) and sublime humanity. It was an unqualified success on all fronts, and what does any successful band do after releasing such an album? Well, if you’re OMD you release an obtuse, abstract concept album on cold war tension as a follow up.
Unlike it’s predecessor, Dazzle Ships was critically derided upon it’s release and spawned only a minor hit in Genetic Engineering. Of course we all know how the story ends, right? The group quickly sold it’s artistic soul to filmmaker John Hughes, released If You Leave on the “Pretty In Pink” soundtrack and became one of the biggest bands on the planet.
But something happened to Dazzle Ships in the 25 years since it’s release. It became hugely influential.
Allmusic states,

“On its own merits it is dazzling indeed, a Kid A of its time that never received a comparative level of contemporary attention and appreciation. Indeed, Radiohead's own plunge into abstract electronics and meditations on biological and technological advances seems to be echoing the themes and construction of Dazzle Ships.”

I recently re-purchased the re-mastered “Special Editions” of Dazzle Ships, Architecture + Morality and Organisation (this misspelled title itself an homage to Kraftwerk; it’s their original name), and I was blown away by the sheer inventiveness and “freshness” these releases have maintained. Especially Dazzle Ships. It’s a brilliant record that has not dated in the least. The out of date electronics, the early 80’s cold war references and even the sound effects on This Is Helena (“Music for your tape recorder!”) sound like eerie reminisces and are extremely effective, and at times quite chilling. Dazzle Ships is the reason I don’t trade in my CD’s. Times change, taste changes.

This re-issue gets my #2 vote for best re-issue of the year, the number 1 slot reserved for, obviously, Jesus Of Cool.

Do you, dear reader, have an example like the one above? If so, please share.