Sunday, April 25, 2010

Recent reading... & other stuff....

I don't wanna write about being depressed, about being sad & grouchy & angry at the whole world for no real good reason. It's just a drag for everyone.
But now it seems to be affecting my job. So maybe I don't have a choice.
My boss has been complaining to one of my co-workers for weeks about minor little things I've forgotten to do at work -- VERY minor things, things my boss can't be bothered to do herself. But she can notice and complain about them. & then she can ask my co-workers if I've been tired or grouchy, or she can wonder aloud if maybe I just don't want to work there anymore.
Understand, these are VERY minor things I've been forgetting to do. Some of them I didn't even know I was supposed to be doing. & I've been working there 6-1/2 years.
Now I'm thinking the smallest little thing I mess-up might lead to me getting fired. If everything's not absolutely perfect, then....
See, the thing is, I thought I was doing OK. Granted, I'm not the stress-fueled busy bee I used to be at work -- partly because nobody notices if I work my ass off. & also because I'm 50 & I can't multi-task 9 hrs/day anymore. At least not at this job.
But I still thot I was going above & beyond. I still do things none of my co-workers do, I still clean & stock & take care of stuff nobody else seems to bother worth. I get the job done. I know what I'm sposta do & I don't waste any time. Tho I do stop & catch my breath now & then.
Hell, on busy nites like Fri & Sat I've even started mopping the store's floors after closing, cos there's no time during the late-evening beer rushes to do it while we're open. & I'm still getting outta the bldg at a reasonable time. & I'm not stressing-out while trying to mop around drunks.
But none of that makes any diffrence. Because I'm apparently missing little things. & I'm not happy enuf. I keep getting told that. Well, it'd sure help if the sun would come out for more than 1 day at a time. If the temps would pick up just a little, if it actually felt like SPRING here instead of Feb. On the sunny days I actually feel pretty good -- today was OK, & Thurs was the best day I've had in weeks & I'm not sure why. I'm not doing anything any differently. On Thurs I woke up early & couldn't get back to sleep, so I thot I'd go out & look 4 cheap books & music. I found almost nothing, but it was still a good day, & maybe just getting outta the house helped some.
...I've been depressed for months. I didn't really even realize it until my girlfriend hadn't heard from me in awhile, invited me out for a cuppa coffee & told me I was Not Myself & maybe I should Talk To Someone about it. I did go talk to someone for awhile, but I didn't like most of what I was told: Get out, make some new friends, join a writer's group, hit the Library. I'm too TIRED 4 mosta that. & I haven't followed-up.
Now the depression is worse. I haven't even visited HERE in a coupla weeks. Just didn't feel much like communicating, as much as this blog means to me. & it means a lot.
...I talked to my Dad on the phone on April 16th, the 2nd anniversary of my Mother's death. We had a good talk. We didn't even talk about Mom, tho my Dad reminded me that the 16th is also my Sister's birthday. We just gabbed 4 awhile, & in the course of it I said I planned to take some vacation time this year cos I've got no patience left for people's BS & I needta get away from the job for awhile. We talked about jobs & wages Back Home, & my Dad said: "You know, if you were to live with me, the rent would be cheap."
At my Mom's funeral my Cousin Carol (who I hadn't seen in about 30 years) greeted me with: "So, when are you gonna move back home? Your Dad really wants you to, but of course he'll never say it."
Suggesting the rent would be cheap is about as close as my Dad is ever gonna get 2 inviting me to move back home. To Idaho. The cultural wasteland, as I've joked here. The place where 1/2 of my nostalgia comes from. Of course it's not the same place I left 30 years ago, but....
I told my Dad that -- even tho I'd love to go back to Idaho -- I couldn't swing it financially, that Wash is 1 of the few places in the country where I can do what I'm doing & keep up w/ my bills.
But that didn't stop me from adding up the numbers. ...& I think it would be damn tight -- but do-able, depending on what kinda job I found at the other end. I might even B able 2 afford 2 rent a U-Haul trailer, tho I doubt my truck could pull it the 600 miles back home. My truck can barely make it over summa the hills around here....
But I'm tempted. Really.
4 a few days I hardly thot about anything else.
However: In Idaho, they think $10 an hr is "big money." I'll take a pay cut of about 1/2 if I can find a cashiering job.
Big problem: If I do go, even if I claim my Dad is in failing health (as far as I know he's OK), my roommate will likely lose his house. I've bn helping keep him afloat 4 the past 2 years.
Other issues: There is someone here I love. We have a lotta history. But I haven't seen her since Feb, haven't talked to her in 3 weeks (haven't felt like communicating, remember?), & she likely realizes my depression is worse -- & I assume she's sick 2 death of my BS by now. & I can't blame her. If I go, that will prove that whatever we had is Over. Ghod knows I've tried to kill it enuf times....
Is that all that's on my mind? Isn't that enuf?
But I was gonna review some books....

* THE ROLLING STONE RECORD REVIEW (1971) -- This is not the Ultimate Rock Criticism Xperience I was hoping 4, but it's a lotta fun, & it's the only thing that's made me laff out loud in wks. There is rather 2 much reviewing by RS founder Jann Wenner, who was never the most fluent of writers (tho a good interviewer). But there's lotsa great early work by Lester Bangs (including his classic reviews of Captain Beefheart's TROUT MASK REPLICA & the MC5's 1st album), Greil Marcus, John Mendelssohn, Ed Ward, Jon Landau, Arthur Schmidt, Langdon Winner & other early-'70s critics. Ward has a great negative review of ABBEY ROAD that had me laffing aloud when he called George Harrison's "Something" "so vile it will probably be covered by dozens of performers within weeks and become one of the Beatles' greatest successes." & he was right about the song's popularity, if not its vileness. Now, I admit reading stuff like this may not B every1's idea of a Good Time, but if U read music reviews at all then U've already got the disease.
Among the artists reviewed: Beatles, Stones, Dylan (Marcus has an ENDLESS review of Bob's SELF PORTRAIT), Airplane, Hendrix, Joplin, Kinks, Who, Procol Harum, Move, Rod Stewart, Moody Blues, CCR, Cream, Traffic, Cocker, CSNY, Joni Mitchell, Buffalo Springfield, Aretha, Elvis, Jackson 5, Zeppelin, Beach Boys, Stooges, Van Morrison, The Band, etc....
+ Robert Onopa: THE PLEASURE TUBE (1979) -- Vivid & involving, like Bob Silverberg at his sensuous, Dscriptive best, but w/ what coulda bn the grim&scary back-story from Barry Malzberg's BEYOND APOLLO (1972). Tho the book is convincing & almost hallucinatory in its vividness, it's clear from at least 1/2way thru where it's going & there R no real suprises. & it's not a fun trip. Had bn wanting 2 read this 4 ages -- Algis Budrys wrote a rave review of it in F&SF back in '79; Onopa is still writing short pieces 4 F&SF & other magazines....
+ Norman Spinrad: SCIENCE FICTION IN THE REAL WORLD (1990) -- Mostly a pretty-good collection of reviews from the pages of ASIMOV'S SF mag, tho a piece on why Philip K. Dick's later novels R his best is new here. Spinrad is great on the economic nuts&bolts that drive SF publishing, & his analyses R solid. I was also glad 2 C the only review of George R.R. Martin's rock'n'roll novel THE ARMAGEDDON RAG that I've ever found -- tho I disagree about why that book was a failure. I wished this book was longer.
= Norman Spinrad: STAYING ALIVE: A WRITER'S GUIDE (1983) -- This really IS about the nuts&bolts of SF publishing. & if U were a working writer back then it was probably invaluable. Now it's kinda dry, tho there R good things in it. (Has NE1 ever figured out why Gregory Benford's Nebula Award-winning novel TIMESCAPE never made it on2 the Hugo Award ballot? Bcos SF fans thot the book was boring?) The best thing here is a hilarious column on "Science Fiction's Best Award for 1980." Will the winner B the sentimental old fave the Hugo Award? Or will the pro writers instead choose the brand-new Prometheus Award, presented by the Libertarian Party along w/ $2,500 in gold!?
= Alexei & Cory Panshin: SF IN DIMENSION (1980) -- The book reviews R pretty good, but I read them when they were 1st published in F&SF. Summa them still make me laff, like when the Panshins call Ursula K. LeGuin's THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS "probably the best SF novel we can hope for in this, the year of Our Lord 1590." The long pieces on Heinlein I'm gonna havta save until later -- 1 of them, a LONG piece on THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST, takes up the last 1/4 of the book. I'll keep this 4 the reviews, but I wish there were more of the daring, trailblazing, supportive, encouraging, adventurous critical columns they wrote 4 FANTASTIC in the early '70s. Wonder what happened 2 those? I don't C how they coulda bn melded in2 the Panshins' HUGE SF history THE WORLD BEYOND THE HILL....

Currently reading: GOOD FICTION GUIDE, edited by Jane Rodgers, Oxford University Press, 2005 -- If U look at this as an update of the SALON.COM GUIDE TO CONTEMPORARY AUTHORS, it's pretty solid, & I'm amazed at how many SF writers R included in it: William Gibson & Bruce Sterling, of course, Neal Stephenson, sure, but -- Michael Swanwick? Nice suprise. & Roger Zelazny's in here! Bob Silverberg! But no Samuel R. Delany?! Philip K. Dick but no Barry Malzberg? Ray Bradbury but no Harlan Ellison? Joanna Russ but no James Tiptree Jr.? Jim Thompson but no Jack Ketchum? No Kathe Koja? ... Oh, & these folks think James Ellroy's a horror writer, 2....

Friday, April 16, 2010

U've heard of Complex, how bout Multiplex?

Samuel R. Delany's 1966 short-novel EMPIRE STAR is 1 of the best, most Njoyable science-fiction "space operas" ever. It's as fast-moving, action-filled, involving & flashy as a good comic book (Xcuse me: Graphic Novel). At 114 large-type pgs, U can read it in a coupla hrs max.
Like all Delany's best stuff, it's also tricky & clever. There's a lot going on in it.
& it's FUNNY. The whole book reads like it was written 4 the sheer joy of it. I think it's Delany's best work ever, 1/2 a step up from his also-brilliant THE EINSTEIN INTERSECTION. & way better than his later, hugely-wordy, Ndless postmodern novels like DHALGREN & TRITON.
A plot synopsis? A catlike boy named Comet Jo grows up on a beautiful but backward planet, & 1 day witnesses the crash of what might B a spaceship. 1 of the aliens inside the ship survives long enuf 2 tell Jo that Jo must take an important msg 2 Empire Star, which is sorta the capitol of the Known Universe. The msg Jo must carry is at 1st unclear.
With the help of a spacefield-tender named Charona, Jo gains passage on the 1st ship out, where he meets the mysterious San Severina. She is attempting 2 rebuild an Ntire Dstroyed society w/ the help of an equally mysterious slave-race called the Lll. NE contact w/ the Lll causes immense sadness in humans, & the sadness increases geometrically w/ each additional Lll U own.
San Severina tries 2 provide Jo w/ an education (including a discussion about the diffrences Btween "simplex," "complex" & "multiplex" people, societies & outlooks), but other things get in the way. At 1 point Jo is kidnapped by a giant spacefaring computer called The Lump & they drift thru space discussing science fiction (among other things) & the work of The Lump's fave SF writer, Muels Aranlyde (Samuel R. Delany).
Jo meets the mad poet Ny Ty Lee, is 4ced 2 join the Army of the evil Prince Nactor, meets The Princess of the Empire, & learns what the msg he must Dliver 2 Empire Star hasta B:
Some1 has come 2 free the Lll.
Things get a little hazy after that. But it Bcomes clear that Mbedded in this 114-pg story is a huge space-spanning epic, which Thank Ghod the young Delany didn't try 2 spell-out. As it is, the Nding, where Delany ties all the parts 2gether, is pretty breathtaking.
I'm not doing the story justice, of course. I CAN'T do justice 2 the jokes, some of which R really funny; or 2 the plot complications, which R as funny as they R essential 2 advancing the story. & I can't Dscribe how vivid & brite & Xuberant & ALIVE the storytelling is. Everything Delany chose NOT 2 do in DHALGREN he brings off here, & it's wonderful. It'd make a great cartoon. Or graphic novel.
Delany's novel after this, BABEL-17, won the Nebula Award 4 best SF novel of 1966. EMPIRE STAR shoulda won. Tho SF fans have likely read it by now, it's never quite Cmd 2 get the recognition it Dserves.
There have bn sevral editions of the book; recently its bn bound in a package w/ BABEL-17, which is how Delany wanted it 2 B published originally. It has also bn packaged as parta summa the later editions of Delany's short-story collection, DRIFTGLASS/STARSHARDS.
If U've never read NE of Delany's novels, this'd B a great place 2 start. It's fast & EZ & vivid & immensely Njoyable. I'm also a big fan of EINSTEIN INTERSECTION, which isn't quite as clear when it comes 2 motivations, but is still a wild, amusing trip as aliens take on the myths & legends of a dead Earth in an attempt 2 find...?
Some of Delany's other novels didn't quite work 4 me, tho they might 4 U. BABEL-17 Cmd awkward, tho perhaps I wasn't up 2 the questions of identity & multi-partner sexual relationships that R summa the focus of the novel. I think the book has 1 great scene, where heroine poetess Rydra Wong watches a space battle on a huge screen. Summa the writing just Cms clunky, which is kinda shocking 4 Delany.
His later novel NOVA is a better story, but I think needed more room 2 breathe. A story w/ some of the same epic sweep of EMPIRE STAR, but covered in just barely 2wice the space. There's a lot going on in this book as well, but at no point does Delany slow down 2 allow himself & the reader a chance 2 take a breath & get a handle on what's going on. It's like he rushed it.... (It's bn awhile since I re-read either NOVA or BABEL-17, & it's possible they might strike me diffrently now. & I may B talking myself in2 re-reading them just by writing this....)
Delany definitely didn't rush DHALGREN, nearly 900 pgs set in a ruined city sometime in America's future. I made it 200 pgs in -- 2wice -- B4 I gave up. There is actually 1 good, vivid, well-Xecuted dramatic scene near the Nd of those 1st 200 pgs. It does Xactly what Delany wanted it 2 do in terms of establishing the sanity (or lack of it) of his hero. But it doesn't go NEwhere....
I couldn't get in2 TRITON either & haven't read NE of Delany's later stuff Xcept 4 his autobiography, THE MOTION OF LIGHT IN WATER. It will probly tell U more about Delany's bisexual habits (& his marriage 2 National Book Award-winning poet Marilyn Hacker) than U really wanna know. But there's enuf about the circumstances surrounding the writing of Delany's 1st 6 novels 2 make it worth the trip....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sorry 4 the Dlay....

...I was gonna post a review of Samuel R. Delany's wonderful (& apparently mostly-overlooked) science-fiction short-novel EMPIRE STAR (& I WILL!), + I'm reading Stephen Calt's rather bitter book about Skip James & the history of the Blues, Ntitled I'D RATHER BE THE DEVIL, which was given 2 me by a local reader of this blog, & I'll likely review that.... (Among other tunes, James wrote "I'm So Glad," later covered by Cream.)
...but something else happened that swept everything else aside.
U're going 2 think I'm crazy... but that's OK, cos I AM....
Way back in 1976, when I was just getting started at this album-buying, tracking-down-yr-faverite-music stuff, at the long-vanished Little Professor Book Center in the Hillcrest Plaza mall in Boise, Idaho, I happened 2 stumble-over a thick $1.95 paperback full of early-'7os record reviews: THE ROLLING STONE RECORD REVIEW VOLUME II.
This book Changed My Life. It was full of great stuff. & the WRITING was always Njoyable, even if I didn't agree w/ the critic's views. Hilarious, in4mative, Nlightening, stuffed full of data & fiercely-argued opinions.
Upon reading it, I Bcame a lifelong fan of reviews, always tracking down more, always looking 4 more info. I read & re-read & re-re-read VOLUME II until the spine cracked & the cover fell off & the pages fell out. I taped it back-2gether & kept dipping back in2 it now & then, & it continues 2 sit on my bookshelf & fall apart 35 yrs later.
Awhile back I stumbled over a copy of the original (VOLUME I) ROLLING STONE RECORD REVIEW at an unBlievably low price ($2.99) & I ordered it. It arrived last Sat aft.
Now, understand: I haven't even read 1/2 the book yet. But the day it arrived I sat 4 an hr & 1/2 just paging thru it 2 C what was IN it:
550 pgs of reviews! Lotsa early criticism by Lester Bangs, including his views on Captain Beefheart's TROUT MASK REPLICA. The hilarious John Mendelssohn on the Who, the Kinks, Procol Harum, the Move's SHAZAM, Led Zeppelin & much more. Lotsa work by the superb Greil Marcus. Ed Ward on tons of old singles & how he 1nce wished he could grow up 2 B a radio station(!). More essays on the Middle Period Beach Boys by the Xcellent Arthur Schmidt. Reviews of all the later Beatles albums! Lots on the Stones! Tons on Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, Cream, Hendrix, Clapton, Beck, early Rod Stewart, Traffic, Van Morrison & loads more. A few Xamples of "The Review as Fiction," an approach I've fallen back on a coupla times.... "Guest reviews" by Robert Christgau & Paul Williams. & rather 2 much reviewing by RS founder/publisher Jann Wenner, who I never thot was much of a writer, tho a good interviewer....
I don't care that the book is falling apart, that the cover & the 1st few pages have fallen off. I don't care that the book is water-damaged & that the 1st 200+ pages R all brown & crinkly, tho still readable. These things actually ENHANCE the reading Xperience....
This is absolutely the only thing that has bn able 2 jolt me outta a Dpression I've bn stuck in 4 wks.
Obviously this is a Potentially Life-Changing Xperience that must B handled in its own time, no matter what else I might have going on.
& obviously I could serve as a case-study in neurotic anticipation, or something. But that's why there's bn a Dlay here, as I've slowly Bgun 2 Dvour this huge volume....
Intresting that the goodwill generated in me by the brilliance of VOLUME II led me in2 RS's later heavily-opinionated red-covered RECORD GUIDE (4 awhile 1 of my faverite books ever 4 throwing across the room in anger & frustration), the slightly-later less-opinionated & less-impressive blue-covered REVISED RECORD GUIDE, the weak RS ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ROCK AND ROLL, & the truly thin & useless RS ALBUM GUIDE.
I'll eventually review VOLUME I, but I gotta admit that right now I'm just kinda Njoying it.
...Wonder if they ever did a VOLUME III?

...But while I'm here, I was thinking earlier 2nite at work about All-Time Fave Song Titles. I'm a sucker 4 off-the-wall or long-winded song titles, titles that make U laff, stuff like that. Mosta my faverites come from the Progressive Rock Era, tho Punk Rock & New Wave cer10ly had their share of vivid & hilarious titles....
Probly my all-time fave is "Daddy Was an Asteroid, Mummy Was a Small Non-Stick Kitchen Utensil," which if I remember right was recorded by Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera's side-project Quiet Sun. I bot their MAINSTREAM album back around 1978 or so & traded it away Bcos it was 2 dull or something. I was an idiot....
Hatfield and the North's 2 albums R full of great off-the-wall titles. Probly my fave is "Her Majesty is Like a Cream Donut," part of their magnum-opus medley "Mumps" on their 1975 album THE ROTTERS' CLUB. But the Hatfields had lotsa great silly titles: "Big John Wayne Socks Psychology on the Jaw," "Giant Landcrabs in Earth Takeover Bid," "Lobster in Cleavage Probe," "The Yes No Interlude," "Fitter Stoke Has a Bath," "There's No Place Like Homerton." I wish I could report that these songs R just as charming as their titles, but it just may B my straight-laced taste that's letting me down here....
1 of the things that intrested me about Brian Eno was his funny song titles, like "Burning Airlines Gives You So Much More" & "Baby's On Fire." Figured NEbody who could come up w/ titles like that had SOMETHING goin on....
My heroes Caravan have some fairly out-there titles, tho nothing quite like the above: "All the Way (With John Wayne's Single Handed Liberation of Paris)" ((What IS it w/ Canterbury groups & their obsession w/ John Wayne & Bob Hope?)) & "The Dog, The Dog, He's at it Again."
& I've always bn intrigued by Be-Bop Deluxe's title "Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape." Just sounds neat. Would work equally well as a movie or book title, 2....
Then there's Brand X's "Why Should I Loan You Mine When You've Broken Yours Off Already?" & its immediate follow-up, "Maybe I'll Lend You Mine After All"....
& yr fave off-the-wall titles R....?

...We could probly also compare fave off-the-wall album titles. Parliament/Funkadelic useta have a ton of them: FREE YOUR MIND AND YOUR ASS WILL FOLLOW, FUNKENTELECHY VS. THE PLACEBO SYNDROME, THE BRIDES OF DR. FUNKENSTEIN, GLORYHALLASTOOPID.... Wish I could say I've actually HEARD summa these....
& 4 some reason I can't 4get the Dead Boys: YOUNG, LOUD AND SNOTTY, & their follow-up WE HAVE COME FOR YOUR CHILDREN....
I'm sure the punk/new-wave & death-metal genres have probly bn home 2 titles I likely don't even wanna think about. But if U've got some that'R funny or shocking or vulgar or at least jarringly inappropriate, bring em on....

...& I'll get back 2 ya soon....

Friday, April 9, 2010

Great SF/fantasy/horror short-stories

OK, U asked 4 it.... I've bn reading science fiction & other weirdness since 1971, when I was 12 yrs old & my parents threw some 2nd-hand copies of ANALOG magazine & other SF magazines at me, followed quickly by Raymond J. Healy & J. Francis McComas's huge landmark SF collection ADVENTURES IN SPACE AND TIME. I haven't looked back since, tho I liketa think my tastes have Xpanded a bit....
I haven't read everybody -- there's a lotta people I've never read, & I can give U a list -- but I've dug around pretty widely, from Asimov 2 Zelazny, Heinlein 2 Ellison, Niven 2 Moorcock, lotsa classic old stuff, little bit from the '50s, lotsa '60s New Wave & '70s stuff (4 part of the late '70s I was reading almost everything in the magazines every month -- ANALOG, GALAXY, F&SF, ASIMOV'S, the rest), started slowing down in the late '80s, & only bits & pieces since.
What follows is stuff I remember knocking me over w/ its brilliance, inventiveness, vividness, involving-ness or un4gettability, stuff that won't waste yr time, no matter how old it is. (It's also a good memry test 4 me 2 C how mucha this stuff I can remember off the toppa my head.)
In alphabetical order by author, then:

Isaac Asimov: Nightfall, The Last Question.
Clive Barker: Dread, In the Hills the Cities.
J.G. Ballard: The Cloud Sculptors of Coral-D, Venus Smiles.
Michael Bishop: Cathadonian Odyssey.
Frederic Brown: The Star Mouse.
Edward Bryant: Stone, Strata.
Cynthia Bunn: And Keep Us From Our Castles.
Pat Cadigan: It Was the Heat.
Orson Scott Card: Eumenides in the Fourth-Floor Lavatory.
Arthur C. Clarke: The Sentinel.
Samuel R. Delany: We in Some Strange Power's Employ Move on a Rigorous Line.
Philip K. Dick: Frozen Journey (aka I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon).
Thomas M. Disch: Descending.
Cory Doctorow: When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth.
Gardner R. Dozois: A Special Kind of Morning.
George Alec Effinger: Lights Out.
Greg Egan: Scatter My Ashes.
Harlan Ellison: 'Repent Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman, A Boy and His Dog, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes, Eidolons, From A to Z in the Chocolate Alphabet, With Virgil Oddum at the East Pole, The Deathbird, The Whimper of Whipped Dogs, Sleeping Dogs.
John M. Ford: This Too We Reconcile, Preflash.
Karen Joy Fowler: The Faithful Companion at 40.
William Gibson: Burning Chrome, The Winter Market, The Gernsback Continuum.
Felix C. Gottschalk: The Examination.
Joe Haldeman: Hero.
Henry Hasse: He Who Shrank.
Robert A. Heinlein: The Notebooks of Lazarus Long.
Gwyneth Jones: Red Sonia and Lessingham in Dreamland.
Stephen King: The Body, The Reach.
Nancy Kress: Touchdown.
R.A. Lafferty: Continued on Next Rock, Been a Long Long Time, Narrow Valley.
Ursula K. LeGuin: Vaster Than Empires and More Slow, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, The Day Before the Revolution.
Graeme Leman: Conversational Mode.
Johnathan Lethem: The Happy Man.
Barry N. Malzberg: La Croix (The Cross).
George R.R. Martin: A Song for Lya, This Tower of Ashes, In the House of the Worm, Sandkings, Nightflyers, The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr, The Storms of Windhaven (w/ Lisa Tuttle), With Morning Comes Mistfall, Meathouse Man, The Stone City.
Bruce McAllister: When the Fathers Go, Dream Baby.
Ian McDonald: Toward Kilimanjaro, Rainmaker Cometh, Vivaldi, Unfinished Portrait of the King of Pain by Van Gogh.
Rick Moody: The Albertine Notes.
David Morrell: Orange is for Anguish Blue for Insanity.
Gregory Nicoll: Dead Air.
Larry Niven: Down and Out.
Frederik Pohl: The Merchants of Venus.
Kim Stanley Robinson: Green Mars (novella), A History of the 20th Century With Illustrations, Mother Goddess of the World, Escape from Kathmandu, Discovering Life, The Part of Us That Loves.
Spider Robinson: Unnatural Causes or The Guy We Couldn't Help, Stardance (w/ Jeanne Robinson).
David J. Schow: Lonesome Coyote Blues, Not from Around Here.
Robert Silverberg: Sundance, Caliban, To See the Invisible Man, Hawksbill Station, Waiting for the Earthquake, House of Bones, We Are for the Dark, A Thousand Paces Along the Via Dolorosa.
Michael Shea: The Autopsy.
Dan Simmons: Two Minutes Forty-Five Seconds.
Norman Spinrad: Journals of the Plague Years, A Child of Mind.
Lucius Shepard: The Man Who Painted the Dragon Graiule, A Little Night Music.
Lewis Shiner: Love in Vain, Jeff Beck.
Henry Slesar: Beside the Golden Door.
Bruce Sterling: Dori Bangs, Green Days in Brunei, Mozart in Mirrorshades (w/ Lewis Shiner).
Michael Swanwick: The Dragon Line, The Edge of the World.
James Tiptree Jr.: A Momentary Taste of Being, The Screwfly Solution.
John Varley: The Persistence of Vision, In the Hall of the Martian Kings.
Kate Wilhelm: Baby You Were Great.
Connie Willis: All My Darling Daughters, The Last of the Winnebagos.
Richard Wilson: Mother to the World.
Robert F. Young: Boarding Party.
Roger Zelazny: The Doors of His Face The Lamps of His Mouth, For a Breath I Tarry, This Moment of the Storm, This Mortal Mountain, Permafrost, The Engine at Heartspring's Center, The Man Who Loved the Faioli, Unicorn Variation, He Who Shapes.

OK, that's about as far as I can go w/o some more digging thru my collection 2 jar my bad memry. If I can think of NE other 4got10 greats I'll add them here. Meanwhile, NE1 else out there read NE of these & wanna compare notes...?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Great SF/fantasy/horror novels

Haven't written much about books lately, mayB cos I haven't bn READING much new stuff lately. But I should correct that.
What follows is a quick list of what I feel R really great science-fiction, fantasy & horror novels. I tried 2 stick w/ books that I think R really high-quality, mind-boggling, life-changing events -- Xcellent writing & really great Ntertainment. The blessing 4 a list like this might B that there Rn't really THAT MANY of them.
Some of these I've read multiple times & can vouch 4 their lasting quality. As a reader, I Cm 2 lean toward a mix of action & thot -- enuf action going on so I stay involved, & enuf 2 intrest the mind 2 keep that rolling along 2. Blievable characters & good, solid, gripping, Ntertaining writing above all.
The nominees R:

Gael Baudino: GOSSAMER AXE.
Stephen R. Donaldson: LORD FOUL'S BANE, THE ILLEARTH WAR, THE POWER THAT PRESERVES, THE WOUNDED LAND (Donaldson can B frustrating, but his big dramatic scenes & epic scale R tough 2 resist).
James Ellroy: L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, THE BLACK DAHLIA, THE BIG NOWHERE. (Some would say Ellroy's novels R crime/police-procedurals -- I'd counter that horrible things happen in each of them & the focus is on stopping the horror.)
Frank Herbert: DUNE.
Jack Ketchum: HIDE AND SEEK.
Stephen King: IT, THE STAND.
George R.R. Martin: DYING OF THE LIGHT.
Frederik Pohl: GATEWAY.
Lewis Shiner: GLIMPSES.
George R. Stewart: EARTH ABIDES (Bn YEARS since I read this, but it's 1 of the best after-the-Nd novels, lotsa great nostalgic atmosphere).
Peter Straub: KOKO, THE THROAT.

John Brunner: THE SHEEP LOOK UP (vivid but Dpressing).
Philip K. Dick: THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH (a little clunky, but gritty & realistic, & it'll turn yr mind in2 a pretzel).
William Gibson: NEUROMANCER (Characters R weak, but Gibson's visions of cyberspace R amazingly vivid, as in his short stories).
K.W. Jeter: MANTIS (tricky, VERY downbeat & disturbing horror).
Damon Knight: THE MAN IN THE TREE (1st 1/2 is amazingly good & vivid story about Growing Up Strange in the American Northwest; 2nd 1/2 is disappointing).
Ursula K. LeGuin: THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS (The climactic trip across the ice is Xciting & moving, the rest of the story Cms told from an icy distance).
George R.R. Martin & Lisa Tuttle: WINDHAVEN (last 3rd of the book's pretty 4gettable, rest is brilliant).
David R. Palmer: EMERGENCE.
Joanna Russ: THE TWO OF THEM, WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO.... (1st 1/2).
Neal Stephenson: SNOW CRASH (weak Nding, up til then funny & neon-vivid & involving).
James Tiptree Jr.: BRIGHTNESS FALLS FROM THE AIR (A bit over-cutesy, but vivid, involving, moving).
J.R.R. Tolkien: THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY (long & wordy).
John Varley: STEEL BEACH (weak Nding, up til then involving & funny).
James White: THE DREAM MILLENNIUM (Standard generation-starship setting, but very vivid sections -- WAY better than I Xpected).
Roger Zelazny: CREATURES OF LIGHT AND DARKNESS (Bginning & Nding R weak, middle's vivid, involving, hilarious.)

...I think that's about all, just offa the toppa my head & from checking a couple of my faverite refrences. If I think of NE more I'll add them.
NEbody else out there read NE of these & wanna compare notes, or have others they think R great that they wanna add?
If U knew how many novels I've started & could never get thru, how many I gave up on after 100 pgs (it useta B my faverite trick w/ novels, 4 YEARS), how many I still haven't given up on.... well, this would B a much longer post. In fact, I tried 2 do a list of all the stuff I've given up on awhile back (see "Dumped! Stalled!" back in Aug or Oct, I think....).
I don't read much novel-length fiction NEmore cos I need something that keeps my attn focused, & fiction doesn't always do that 4 me NEmore (it Cms). I have better luck w/ non-fiction these days, w/ my short attn span....

...& I read at the monthly SF-news website Ansible (, also available thru Locus at that Norman Spinrad -- 2 of who's books I just skimmed thru (SCIENCE FICTION IN THE REAL WORLD & STAYING ALIVE: A WRITER'S GUIDE) -- is undergoing treatment 4 stomach cancer. That sucks. Spinrad's an Xcellent critic & a talented fiction writer, who was always very much on top of the connections Btween SF & The Real World. MayB his best story is the brilliant "Journals of the Plague Years" from the anthology FULL SPECTRUM (1988), & I've bn looking 4 a copy of his SF/Rock&Roll novel LITTLE HEROES so I can give it 1 more try....

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Geologically-recent stuff offa the radio

I wasn't actually done writing about mix tapes. I have 5 90-min cassettes' wortha stuff here from early 1998 -- 4 mosta which I have NO IDEA who the artists represented R or were. I don't even know when mosta that stuff was originally released.
I also have 1 partly-finished tape of music from April 2004 (my last go-round w/ trying 2 keep current) when I felt a little more in-touch: On mosta that 1 I at least know who's singing. These days when I turn on the radio, if it's fairly current stuff I mainly just feel lost.
But NEbody out there who feels brave could help me out here, fill-in some of the shocking lapses in my musical knowledge & mayB educate me some by telling me WHO some of the artists R on the songs listed below, if (what I think R) the titles ring a bell w/ U.
Or, if there's some website Out There where I can punch-in a song title & get an artist's name as a possible ID I'd B willing 2 try that.
Whichever way it works out, U might B able 2 bring my musical knowledge a little bit closer 2 the Present Day....
A little background: During R last few months in Wyoming, the X & I had installed in R home a "cable-radio" receiver in an attempt 2 get some fairly current music in2 the house. There were -- get this -- only 6 radio stations that could B heard within the huge, isolated bowl that is North-Central Wyoming's Big Horn Basin. Mosta those stations were Country, which I could stand on a limited basis. There was 1 Oldies station, but it was satellite-programmed from a LONG way off & played the same oldies over&over&over....
The cable radio sounded great & it cer10ly Xpanded my current-music knowledge at the time. But when it Bcame more & more obvious that we'd B moving away (my boss at the newspaper where I worked then got Xactly 3 DAYS NOTICE B4 I left), we agreed 2 have the cable radio disconnected -- & B4 that happened I started taping everything that sounded even remotely good.
Enuf background. Listed below R what I thot were the highlights. How many of them do U know? & how stupid am I gonna look by admitting I don't know this stuff?
(Artists' names R included when I think I know them; titles R sometimes a very rough guess, & sometimes I don't have either 1.... Items marked w/ a * R especially good & especially bother me cos I don't know who the hell they R....)

* "I Know" (what you're doin', yeah yeah....)
Paula Cole: "I Don't Want to Wait," "Me"
* "Kiss the Rain"
Chumbawumba: "Amnesia," "Tubthumper"
The Cure: "Friday I'm in Love"
Loreena McKennitt: "The Mummer's Dance"
New Order: "Regret"
Wallflowers: "6th Avenue Heartache," "One Headlight"
* Dog's Eye View (?): "Everything Falls Apart"
Natalie Imbruglia: "Torn"
Alanis Morrisette: "You Learn," "Hand in My Pocket"
Cranberries (?): "Dreams," "Linger"
* "You're Not Alone"
* "If You Could Only See" (?) (...the way she loves me, maybe you would understand....)
Matchbox 20: "Push"
Lisa Loeb: "I Do"
Shawn Colvin: "Sunny Came Home"
Sheryl Crow: "Every Day is a Winding Road," "If it Makes You Happy"
Green Day: "Time of Your Life (Good Riddance)" (?)
* "What Would Happen?"
Mighty Mighty Bosstones: "The Impression That I Get"
Proclaimers: "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)"
Annie Lennox: "Walking on Broken Glass," "No More 'I Love You's'"
Hootie & the Blowfish: "Hold My Hand"
* "Found Out About You"
* "What Do You Want From Me?"
Toad the Wet Sprocket: "Come Down"
Primitive Radio Gods (?): "Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth...."
Jars of Clay: "Flood"
* "I'll Be"
* "I Love You Always Forever"
Third Eye Blind: "Semi-Charmed Life"
Dave Matthews Band: "What Would You Say?"
* "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (I'm sure I'm the only guy in the world who doesn't know who this is....)
Sadie B. Hawkins (?): "Right Beside You"
* "Oooh Ah Just a Little Bit"
Amy Grant (?): "Good for Me"
INXS: "Elegantly Wasted"

That 2004 tape includes:
Sixpence None the Richer: "There She Goes Again"
Michelle Branch: "Everywhere"
Five for Fighting: "100 Years"
Evanessence: "My Immortal"
John Mayer: "Bigger Than My Body"
Liz Phair: "Extraordinary"
Avril Lavigne: "I'm With You"
Sarah McLachlan: "Stupid"
U2: "Beautiful Day"
Matchbox 20: "Bright Lights"
Anna Nalick: "Breathe" (did she ever hava follow-up?)
...I feel on pretty firm ground w/ the ID's on all these.
But who did "She's So High"...? Probly another 1 I'm showing my massive ignorance about....

Now, if even a grumpy old fuddyduddy like me can get sucked in by stuff like this playing on the radio, there must still B something current out there worth hearing.
Think U can ID NE of the above titles/artists 4 me? I guess whoever ID's the most wins a free membership in OGRENET. (Which leaves Rastro & Crabby out in the cold -- I guess U guys could get a free copy of Group 87's A CAREER IN DADA PROCESSING. Or how bout the Television Personalities' MY DARK PLACES? Or Animal Collective's MERRIWEATHER POST PAVILLION? Coldplay's VIVA LA VIDA? Or....)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fri aft music #4

Well, the weather outside is frightful -- pouring rain, 40 mph wind gusts, in short a typical Washington April....
Started Fri aft w/ the Ntire 2nd side of Gong's YOU (1974) after Rastro's urging a wk ago. Havta admit that "Isle of Everywhere" does cook & bubble right along, w/ more nice sax work from Didier Mahlerbe -- it's even almost (is this the right word?) funky. Summa this same feel/sound can B found on the title track of Gong's SHAMAL album, released a yr later. It's WAY less spacey, way closer 2 a "normal" jazz-rock album, but there's some good stuff on it....
As 4 the other stuff, I still think the vocals R silly, but I like Daevid Allen's "narrating" voice near the Nd: "So there goes Zero the Hero with the Pothead Pixies and the Octave Doctors...." & man this band had talent 2 burn. So, mayB I just haven't bn playing it loud enuf....
Moved then 2 Eno's "China My China" on TAKING TIGER MOUNTAIN -- as cute & odd as NEthing else I've heard by Eno, & the middle section w/ Eno's rhythmic typing underpinning Phil Manzanera's guitar solo is probly the high point of the track. But Manzanera's gtr gets faded-out just as it's getting really WEIRD....
Then a replay of Eno's "Third Uncle," mainly 4 the driving rhythm & Freddie Smith's Xcellent drumming.... Probly my fave of Eno's stuff I've heard so far....
Then: Since about 1983 I've thot British folk-rock band Fairport Convention's FAIRPORT CHRONICLES was 1a the best best-of packages ever. Tho not everything on it's a knockout, every side's worth hearing, & the best stuff is pretty amazing. I'd always wanted 2 hear more of their stuff, so when I got a chance 2 get their MEET ON THE LEDGE: THE CLASSIC YEARS 2-CD best-of cheap, I grabbed it. Nded up playing a dozen trax on Fri aft.
The package includes 32 songs, 20 of them w/ Sandy Denny, the haunted voice who I thot WAS Fairport 4 awhile til I was tripped-up by Richard Thompson's stinging gtr & bitter lyrics, Ian Matthews' smooth vocals, Dave Mattacks' solid drumming, etc.
I started w/ the stuff I knew from CHRONICLES. Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep it With Mine" still sounds dramatic & gorgeous, w/ powerful group-vocal choruses, & it wasn't til this listening that it hit me that in the last verse Dylan is basically begging 4 some1 2 stay w/ him -- in his own obscure sorta way. & I've bn playing this song regularly since 1983....
A distant aquaintance 1nce called Fairport "morbid" while listening 2 this song -- & it's true that they do dwell on the dark side of things quite a bit. Their best work is about shattered love affairs, tragedies, fate, loss, hard work w/ no reward. They lost their original drummer Martin Lamble in a van wreck that also killed Thompson's girlfriend. They hadda lotta bad luck. Sandy Denny died after falling down a flight of stairs in her home back in 1977. Summa this obsession w/ fate & the dark side of things can definitely B heard in their music. But if my friend thot "I'll Keep it With Mine" was morbid, it's probly a good thing he didn't hear summa the darker stuff -- "Meet on the Ledge" or "Genesis Hall" or, Ghod save us all, Dylan's "Percy's Song."
"Tale in Hard Time" isn't 1 of these. Tho Thompson's lyrics R kinda grim, Ian Matthews' smooth vocals lighten it up, & the choruses R great. & I'd like 2 know who plays the magical piano/harpsichord/celeste/whatever-it-is that brightens the choruses. Nobody's credited, tho Denny plays piano on some other trax....
The mournful, resigned "Meet on the Ledge" has summa Thompson's grimmest & best lyrics ever. & it Cms 2 C ahead 2 the tragedies that'll dog Fairport as their career develops....
"Come All Ye" is probly my fave Fairport track ever, a song about how & why the band plays, w/ little portraits of each member. It may sound kinda hokey, but Denny's vocals R great & the choruses R rousing.
Then I worked my way in2 the stuff I hadn't heard B4. Denny, founder Ashley Hutchings & Thompson all left the band within a yr or so of each other at the start of the '70s. Denny returned 2 the band in '75 4 the album RISING FOR THE MOON. 4 trax from this album R placed at the Nd of the set. They're good, but it's EZ 2 C why the album wasn't a resounding success. These songs R almost 2 clean & clear. They needed 2 dirty it up & rock out more. A little Richard Thompson gtr mighta helped.
As is, there's not much 2 make these songs stand out, tho the band's in good 4m as always & Glyn Johns' production is as able as ever. The long instrumental coda 2 Denny's 8-min "One More Chance" almost makes it, but the others R merely avg -- Xcept 4 Denny's brief, regret-filled funeral march "Stranger to Himself." It can stand w/ their best stuff.
Summa the others R kinda a mixed bag. The best thing about "Rosie" is the backing vocals by Denny & Linda Peters-Thompson. I wasn't that big a fan of the later band w/ fiddler Dave Swarbrick in charge.
"Mr. Lacey" is kinda a silly blues, but it lightens things up. "Book Song" is kinda Simon&Garfunkel-ish. "Crazy Man Michael" is more darkness from Thompson. "Matty Groves" is a traditional piece about infidelity, class prejudice & injustice, w/ another long instrumental coda. Denny's singing is passionate.
I ran outta time, but I was gonna go on 2 the epic "A Sailor's Life" & some others, but that'll havta wait til next time. I miss summa the trax from CHRONICLES, specially the 1's that mighta lightened things up here a bit. Dylan's "Million Dollar Bash" is a hilarious, shambolic per4mance where each Fairport member gets a chance 2 sing their best Dylan impression. & summa the solo & group projects included in that old best-of R pretty great 2: The Bunch's "My Girl the Month of May" & "Learning the Game" (The Bunch was basically Fairport + 1/2 a dozen guests), Sandy's gorgeous solo "Listen, Listen," & her later band Fotheringay's dramatic cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "The Way I Feel" -- mosta the guys in that band later Bcame members of Fairport NEway....
...& I was gonna play King Crimson's "The Sheltering Sky" again 4 the 1st time inna few yrs. But next time 4 sure....

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Musical Orgasms"

Oooh! Ah! ...No no no, not like that....
& no, we R not gonna discuss Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby" here -- at least not at this time. Even tho it might B more intresting....
This post is dedicated 2 the proposition that part of what makes really great rock&roll so freakin great is the way that U can sometimes Cm 2 tell from a song's Bginnings roughly where it's going 2 go ... & then it goes there, in the best possible way, w/ some Xtra added suprises along the way ... & the result leaves U thrilled & satisfied & refreshed every time ... roughly in the same way a good round of sex w/ some1 U love works.
In short, the inevitability of the way the song plays-out is part of what makes it so freakin great. U know where it's going, but....
Naturally, I have some nominees 2 support this theory:
* "Stairway to Heaven" -- This is mayB the only song I know of (perhaps also "Light My Fire"?) that feels like it was predestined, inevitable -- that somehow if Jimmy Page & Robert Plant hadn't found the pieces 2 put 2gether this mystical fantasy, some1 else woulda HAD 2, just 2 keep the universe in order. It just Cms like it's always bn w/ us, like some kinda 4got10 folksong that should date back 1,000's of yrs.
Starting out delicately w/ acoustic guitar & flutes & slowly building in in10sity 2 Page's truly orgasmic gtr solo at the Nd, is there NE1 who doesn't have the lyrics 2 this song memorized by age 12? & is there NE1 who wants 2 take a shot at Xplaining that solo? Sounds awful fiery 2 me, like the heavens falling down in2 hell -- tho what that has 2 do w/ the lyrics beats me.
It's really un4gettable, & it holds up even if U've heard the song 10,000x, which we all have. & it's not even my fave song, or probly even in my Top 100. But every time I play it, it Does The Job.
Zep's "When the Levee Breaks" is also pretty cosmic & worth a mention in this context. "Kashmir," tho also brilliant, is more like tantric sex -- prolonged Byond Ndurance, which may B 1 of the reasons Robert howls all thru the fade-out....
* Elton John: "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" -- This opener 4 GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD Bgins w/ a long, morose synthesizer-&-sound-effects instrumental (the only time Elton ever did this, far as I know), later joined by Davey Johnstone's gtr, which pulls the instrumental outta its swirling Dpression & in2 The Real Reason 4 this medley: "Love Lies Bleeding" is 1a Elton's greatest rockers, & Johnstone's slashing gtr (along w/ Bernie Taupin's lyrics & the great group vocals on the choruses) keep the song rushing 4ward. But Johnstone's the secret weapon here, the way his gtr accents the song as it proceeds & keeps shrieking as it fades out. I've always loved the crashing impact of this -- why didn't they release the 2nd 1/2 as a single?
* REO Speedwagon: "Roll With the Changes" -- Back when I was a teenager, this flattened me the 1st time I heard it: Neal Doughty's rolling keyboards leading in2 Gary Richrath's charging gtr, & later the "Keep on rolling" group-vocal choruses -- the speed of it impressed me, & the fact that they kept it going 4 6+ mins.... Tho whether it's a happy breakup song or an Xstatic new-love song I've never quite figured out....
* Journey: "Feeling That Way/Anytime" -- "Feeling That Way"'s the build-up, "Anytime"'s the release. The only time I've ever heard this on radio, they've always played both parts, showing mayB that radio programmers Rn't ALWAYS idiots. Steve Perry & Gregg Rolie shoulda teamed-up on vocals more often. & Neal Schon has a pretty great gtr solo near the Nd of "Anytime."
* Rush: "Time Stand Still" -- I think this is the best thing they ever did, just 4 the nostalgia content of Neal Peart's lyrics -- but the way it builds, & Aimee Mann's howling-in-the-wilderness "Ooooohs" toward the Nd on top of Alex Lifeson's repeating gtr figure, it's just a freakin knockout. "Force Ten" is also superb -- especially toward the Nd as Geddy Lee moves from verse 2 chorus & back....
* ABBEY ROAD, Side 2 -- Basically everything from "You Never Give Me Your Money" onward. A lot of it's freaking gorgeous, & the build toward "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End" is amazing, even w/ the occasional breaks, even w/ the silly character songs ("Bathroom Window," "Polythene Pam," "Mr. Mustard"). & the closing is perfect. My X-wife 1nce hadda theory that ABBEY ROAD was a comedy album, but mercifully I can't remember what she was on about.... Some people might think "A Day in the Life" would fit in2 this discussion, but I'd think it would havta B a real downer, a reminder of some REALLY BAD sex....
* "You Can't Always Get What You Want" -- Ghod, I love all of it, from the choir & the French horn at the Bginning thru Jagger's tortured vocal & the twisted lyrical imagery, thru Richards' usual Xcellent gtr, 2 the Nd where it all falls 2gether in all its hugeness. Not sure Xactly why the choir was here, but man they do they job -- they're probly my faverite part of the whole thing....
* Boston: "A Man I'll Never Be" -- 4 me, their best work, an admission of the insecurity that was always at the center of Tom Scholz's lyrical concerns, & the way it piles up & up til Brad Delp's vocal disappears in2 the gtrs.... Another knockout. "More Than a Feeling" is a real close 2nd....
* Easybeats: "Friday on My Mind" -- The best "It's the WEEKEND!" song ever rushes & blasts from 1/2way thru the 1st verse, & by the time U get 2 the 1st chorus U'd better get outta the way cos these guys R in a HURRY 2 get 2 that Good Time they've waited all wk 4. Still sounds great every time I hear it....
* Caravan: "The Dog, the Dog, He's At it Again" -- This starts out gently, but after some silly choruses & a warped & twiddly keyboard solo, it Nds w/ the prettiest (& yet most driving) circular-vocal Nding yr ever likely 2 hear. & of course the subject is sex. Their "Memory Lain/Hugh/Headloss" starts off w/ a lotta drive 2, great gtr riff, but they lose it in the less-intense (tho still Xcellent) 2nd 1/2. "Be All Right" is like a freight train running right at U, & lacks only a really good Nding 2 rank higher on this list. The 12-min live version of "For Richard" takes awhile 2 get going, but in the last 2/3rd's the band & the orchestra Bhind them POUND the Ndlessly repeating riff in2 dramatic submission until a huge & shuddering ... climax....
* Steve Tibbetts: "Ur" -- This gtr-meltdown piece starts w/ strummed acoustic, gourds & other percussion, & w/ pauses 4 an occasional shimmering chance 2 catch R breath, morphs in2 a spiralling gtr showcase that (I swear) has bits that sound like a lightning strike, an Xplosion, a shooting pain across yr 4head, acid splashed in2 yr face, a smear of blood across a wall, another detonation & thunder echoing 4 miles.... Then back 2 the hushed silence & the rattling percussion. U look over & yr speakers have bn reduced 2 ashes....
Prefer a quickie instead...?
* Five Man Electrical Band: "Absolutely Right" -- Opening w/ a quickly strummed acoustic, then added electric piano & then the fat gtr tones B4 we get 2 Les Emmerson's sorta-phased vocal w/ him begging 2 come back home. Shakers come in as he pleads, & U'll B hooked by the 1st chorus, which Nds w/ more great gtr interjections from Emmerson. The pace picks up, & from the point in the middle-break when the group-vocals start: "Oh, I wish that you could see....," the rest is a screaming headlong rush 4ward w/ more great group-vocal choruses & looping gtr until the band stomps on those last 4 notes. & they do it all in about 2:16. A near-perfect shoulda-bn #1 hit that everybody missed the boat on....
I'm sure U have yr own recommendations. Diffrent strokes 4 diffrent folks, right? Let's hear em....