Tuesday, January 29, 2013

#629: Future Playlist 3

...& the non-hits just keep on coming. Try some of these out B4 they get inflicted on you....

Beach Boys -- Let Him Run Wild, Please Let Me Wonder, There's No Other (Like My Baby), God Only Knows, Here Today, Kiss Me Baby, Gettin' Hungry, Vegetables, I'd Love Just Once to See You, Cabinessence, Slip on Through, This Whole World, Add Some Music to Your Day, It's About Time, Long Promised Road, Feel Flows, 'Til I Die, Surf's Up, Marcella, Good Time, Johnny Carson, Lady Lynda.
Chicago -- In Terms of Two, Critic's Choice.
Gordon Lightfoot -- Seven Islands Suite, High and Dry, Canadian Railroad Trilogy, Summer Side of Life, Beautiful, Ten Degrees and Getting Colder, Circle of Steel.
Neil Diamond -- Love to Love, The Boat That I Row, I am the Lion, Crunchy Granola Suite, Done Too Soon.
Carly Simon -- We're So Close.
Three Dog Night -- My Impersonal Life, Heavy Church.
Ramones -- I Wanna Be Sedated, Blitzkrieg Bop, I Just Wanna Have Something to Do.
Billy Joel -- Travelin' Prayer, The Stranger, Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, All for Leyna.
Queen -- Rock It (Prime Jive), Need Your Loving Tonight, Save Me, Death on Two Legs (Dedicated to....), '39, The Prophet's Song, The Show Must Go On.
Elvis Costello -- What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding?
Linda Ronstadt -- Party Girl, Someone to Lay Down Beside Me.
Dave Edmunds -- Girls Talk, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Information.
Jeff Lynne -- Lift Me Up, Every Little Thing.
The Move -- Do Ya?, Message from the Country, Tonight.
John Miles -- Highfly.
Alan Parsons Project -- Some Other Time, The Gold Bug, You Don't Believe, I'd Rather be a Man, The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether.
Icehouse -- Great Southern Land.
Split Enz -- History Never Repeats, Hard Act to Follow, Iris, Clumsy, Six Months in a Leaky Boat, Poor Boy.
Squeeze -- Pulling Mussels from the Shell, In Quintessence, Another Nail in My Heart, Hourglass.
Pat Benatar -- Wuthering Heights, Precious Time, Hard to Believe.
Kate Bush -- The Man with the Child in His Eyes, Saxophone Song, Kite, Strange Phenomena, Wow, Babooshka, Delius (Song of Summer), December Will be Magic Again, Empty Bullring, Cloudbusting, This Woman's Work.
Wigwam -- Bless Your Lucky Stars.
Nektar -- Do You Believe in Magic?, King of Twilight, It's All Over, Astral Man, Fidgety Queen.
Mary-Chapin Carpenter -- Passionate Kisses, The Hard Way, Middle Ground, You Win Again, The Long Way Home, Downtown Train.
Pam Tillis -- Melancholy Child, Whenever You Walk in the Room, I Was Blown Away, Homeward Looking Angel.
Wynonna Judd -- Tell Me Why.
Holly and the Italians -- I Wanna Go Home, Youth Coup, Miles Away.
Blondie -- Angels on the Balcony, Victor, 11:59, Will Anything Happen?, Sunday Girl, Just Go Away, Union City Blue.
Pretenders -- Kid, Stop Your Sobbing, Lovers of Today, Mystery Achievement, Up the Neck, Tattooed Love Boys, Space Invaders, Birds of Paradise, I Go to Sleep, Message of Love, Talk of the Town, Pack it Up, 2000 Miles, Time the Avenger.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer -- Karn Evil 9 - 1st Impression (Part 1), Fanfare for the Common Man.
Keith Emerson -- Piano Concerto #1 - 3rd Movement.
Miles Davis -- In a Silent Way.
John Coltrane -- Giant Steps.
Thelonious Monk -- Thelonious.
Dixie Dregs -- Hereafter, Night Meets Light.
Gong -- Wingful of Eyes, Master Builder, A Sprinkling of Clouds.
Gryphon -- Lament, Spring Song, Major Disaster, The Ploughboy's Dream, Ethelion, Wallbanger, (Ein Klein) Heldenleben.
Providence -- Fantasy Fugue, If We Were Wise, Neptune's Door.
Carole King -- Snow Queen.
Boz Scaggs -- Dinah Flo, You've Got Some Imagination.
Van Morrison -- Into the Mystic, Caravan, Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile).
Brewer and Shipley -- Witchi-Tai-To.
Hollies -- Magic Woman Touch, Sandy (4th of July Asbury Park), Won't We Feel Good?, Look Through Any Window, Slow Down.
Manfred Mann's Earth Band -- Stranded, Heart on the Street, Don't Kill it Carol, Belle of the Earth, Hollywood Town, Living Without You.
Renaissance -- Rajah Khan, At the Harbour, Ocean Gypsy (live), Can You Understand? (live), Running Hard (live), Mother Russia (live), Ashes are Burning (live, 1st 3 minutes), Northern Lights, The Vultures Fly High.
Illusion -- Everywhere You Go, Candles are Burning, Face of Yesterday, Roads to Freedom, Madonna Blue.
Stevie Wonder -- A Seed's a Star/Tree Medley.
Tubes -- Prime Time, I Want it All Now, Love's a Mystery (I Don't Understand), What Do You Want from Life?, White Punks on Dope.
Charlie Dore -- Don't Say No, Wise to the Lines, Like They Do it in America.
Todd Rundgren -- Couldn't I Just Tell You?, Song of the Viking, Saving Grace, Dust in the Wind, Intro, Real Man, Just One Victory, Lord Chancellor's Nightmare Song, An Elpee's Worth of Tunes.
Utopia -- The Very Last Time, You Make Me Crazy.
Kansas -- Journey from Mariabronn, Song for America, Miracles out of Nowhere, Questions of My Childhood, Cheyenne Anthem, The Wall, Reason to Be, Back Door.
Coheed and Cambria -- The Road and the Damned, Feathers.
Rush -- The Camera Eye, Red Barchetta, Distant Early Warning, Manhattan Project, Marathon, Time Stand Still, Force Ten, Mystic Rhythms (live), Show Don't Tell, Fly by Night, Closer to the Heart, Freewill.
Pink Floyd -- Flaming, Astronome Domine (live), Jugband Blues, In the Flesh?, The Trial, High Hopes.

...More coming soon, including maybe some real no-hit wonders. + commentary on all this....

Monday, January 28, 2013

#628: Future Playlist 2

We have been advised by our Official Legal Advisers that releasing Your Future Playlist thru clever asides, hints & hidden subtexts is not gonna cut any ice with music fans.
So. A partial playlist appears below, featuring a few of R favorite artists & summa their songs you can Xpect 2 hear blaring from local rock&roll stations in the not-2-distant future. This is just the beginning, but it should give you something to chew on 4 awhile.
If you've been reading here 4 very long, you'll probly find few suprises below. But if you're a more "mainstream" radio listener, this list might mess you up a bit.
Get used 2 it. It's For Your Own Good. Really.
More soon.

Beatles -- I'm Down, Hey Bulldog, Things We Said Today, Everybody's Trying to be My Baby, There's a Place, You Never Give Me Your Money, Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End, Old Brown Shoe, The Night Before, I Need You, Oh! Darling, Dear Prudence, I Will, In My Life, Thank You Girl, I Don't Want to Spoil the Party, Tomorrow Never Knows, Tell Me Why, Any Time at All, And Your Bird Can Sing, It's Only Love, For No One, I'll be Back, No Reply, I'm a Loser, Birthday, Across the Universe.
Moody Blues -- Peak Hour, Evening: Time to Get Away, Twilight Time, Simple Game, The Actor, Voices in the Sky, Lovely to See You, Never Comes the Day, Gypsy, Eyes of a Child Part 2, Don't You Feel Small?, It's Up to You, Our Guessing Game, One More Time to Live, You Can Never Go Home, You and Me, Land of Make-Believe, For My Lady, Meanwhile, In My World, Veteran Cosmic Rocker, Blue World, Sorry.
Yes -- The South Side of the Sky, Wondrous Stories, Every Little Thing, No Opportunity Necessary No Experience Needed, Looking Around, Sweet Dreams, America, Survival, Time and a Word, Close to the Edge (live), And You and I (live), Siberian Khatru (live), Starship Trooper (live), Yours is no Disgrace (live), Perpetual Change (live), Changes.
Fleetwood Mac -- Oh Well, The Green Manalishi, Dissatisfied, Hypnotized, Why?, Silver Springs, I Know I'm Not Wrong, Brown Eyes, Never Make Me Cry, Sisters of the Moon, Monday Morning (live), Fireflies (live), One More Night (live), I'm So Afraid (live), The Farmer's Daughter (live), World Turning, Wish You Were Here, Eyes of the World, Straight Back, Isn't it Midnight?, Tango in the Night, Big Love (live), Go Insane (live), Murrow Turning Over in His Grave.
Genesis -- Vancouver, Madman Moon, Ripples, Entangled, Robbery Assault and Battery, Dance on a Volcano, Squonk, Afterglow, Your Own Special Way, Supper's Ready (live), The Carpet Crawlers (live), Firth of Fifth (live), The Musical Box (closing section) (live), Down and Out, Deep in the Motherlode, Undertow, Snowbound, Burning Rope, The Lady Lies, Inside and Out, You Might Recall, Keep it Dark, Like it or Not.
Peter Gabriel -- Family Snapshot.
Phil Collins -- Droned/Hand in Hand.
King Crimson -- Epitaph, 21st Century Schizoid Man, Larks Tongues in Aspic Parts 1 & 2 (live), Doctor Diamond (live), Easy Money, The Talking Drum, The Great Deceiver, The Night Watch, Fracture, Red, Starless, Frame by Frame, Sleepless.
Paul McCartney & Wings -- Magneto and Titanium Man, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five, Love in Song.
Ronettes -- I Wonder, The Best Part of Breaking Up.
Hawkwind -- You'd Better Believe It, Lost Johnny, Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear in Smoke), Sonic Attack, Urban Guerrilla.
Roxy Music -- The Thrill of it All, Oh Yeah (On the Radio), Over You, Same Old Scene, Dance Away.
Clannad -- Second Nature, The Wild Cry, Blackstairs, Indoor, Journey's End, In Fortune's Hand.
REO Speedwagon -- Blazing Your Own Trail Again.
Journey -- Daydream, People and Places, Something to Hide, Feeling That Way/Anytime, Patiently, Lights.
Caravan -- For Richard (live), The World is Yours, Aristocracy, Memory Lain/Hugh/Headloss, Surprise Surprise, The Dog The Dog He's at it Again, Be All Right, Place of My Own, Virgin on the Ridiculous, Can You Hear Me?, All the Way (With John Wayne's Single-Handed Liberation of Paris), Nine Feet Underground, Disassociation, Songs and Signs, And I Wish I was Stoned.
Camel -- Never Let Go, Rhayader/Rhayader Goes to Town, Flight of the Snow Goose, Spirit of the Water, Unevensong, First Light, Rain Dances, Breathless, Echoes, Down on the Farm, Summer Lightning, City Life, Captured, Sasquatch, Manic, Wait, Eye of the Storm, Who We Are.
Led Zeppelin -- The Rover, Carouselambra, Hot Dog, Fool in the Rain, When the Levee Breaks.
Bob Seger -- Feel Like a Number, Khatmandu, Roll Me Away.
Jackson Browne -- The Fuse, Hold On Hold Out, Disco Apocalypse, The Pretender.
Grateful Dead -- Uncle John's Band, Passenger.
Eagles -- James Dean, Outlaw Man, Seven Bridges Road, The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks.
Doobie Brothers -- Nobody, Neal's Fandango.
Cars -- Dangerous Type, Stranger Eyes, Bye Bye Love, All Mixed Up.
Kenny Loggins -- Conviction of the Heart.
Turtles -- Grim Reaper of Love, We'll Meet Again, Lady-O, Sound Asleep.
Sex Pistols -- God Save the Queen.
The Jam -- That's Entertainment, Funeral Pyre, Thick as Thieves, Little Boy Soldiers, Private Hell, Strange Town, Wasteland.
Pete Townshend -- Slit Skirts, Uniforms, North Country Girl, A Little is Enough, Jools and Jim, Gonna Get Ya, Now and Then, Misunderstood, My Baby Gives it Away, Zelda, Give Blood.
The Who -- Daily Records, Another Tricky Day, Slip Kid, Blue Red and Gray, The Relay, Bell Boy, Love Reign O'er Me, Melancholia, I'm the Face, Armenia City in the Sky, My Wife, Baba O'Riley, Music Must Change, The Song is Over, Bargain, Little Billy.
Go-Go's -- Can't Stop the World, Capture the Light, I'm With You, Forget That Day, I'm the Only One.
Bangles -- Hero Takes a Fall, Dover Beach, Restless, Going Down to Liverpool, Silent Treatment, Let it Go, September Gurls, Angels Don't Fall in Love, Be With You, Everything I Wanted, Following.
Steely Dan -- Gaucho, Third World Man, Don't Take Me Alive, Dirty Work, Berrytown, Pretzel Logic, My Old School, Bodhisattva, Any Major Dude Will Tell You.

To Be Continued....

Sunday, January 27, 2013

#627: Your Future Playlist

OK, probably I've been listening 2 too much late-nite Talk Radio with their massive behind-the-scenes conspiracy theories ... but I thot it's probly time to come clean with you about my own big project....
We here at TAD's Back-Up Plan have been working steadily, quietly, clandestinely, behind the scenes ... to take over the nation's broadcasting airwaves.
At least the rock&roll stations.
This has been in the works for quite some time & involves intricacies which I simply cannot divulge on a public website such as this one. But rest assured that our nationwide takeover is at hand. & it's coming soon.
At 1st we here at TAD's had planned -- once we took over -- to open up the playlists of rock&roll stations nationwide & let real, live, honest2Ghod DJ's -- real people sorta like you & me -- pick what kind of music they wanted 2 play over the air, have some fun with it, put some LIFE back into broadcasting, get us away from that all-commanding Bottom Line. & we thot with such power in their hands, maybe we'd hear some good new tunes, 2.
But we have been dismayed to discover that 4 some folks, that's simply TOO MUCH FREEDOM, it's TOO SCARY. People get edgy when there's no safety net, nothing familiar 2 grab hold of.
Which reminds us here at TAD's that music can also be used as a sort of mind control -- a way to soothe you & keep you distracted from what's really going on.
So, we've had a bit of a re-think about our World Domination plans. & we didn't want 2 do it, but we've been forced 2 come up with a new playlist 4 the new millennium.
This new playlist will be coming SOON.
It will include no "hits." Or at least not what we once thot of as hits.
But what does that word mean anymore, anyway? We've already journeyed deep into a scary new age in which nobody knows what the #1 song in the country is anymore -- depends on what list you look at, doesn't it? & nobody cares anyway. Not at all like when I was a kid & EVERYBODY KNEW what the #1 song was -- everyone KNEW what was Hot & what was Not.
...So. This new playlist will be revealed in upcoming posts. It will be revealed indirectly, of course -- in codes, in subtext, in afterthoughts -- as befits a massive behind-the-scenes conspiracy.
But rest assured that this new playlist will include lots of GOOD MUSIC, by artists you know well -- it'll just be stuff you've hardly ever heard on radio before.... At least, not in the last 35 years. There are sure to be some surprises. You'll want to hold on tight on the curves.
Again, we would've preferred a doors-wide-open policy -- & that's what we still hope to transition into, once everybody's aboard. But we guarantee that the music you'll soon be hearing on your "favorite"(?) local radio station (is there still such a thing?) will be FAR better than the soul-shriveling Same Old Stuff the Cumulus- and Clear Channel-owned stations of these grim & ugly modern times prefer to play these days.
The new list -- & the radio takeover -- is Coming SOON. Watch for the signs. Stay awake for the hints. Look closely for the double-meanings.
We suggest that you get acquainted with these new tunes pretty damn quick. Because you're going to be hearing a lot of them....

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

#626: 25 Really Lame "Pop" Albums

OK, here's 25 really lame "pop" albums, a sorta companion-piece 2 that last list I posted. There R likely 2 B some repeats from that "Worst!" list of Strange Music albums I posted awhile back, but I've tried 2 think a little farther out than that -- some of these actually date back 2 my record store daze when I was hearing more lame music than I can even remember.
These R listed in more-or-less descending order of ... er ... "quality."
I know you've all been waiting patiently -- on with the show!

- Bangles: EVERYTHING -- 4 decent songs outta 13, & that's counting the nursery-rhyme-simple "Eternal Flame," a song Barry Manilow woulda been thrilled 2 sing. My picks R the dreamy "I'll Set You Free," the gutsy "Be With You," & "Glitter Years." The rest is sludge. The rousing outtake "Everything I Wanted" sure woulda helped. This superb pop band shouldn't have let the songwriting pressures get 2 them....
- Billy Joel: GLASS HOUSES -- His "New Wave" album, worth it all 4 the great "All for Leyna," which I couldn't get any radio stations 2 play, back in my record store daze. Mosta the rest died from overplay, if it wasn't already DOA. "You May Be Right" is at least funny, "Sometimes a Fantasy" isn't COMPLETELY terrible....
- Little River Band: FIRST UNDER THE WIRE, TIME EXPOSURE -- The definition of "average." There's a handful of good songs here: "Lonesome Loser," "Cool Change," "Take it Easy on Me." But the rest is so smooth & mainstream it's completely boring & forgettable. & producer George Martin's smoothing-out is about the last thing they needed....
- Spooky Tooth: SPOOKY TWO -- "Feelin' Bad" is classic late-'60s British rock with great group-vocal choruses, & "Hangman, Hang My Shell on a Tree" isn't bad. But the rest is flat & dull -- Xcept 4 "Evil Woman," a mean-woman blooze which is SO over-the-top you gotta hear it 2 believe it. Led Zeppelin was listening....
- Gentle Giant: GIANT FOR A DAY -- Well, they were TRYING 2 go pop, here. This actually isn't terrible, 30 years later. But it IS lame compared 2 their earlier, classic stuff. & the New Wave-influenced herky-jerky title song is REALLY annoying.
- Styx: PARADISE THEATER -- Heavy-handed & obvious concept album about The Good Old Days, with none of the flash or enthusiasm that made "Lorelei" such an infectious hit. There's no "Fooling Yourself" here, or even a "Why Me?" But "Too Much Time on My Hands" & "Snowblind" R almost camp classics.
- Journey: DEPARTURE -- "People and Places" is a great lost prog-rock track. But the rest is cliched & obvious, & it was a big hit of course.
- Rare Bird: EPIC FOREST -- 2 best songs R the artiest, "Birdman" & the title track, which shoulda Bcome prog-rock classics. The rest is absolutely flat, uninspired British pop-rock of the least noticeable kind. Not BAD, just BORING. Now available at Goodwills everywhere 4 99 cents....
- Heart: BEBE LE STRANGE -- Their albums have ALWAYS been uneven, but this 1 was all over the place, from the brilliant "Rocking Heaven Down" (worth putting on a best-of) 2 Ann Wilson's annoying screaming on "Break," & the lame "Even it Up." They were lucky they got another chance....
- Blondie: AUTOAMERICAN -- I keep this 4 the gorgeous ghost story "Angels on the Balcony" ... & maybe 4 "Rapture," in my more perverse moments. But the rest is so arty & twisted.... There R nice group vocals on "T-Birds" & OK moments in "Go Through It" & "Do the Dark," but the rest is numbing. What happened 2 this fun, punchy pop band? & was THE HUNTER even worse...?
- The Who: IT'S HARD -- Apart from the dull "Eminence Front" & the silly "Athena," there's nothing memorable here. No future TV-show themes.
- Beach Boys: FRIENDS -- Best is the wordless roller-rink music of "Passing By." Dennis Wilson's "Be Still" & "Little Bird" R OK, but they're fragments. As is the pleasant 30-second opener "Meant for You." Mosta the rest is lighter than the lighter-than-air "Anna Lee the Healer." Brian's "Busy Doing Nothing" is Xcruciatingly boring. "Diamond Head" & "Transcendental Meditation" R just awful. Avoid.
- Steely Dan: GAUCHO -- The title song is a CLASSIC worthy of their BEST OF, & "Third World Man" is a nice moody sleeper, but the rest is lethargic & spineless, & I don't care how SMOOTH it is. Some talent consumed by drugging & drinking.
- Genesis: DUKE -- They were trying 2 go pop, but "Turn it on Again" is as good as it gets, & the rest is even slower than the sludgy "Misunderstanding." Most of the music is murky & tuneless, & I got lost well B4 the end of Side 2. Suprising that they came back with the mostly clear & straight4ward ABACAB a year later....
- Asia: (1ST) -- Speaking of obvious.... "Heat of the Moment" & "Only Time Will Tell" sound better now, but. Can't believe I actually BOUGHT this when it came out. I was fooled by the idea of a prog-rock supergroup, 2. This ain't prog. & I thot John Wetton was GREAT when he was with King Crimson....
- Fleetwood Mac: BEHIND THE MASK -- I hoped that the pop lift from this would help me get thru my 2 years in Turkey, but without Lindsey Buckingham's off-the-wall weirdness it was unbelievably dull & flat. Only the hypnotic "In the Back of My Mind" made NE kind of impression. & was their later TIME actually worse? Don't know -- never heard a note of it.
- Coldplay: A RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD -- The worst album by any "major" Grammy-award-winning musical act ever? 1 great song, "Clocks." The rest yields not even 1 decent musical hook or phrase worth hearing again. What's all the fuss about?
- Keane: UNDER THE IRON SEA -- A great little punchy sweet-pop trio adds guitar & Gets Arty. & other than the too-brief opener "Is it Any Wonder?," the result is murky boredom. Did they ever do a 3rd album?
- Moody Blues: SUR LA MER, KEYS OF THE KINGDOM, STRANGE TIMES -- 3 decent songs over 3 albums? They shoulda retired after THE PRESENT. KEYS has NO memorable songs at all....
- Boston: WALK ON -- Not a single memorable song. What happened? & did NE1 ever hear CORPORATE AMERICA?
- The Knack: GET and BUT THE LITTLE GIRLS UNDERSTAND -- "Power Pop" should never have been this slimy & smarmy. But Capitol Records pushed it & millions of people bought in. There might have been maybe 1 or 2 songs on GET THE KNACK that I could stand -- can't even remember titles, now. 1 of the slow, insincere ballads, maybe? Definitely NOT "My Sharona" or "Good Girls Don't." & LITTLE GIRLS was even worse....

(Christopher Cross's (1ST) album would normally B Xpected 2 appear in a list like this, but I actually liked at least 3 songs on that album -- "I Really Don't Know Anymore," "Poor Shirley" & "Minstrel Gigolo." & tho I haven't played it much since 1980, the rest of the album -- tho definitely mainstream MOR -- at least seemed a little livelier than the Little River Band albums listed above....)

OTHER DISHONORABLE MENTIONS (added 24 Jan 13, 12:30 pm -- hey, it's a work in progress....):
Doobie Brothers -- ONE STEP CLOSER.
Little River Band -- BACKSTAGE PASS/LIVE.
Foreigner -- 4, HEAD GAMES.
Journey -- EVOLUTION.

Recent Xcellent late-nite listening:
Fleetwood Mac -- Hypnotized.
Icehouse -- Great Southern Land.

Monday, January 14, 2013

#625: 15 Great Overlooked "Pop" Albums

You know what I mean by "Pop," right? I mean a collection of 10 or a dozen or 14 songs with some great tunes you'll still B humming a week later -- & with few obvious pretentions toward Art. Just good, solid entertainment, in other words.
If you've been reading here 4 very long, the titles below will probly come as no suprise. + this time I'm adding a list of summa my fave NON-overlooked pop albums, some obvious stuff I'm just a sucker 4. So you get 2 posts 4 the price of 1. Onward....

* Go-Go's: TALK SHOW (1984) -- Driving & gutsy, with unforgettable songs & an in-your-face production from Martin Rushent. Better & more dramatic than BEAUTY AND THE BEAT, & WAY more consistent than the disappointing VACATION. Best: "You Thought," "Capture the Light," "Forget That Day," "Head Over Heels," "I'm With You," "I'm the Only One." Peaked around #11 nationally....
* Shoes: PRESENT TENSE (1980) -- Gorgeous, breathy, guitar-heavy lovesongs, with tunes that'll bounce you around the room. Great group vocals. Best: "In My Arms Again," "Too Late," "Every Girl," "Now and Then," "Tomorrow Night," "I Don't Wanna Hear It," "Listen."
* Stories: ABOUT US (1973) -- It's programmed sideways & there's a lotta filler, but the best stuff is really superb British pop-rock. Great keybs from Michael Brown, great vocals by Ian Lloyd, & they team up 2 write some unforgettable songs: "Please Please," "Love is in Motion," "Words," "What Comes After," "Circles," "Darling," "Changes Have Begun," "Believe Me," "Top of the City," "Hey France."
* Bangles: ALL OVER THE PLACE (1984) -- 1st side's mostly got the breathy, dreamy, wistful stuff; 2nd side's all Attitude -- & it's almost perfect, Xcept 4 a revolting string-powered piece of fluff at the end. Best: "Dover Beach," "Going Down to Liverpool," "Hero Takes a Fall," "All About You," "Restless," "Silent Treatment."
* Split Enz: WAIATA (1981) -- Lotsa fun, from the driving side-openers 2 the moody instrumentals. The 2nd side is a moody sleeper, but it'll still getcha. "Hard Act to Follow," "History Never Repeats," "Wail," "Clumsy," "Iris," "Albert of India," mosta the rest.
* Hollies: ROMANY (1972) -- OK, a little arty, but great songs, marvelous atmospheric production (Alan Parsons was in the house), & the VOCALS! Only a coupla weak or stupid trax. "Magic Woman Touch," "Won't it be Good?," "Slow Down," "Words Don't Come Easy," "Down River," "Blue in the Morning," "Romany," "Touch."
* Police: REGGATA DE BLANC (1979) -- This probly isn't technically "overlooked," but it sure sold way less than SYNCHRONICITY or GHOST IN THE MACHINE or ZENYATTA MONDATTA. Which is 2 bad, cos not only R these guys bouncy & zingy -- they're FUNNY, the Rodney Dangerfields of New Wave. "Does Everyone Stare?," "On Any Other Day," "Contact," "No Time This Time," "Walking on the Moon," ... oh, & "Message in a Bottle"....
* Nik Kershaw: HUMAN RACING (1985) -- Practically every song's a winner, from the hit "Wouldn't it be Good?" 2 the Chipmunks' cameo on the hilarious "Gone To Pieces." "Drum Talk," "Bogart," title track, & check-out Nik's Stevie Wonder impersonation on "Faces."
* Tracey Ullman: YOU BROKE MY HEART IN 17 PLACES (1983) -- She coulda hadda whole diffrent career. Great innocent pop songs, wonderful production. "Breakaway," "They Don't Know," "I'm Always Touched by Your Presence Dear," "I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten," title song.
* Dire Straits: MAKIN' MOVIES (1980) -- A little arty & cinematic, but Mark Knopfler's songs R really strong. "Expresso Love," "Tunnel of Love," "Romeo and Juliet," "Hand in Hand," "Solid Rock," "Skateaway." It ends with a sad joke.
* Charlie Dore: LISTEN! (1981) -- Excellent, smooth mainstream pop, with a backing band that's basically Toto. Charlie's vocals boost it above the average, especially on the dramatic "Don't Say No," "Wise to the Lines," "Like They Do it in America," "Sister Revenge," "I'm Over Here," "Falling," title song.
* Rollers: ELEVATOR (1979) -- The former Bay City Rollers grow up painfully, on-stage. Some filler, especially on the 2nd side, but the best stuff is charming, intense, dramatic. Shoulda sold millions. "Hello and Welcome Home," "Stoned Houses #2," "I Was Eleven," "Washington's Birthday."
* Headboys: (1ST) (1979) -- VERY twisted New Wave pop, from greats like "The Shape of Things to Come" 2 the bloodcurdling screams on "The Ripper" & the odd & naughty "Experiments." Also great: "Changing With the Times," "My Favorite DJ," "Kicking Over the Cans," & the pretty but drawn-out "Silver Lining." Produced by the same guy who did ELEVATOR, Peter Ker.
* Partridge Family: (1ST) and SOUND MAGAZINE (1970 & '72) -- You knew this was coming, didn't you? If you can fight thru the embarrassment & put these on the player, there's some great group vocals & production, & great instrumental support from The Wrecking Crew. "Singing My Song," "I'm on the Road," "Brand New Me," "Love is All That I Ever Needed," "I'm On My Way Back Home," "I Would Have Loved You Anyway," "Brown Eyes," etc.

Other Great Pop Albums I'm A Sucker 4:
Cyndi Lauper -- SHE'S SO UNUSUAL.
'Til Tuesday -- VOICES CARRY.
Beatles -- ABBEY ROAD. (Too arty?)
Fleetwood Mac -- MIRAGE.
Tears for Fears -- SONGS FROM THE BIG CHAIR (especially "The Working Hour" & "Broken").
Beach Boys -- PET SOUNDS. (Too arty?)
Boston -- (1ST) and THIRD STAGE. (DON'T LOOK BACK is a great HALF an album....)
Bare Naked Ladies -- STUNT.
Jordin Sparks -- (1ST).
Blondie -- EAT TO THE BEAT.
Cars -- (1ST) and HEARTBEAT CITY.
Pretenders -- (1ST).
Steve Winwood -- ARC OF A DIVER. (2nd side's especially cinematic....)
Dan Fogelberg -- PHOENIX. (Title song & "Along the Road.")
Queen -- A NIGHT AT THE OPERA. (Too arty?)
Elton John -- GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD. (Featuring Elton's greatest song ever, "Social Disease"!)
Supertramp -- BREAKFAST IN AMERICA. (Haven't played it much since '79, tho....)

Coming someday soon: The WORST Pop Albums Of All Time....

#624: Cheers for Seattle-area radio(?!)

As much as I've bitched about Seattle-area radio, in the interest of Fairness I must note that this past Friday nite they outdid themselves, actually seemed 2 recognize 4 1nce WHAT NIGHT IT WAS, & played a pretty good lineup of mostly-upbeat music. For which I'd give them a B+ rating.
Oh, not 1 single radio station made this breakthru. No, that would B revolutionary. It took halfadozen diffrent stations teaming up over a 4-hour period 2 create a decent Fri nite soundtrack. From roughly 7:30 pm to 11:30 pm, I hardly hadta dip in2 my stash of CD's more than 1nce or 2wice -- there was more than enuf decent music on the radio 2 keep me motivated & moving at work.
This is possibly a 1st. It must've worked 4 other people, 2.
This doesn't mean there wasn't still a lotta crap getting played -- there were still more than enuf "Hotel California"'s & "Heartache Tonight"'s & "Philadelphia Freedom"'s & "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart"'s & other Bad Overplayed Stuff 2 avoid. & there were no shocking MAJOR suprises. There was actually rather a lot of overplayed stuff -- but it all sounded real good.
Overall, not a bad nite's work, Seattle radio. Take a bow.
Here's summa what they played:

Def Leppard -- Animal, Foolin', Photograph.
Eagles -- Seven Bridges Road, Peaceful Easy Feeling.
Fleetwood Mac -- Gypsy, Go Your Own Way.
Bob Seger -- Hollywood Nights.
Stones -- You Can't Always Get What You Want, Paint it Black, Sympathy for the Devil.
Chicago -- Beginnings.
Cars -- Bye Bye Love, Drive, Dangerous Type, Just What I Needed.
Vanessa Williams -- Save the Best for Last.
Earth, Wind and Fire -- After the Love is Gone.
Howard Jones -- No One is to Blame.
Eric and the Dominoes -- Layla.
Adele -- Rumour Has It.
Beatles -- Back in the USSR.
Zep -- Rock and Roll, Stairway to Heaven (of course), In the Evening.
Madonna -- Open Your Heart.
Who -- Behind Blue Eyes.
Kinks -- Lola.
Doors -- Light My Fire, Touch Me.
.38 Special -- Hold On Loosely.
Don Henley -- Boys of Summer.
Steve Miller -- The Joker.
Cyndi Lauper -- Time After Time.
Temptations -- Ain't Too Proud to Beg.
Bonnie Raitt -- I Can't Make You Love Me.
Des'ree -- You Gotta Be.
Beau Brummels -- Laugh Laugh.
Queen -- Fat Bottomed Girls, Somebody to Love.
Lisa Loeb -- Stay (I Missed You).
Boston -- Rock and Roll Band, Let Me Take You Home Tonight, Peace of Mind.
Pink -- Who Knew?
Jethro Tull -- Living in the Past.
Belinda Carlisle -- Mad About You.
Stevie Wonder -- I Wish.
Bruce -- Born to Run.
Supertramp -- Dreamer.
Doobies -- China Grove, Jesus is Just Alright.
Bowie -- Changes.
Manfred Mann's Earth Band -- Blinded by the Light.
Blondie -- Heart of Glass.
Avril Lavigne -- Complicated.
Anna Nalick -- Breathe.

...Of course on Sat & Sun nites the local stations reverted 2 normal form & mostly played LOTS of crap. So much so that I hadta fall back on The News & TALK RADIO 2 keep functioning thru work. Thanx a lot 4 getting my hopes up....

Later in the evenings lately I've taken 2 listening 2 nationwide syndicated talk radio -- shows like COAST TO COAST AM and OVERNIGHT AMERICA. I'm still trying 2 decide how much of this stuff is BS or comedy or paranoia, & how much is sincere warnings 2 the nation -- since mosta the topics eventually seem 2 break down 2 Government Conspiracies or Alien Abductions or UFO Sightings or Secret Behind-The-Scenes Stuff.
I AM impressed that the people who appear on these shows or call in R ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED about what they've learned or seen or Xperienced. It's hard 2 argue with that. But I'm still trying 2 make up my mind about how Real some of it is.
When I was listening on Sat nite, a customer walked in & asked what I was listening 2, & I gave him the short Xplanation & my current view of it.
"Oh, are they talkin' about stuff like the Illuminati?" he asked. "Yeah, I've read up on that stuff. There's definitely some weird shit goin' on. But I'm thinkin' maybe there's some stuff I don't NEED to know. Like, maybe I'm too busy tryin' to get through today to worry about what's comin' tomorrow...."

Sunday, January 13, 2013

#623: Hadda dream 2

Had another 1 of THOSE dreams, music dreams. Ghod knows why. Thot it'd B worth sketching-out here cos it was so odd....
Very vivid: I'm at some kinda Southern Colonial-style house somewhere, big old-style wraparound covered front porch with railings, big windows in the house, very airy, huge grounds all around.
...& 4 some reason I'm replacing bass-player & vocalist Mont Campbell in the British early-'70s experimental/art-rock/Canterbury trio Egg. & I don't even play the bass. Or sing.
I'm sitting in the big bright airy drawing room of this almost-mansion, drinking coffee & talking over whatthehell we're gonna do at some quickly-approaching gig, talking with long-haired glasses-wearing keyboard whiz Dave Stewart & drummer Clive Brooks.
I don't know why I'm here or how I got the job. & I say so.
Because I've only heard about 1/2adozen Egg "songs," & wasn't even able 2 listen all the way thru their last album, 1974's arty & odd THE CIVIL SURFACE. I'm not really even a fan.
But Dave & Clive don't take it personally. We're joking around & I'm laughing nervously cos I have NO IDEA what I'm gonna do at this quickly-approaching gig, which might even B scheduled 4 THIS VERY NITE at this plantation or whatever.
It's a beautiful, mild summer day. We step outside, out in2 the huge yard, me strumming a guitar (?! I don't play 1 of those either), & we continue 2 sit & laff at R strange predicament.
Because I don't know their material & we've never worked 2gether B4, we decide we could just sorta jam & noodle around & that might possibly fill up an hr or 90 minutes of performance.
Dave is philosophical about it: "We could do 1 long piece and call it 'This Will Take Up 20 Minutes,' and then do another long piece and announce it as 'This Will Take Up 20 More Minutes.'"
And we laff about this. It's just about what you'd Xpect from a band that titled their compositions with names like "Long Piece No. 2."
At this point the dream faded out & I woke up, but I'd like 2 know: What do these dreams MEAN, Sigmund?
I hardly ever dream. But a couple nites ago I dreamed I was a new member of TV's NCIS team. & I know that's where I was Bcos Agent Gibbs was there, scowling disapprovingly the whole time....

COMING UP NEXT: Cheers(?!) for Seattle-area radio ... & 15 Great Overlooked "Pop" Albums....

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

#622: The poster-child for stressing-out

Late August, 1999. Two days after my 40th birthday. After taking my first week off from work in 3 years, by 8:30 am Monday I'm back at my desk, trying to pull-together the next issue of the small weekly newspaper I've been editing since May.
It's an absolutely normal Monday. There's a lot of work to do, a big pile of paperwork in front of me, & nobody did much to prepare for the next issue while I was gone. But I've been working 50+ hours a week since May, so I'm getting used to it. Everything is going exactly as I expected.
But I'm having trouble with it.
By 9:30 am I start to hyperventilate. I can't relax. My hands and arms are getting all tingly. I can't stop panting for breath. I call a therapist I've been talking to about work-related stress and marriage problems. He recommends getting out of the building and getting something to eat.
But I can't leave -- there's too much work to do. I can't push it off on my co-workers, either -- they're wrapped-up in their own work. I try eating. It doesn't help. I try organizing a long schedule of events for a quickly-approaching town festival, the one thing that MUST be on the next front page. But I can't focus. I can't MAKE it make sense. I can't even get the list of happenings typed.
I drink some water. I try to walk around a little, but my legs are all wobbly. My arms are going numb. My heart is racing. And I can't slow down my breathing.
I call my therapist back. He ORDERS me to get out of the building. But it's too late.
At noon, I ask our receptionist if she could do me a favor and call my wife. And an ambulance. I can't seem to do it myself. I can't breathe. I can't get enough air. For some reason it seems like there will be more air on the floor, so I go there.
By 12:15 I'm stretched out on my back on the office floor, still hyperventilating. My arms are numb, my hands locked into fists. My legs are cramping and folding up. I moan for someone to help me, but nobody will even come talk to me.
At the edge of my vision, I can see the head of the reporter I just hired, standing nearby, watching, but she won't get closer. I'm scaring her. I'm scaring myself. I can hear phones ringing and people talking and Monday going on, but I'm stuck on the floor alone and I can't move. I'm left to gasp and flop like a fish. I'm helpless.
Finally an EMT appears & I try to tell her what's wrong. Another EMT appears, they put me on a gurney & I'm wheeled outside into an ambulance. I notice vaguely that a crowd has gathered. My co-workers are calling my name and telling me to hang in there. My wife has appeared and says she'll follow me to the hospital.
In the ambulance, the EMTs give me SOMETHING & try to determine if I'm having a heart attack. I'm SURE that's what's happening. I'm convinced that I'm gonna die, 2 days after my 40th birthday.
In the emergency room, they run tests & try to bring my breathing under control. They have to teach me how to breathe again. It takes awhile.
When I'm stable, they admit me to the hospital & put me in the cardiac critical care unit til they determine if I've had a heart attack. It looks like I'm gonna be there for awhile.
My wife appears, and we cry all over each other. We both note the timing of this "attack," & without trying 2 make Too Big A Deal out of it, we both wonder if I've been pushing things too hard & if somebody's trying to send me A Message.
She stays for awhile, then has to leave to go check on the kids. She sez she'll bring me back something to read in case I'm stuck here overnight.
And as soon as she leaves, I'm overcome by the most intense feelings of RELIEF that I've possibly ever felt -- as if this bed, in this place, is EXACTLY where I wanted to be, exactly where I was headed from the moment I woke up this morning. It's safe & quiet here. And someone else is gonna havta run the newspaper for me.
And then I cry like a baby.
Eventually, 1 of the ER docs comes in & tells me I DIDN'T have a heart attack -- I had an anxiety attack. A nurse tells me they can prescribe some anti-anxiety meds, but they won't solve my problem -- that my problem is whatever's kicking around in my head.
Then they release me.
I take a day off to think it over, then go to work on Weds & resign as the editor. But I offer to work as a full-time reporter to make up for it. This is a mistake, but I was always happier writing full-time anyway.
I try the anti-anxiety meds, & once I get used to the "zombie effect," they're not bad -- I feel like me with all the stress removed. It's sorta enjoyable.
But the stress continues -- there's just as much, if not more, with reporting full-time. & I knew that. But this is my 1st step in moving away from my 20-year career in journalism. & it takes me 2 more years to give up & get out of it entirely.

Don't let this happen to you. If you're in a high-stress job that overworks you to the point of breakdown, get away from it. Figure out some other way to pay your bills. Don't give your life to a career where nobody keeps score. Because the things you'll lose are things you might never get back -- spouse, children, possibly your health, maybe your life. It ain't worth it.
I was stupid. Looking back, I wish I hadn't sold myself so cheap. & I wish I'd known I was living The Good Life while I was IN it....

Sunday, January 6, 2013

#621: The world ain't listenin'

OK, so let's forget about the Grammys -- ain't nothin' intrestin' happnin' there, as usual -- & instead let's stumble back in2 the past on a mid-Winter mostly-new-2-me music break. Here's the list:

Michael McGear: McGEAR (1974, Side 1) -- Leave It, Sea Breezes, What Do We Really Know?, Norton, Have You Got Problems?
Nektar -- Nelly the Elephant.
Beatles -- I'm Down, Hey Bulldog.
Gentle Giant: GIANT FOR A DAY (1978, Side 1) -- Words From the Wise, Thank You, Giant for a Day, Spooky Boogie, Take Me.
Kracker -- Because of You (The Sun Don't Set).
Fleetwood Mac -- Why?
Arlo Guthrie -- Coming into Los Angeles.
Tom Lehrer: SONGS OF TOM LEHRER (1956???) -- I Wanna Go Back to Dixie, Lobachevsky, Fight Friendly Harvard, The Old Dope Peddler, Be Prepared....
Illusion: (2ND) (1978) -- Madonna Blue, Never be the Same, Louis' Theme, Wings Across the Sea, Cruising Nowhere....

Mike McGear's "Leave It" was almost a hit in Boise, Idaho, in the Fall of 1974. But it never made the nationwide Top 100, & I wonder why? Is it because Mike really does sing "Peeling off her underwear" at 1 point in the lyrics? Could be. Doesn't matter -- still bouncy & charming, tho faster & shriller than I remembered. Mike's brother Paul McCartney produced, & it's basically Wings doing the backup -- like a good off-the-wall Wings song, not as great as "Junior's Farm" but better than "Sally G."
So's mosta the rest of at least the 1st side -- "Sea Breezes" has a nice, big atmospheric production, but I haven't heard the Roxy Music original. Brother Paul produced & co-wrote mosta the resta the album: "What Do We Really Know?" sounds kinda rushed & silly, more echoes of Wings. "Norton" is spoken silliness, sounds like Robert Calvert from Hawkwind -- some nice brief guitar, tho. "Have You Got Problems?" sounds like Wings-album filler, but with some good pushy choruses, & it gets a bit Elvis-y near the end. OK good-time music. Warner Bros released this -- I wonder why it didn't get more of a push?
"Nelly the Elephant" features some good loud fuzz-guitar from Roye Albrighton on an instrumental with bits of silly narration by Viv Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. Jeez, there's even a horn section. Not the stomper that I'd hoped 4....
"I'm Down" is more like it. A hilarious screamer. Paul's line about his date telling him 2 keep his hands 2 himself puts me on the floor every time. & how bout that hysterical organ solo? Great screaming vocal by Paul.
"Hey Bulldog" has more great vocals from John, & the lyrics about NOT communicating R VERY direct -- John sounds angry. Nice gtr riff. & some intresting chaos at the end....
Hadn't heard GIANT FOR A DAY since 1978, when I thot it was The Worst Album Of All Time. Turns out it's not even close. (& of course it sounds better almost 35 years later, almost everything does.)
"Words from the Wise" is very pleasant 1nce you get over the lack of blatantly-obvious musical tricks. (Of course, musical trix is what I WANTED back in '78....) Apart from the acapella opening, the song's a very nice commercial compromise, pretty catchy. Sounds a little like Manfred Mann's Earth Band meets Yes in a couple places.
"Thank You" is just a nice, low-key, mellow lovesong, not 2 far away from GG's earlier great "Think of Me With Kindness." The title song, however, IS annoying -- speedy, whiny, trebly, New Wave-influenced -- they've had WAY 2 MUCH coffee. The choruses Rn't completely terrible.
"Spooky Boogie" is kinda generic Halloween music, mildly playful with some OK keyboards. At least it's not 2 long. "Take Me" has some OK choruses -- it's nice tho not stunning, & definitely not distinctive. Overall, these 5 trax make 4 a short side. I might even get brave enuf 2 play Side 2 again someday soon....
After acclimatizing from not hearing it 4 35 years, I've decided "Because of You" is pure 1972 -- a tight, mostly-Hispanic 5-piece band with great playing & nice group vocals on a catchy, hypnotic song that shoulda been a hit. Jimmy Miller co-produced, the album came in a deluxe fake-cigar-box, & I'll bet neither Dunhill/ABC or the band got their $$$ back....
The Mac's "Why?" is just glorious, from Bob Weston's twangy slide gtr in the opening 2 the dreamy group vocals & strings at the end. It's been 1 of my favorites since I 1st heard it at the end of THE CHAIN box-set while I was living in Wyoming 15 years ago. You can also find it at the very end of Mac's MYSTERY TO ME. Buried treasure.
Arlo's "Coming into Los Angeles" is a hilarious classic that shouldabeenahit. D'ya spose The Subject kept that from happening? WB should re-release it now. Arlo sure sounds like Bob Dylan. & there's some nice spacey gee-tar.
I fished Tom Lehrer outta the bin at Goodwill cos I know Rastro's a big fan. I find TL funny in a dated kinda way, like listening 2 a jazz-era hipster talk, daddy-O. 4 some reason, I don't know why, I'm also reminded of Al Jolson.... There R some bright spots: "Fight Friendly Harvard" is hilarious & VERY dignified, & the liner notes on this 10-inch mini-album R a must-read. & I gotta give Tom props 4 having his own record label at the end of the '50s(!). Is this disc a collector's item?
Illusion's OUT OF THE MIST has been 1 of my all-time fave albums since I 1st heard it in 1978. Seemed 2 me then that Illusion had the Renaissance-style sound DOWN -- symphonic art-rock, but punchier, more forceful, not prissy or stuck-up, with good gtr & keybs 2 match the lush vocals. But then, they SHOULD have had their stuff 2gether by then -- members of the band were in Keith Relf's original Renaissance, back in the late '60s.
What a shock then 2 put on Illusion's (2ND) & B transported back 2 '78 by "Madonna Blue," which is dreamy & lush & dramatic & forceful -- & as confident-sounding as the best stuff on OUT OF THE MIST. So sue me, I'm a sucker 4 this stuff....
But it doesn't STAY that way....
"Never be the Same" is short, single-ish lovesong material, nice but not great. "Louis' Theme" drags a bit at 7 mins. "Wings Across the Sea" is more lovesong stuff, nice but not stunning. "Cruising Nowhere" sounds XACTLY like Renaissance, with some nice John Hawken synthesizer -- but it also has some embarrassing lyrics about NOT being a member of the In Crowd.... A peek at lyrics 4 the concluding "Man of Miracles" & "The Revolutionary" promised more of the same -- 1 thing OUT OF THE MIST didn't have was embarrassing lyrics, even when the production was going all semi-operatic....
So far, what Illusion's (2ND) could use is a lighter lyrical hand & some more of Hawken's forceful keyboards, like on "Candles are Burning" on the earlier album. But even tho it was probly dated-sounding on the day it was released, it's really nice 2 hear this kind of prog done pretty-well again, & I'll B finishing-up the album in the near-future.

Coming up next: Millard Fillmore's birthday!