Sunday, March 31, 2013

#647: Play that funky music, White boy

This just in: WalMart's $5 CD bin is emptying my bank account! But it gave me a chance 2 stock up on some '60's & '70s Soul/R&B that's been sorely lacking in The Collection. Also great soundtrack music 4 Spring-into-Summer. Here's the latest List:

Parliament -- P-Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up), Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker), Flash Light, Dr. Funkenstein, Up for the Down Stroke, Chocolate City, Bop Gun (Endangered Species), Testify ('74 version), Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop), Mothership Connection (Star Child), Agony of DeFeet.
KC and the Sunshine Band -- Please Don't Go, That's the Way I Like It.
Van Morrison -- Sweet Thing, Wonderful Remark, Cleaning Windows, Domino, Wild Night, Gloria, Baby Please Don't Go, Here Comes the Night.
Love Unlimited Orchestra -- Love's Theme, Satin Soul.
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles -- Tears of a Clown, I Second that Emotion, You Really Got a Hold on Me, Mickey's Monkey.
Temptations -- My Girl, The Way You Do the Things You Do, Get Ready, I Know I'm Losing You, I Can't Get Next to You, I Wish it Would Rain.
Stevie Wonder -- I Was Made to Love Her.
Blondie -- Dreaming, Call Me, Atomic, Rapture, X Offender, Hanging on the Telephone, Union City Blue, Denis, I'm Always Touched by Your Presence Dear, Heart of Glass, Sunday Girl, Maria.
Hollies -- Bus Stop, On a Carousel, Stop! Stop! Stop!, Long Dark Road, Look Through Any Window.
Doobie Bothers -- Neal's Fandango.
Bob Dylan -- Tangled Up in Blue.
Chicago -- Questions 67 & 68, Feelin' Stronger Every Day, I've Been Searching So Long, Wishing You Were Here.

This also Just In: Parliament kicks ass! I grabbed their cheapo best-of mainly 4 comedy purposes & 2 Xpand my horizons a bit ... but they're REALLY GOOD. I admit I don't get all the jokes, but I love the silly vocals & the horny horns & all the squiggly keyboards & the occasional Hendrixy guitar -- & the always-upbeat optimistic outlook. "P-Funk" is a pound-the-steering-wheel classic with added jokes. "Dr. Funkenstein," "Chocolate City," "Aqua Boogie" & a coupla others R also really great -- there's always something going on in these songs, & if the music or lyrics don't grab me then the occasional 1-liners (like "Kiss me on my ego!") will do the job.
Besides, the very idea of this White boy from Idaho cruising in his white car thru dangerous inner-city Bremerton & Port Orchard, Wash., with these big beats pouring outta the car windows is enuf of a joke 4 me 4 right now. Also works really well 4 motivational purposes on the job! Now I gotta track down some Funkadelic! My baseball cap's off to George Clinton, Bernie Worrell, Bootsy Collins, Eddie Hazel, Gary Shider, & the rest of this Funk Army. The freshest, funniest sounds I've heard in awhile....
Tried 2 keep the funk rolling with KC -- & tho they still sound great, I must insert a Consumer Warning here that their cheapo Rhino 10-song FLASHBACK best-of features just the edited singles trax & so seems just a little bit too short. Nevertheless, the "woo-woo-woo" women's vocals on "That's the Way I Like It" R still a rush, & the sparkly keybs on "Please Don't Go" still Do The Job.
The Xploration continued: Still getting used 2 Van The Man's single-disc best-of. If "Into the Mystic" & "Caravan" were on here it'd B essential. As is, I still think "Cleaning Windows" is a nice, relaxing, wistful departure, & I wish I knew who "Wonderful Remark" was written about.
...& then there's "Sweet Thing." On this, Van sounds transported, almost delirious -- it's magic, 2 B so in love with someone, & 2 B able 2 Xpress it in this gentle rush. This song does in 3 minutes what the rest of ASTRAL WEEKS should have done, & 4 1nce that album kinda makes sense 2 me. Wonder how I missed it when I bought that album last Spring -- if I'd really been listening, this should have jumped right out at me....
Played some more of my Van faves, but hadta stop with his & Them's "Here Comes the Night," 2 weedy & British-invasion-ish, & Van doesn't even do mosta the singing....
"Love's Theme" still sounds great, pure 1974, but "Satin Soul" turned out 2 B not as good as I remembered, Soul-flavored string-muzak.
Smokey & the Miracles -- well, "Tears of a Clown" is still my choice 4 Most Perfect Single Ever, hardta believe Motown sat on it 4 3 years.... "I Second that Emotion" still has that poetically-perfect opening verse. "Really Got a Hold on Me"'s still a killer, tho I prefer the Beatles' version -- & "Mickey's Monkey" is a really cute dance track that I hadn't heard in years.
The Tempts sound better 2 me the more I hear -- my favorite moment is the great soaring backing vocals on the choruses of "Get Ready," but I'm not sure now why I took 4 granted stuff like "My Girl" 4 all these years -- more great choruses there, too. "I Know I'm Losing You," "I Can't Get Next to You" & "The Way You Do the Things You Do" R all classics. Only took me 53 years 2 figure this out.
...I listened 2 some Other Stuff, 2: Blondie's GREATEST HITS has lots of filler & some stuff I find musically offensive ("One Way or Another," "The Hardest Part"), & I wish the band & producer Mike Chapman had met each other earlier -- he really punched-up their impact & got Debbie Harry 2 sing more warmly. "Union City Blue" still sounds grand, majestic -- possibly their greatest moment. Their remake of Randy and the Rainbows' '60s hit "Denise" is really charming (but when was the last time you heard the original? 4 me it was early 1998 in Salt Lake City....). Debbie also has a great vocal on the choruses of "Maria," a song that was totally new 2 me. "Hanging on the Telephone" is a good mix of the band's earlier blank/New Wave approach & Chapman's punchiness.
But: Tracey Ullman does a MUCH better version of "I'm Always Touched by Your Presence, Dear" -- their lazy, unemotional approach does the song no good. "X-Offender"'s also a little off-putting because of their blank, unemotional attack. & there R 1/2adozen other songs on GREATEST HITS that I just can't get thru. Drop them & add "Victor," "Just Go Away," "Angels on the Balcony," "11:59," "Will Anything Happen?," & then you have a great best-of....
Assume all the rest of the above is Recommended if I haven't noted otherwise. More soon!

Coming fairly soon: Reviews of THE MOODY BLUES COMPANION, John McPhee's UNCOMMON CARRIERS, Kirsty MacColl's GALORE best-of, THE VERY BEST OF MARVIN GAYE, Aaron Copland, &  much more....

Monday, March 25, 2013

#646: Washington drivers: Worst in the world!

Western Washington has GOT to be home to the world's worst drivers.
I can say this without fear of contradiction, because anybody who's ever lived here knows exactly how bad it really is.
It's unspeakable.
I've lived in the San Francisco Bay area -- where the 45-minute drive home turned into 3 hours when it rained; in San Antonio, Texas -- where I was run off the road twice in the first week because I couldn't drive fast enough; and in Ankara, Turkey -- where they sometimes drive on the sidewalks.
They don't drive on the sidewalks here yet, but it's getting close.
Drivers in the Seattle area are the most distracted, most stressed-out, most careless, rudest, scariest folks to ever take to the roads.
They're out of control.
Every week there's another story in the media about someone driving the wrong direction on the freeway, causing massive accidents. Only occasionally are these folks suicidal or drunk.
Late last year we had three ugly car wrecks in the same WEEK out in front of the store where I work. In all three cases, the drivers refused to slow down even though it was raining, they didn't watch where they were going, were completely oblivious of other drivers. Miraculously, everybody walked away from the crashes. But five cars were totaled.
These people scare me.
Drivers here are constantly blabbing on their cellphones while behind the wheel -- even though it's a $125 fine if they get caught.
They change lanes suddenly, without warning, almost always without using their turn signals, shoe-horning their way into the slightest gap between cars. One guy I saw on the freeway last week bounced all over from lane to lane, refused to choose one lane and stay in it, never used his turn signals once, & was long gone before I could focus on his license-plate number.
They think speed limits are a joke: 35 miles per hour really means 40, 40 means 50, 50 means 65 -- & 60 means whatever you can get away with.
And they don't slow down when it rains -- which is basically 9 months of the year.
Some of them forget to turn on their headlights when it's pitch dark.
This state is lucky I'm not a cop, because I could easily write a couple hundred tickets each day. (Of course that'd keep the revenue coming in!)
Last week on the way to work I glanced at the driver behind me in my rear-view mirror. She was talking on her cellphone with one hand, brushing her hair with the other, and must have been handling the steering wheel with her knees.
Another guy a few days back got SO CLOSE to the back end of my car at a stop light that all I could see in my rear-view mirror was the very top of his head. And his head was bent down so I assume he was texting. There's a fine for that, too....
A few years back, one of our Regulars blew through our parking lot at about 50, tried to make the corner at the other end, and rolled and totaled his pickup. He wasn't seriously injured, but he's slowed down quite a bit since then.
Maybe it's true that people never slow down until they're in a crash. If so, all I can say is Full Speed Ahead, Folks! There's a wreck out there with your name all over it!
Think this is nothing? Think maybe your area has even scarier drivers? As a public service, please feel free to submit your frightening evidence below....

Thursday, March 21, 2013

#645: March 20 playlist

Thanx 2 a new batch of oldies CD's, had the best "Monday nite" at work that I've had in a long time. Had the tunes cranked-up from about 8:30 pm on, & they kept me movin when I was starting 2 drag towards the end. Here's what I was listening 2 & inflicting on other people -- some of this stuff is brand new 2 me....

Chicago -- Questions 67 & 68, Free, Lowdown, Dialogue Parts 1 & 2.
Byrds -- I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better, My Back Pages, 5D (Fifth Dimension), Mr. Spaceman, Ballad of Easy Rider, Goin' Back, Have You Seen Her Face?, Lady Friend, Mr. Tambourine Man, Turn! Turn! Turn!, Eight Miles High, So You Want to be a Rock 'N' Roll Star.
Van Morrison -- Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile), Wild Night, Domino, Cleaning Windows, Wonderful Remark.
Bachman-Turner Overdrive -- Blue Collar, Let it Ride, Roll on Down the Highway.
Bob Dylan -- Tangled Up in Blue, Subterranean Homesick Blues, Like a Rolling Stone.
Journey -- Lights, Feeling That Way/Anytime, La Do Da, Somethin' to Hide.
Temptations -- Get Ready, Ain't Too Proud to Beg, You're My Everything, I Can't Get Next to You, I Wish  it Would Rain.

NOTES: Chicago still sounds great; "Questions 67 & 68" is an old fave from '71 that shoulda sold millions. "Free," "Lowdown" & "Dialogue" all sound like pure 1971, filled with the concerns of that time.
Byrds still sound great, of course. "Feel a Whole Lot Better" shoulda sold millions. "Easy Rider"'s still gorgeous, & "Goin' Back" is a sweet longing 4 Olde Times. "Have You Seen Her Face?" & "Lady Friend" R also both very pretty. "My Back Pages" is still a fave -- Dylan's words R pretty-much gibberish, but great vocal harmonies on the choruses.
Van's "Jackie Wilson Said" & "Wild Night" R old faves; "Cleaning Windows" is a very relaxed, offbeat number about a job Van had when he was younger, the music he heard & the records he bought when he was a young guy in Ireland. Can see why it wasn't a hit, but it's very lite & diffrent. "Wonderful Remark" has a Gospel/R&B feel, still trying 2 figure out the lyrics....
BTO's "Blue Collar" & "Roll On Down the Highway" both sounded great, haven't heard them in awhile....
"Tangled Up in Blue" has really grown on me over the last year -- it's an intresting story, full of real poetry & Dylan's usual touches of humor. It's even moving.
Journey's INFINITY still sounds great, especially olde favorites "Feeling That Way/Anytime" & "Somethin' to Hide." Played "Lights" 4 my old friend Don Vincent.
Intresting how the Tempts' "Get Ready" almost sounds (2 me) like Smokey Robinson & the Miracles. (Smokey wrote it.) Sorta a lighter vocal touch than a lot of the Tempts' stuff. Hadn't heard "I Wish it Would Rain" in awhile -- very nice.
Still have new (old) stuff by the Supremes, Miracles & Four Tops 2 try-out. More soon!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

#644: Future Playlist 6

A few more musical suggestions 4 U 2 Xplore. More coming soon....

Gryphon -- Lament, Spring Song, The Ploughboy's Dream, Ethelion, Opening Move, Second Spasm, Wallbanger, (Ein Klein) Heldenleben, Fall of the Leaf, Major Disaster.
Amazing Blondel -- Fantasia Lindum: Swifts Swains and Leafy Lanes, Lincolnshire Lullabye, Celestial Light; Landscape, Seascape.
Simon and Garfunkel -- For Emily Whenever I May Find Her, The Only Living Boy in New York, Keep the Customers Satisfied.
Paul Simon -- American Tune.
Badfinger -- Rock of All Ages, In the Meantime/Some Other Time, Meanwhile Back at the Ranch/Should I Smoke?, The Name of the Game.
Cat Stevens -- Tuesday's Dead, Changes IV, The Wind.
Carolyne Mas -- Stillsane, Sadie Says.
Spirit -- 1984, Aren't You Glad?, Nothing to Hide, Nature's Way, Animal Zoo, Mr. Skin, Life Has Just Begun, Morning Will Come, Soldier, My Friend.
Cream -- Badge, Deserted Cities of the Heart, Those Were the Days.
Cheap Trick -- Surrender, Stop This Game, World's Greatest Lover.
Joe Walsh -- Rivers (of the Hidden Funk), Meadows.
Joan Armatrading -- Persona Grata, Temptation, Talking to the Wall, I Love it When You Call Me Names, Drop the Pilot, When I Get it Right, Me Myself I, All the Way from America, I Need You.
Tracey Chapman -- Talkin' 'Bout a Revolution.
Katrina and the Waves -- Game of Love, Que Ti Quiero, Red Wine and Whisky.
Nicolette Larson -- Radioland.
Weird Al Yankovic -- Nature Trail to Hell, One More Minute, Polkas on 45.
Pentangle -- Light Flight, Sweet Child.
England Dan and John Ford Coley -- Holocaust.
Velvet Underground -- All Tomorrow's Parties.
Cowboy Junkies -- Sweet Jane.
Janis Ian -- When the Party's Over, From Me to You, In the Winter, Watercolors, Love is Blind.
Bare Naked Ladies -- What a Good Boy (live), Alcohol, Light Up My Room, In the Car, It's All Been Done, Who Needs Sleep?, Some Fantastic, Never is Enough, Get in Line, Brian Wilson (live), Lovers in a Dangerous Time, It's Only Me, If I Had $1,000,000.
Bruce Cockburn -- Incandescent Blue, Badlands Flashback, After the Rain, Silver Wheels.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

#643: The Bug 2

The new-music hunt&seek mission continues. On Monday the Girlfriend & I spent mosta the day hitting local 2nd-hand stores looking 4 new sounds & other stuff -- & as a result I probly have enuf new music in the house now 2 last me 4 MONTHS. Also scored some cheap new Motown best-of CD's 2 fill some holes in the at-work motivational-music bag of tricks.
The Girlfriend & I made a good team -- she scouted-out stashes of music I sometimes missed with my bad eyes, & then I dug thru it. I can recommend Jen's Attic in Bremerton, Wash., & the New 2 You Antique Mall in Port Orchard, Wash., as great places 2 track-down 2nd-hand vinyl & CD's at mostly-very-reasonable prices. (& the Port Orchard WalMart had a big bin of cheap new CD's, but this is NOT a commercial.) Here's what we came up with:

The Rip Chords (Bruce Johnston & Terry Melcher) -- HEY LITTLE COBRA.
The Roches -- NURDS.
Adam Ant -- FRIEND OR FOE.
Focus -- DUTCH MASTERS best-of.
Linda Ronstadt -- GREATEST HITS VOLUME 2.
Rascals -- SEE.
J. Geils Band -- BEST OF VOLUME 2.
Gary Lewis & the Playboys -- A SESSION WITH, THIS DIAMOND RING.
The Association -- AND THEN ALONG COMES....
Van Morrison -- BEST OF.
Journey -- INFINITY.
+ cheap new best-of CD's by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Diana Ross & the Supremes, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, & Bob Dylan.

OK, so why? Well, I've been looking 4 a copy of HEY LITTLE COBRA 4 YEARS. Sounds like Beach Boys-lite, sorta. Can't wait 2 put on the gorgeous acapella "Here I Stand," & "Gone" & "The Queen" & "Ding Dong" & all the rest.... Almost put The Roches back when I saw it WASN'T produced by Bob Fripp -- but then noticed 1 of the songs is entitled "The Death of Suzzy Roche," & that's all I needed 2 see ... The Al Green best-of is 2 fill a hole in my '70s Soul collection, & cos "Let's Stay Together" still sounds great.... Adam Ant cos I'm a sucker 4 "Goody Two Shoes" (possibly my themesong?) & "Desperate But Not Serious".... HEARTBEAT CITY because it's the Cars' most consistent album, fulla great songs.... The Focus best-of just so I can hear more, & cos it fits in with my prog/Strange Music weakness.... Carole King's best mostly 4 the beautiful "Been to Canaan".... The Turtles' best-of mainly 4 the gorgeous "Lady-O" -- & also 4 1/2adozen more song titles I don't recognize.... La Ronstadt's best-of mainly 4 "Someone to Lay Down Beside Me" & "Poor Poor Pitiful Me".... The Rascals' mainly 4 the great title song & so I can hear more -- I also put BACK their TIME/PEACE best-of cos I have most of their hits on the original albums already.... The Geils mainly 4 "First I Look at the Purse".... Gary Lewis 4 "Count Me In" & "This Diamond Ring," & Bcos they were cheap ... The Association ditto, & 4 "Along Comes Mary".... Van's best-of Bcos I had his 3-CD STILL ON TOP best-of, loaned it 2 a friend 6 months ago, & haven't seen it since -- which PROVES you should never ever EVER loan books or music 2 friends. I 1nce loaned John McPhee's CURVE OF BINDING ENERGY to a roommate at tech school & he took it back 2 Georgia with him! ... INFINITY cos it's chock-full of good stuff that'll motivate me at work -- I shoulda picked-up Journey's EVOLUTION 4 $5 while I was at it.... The Byrds' best-of doesn't include "Wasn't Born to Follow" (the earliest co-opting of a song 4 an ad that I can think of -- it was turned in2 a Lucky Lager beer commercial around 1969), but almost all of the other essentials R there, with the Xception of the gorgeous "John Riley".... The Motown & BTO CD's R 4 motivational help at work (2 bad "Tramp" isn't included on the BTO), & the Dylan is mainly 4 the great "Tangled Up in Blue" (if "One of Us Must Know" was on it, it'd B essential).
This on top of the last cheaply-purchased batch, & I should have enuf new music 2 listen-2 2 keep me busy until Summer. Hopefully....
Reviews of all these will B coming in the days & weeks ahead....
...Oh, & 1 last thing: Why does everyone jack-up the prices on Beatles albums that have ALWAYS been available, that have NEVER been out of print? In R searches on Mon, I tripped over copies of the WHITE ALBUM, SGT. PEPPER, REVOLVER, RUBBER SOUL, HELP! -- & in each case the owners wanted $25 each! Why?! They're not RARE. R they asking that much just cos they survived the '60s?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

#642: Mid-March playlist

Hey out there, & Happy St. Patrick's Day! It's trying 2 B Spring in Western Washington, with the sun coming out occasionally, highs in the low 50's, but windy & sometimes rainy & still cold at nite. Any sign of the sun is a good thing, here.
I've had a good last couple weeks at work, everything's been pretty smooth, tho I still have my "moments." Luckily, there's been lots of music 2 keep me motivatin' along. Here's some of it:

Suzanne Vega -- Cracking, Freeze Tag, Marlene on the Wall, Undertow, Some Journey.
Moody Blues -- Tuesday Afternoon, Ride My See-Saw, Lovely to See You, Never Comes the Day, Gypsy.
Bob Seger -- Rock and Roll Never Forgets, Katmandu.
Dave Dudley -- Six Days on the Road.
Nick Lowe -- I Knew the Bride.
Charlie Daniels -- Uneasy Rider.
Elvis -- Mystery Train, Little Sister, You're the Devil in Disguise, Viva Las Vegas, A Little Less Conversation.
Tracey Ullman -- Breakaway, They Don't Know, The B-Side.
Nik Kershaw -- Gone to Pieces.
Dan Fogelberg -- Phoenix.
Simon and Garfunkel -- Fakin' It, Keep the Customers Satisfied, The Boxer, The Only Living Boy in New York, Hazy Shade of Winter, At the Zoo, Homeward Bound.
Beach Boys -- God Only Knows, Here Today, Trombone Dixie, Let's Go Away for Awhile, Sloop John B.
Heart -- Mistral Wind (live), Sweet Darlin' (live).
Church -- Under the Milky Way, Reptile.
Fleetwood Mac -- Teen Beat.
Boston -- Used to Bad News, Hitch a Ride.
Doobie Brothers -- Neal's Fandango, I Cheat the Hangman, Precis, Rainy Day Crossroad Blues, I Been Workin' on You, Double Dealin' Four Flusher.
Abba -- Waterloo.

NOTES: It has occurred 2 me in my push 4 motivational music at work that I have drifted somewhat from my brief, the Xamination & promotion of underheard, underappreciated, off-the-wall Strange Music. Late last nite while mopping the floor at work I suddenly started humming old off-the-map Dire Straits songs -- "Telegraph Road" & "Love Over Gold" were going thru my head. Obviously I can C what my next CD purchase might B....
I still try 2 play stuff that will motivate me & surprise my customers, cos I'm still fairly bored, musically. But I'm workin' on it. & I still wait 4 people 2 ask what's playing in the background, so I'll have a chance 2 blag on&on about how great some artist was & how woefully unappreciated they were ... an opportunity that almost never comes up.
Also, not 2 Get Racial, but I've also noticed in my recent buying spree & in the music listed above, ALL of it is performed by (forgive me) White Folks. This is an area I'm gonna havta look into. Problem is, there's a REAL shortage of old R&B/Soul out there 4 folks on a low budget like me. People just don't cough up old Motown & Atlantic albums -- they're hanging on2 them as goodtime soundtrax. & I don't blame them. I found copies of ARETHA'S GOLD and Gladys Knight and the Pips' IF I WERE YOUR WOMAN awhile back & was thrilled, but when I spotted copies of Miracles' & Temptations' LIVE albums recently, the owners wanted $25 each, & I can't swing that. Even if they WOULD motivate me.
Outside of Stevie Wonder, the Spinners, MOTOWN GOLD, the Stylistics, & maybe a couple others, my collection's a little thin on early-'70s Soul. Not sure how much Soul a poor White kid from Idaho is sposta have. But I'll B workin' on it. Watch out 4 some Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles and Bill Withers in this space soon. Ghod help me, maybe even some Barry White.... That's right, baby....
Anyway, as 4 the above ... Hadn't heard Suzanne Vega's 1st album in awhile & was again thrilled by the breathtaking crystalline sound & the guitar chords that sound like bells ringing. Not 2 mention her voice, which still reminds me of Janis Ian, who you should also check out -- can I recommend "When the Party's Over," "From Me to You," "In the Winter," "Watercolors," "Love is Blind"?
The Moodies still sound great of course, even on a cheap "portable Moodies" triple-CD pack I got as a present a few years ago -- not the best best-of ever, but summa the essentials R here, & EVERYBODY knows the Moodies....
Seger still sounds great -- wish somebody would release a reasonable all-in-1-place best-of by him, a disc that covers everything from "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" thru the early '80s. Right now, you havta buy at least 2 CD's 2 get all that stuff. & Bob has a lot of underplayed stuff that's worth having.... "Rock and Roll Never Forgets" has always been 1 of my faves, & "Katmandu" strikes me more&more as just a riff with some friendly tossed-off lyrics. At least it's funny.
Grabbed a few home-burned Country CD's from the girlfriend & am not sure I'm done with 'em yet. "Six Days on the Road" still sounds great, but I'd sure like 2 hear that 1 about "the girl wearin' nothin' but a smile and a towel on the billboard in the middle of the big ol' highway" again.... Hadn't heard Nick Lowe's "I Knew the Bride" B4 -- don't know if it's really "country," but it's OK....
"Uneasy Rider" went over best at work -- people were "singing" along with it.... The Elvis trax are from ESSENTIAL, a 2-CD set that isn't quite enuf. If it had "Marie's the Name (of His Latest Flame)" & "Promised Land," it'd B almost all I'd ever needta hear....
Tracey Ullman still sounds great -- "Breakaway" is a breathless brokenhearted lovesong that shoulda been a hit, "They Don't Know" is still adorable, & "The B-Side" is hilarious! From the same period, Nik Kershaw's "Gone to Pieces" is a hilarious lost classic with a great cameo performance by The Chipmunks! They've never sounded better....
Fogelberg's loud&angry "Phoenix" is from ESSENTIAL, which is actually a little thin. If it had "Tell Me to My Face" & "Along the Road" on it, it would ALMOST B essential. At least it includes the gorgeous '76 Winter Olympics themesong "There's a Place in the World for a Gambler"....
Simon&Garf still sound great, of course, & they're often suprisingly LOUD, which is OK 2. Could do without the shrieking horns at the end of "Keep the Customers Satisfied," but the rest of it works fine. & the loudness is a big + on "Fakin' It," "Hazy Shade of Winter," "The Boxer," "Only Living Boy in New York," etc. "Only Living Boy" is a great lost hit, with gorgeous choir vocals. If their ESSENTIAL had the studio version of "For Emily Whenever I May Find Her" on it, it really WOULD B essential....
Has anybody noticed that the instrumentals on PET SOUNDS really work, they're not just mood pieces? "Let's Go Away" & "Trombone Dixie" R so strong they don't NEED lyrics, & when I heard it last nite I wondered about writing my own words 4 "Dixie".... The resta the album sounds great 2, of course. "Here Today" shoulda been a hit....
Heart's live trax R ... not quite as good as the studio originals, or R good in diffrent ways. I prefer the forceful guitar on the studio take of "Mistral Wind," but it's still a great song. "Sweet Darlin'" is a good showcase 4 Ann Wilson, especially on that line about how "you made music of my name." But as a live vocalist she fools around 2 much. It's that same silliness that makes a comedy out of "Bebe le Strange" & "Barracuda" & some others.
Still a sucker 4 Boston's less-played stuff. "Used to Bad News" is a perfect miniature & shoulda been a hit. "Hitch a Ride" is a gorgeous mood piece. Is this song about suicide, or just movin' on?
Continue 2 enjoy the Doobies, in limited doses. The 2nd 1/2 of STAMPEDE has some pretty intresting semi-arty stuff on it. Very solid background music, tho "I Cheat the Hangman" is a bit drawn-out....
The cranked-up rush of "Waterloo" is great 4 clearing-out the store. Great singing, great sax, straight outta the mid-'60s! Who doesn't like Abba? I'm a sucker 4 "SOS," "Mamma Mia," "Take a Chance on Me," "Knowing Me, Knowing You" & "Winner Takes it All," 2....
More soon!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

#641: The Bug

Hey there again. Spent a coupla hours this afternoon (as part of my weekend) at a couple local 2nd-hand stores (Goodwill & Jen's Attic in Bremerton, Wash.) & brot home $80 worth of music that's intended 2 B listened-2 & eventually reviewed here. A lot of this stuff is completely new 2 me, took some chances. Had 2 do something 2 get outta my ongoing musical rut. & this is what Income Tax refunds R 4, right?
At what point does music collecting become an episode of HOARDERS? Well, I don't know, but here's what I bagged....

Clannad -- FUAIM.
Ink Spots -- 10 GREATEST HITS.
John Fogerty -- 1st.
Pink Floyd -- THE FINAL CUT.
Bruce Springsteen -- NEBRASKA.
Renaissance -- TURN OF THE CARDS.
The Cure -- WISH.
Des'ree -- I AIN'T MOVIN'.
Paula Cole -- THIS FIRE.
Elton John -- GREATEST HITS 1976-1986.
King Crimson -- DISCIPLINE.
Linda Ronstadt -- GREATEST HITS.
George Gershwin -- RHAPSODY IN BLUE.
Tchaikovsky -- 1812 OVERTURE.
Beethoven -- 5TH SYMPHONY.
Barbra Streisand -- CHRISTMAS ALBUM.
Johnathan and Darlene Edwards -- IN PARIS.
Dusty Springfield -- WISHIN' AND HOPIN'.
Laura Nyro and Labelle -- GONNA TAKE A MIRACLE.
Ahmad Jamal -- 1st.

...So, why? Well, I've loved almost everything I've heard by Clannad. ...Remember 3 or 4 songs by Buck Owens from when I was a kid, & 3 of them R on this best-of, + 22 more songs I've never heard.... Herbie Mann had a pretty good reputation B4 he went TOO EZ-Listening.... The Ink Spots useta crack me up when I was VERY young, tho I don't remember NE of their songs.... I've only heard 2 songs on J.C. Fogerty's 1st, both great: "Almost Saturday Night" & "Rockin' All Over the World.".... Haven't heard FINAL CUT in years, but have missed the title song & "Not Now John" .... NEBRASKA's sposta B pretty challenging -- I've never heard a note. ...  The Renaissance will B another attempt 2 see if they did much good when not in-concert. ... Have heard 2 songs off The Cure album, love the classic "Friday I'm in Love." ... All I've heard by Des'ree is the hit "You've Gotta Be." ... There were 6 copies of the Paula Cole CD at Goodwill -- figured anything that inspired that many dumps must have something going 4 it -- have heard 2 good songs on it (NOT "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone"). ... Bot the Elton mainly 4 "Empty Garden" & "I'm Still Standing." ... Haven't heard the Heart best-of in YEARS, but there's GREAT live versions of "Sweet Darlin'" & "Mistral Wind." ... Caved-in on DISCIPLINE, which I already have on CD, but it only cost $5, so sue me.... Heard 3 trax off VICES/HABITS, all good.... Pet Clark? Well, forget "Downtown" -- how could you do without "I Know a Place"? .... Bot the Ronstadt mainly 4 "Long Long Time," a heartbroken classic. ... I trust I don't havta Xplain the Classical stuff.... Streisand's Xmas album includes a hysterical lightning-fast version of "Jingle Bells?" ... The Edwards'es R supposed 2 B a comedy act, if I remember right, + I couldn't resist the liner notes on the backcover; never heard a note by them B4.... The Dusty doesn't include "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" (dammit), but I'll settle.... I only know Laura Nyro from the hits she wrote 4 Three Dog Night, BS&T, 5th Dimension, etc., so this is an Xperiment -- as I remember, the R&B remakes on MIRACLE got pretty good reviews.... Jamal was an early '60s jazz pianist, something of a big deal in his day, part of my ongoing effort 2 find more jazz I can enjoy....
...I'll have reports on all these, ... eventually....

Monday, March 11, 2013

#640: Quitting Radio 2

It's sick, but sometimes my stash of 3-dozen CD's isn't ENUF motivation 2 get me thru a bad workday.
I'm slowly adding more motivational music, on my tight budget. & I've tried test-driving previously-unheard stuff at work, which often doesn't work 2 well 4 me, or 4 the public. Ghod knows what kind of damage I mighta caused 2 people's psyches when I tried out Cromagnon's CAVE ROCK at work a few months back....
But no matter what it is that's playing, even if it doesn't Xactly keep me moving, I know it makes me happier than hearing local radio spin something lame & WAY-played-out like the Eagles' "Heartache Tonight" 4 the 9-millionth time.
How did things get like this? & why do people settle 4 it? Maybe they don't -- & that's why portable music devices (iPods, Walkmans, Discmans, etc.) have been so popular since the early '80s.... Way better 2 program your own music, rather than letting commercial radio make completely predictable choices 4 you....
Anyway, 2 go along with my mostly-continuing radio boycott, here's what I've bn playing lately at work, in the car on the way 2 work, & elsewhere....

Florence + the Machine -- Shake it Out.
Stevie Wonder -- I Was Made to Love Her, Signed Sealed Delivered, Superstition, Higher Ground, You Haven't Done Nothin', I Wish, Sir Duke, That Girl.
Chicago -- Old Days.
Camel -- Never Let Go, Rhayader, Rhayader Goes to Town, Unevensong, Breathless, Echoes, Sasquatch, Mother Road.
Love -- Alone Again Or, A House is Not a Motel, The Daily Planet, Old Man, The Red Telephone, Maybe the People Should be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale.
Turtles -- Sound Asleep.
Beatles -- Ticket to Ride, Eight Days a Week, Paperback Writer, Help!
Kansas -- Miracles out of Nowhere, Questions of My Childhood.
Rush -- Time Stand Still, Force Ten, Marathon, Mission.
Fleetwood Mac -- Oh Well, Green Manalishi, Why?

...Stevie Wonder went over pretty well at work. I hadn't heard "Higher Ground" & "You Haven't Done Nothin'" in YEARS, & they both still sound great. "I Wish" is practically a themesong 4 a nostalgia nut like me -- which makes it a good companion-piece 2 Chicago's "Old Days." "That Girl" unfortunately sounds better coming unXpectedly out of the car radio....
Should note that Love's FOREVER CHANGES features some really Xcellent, powerful acoustic-guitar strumming & slashing along with occasional electric-gtr freakouts 2 accompany the superb songs....

Checked-out a couple local 2nd-hand stores last week, grabbing cheap old albums by the Turtles, 2 by the Rascals, Youngbloods, Paul Simon & Gordon Lightfoot. Haven't actually LISTENED 2 any of these yet. (Crap, I still have stuff I grabbed last JULY that I haven't played yet....)
Left Bhind a few things that might B worth some $$$ -- King Crimson's DISCIPLINE (couldn't justify spending $8 4 an album cover since I already have it on a home-burned CD), + the Four Seasons' STORY 2-record best-of (on Private Stock, out-of-print since about 1978), Bobby Goldsboro's 20TH ANNIVERSARY 2-record best-of, & Rod Stewart's 2-record Mercury BEST OF.
I already have enuf Rod the Mod 2 keep me happy -- & tho I briefly thot about grabbing the 4 Seasons & Bobby Goldsboro cos they might B worth some $$$, then I started thinking about HOW 2 sell them & 2 who, how quickly I could turn the $$$ around, & decided it wasn't worth it -- these days I can only justify buying stuff I might actually LISTEN 2.... (But if you're intrested in these, check out the Port Orchard, Wash., St. Vincent DePaul's Thrift Store -- they're CHEAP....)

...About the only thing I can find worth hearing on local radio these days is rock critics Jim DeRogatis & Greg Kott's weekly SOUND OPINIONS program, carried here on the University of Washington's KUOW FM. In recent weeks they've had interviews & live performances with/by Aimee Mann, Lucinda Williams & others, reviews & samples of good-sounding new stuff (Richard Thompson's ELECTRIC, Rye's WOMAN), & overviews of shoegaze, '80s psychedelia, etc. Some critics' babies, 2 B sure, but not enuf reviews or Desert Island-worthy picks....
Oh, & Seattle's news station KOMO aired a pretty good 5-minute interview with Paul Revere of the Raiders. Did you know the Rolling Stones OPENED a show for the Raiders once...?
More soon!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

#639: Giving Up on Radio

Of course I've been giving up on radio for YEARS, but this time it's Serious.
After going thru a brief nothing-but-radio phase (because I was bored with my music from home) & a nothing-but-news-&-talk-radio phase, I'm convinced there's nothing in the Seattle area worth tuning-into anymore. Can't remember the last time I was surprised by any music, the news stations just repeat themselves, & the late-nite talk-radio programs ... well, don't get me started. Some people will believe ANYTHING. The BS factor is pretty high.
The weird thing is, the Seattle stations sometimes run commercials about how 2 million people in the greater Seattle area listen 2 at least 2 hours of radio per day -- usually when they're stuck in traffic, I'll bet. With that kind of audience, you'd think there'd B something 4 every1. But there isn't. More & more it seems radio programming is all about AVOIDING surprises, about making sure everything is comfortable & familiar 2 the listener.
When's the last time you heard something surprising on your local radio station? When's the last time they kicked-off the weekend with something fairly high-energy -- say Cheap Trick's "Surrender" or the Easybeats' "Friday on My Mind" or the Bobby Fuller Four's "I Fought the Law," or even Bob Seger's "Hollywood Nights"?
The 1 moderately adventurous Oldies station we had here has gone WAY more mainstream & safe since more people discovered they're around. Now they play the same old worn-out list of 200 publicly-acceptable oldies. It's been a long time since they've played anything as off-the-wall as Small Faces' "Lazy Sunday," or even Jefferson Starship's "Play on Love." Or even Perry Como....
Not everybody likes surprises -- some people might actually B jolted enuf 2 mess-up the traffic flow, or even change 2 another station. & we can't have that.
(My girlfriend assures me Country stations R the same way -- most of them play the current country hits 2 death, & maybe an occasional oldie from as far as 10 years back. But if you want 2 hear any classic country, the formats R so fragmented that you havta find a Classic Country station. Sounds just like the rock&roll situation, don't it?)
So, almost every day when I go 2 work I carry a big bag of about 3-dozen motivational CD's, everything from the Beatles & Fleetwood Mac & the Bangles & the Go-Go's 2 Camel & Caravan. & even tho I'm fairly bored with almost all of them, I know I can come up with a better, more motivational playlist than any of my local music stations.
& I'm sure millions of other folks around the country do something similar -- with CD's or iPods or whatever. No wonder radio's dying -- fewer listeners, smaller pool of $$$ 2 support the format, downward spiral, everything gets tight & conservative, etc....

(To be continued....)

Monday, March 4, 2013

#638: Messing with people

Continue 2 occasionally play mostly-off-the-wall music at work, but needta get some new sounds in2 my bag of tricks 2 get me outta this musical rut I've been in 4 a coupla months. Got 1/2adozen new things ordered, some upbeat silly motivational stuff 4 work (Abba, Tracey Ullman, Nik Kershaw, etc.), will keep you posted on how that works out.
Meanwhile, Saturday nite's playlist looked like this....

Fleetwood Mac -- Oh Well, Green Manalishi, Why?, I Believe My Time Ain't Long, Albatross, Station Man, Stop Messing Around, Trinity, Heroes are Hard to Find, Bermuda Triangle, Black Magic Woman, Need Your Love So Bad, Did You Ever Love Me, Paper Doll, Love Shines, Heart of Stone, Goodbye Baby, Love in Store, Everywhere, Silver Springs, Not That Funny (live freakout version), Tusk (USC fanfare version), Beautiful Child, etc.....
Doobie Brothers -- Neal's Fandango, I Cheat the Hangman.
The Church -- Under the Milky Way, Reptile.
Four Tops -- Reach Out I'll Be There.
Miracles -- Tears of a Clown.
Marvin Gaye -- What's Goin' On, I Heard it Through the Grapevine.
Temptations -- I Can't Get Next to You, Ball of Confusion, Papa Was a Rolling Stone.
Gladys Knight and the Pips -- I Heard it Through the Grapevine.
David Ruffin -- My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me).
Supremes -- Up the Ladder to the Roof.
Edwin Starr -- War.
Spinners -- It's a Shame.
Stevie Wonder -- Signed Sealed Delivered.
Barrett Strong -- Money (That's What I Want).
Love -- Alone Again Or, A House is Not a Motel.
Sly and the Family Stone -- Thank You Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin.

The Mac trax up there R bits&pieces from their THE CHAIN/25 YEARS best-of box-set, & whether it's the really loud stuff like "Green Manalishi" or the delta-bluesier stuff like "I Believe My Time Ain't Long" (which absolutely DOES NOT sound like a buncha White guys from England), people's eyes always bug out when they learn who's doing the music.
...& I'm still discovering things from The Box -- like Bob Welch's "Bermuda Triangle," which has summa the same spacey atmosphere as his "Hypnotized" ... only it's not quite as good. & Christine McVie's rather good 2 "new" songs (at the time the box was released), "Love Shines" & "Heart of Stone" -- good quality stuff from her, as always.
+ there's Lindsey Buckingham's "Trinity," & the middle-period "Heroes are Hard to Find," & the very pleasant & haunting Peter Green-era "Albatross" (which made #1 in England), & more. & there's Buckingham's Xtremely long & freaked-out 'live' "Not That Funny" -- why do so many of his live songs sound like he's having sex? ("Big Love," "Go Insane," etc). & they had the nerve 2 NOT put his great live 1980 "I'm So Afraid" on here...?
Moved in2 some other things after that. "Neal's Fandango" continues 2 get rave reviews from customers -- think the Doobies missed-out onna hit there. The old Motown hits kept me movin at work when I was starting 2 bog down -- they always work. Don't usually play "War," but noticed this time 'round how Edwin Starr sounds like The World's Most Overwhelmingly Masculine Drill Sergeant while he delivers his anti-war message.
Didn't much care 4 "Papa was a Rolling Stone" when it came out a million years ago, but it sure grows on you -- & how about that intense downbeat atmosphere conjured-up by producer Norman Whitfield? Was also reminded that the Tempts have lost a couple members recently....
Gladys & the Pips' "Grapevine" is sure straightforward in comparison, tho 4 me the whole song is worth it just for those ad-libbed lines in the chorus, right after "I'm just about to lose my mind" -- "Oh, YES I am ... Oh, YES I am...."
...& is "Tears of a Clown" THE perfect single of all time, or what? It never seems 2 wear out....
More soon....